After reading Hot Target, I got the first chronologically in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series, The Unsung Hero, in which Tom Paoletti, the founder of the private security agency in Hot Target, is still a Navy SEAL. He’s on medical leave for a serious head injury, and has headed to coastal Massachusetts to spend time with his uncle. When he thinks he sees a believed-dead terrorist at the airport, he begins to fear for his sanity. Also, his uncle’s friend since WWII is dying from cancer; and Tom has angsty romantic history with Kelly Ashton, his uncle’s friend’s daughter. (The WWII thread takes place in occupied France and is also Angsty.)
The main romance in this one is more interesting, with conflicts inherent in the relationship from the start (for one, people usually change since high school). I still liked the secondary relationship more, a sweet little geek-townie story between Tom’s niece Mallory (the townie) and David, an aspiring graphic novelist (the geek). One thing of interest about Brockmann’s books is the existence of mixed-race characters and interracial romances; David is mixed-race, as is Alyssa Locke, a recurring character who first appears here. I approve.
The next one is The Defiant Hero (Brockmann seems to have abandoned the “Hero” titles after this one), which I found a little too high-strung to really like, though it might just be because I was in a cranky mood. It’s much more an action novel than the first, thanks to an ongoing hostage situation. Two ongoing hostage situations, actually: (1) one of the main characters, Meg, has had her daughter and grandmother quietly taken hostage by terrorists, in order to force her to (2) take hostage someone else working in an embassy (which she has access to as a translator). In the second hostage situation, Meg demands that a particular SEAL be brought in for negotiations, because they have UST—well, okay, she demands it because she knows they both speak Welsh, which the terrorists are vanishingly unlikely to understand, but you know what I mean.
The WWII portion of the book is provided by Meg’s grandmother’s reminiscences about the evacuation of Dunkirk, which gets a little too cute with its narrative tricks. The secondary romance thread is Alyssa and Sam Starrett, which I don’t particularly like at the moment, since he admitted to deliberately sexually harassing her because he was afraid she’d be the one to open the SEAL teams to women. Their thread isn’t resolved by the end of the book, though, so perhaps he’ll turn out to be less of an asshole.
These, by the way, were originally published in 2000 and early 2001. The terrorists in book two are from a fictional country called Kazbekistan; it will be interesting to see how subsequent books handle international terrorism.