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Friday, August 30, 2013

ARC Review: High Passion by Vivian Arend

I love Vivian Arend—I think she writes fantastic character-driven and emotional erotic (or highly sensual) romance. Put that talent against the backdrop of the pulse-pounding, heightened emotions of the search and rescue world and add a dash of mystery, and you have the winning combination that is her new Adrenaline series. I had thoroughly enjoyed the first entry in the series (HIGH RISK) and jumped at the chance to read the second book (HIGH PASSION) early. While I enjoyed the characters and relationship dynamics (both romantic and non-romantic), the voice and writing style, and the scorching love scenes in HIGH PASSION, the light mystery subplot felt contrived and a tad over the top and detracted from my enjoyment of what is otherwise another great book by Ms. Arend.

The series centres on the lives and trials & tribulations of the members of Lifeline, an elite private search and rescue team based in Banff in the Canadian Rockies. Since the team members are introduced and the base relationship dynamics established in the first book, this is definitely a series where the reader benefits from reading the books in order—though the story in HIGH PASSION technically stands on its own. Devon Leblanc and Alisha Bailey are Lifeline’s youngest members and lead climbers, hotshots from their recent school days where they were always competing with each other to be the best. That competition has bled over into their Lifeline work as good-natured bickering and teasing… and, as Lifeline helicopter pilot Erin puts it, the longest verbal foreplay in history, since the competitiveness and quips are partly a front to hide their attraction to each other. That undercurrent of attraction is palpable throughout the first book in the series (making us readers wonder WHEN and HOW, not IF, they’ll give in) and comes to a head in HIGH PASSION, when Alisha’s moment of panic during a rescue forces her and Devon to work closely together to identify any potential triggers for that panic without the rest of the team knowing. As tends to happen when two adults who’ve been denying their sexual attraction for years spend even more time together, they finally give in and start burning up the sheets. And, boy, do they burn—in typical Arend fashion, the love scenes are frequent and hot enough to melt your e-reader (if perhaps more ‘vanilla’ than those in HIGH RISK). I’d really liked both Alisha and Devon in the first book, so watching these laid-back, fun-loving but incredibly devoted characters go from sexually frustrated rivals to lovers to forever after was great fun. The fact that both of them have serious family issues—Alisha is the daughter of a rich Toronto businessman who insists she’s just playing at search and rescue and sowing her wild oats before settling down into her life as a socialite and Devon’s (also wealthy) family keeps hounding him to grow up and get a ‘real’ job and a family—adds another layer of complexity to their characters and their relationship and makes them real and relatable.

I liked the characters, I liked the build-up and execution of the romantic relationship and the sense of camaraderie within the team that gets stronger in each book, I enjoyed the steamy love scenes, and I loved Ms. Arend’s writing style (as always). But what didn’t really work for me was Vincent, the ‘villain’ in the story: a wealthy Bailey family friend who works for Alisha’s father and will go to any length to get controlling interest in the company. He felt like a cardboard supervillain simply added in to add a layer of intrigue to the storyline, and his actions felt a tad extreme and unrealistic. I love some good suspense mixed in with my romance and read a lot of thrillers and romantic suspense, but I found myself rolling my eyes a bit at Vincent’s antics and felt that that entire subplot didn’t contribute much to the story. Likewise with Lana, the new member coordinating the Lifeline call-outs and pushing for a place on the team. I found myself enjoying the bits with Devon and Alisha and their budding relationship much more than anything else.

HIGH PASSION is a solid entry into the series (though, in my opinion, not as good as HIGH RISK) and has everything one has come to expect and love from Ms. Arend’s contemporaries. I really enjoy the Lifeline team, and I’m looking forward to reading chopper pilot Erin’s story in 2014.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |


  1. thanks so much for the review. I've been on the fence about this series after reading a disappointing review of the first book. Now I will download High Risk that's on sale for $1.99 and go out and find High Passion. Thank you!