Though he’s gone into virtual seclusion, Ben Fortune is still the world’s most famous surfer, known as much for his good looks as for his skill. He’s also a suspect in a series of brutal murders that may have begun with his late wife. Now FBI Special Agent Sonora “Sonny” Vasquez has been sent undercover to the elite beach community of La Jolla to make friends with Fortune. With her fierce beauty and take-no-prisoners attitude, she’s more than equipped for the job, and soon she and Ben have collided in an affair that is both intense and irresistible. But for the first time in Sonny’s career, her emotions are threatening to get the better of her. Could this passionate, wounded man, who is genuinely anguished over his troubled daughter, really be a killer? And could falling in love blind Sonny to the greatest danger of all?
When I first read the synopsis for this I must admit my thoughts jumped straight to Point Break. It was the whole undercover in the world of surfers thing, plus I’d only recently watched the film for the first time. Once I’d moved my attention back to the book I liked the sound of Sonny so I eagerly started reading.
The reader is introduced to Sonny in the first chapter, seeing her in the surroundings of the FBI training centre. Straight away it becomes clear that she’s quite a prickly character, very focussed on her job and maintaining her professional reputation. The chapter also sets up the mystery plot that earns the book its place within the suspense subset of the Rouge Romance list – there’s a serial killer within the surf community and Sonny must go undercover to investigate. To make things more interesting, it’s a return to Sonny’s roots, she grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in the same town that these murders have been taking place.
We initially get to see Ben through Sonny’s eyes, through her observations of him as she starts her undercover work. She has him in her sights as a possible suspect, his wife was killed in similar circumstances, though from everything she can see he seems like an unlikely target. She instead uses his daughter to get to him, and then once she has her way in gets to know him in every way.
I liked the plot, though I spent a fair amount of time worrying about what was going to happen when Ben inevitably found out about Sonny’s deception and lies. I liked that their relationship was a little more complicated than sparks fly, they fall in love, the end – they both came with stories and baggage, and were realistic characters.
In addition to Sonny and Ben the other characters were well created and interesting. Carly, Ben’s daughter, is a troubled teen who seems to be constantly challenging her dad. This sort of character could easily become cliched but Sorenson manages to avoid this pitfall.
From the mystery side of the plot I thought I’d got it worked out but discovered I’d got it completely wrong, and the reveal was a surprise to me. I know some people like to be able to work out whodunnit early on but I’m always happy when I don’t manage to work it out. There were however bits of the plot that I was less keen on, some aspects felt a little bit too convenient and at times unnecessary. These were fairly minor quibbles though.
I really enjoyed this book, I liked the surf setting – it was something a bit different. I’d definitely read more by Jill Sorenson in the future.
Wild Heat is published in eBook by Rouge Romance in the UK priced £4.80. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.