Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Target by Gerri Hill

Publisher:                Bella Books

Gerri Hill has already proven herself to be an accomplished and popular author with several books published; however The Target may rank as one of her best. She has written a terrific adventure story, full of suspense, intrigue and a romance, that will probably have you reading the book in one sitting, an assumption based on personal experience.

Detective Jaime Hutchinson is designated by her police department to protect a woman who doesn't think she needs protecting. Sara Michaels is the owner of a self-help clinic for women and the daughter of a senator who has received death threats since announcing his candidacy for the Presidency. Sara is sure the threats can't be aimed at her since she hasn't talked to her ultraconservative father in years, so she intends to take her latest class of women on the traditional culminating activity of their therapy, a two week hiking trek in the wilderness. Jaime manages to infiltrate the group undercover and finds herself in the company of a delightful group of women, including the somewhat uptight Sara.

As the trip progresses Jaime finds she is really enjoying the experience and also begins to believe that the threats were unfounded, until someone starts shooting at them. Then a race ensues. No one knows where they are, and most of these women have never spent any time in the wild. They need to reach safety in a hurry, but they have limited skills. The trip was intended to show the women that they could be more self-reliant, and life has dealt them the ultimate test of their skills. And, if they reach safety, then the problem facing Jaime will be to figure out who is trying to kill Sara and how it might be connected to her father's political aspirations.

There are numerous positive aspects to this book. The interaction of the characters is superb. The women in the therapy group add a special dimension. They provide a good lesson in how people can restart their lives no matter what has happened to them previously, and their interactions with Jaime provide more than one humorous scene. Jaime and Sara have precisely the correct amount of tension between them, and although a romance does develop, the focus of the story is on their determination to save the women in this group from a tragedy they had no part in creating. 

The frightening part about the book is that what happens to the women and the reason behind it are plausible. The women in the group could be better defined in their characteristics and histories, and the climax of the story is perhaps a little predictable and rushed, but neither one of those detracts from the overall enjoyment of the book.

A number of writers have shown up lately who appear to be trying to build really good stories that, oh, yes, happen to have romance involved, but the romance doesn't drive the story. The goal appears to be to prove that a story can be full of adventure, suspense, or mystery and the starring characters just happen to be lesbians, but they could be anyone. Gerri Hill has now joined that group with The Target. It's a good addition.

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