Review – OFF THE EDGE by Carolyn Crane

March 5, 2014 4 Star Reviews, General, Reviews 7 ★★★★½

Review – OFF THE EDGE by Carolyn CraneOff the Edge by Carolyn Crane
Series: The Associates #2
Published by Author on December 30, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 395
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
For deadly secret agent Peter Macmillan, language is a weapon—one he uses to hunt criminals, destroy plots, and charm enemies. Seducing information out of a beautiful singer in Bangkok hotel should be easy…except this particular singer has the power to destroy his cool façade, and with it, his last defense against a dark past.

He tricked her. He helped himself to her body and her secrets. He has enemies everywhere. Laney Lancaster should hate Peter, but when she discovers him shirtless, sweaty, and chained up in the hotel’s dungeon, all she can think about is freeing him. Because she knows what it’s like to be trapped and alone. And she could use a dangerous friend.

They may be wrong for each other, but the instant they join forces, Laney and Peter are plunged into an odyssey of hot sex and dark danger. To survive, they must trust each other with their lives—and their hearts.

I loved this book.  And this totally surprised me because I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense.  It’s just not my thing.  What got me to pick up OFF THE EDGE is its author, Carolyn Crane.  She’s one of my favorites having written one of the best urban fantasy series, the Disillusionist Trilogy.  I find Crane to be an uber-original writer with a very unique voice and I was hoping to find that same originality and sense of fun in her new Associates series.  I wasn’t disappointed.

At what point did I know I would love this book?  I can tell you the exact moment.  It’s when the hero, Peter MacMillan, first lays eyes on the heroine, Laney Lancaster.  She’s a singer-songwriter performing in a hotel lounge in Bangkok.  She fades into the background, no one ever pays attention to her until the night Peter walks into the bar.  Laney’s lyrics cut him to the core; their sentimentality makes him start to feel things he’s long repressed and it pisses him off.  As he verbally enviserates her music with one of his colleagues, he takes in her appearance.  The first thing he notes?  She’s wearing knee high pantyhose.  Not knee high socks, not knee high tights, not thigh high sexy stockings.  No, Laney is wearing knee high panty hose, the kind your grandma wears.  He’s like, OMG, why is she wearing those that way, you’re supposed to wear those with pantsuits…and then he realizes he thinks it’s a little dirty and a lot sexy.  I died laughing.  I was literally in bed cracking up.  I loved it.  So begins this passionate, push and pull, sexy, sexy, sexy, relationship between Peter MacMillan, linguist-spy-nerdy James Bond-type and Laney Lancaster, American lounge singer on the run from a psychotic criminal husband. 

If you think that might sound slightly over the top you’d be right and that’s why this book works so well — DRAMA!  Everything is big and tense and sexy.  Have I said that yet?  This book is sexy.  I loved the relationship between Laney and Peter.  He’s suffered a horrific loss and, as a result, has let a part of himself, the part of him that cares and feels, die.  Laney awakens uncomfortable feelings in him and together they share a passion for words and language.  The minute these two meet, they’re goners.  Crane also has this way of writing sex scenes that are romantic but also a little naughty and so the sexual tension is off the charts.  Over three days these two characters share their hearts and their pain while simultaneously being on the run from bounty hunter criminals from all over the world while also trying to stop the sale of a weapon with the power to wipe out entire cities.  DRAMA! 

He flashed on the image of a medieval map, the known world in the center and ocean at the edges.  They used to think that if you sailed too far into the ocean, you would fall off the edge.  He was gripped with that feeling now—of being too far out in the ocean, of nearing the edge.  He pulled himself away from her, feeling seasick. 

There’s a lot of powerful imagery in here that’s very effective in creating an emotional response in both the characters and the reader.  I loved the imagery in the quote above and this sense of the characters being in emotionally unchartered territory.  Both Laney and Peter feel this sense of going “off the edge” throughout the book as they are just drawn to each other beyond reason.  There is also imagery of a train accident and a severed hand, images that come up throughout, that also pull an emotional punch and bring in a very visceral sense of pain.  Beyond the imagery, there are wonderfully emotional moments between Laney and Peter that go well below the surface of things. 

In OFF THE EDGE, Crane also plots everything beautifully.  There are connections and shifting POVs that work very well in ratcheting up the tension; the pace is fast, and the overall story arc is very exciting.  I can’t put my finger on it but there is definitely something original about Crane’s voice and I see it, connect with it, and love it.

The only areas where the book fell short for me were in Peter’s cover; it could have been better.  He’s supposed to be this elusive, smart, scary secret agent type working for The Associates; he makes the criminal world tremble in its boots.  Nobody knows who he is yet his name is the same it’s always been – Peter MacMillan Maxwell.  He now goes by MacMillan.  It takes two days for a motivated criminal to figure out his identity.  It should have been harder.  But one thing that stood out to me was how much research Crane must have done in linguistics.  It shows.  Peter is a linguistic beast and I loved the fine details Crane gives us to exhibit his expertise and passion.  Finally, at one point, when Laney and Peter were really balls to the wall on the run, she got a little whiney for me.  She started to demand a sharing moment at a time when they needed to keep their heads in the game.  That felt a little unrealistic.

But these are just minor quibbles.  I loved OFF THE EDGE.  From its kick ass nerdy secret agent hero, to its quirky, insightful, big hearted heroine, this book is dramatic, funny, romantic, sexy, and suspenseful.  It felt like a movie.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the series when it releases.  4.5 Howls!


About Carolyn Crane

I write romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and some books that don’t have any genre at all. I’ve been published by Random House, Samhain, and self published, too. I guess I get around!

I live in Minnesota (complete with an accent that people sometimes laugh at) in an old 1920′s condo with my awesome writer husband and two cats. I love to run and also to read, even though I’m probably the slowest reader ever. And I love to eat chocolate and Mexican food, and if you invite me to your party, your cheese plate will be in even more danger than one of my suspense heroines.

Also, I use too many exclamation marks, I care deeply about animals and finding ways to help them, I work a day job as a freelance marketing writer, and I dream that someday I’ll having the time to do all the crafts in the many craft newsletters I subscribe to. But I guess I’m having too much fun throwing my favorite characters into dangerous and sometimes steamy adventures.

Though I’m an author, I’m mostly here on Goodreads as a writer/reader, to focus on my fave books, sometimes to rave about them, other times go under the hood and think about what was really working for me. Thinking about what works in books is a way I improve as a writer. (Well, hopefully, anyway! LOL.)

7 Responses to “Review – OFF THE EDGE by Carolyn Crane”

    • shewolfreads

      This was a great read. Let me know if you decide to give it a try. Would love to know your opinion. Oh, and you can totally read this as a standalone. 🙂

    • shewolfreads

      Mind Games was great! I think this series is also really good. Book two is so much fun and you can read it as a standalone (didn’t like the first one as much as this one).

    • shewolfreads

      If you ever decide to do romantic suspense, this one is great! And her Disillusionist series is so original and unique that you should really give it a try!