Cari Hunter is one of my favorite action/adventure/romance authors. I thought her Dark Peak Series was terrific, and I’ve also enjoyed each of the one-offs I’ve read. If you sense a “but” coming up here, you’d be wrong. Breathe is easily their equal, a snappy combo of police procedural and romantic beginnings.
Jemima Pardon (Jem) has a reputation for bad luck on her paramedic assignments (breech births, impossible rescues, etc.), but it’s no worse than Police Constable Rosie Jones, who finds herself working on the same victims. Of course, they keep meeting accidentally until the spark is struck, then they’re off investigating the death of a teenage boy with the back of his head caved in, leading to an all-out search for a mysterious girl named Talia.
One of the reasons I read is for immersion, and Hunter accomplishes this on a couple of fronts. First, the Brit slang. I love it. Whenever I encounter a culture different from my own, I always gravitate toward either its food or its music (or both). Here, Hunter makes British junk food into idiomatic delicacies I had to Google some recipes for. And if the references are occasionally obscure to American ears, context usually wins the day.
Hunter also immerses the reader in water. No major exterior scene here is complete without a downpour. It’s either misting, raining lightly, or pissing down. The British have as many terms for rain as the Eskimos do snow, and I think they’re all collected here. The book has so much water I wondered if the title wasn’t intentionally ironic. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s certainly an element to contend with and use to ramp up tension during those action scenes Hunter does so well.
But it’s not just the action scenes that pop. The burgeoning relationship between Jem and Rosie is both sweet and unsentimental, and it unfolds as naturally as does the plot. At no time does it feel rushed or simply one of the elements that needs to be balanced. They have charming chemistry, and I hope to see it continue.
Cari Hunter’s Breathe is a worthwhile, solid entry in her catalog, sure to please old and new fans. But don’t forget your rubbers and your mac. It’s pissing outside.
© 2019 Jerry L. Wheeler