Review – High Risk (Adrenaline #1) by Vivian Arend

High Risk Cover
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

LIFELINE: an elite search-and-rescue squad based out of Banff, Alberta. Specializing in high-risk rescue missions, this team goes wherever the job takes them…

Rebecca James was once revered for her devil-may-care attitude and backcountry survival skills. But ever since she lost her partner in a fatal accident, patches of her memory have been missing. And until she can recall those final, tragic moments before the accident, she can’t move on.

Since Marcus Landers was permanently injured during a mission, all his energies have been focused on his Lifeline team. When Becki—whom he had an intense affair with seven years ago—arrives in Banff, he’s inspired to reignite the spark they once had. Their mutual ardor slowly awakens Becki’s dormant, haunting memories.

New truths surface until Becki must at last confront her greatest fear. Remembering the past might mean a future without the man she loves…
This blurb came from the author’s website.

As you might have noticed if you are a regular visitor on the blog, I am a huge fan of Arend’s writing. When I received word that she had signed a contract with Berkley for some contemporaries based on Search and Rescue (SAR), I knew that I had to get my hands on them. I have climbed three times in my entire life, once with family, once with a significant other, and once because I HAD to for my job. I decided after the first time that I was done so as a result three times is about four too many. What I did gain was an appreciation for the equipment, commands, danger, and the combination of strength and skill required to climb let alone climb well in a variety of conditions. Add in the requirement to provide emergency first aid, lug packs, maneuver people who can’t assist with a clock counting down and you have some pretty impressive individuals who do SAR. Arend has taken a group of those individuals each with their past experience prior to or while doing SAR and placed them in close proximity and let us watch the fallout. I am certainly enjoying the view.

Rebecca is a haunted woman. She is an expert on climbing, teamwork, and getting the most out of people but she is suffering from PTSD and partial amnesia caused by the death of her SAR partner and lover during her last rescue. She has returned to Banff, to the training facility and school that certified her years ago as an instructor trying to regain her sense of self. While there, she encounters Marcus, a former instructor/fling who is dealing with his own wounds from life. I enjoyed Rebecca. She was strong mentally and physically. She did not back down from anyone yet she could also admit her weaknesses and allow someone else to care for her when she needed it. I also liked how she kept pushing Marcus and refused to let him take his angst out on her yet she also cared for Marcus and allowed him to nurture and care for her. No she wasn’t perfect because she did leap to conclusions sometimes, had a hard time in helicopters, and believed the worst about her missing memories far too easily. Her faults simply helped me enjoy her character so much more.

Marcus was a bit more of a contradiction but still a lot of fun to get to know. He and his brother David were bedrocks at the Banff training facility even though Marcus took his climbing skills in a different direction. When Marcus is injured on the job he focuses his attention elsewhere and forms an elite SAR team, Lifeline, able to handle air insertion, water rescues, and the usual land-based climbing rescues. The press recently spotlighted Lifeline and as a result, of the publicity they have become bit complacent. David mentions that Marcus should ask Rebecca to help train his team while she waits for the next course to start. Marcus really likes the thought of getting close to Rebecca again now that they have both matured. He had some extremely fond memories of their time together and decided that this time their relationship would not end.

I absolutely loved the character interaction if it was Rebecca and Marcus, Marcus and David, the internal Lifeline team dynamics, Rebecca and the team, you name it I liked it. Not that all of their interactions were happy ones and more than once I felt for Rebecca as she dealt with her nightmares and nebulous fears about her actions and their result on the profession she loved. I also felt for Marcus and he dealt with his own trauma and intense need to help Rebecca, which sometimes backfired. The occasional flashbacks Arend included for their previous relationship and their lives over the years since served to really flesh out their characters while providing me a glimpse at how they had changed over the years.

Rebecca and Marcus’ interactions were always intense. From the first glimpse of their mutual sexual attraction through their time together at the end of the story. I was completely sucked into their arguments, laughter, tension and I thought the smexytimes were smoking. I also liked how Arend worked within the limits of Marcus’ injury during those times and both did not allow it to hinder him nor did she allow him to cheat. I found myself rooting for their relationship just as much as I rooted for their individual healing. I think they will continue to deal with the lingering affects of their traumatic life changing events but they will also continue to refuse to let that limit them.

I really enjoyed reading High Risk and I am seriously looking forward to the next installment. The sparks continue to fly on Lifeline and I am a hooked observer. Arend delivered everything I could ask for in the first book of her Adrenaline series and I am confident that she will continue to provide the same high quality story in the installments to come!

I give High Risk an A

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