Desolation Point – Cari Hunter (Bold Strokes Books)

Buy it direct from Bold Strokes Books

I see absolutely nothing wrong with genre plots. They’re familiar enough so that you don’t have to be concerned with what happens in the long run because you know where things will wind up, and you can concentrate on the thrills inherent in the ride itself. And Cari Hunter provides thrills galore in her adventure/romance Desolation Point.

Los Angeles cop Alex Pascal is viciously injured at a crime scene, the word “bitch” carved in her back, and halfway across the world, Sarah Kent is the sole survivor of a horrible car accident. Recovered from their individual injuries, they find themselves independently hiking a trail leading to Washington’s Desolation Point. But they’re not alone. Also hiking the North Cascades is a white supremacist broken out of jail by the organization he works for. What happens when they all meet? Love, violence, and adventure.

In the hands of a lesser writer and scenarist, this could be pretty rote and by-the-book, but Cari Hunter breathes a great deal of life into the characters and the situation. Her descriptions of the scenery are sumptuous, and she has a keen sense of pacing. The action sequences never drag, and she takes full advantage of the valleys between the peaks by deepening her characters, working their relationship, and setting up the next hurdle.

The result is a fully engaging and absorbing read that will keep you up at night in order to finish it. I found myself saying, “Just one more chapter, and then I’ll go to bed” until I finally turned the last page. I particularly liked the way the balance of power and responsibility shifted between Alex and Sarah and back again, both of them alternately courageous and vulnerable. Their dialogue is also well-turned, sounding spoken rather than written.

Also intriguing is the parallel development of the characters in the beginning as we see the tragedies that befall both of them and leave them walking wounded. And the irony that they are both using this North Cascades adventure as part of their healing from those experiences is not lost.

Formulaic? Well, yes. But wonderfully so. Hunter works within the form and elevates the well-worn structure into something much more compelling and addictive. Don’t read it too close to bedtime, or you just might find yourself late for work in the morning.

©, 2013, Jerry Wheeler

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