Review: A Shot of Red by Tracy March

shot of redReviewed by Janell

I usually stay away from romantic suspense because ex-Navy SEALs and Middle Eastern war zones are too intense for me. This book contains neither; it’s just a girl (heir to a pharmaceutical company, do-gooder) and a guy (communications director, motorcycle rider) trying to solve a mystery surrounding flu vaccines while in Switzerland.

Mia broke up with her boyfriend when he proposed to her, and shortly thereafter had a one-night-stand with Gio, a hot muscled guy who happens to work for her mother. That night was so life-changing that Mia ran off to Haiti so that she wouldn’t have to deal with the repercussions.

The book opens in Haiti, where Mia is on a humanitarian team vaccinating orphans. As the vaccine runs out and she braces for a riot, she notices a soldier who sort of looks like Gio, and she has a mid-crisis flashback to that excellent night of sex. Bad timing, Mia. Shortly thereafter, she’s summoned home to publicize a new flu vaccine because America is heading straight into an epidemic and she needs to tell the public to get vaccinated.

Gio works for Mia’s mother, who is a cold, power-hungry US senator.  He’s part of the publicity team, so eventually he and Mia are face to face. They kind of admit their attraction, but acting on it could cost Gio his job. Plus, Mia’s recently come by cryptic clues that point to nefarious dealings surrounding the vaccine and possibly murder, so she’s not ready for a relationship. Instead, she fakes an illness and runs off to Switzerland.

The plot moved quickly (the events happen over a short timeline), and the writing was tight. The author worked in the pharmaceutical field and managed to make the mystery easy enough to grasp the stakes but challenging enough to keep it suspenseful. It wasn’t overly burdened with science, is what I’m trying to say.

The romance wasn’t the center of the book, and it wasn’t perfect. Mia and Gio’s memorable night together was only described in flashback, and even then it faded to black a little too soon for my tastes. Both characters said that what happened between them felt real, but I didn’t get to see it. Later, as they’re thrown together in the face of danger, their deep feelings surface and the heat factor jumps up. But they don’t spend much time discussing their relationship, or even admitting that they have one. They’ve got lives to save, there isn’t time!

So, I enjoyed this book as a smart suspense with high stakes and lovely scenery. Mia was a proactive heroine (although she was prone to running away when she got upset) and Gio was a sturdy, steady hero. The plot resolution was marginally acceptable to me, and the ending wrapped things up in a tidy bow.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Entangled

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Shot of Red
by Tracy March
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Entangled

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