Love & Genius - Book 2: The Moore Family Series

by Sara Kay Jordan

It's not every writer who would set herself the challenge of casting an awkward, anti-social genius as her female protagonist. And then throw a handsome, cocky, oh-so-male soldier at her as her romantic lead. And then somehow, impossibly, make it work.

But Sara Kay Jordan has more or less pulled it off - at least, sufficiently to keep you turning pages - against all the odds.

Not that there aren't awkward moments, and not that if I were editing it I wouldn't have suggested she tone down best-friend Annie's over-use of the endearment "Doll," when addressing her painfully formal and uptight, brilliant best friend, but by and large, the story trots along at a fast clip and strikes an engaging balance between thriller and romance, with perhaps slight emphasis on the romance.

Kathryn Archer is a brilliant forensic scientist whose company frequently investigates issues for the military. Major Joe Moore is the officer who must team up with her, using his training, instinct and well-tuned senses to balance out her sheer intellectual horsepower to get to the bottom of a very suspicious accident on the military training grounds.

Of course, Kathryn just happens to be drop-dead gorgeous, and Joe Moore is a widowed hunk with an adorable young son, Parker, and in spite of the quills she keeps flipping at him, Joe is so smitten with Kathryn at first sight (those eyes, those lips!) he simply won't let her curl up into a ball and play porcupine on him.

And she, at first intrigued that he picks up on a seemingly unimportant detail of the investigation that she overlooks, eventually sees him as an agreeable potential sexual partner, and finally, as he holds siege relentlessly against her carefully constructed defenses, realizes that she's succumbed to what lesser mortals understand as that odd emotion, love.

Yes, Kathryn does more or less express herself this way, and at first it put me off a bit. But eventually, I got into the rhythm of it, and began to accept her character at face value. Isn't it possible to be stunning and  brilliant and have the brilliant part have control of your sense of self? Unusual in the world today, but possible, and moreover, interesting.

And Joe, though again at first I wasn't buying his refusal to take "no" for an answer just on the basis of her being good looking - forget her snide, even rude dismissals - again eventually begins to make sense as a military guy who sees a conquest worth the effort and then just keeps hitting it with everything he's got. Even if the everything is sometimes unexpected restraint. Joe sees that Kathryn needs, more than anything, to develop a degree of trust and comfort, to be accepted for who she is. And he's just the guy to do it. Or, not do it until the time is right.

The writer clearly has some military background, or if not, she's done a great job of making us believe that she understands the language, the nuance, and the politics inside the power structure of the armed forces. The mystery to be solved is credible and involving enough to keep us wondering whodunit and why. And, as noted above, the evolving relationship between Joe and Kathryn if, at first, evokes a little "huh?" in the reader, eventually settles down into a nice "I know they will fall in love eventually, but I'm enjoying the ride as they get there" pace.

The writing is largely fast-paced and unobtrusive; this writer knows how to keep her story front and center, to differentiate her various characters, and to keep us looking through the eyes of a limited number of important characters at reasonable intervals. If there is one gripe I have stylistically it is something that a number of newer writers I've encountered lately seem to do: they have their characters make meaningless movements using uninteresting verbs. Example: "Picking up the file, he rounded his desk and took long purposeful strides to the door." If the point is that Major Joe is a man of action, there are more interesting ways of having him demonstrate this, and it doesn't really advance the story for us to know that he's walked out of his office. Here, and a few other places (such as where the writer uses "chaffed" for "chafed" and "repelling tower" for "rapelling tower) are where a once-over by a good editor could have take an already sparkling polish and given it a high finish.

All in all, though, if you're looking for a romance with unique leads, and the promise of more to come as the family settles in an expands - ever more genius Moores on the scene doing ever more interesting things - you'll want to download the series onto your Kindle and get to know them. It's time well spent.


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