published by Harpercollins Publisher (William Morrow) in May 2016
For Morgan Yancy, an operative and team leader in a paramilitary group, nothing comes before his job. But when he’s ambushed and almost killed, his supervisor is determined to find out who’s after the members of his elite squad—and why. Due to worries that this unknown enemy will strike again, Morgan is sent to a remote location and told to lay low and stay vigilant. But between a tempting housemate he’s determined to protect and a deadly threat waiting in the shadows, keeping under the radar is proving to be his most dangerous mission yet.Genre: Contemporary romance, Romantic Suspense
The part-time police chief of a small West Virginian mountain town, Isabeau “Bo” Maran finally has her life figured out. She’s got friends, a dog, and a little money in the bank. Then Morgan Yancy shows up on her doorstep. Bo doesn’t need a mysterious man in her life—especially a troublemaker as enticing and secretive as Morgan.
The harder they fight the intense heat between them, the closer Morgan and Bo become, even though she knows he’s hiding from something. But discovering the truth could cost Bo more than she’s willing to give. And when Morgan’s cover is blown, it might just cost her life.
The Story: Technically, the story of Troublemaker happens as described in the blurb... but let just say the blurb is a tad more dramatic than the story ^_^; Let just say that keeping under the radar wasn't that dangerous a mission and that Morgan was very forthcoming with Bo LOL.
Morgan Yancy is an operative and team leader in a paramilitary group. Shortly after his return for a mission, Morgan is ambushed and almost dies from complication. Having no idea why Morgan was targeted, his supervisor sends him to a small town in West Virginia for recovery and to set a trap... and because it has the added bonus to annoy the crap out of his ex-stepsister, Isabeau "Bo" Maran.
After a house flip gone back which left her with tons of debts, Now the chief of police of Hamrickville - doing only the administrative part of the job, Bo is finally pulling her life back together... and the last thing she needs is a man who needs tending.
What neither expected was the attraction building as Morgan recovered.
My Opinion: As I've mentioned many times, I was hesitant to pick up Troublemaker based on Ms Howard's last few releases, but the good reviews convinced me... Plus, I was curious to see in what shape Ms Howard is doing her comeback :)
Overall, I thought Troublemaker was a pleasant read. Ironically, I felt the pacing was very similar to The Obsession by Nora Roberts as in the majority of the story was focused on Morgan's recovery and his cohabitation with Bo, their day-to-day lives and routines. Readers really got to witness Morgan and Bo's relationship, from being two strangers to becoming roommates, then friends and eventually lovers. As a reader who doesn't like my H/H falling into bed and love instantly, I really appreciate the slow build-up. In addition, Ms Howard fleshed out the little town with nice characters - nothing too stereotypical (except for the rich offspring jerk) and Troublemaker had a great dog character, Tricks :) Actually, in many scenes, Tricks completely stole the show LOL. No worries though, as awesome as Tricks was, she didn't get her own POV :P
However, I don't think this pacing was as successful for Ms Howard as it is for Ms Roberts, mainly because the story and the author's voice were quite flat, almost monotonous. It's not a feeling I got while reading the book, but after I was done. For example, I'm sitting here writing this review and am realizing I don't really have a grasp on Morgan and Bo's characters. I don't know what made them the persons they are. Readers were told a lot of things - for example: Bo and Morgan's supervisor detesting each other, Bo being in debt, Bo having friends, Morgan being a leader - but we were shown little and nothing was expanded, developed... and at the end of the day, I wonder what I read ^_^;
There was also a lack of passion, feelings in Troublemaker. The romance was also a bit flat, because Morgan and Bo were already living together. There was no courting, no dating... There wasn't much differences between Morgan and Bo being friends and being in love, except for them starting to have sex. While I enjoyed witnessing the growth of their relationship, I needed it more in the romance department.
Finally, the suspense was a bit anti-climatic. There was some "action" in the book that happened and had nothing to do with Morgan and his ambush. All I have to say is the "rich offspring jerk" plot is getting old... and in the case of Troublemaker, I was dumbstruck because it's a bit ridiculous ^_^; As for the book's overall suspense plot, it was disappointing because everything wrapped up in less than 20 pages, when the book is 300+ pages. So really, you can't help but wonder "that's it?" and that's why I found everything so anti-climatic.
My Grade; Initially, right after finishing it, I thought Troublemaker was a B- read. Good book with some flaws and definitively better than the last few books by Ms Howard that I've read (and from what I've heard, the ones I've skipped since Veil of Night too). However, the more I reflect on it, the more flaws and faults I find... and I don't think I should overlook that because this was better than the last releases I've read. Therefore, Troublemaker gets a C+ from me. Despite all my complaints, the book was enjoyable - just not memorable.