Killer Countdown by Amelia Autin

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by HollyS. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Romantic Suspense category.

The summary:

A reporter helps a sexy senator evade a deadly assassin in this thrilling Man on a Mission tale

TV reporter Carly Edwards has the scoop of a century! She’s discovered that Senator Shane Jones was diagnosed with a life-altering illness, but she can’t help but be drawn to his courage. So when Carly saves Shane’s life from a killer, she resolves to keep her story—and the irresistible politician—alive…

A politician and a media personality are a recipe for romantic disaster. The last thing Shane wants is to endanger Carly. But how can he prevent her from getting close when the very air between them sizzles? As their lives are threatened, Shane realizes Carly’s the one woman he wants forever—if he can keep them both safe!

Here is HollyS’s review:

I was actually THIS CLOSE to not finishing this book. Why, you ask? Because the first 50 pages or so were full of my number one pet peeve!! Front loading: when you describe everything about a character as soon as they appear without letting those details come out naturally. UGH. Not my favorite way to start a book at all. However, I gotta say the book redeemed itself quite nicely. I can’t point to exactly when it became a pleasurable read and not a slog, but it did and I’m happy I finished.

I’ll start with the things I really liked about the book. The love story was really sweet and well developed. I was not a fan of how they met.

Show Spoiler
Carly is a reporter and she is trying to nail a story about Shane, a senator who is in the hospital for unknown reasons. So she tells a nurse that she is his fiancé in order to get access to his room. So inappropriate. First of all, Shane was just diagnosed with epilepsy and he was trying to keep it under wraps. Secondly, Carly had no compunction about sneaking in to his room. The idea of someone being shameless enough to sneak into a private hospital room without even knowing what was wrong turned me off, but I got over it and kept reading for the love of SBTB.

Once they went back to Washington (the story starts in Phoenix) I liked the fact that both characters had jobs and they actually went to work. Too often a book will be about alleged professionals but you never read about them working. As a senator Shane is working on a pipeline deal (one that he is not in favor of) which you get to read about, and the same with Carly and her network news job. You get to see the characters as people outside of the relationship and I REALLY thought this part of the book was well done. Not to mention they both had guns and walked around strapped. Not usually a plot device that I like (c’mon do we need guns in romance too??) but here I was ok with it.

The sexytimes…started early, came often (no pun intended) and whew, Amelia Autin did a good job writing some heat! I don’t mind when a couple gets together early in a book if it makes sense. And it made sense in Killer Countdown. You get a taste of mutual attraction when Shane and Carly were on their way to an event which was also their first date. He gave her a corsage (yeah I thought that part was corny) but the way he looked at her set the tone for the next date. They actually agreed to go home together at the end of the date but then circumstances (no spoilers here) made it impossible. It’s not until the second date, and I loved the fact that it was Carly who said “I’m not really hungry….except for you, Shane.” I am all about a woman who can and does make the first move.

While all of this romance is going on there is the romantic suspense backstory. I’ve only read one or two others so I can’t give a well-rounded opinion about how this book fits into the genre. I can say that I liked the detail given about the interplay between the FBI, Shane, and Carly surrounding the suspense part of the story. It seemed realistic, but again I don’t know enough about any of that kind of stuff to really say that it was spot on. I thought Autin did a good job of interspersing these details into the rest of the story.

From very early on it’s clear that Shane and Carly like each other. A lot. And who is the one to say sex only? Carly. The two of them both have troubled romantic pasts (he is a widower and her fiancée died). I got why she said it and I LOOOOVED the way he was like “yeah ok” out loud but like “absolutely not” in his head.

Which leads me to my favorite part of this book…these are two grown ass people who actually think for a minute before they react, and if they do make a mistake they own it. Shane knows that he is struggling with his diagnosis. Carly knows that she can be distant. Do they both do the right thing all the time? No. But they are adult enough to evaluate and correct. I know that tons of readers out there don’t like the big misunderstanding in a romance. I’m not a huge fan but I can tolerate it. This book is refreshing BECAUSE you know there could be a whole lot of big misunderstandings but there’s not because these characters THINK! When that thought dawned on me I was like YAAASSSS finally! Thinking people! Plus he is forty and she is in her mid-thirties. THINKING PEOPLE WHO ARE GROWN!

Overall, the writing is decent. I think dialogue struggled a bit which led to a lot of clunky sentences that made reading a bit of a chore at first, but that smoothed out after a while. I really enjoyed Shane and Carly going through the motions of getting to know each other. It was cute seeing the two of them overprotective of each other (an important point later in the story). The mutual respect they had for each other was really cool too.

Why a B-? For one thing the love story was way too fast. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for fast love, but this was over a period of 10 days. Nah. Not for two really smart self-aware people. Plus the aforementioned front loading. These two things alone gave the book a solid B. But then I read the epilogue. Which was stupid AF. If you read this book DO NOT read the epilogue.

I will definitely read another Autin. I thought the book was good, and this is the first time in the history of RITA challenge reviews that I read something in a genre that I don’t usually read and walked away with a new author to add to my list.

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