You’d think the concept of building and maintaining tension in a story would be elementary for a writer, but I can’t tell you the number of books I read (both self-published and not) that build tension nicely only to squander it or bury it under a mountain of plot details. Carsen Taite, however, works tension like a boss in all her books, inlcuding her latest, Rush.
Someone is killing alumnae members of the Sigma Nu sorority, and prosecuter Danielle Soto figures to get a career boost by being on the task force to find the murderer. That goal could be hindered, however, by her falling in love with the beautiful Ellen Davenport, head of Sigma Nu’s alumnae association. And Ellen is hiding some personal information that may just help crack the case. Can they resolve their issues long enough to catch a criminal?
Well, the question is rhetorical at best. But before we get to the happy climax, Taite throws some interesting obstacles in her characters’ ways, making the relationship between Danny Soto and Ellen Davenport prickly and tentative enough to throw you off balance. That’s the tension spoken of earlier, and Taite starts laying the foundation for that right from the beginning. She never lets up, giving each positive interaction between the two a negative outcome. Both Danny and Ellen have so many secrets and so many layers that a relationship seems impossible at the outset, and Taite does nothing to alleviate this.
And with mysterious roses being dropped off at Davenport’s doorstep by the killer as well as some other neat twists and turns, the murder mystery is pretty damn effective as well. But just when you think you have that figured out, Taite throws in a last minute quirk that surprises. But the ending is as satisfactory as one could want in a romance thriller. Taite knows her craft well, and her prose is always breezily readable with no slow spots, plot holes, or narrative gaffes. The consummate professional, she entertains both outside and inside the bedroom. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
My only minor point of contention is that she could have made more of the economic disparity between Danny (poor girl who has worked her way through law school) and Ellen (rich sorority girl). Some of those elements do cause strife between them, but it could have been more pronounced. That, however, is just my (poor boy who worked his way through university) personal taste, and I doubt anyone else but me would notice.
Carsen Taite knows her stuff and struts it with grace and assuredness here. If you like romance thrillers, you’ll swallow this one whole.
© 2014 Jerry L. Wheeler