Guest Review: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster

Posted April 16, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Dash of perilJen’s review of Dash of Peril (Love Undercover #4) by Lori Foster

To bring down a sleazy abduction ring, Lieutenant Margaret “Margo” Peterson has set herself up as bait. But recruiting Dashiel Riske as her unofficial partner is a whole other kind of danger. Dash is 6’4″ of laid-back masculine charm, a man who loves life—and women—to the limit. Until Margo is threatened, and he reveals a dark side that may just match her own.

Beneath Margo’s tough facade is a slow-burning sexiness that drives Dash crazy. The only way to finish this case is to work together side by side…skin to skin. And as their mission takes a lethal turn, he’ll have to prove he’s all the man she needs—in all the ways that matter.

Lori Foster’s books can be a bit hit or miss for me–I feel like sometimes her uber-commanding alphas click, and sometimes they don’t. When I saw a book with a tough-as-nails female cop lead, I jumped on it! (We do not see NEARLY enough law enforcement heroines in romance, IMHO.) While not perfect, Dash of Peril was an engaging story and a nice change of pace.

Margaret (Margo) Peterson is a police lieutenant. She comes from a family of cops, albeit one embroiled in scandal. Margo has to work extra hard to prove herself different from her family and capable of leading the men in her department, so she adopts a tough-as-nails, detached persona at work. She’s earned the respect of most of her colleagues, though it means she is pretty lonely and emotionally cut off from others. The department is after a ring of sickos who kidnap women and use them to make illegal pornos/snuff films. Margo decides to use herself as bait to try and trap the criminals, but they catch on and come after her. Of course, Dashiel Riske, brother to Margo’s subordinate Logan Riske, happens to be there when they try to kill Margo, and he ends up in the crosshairs, too. Dash has always been attracted to Margo, but she’s been resistant (their story starts in a previous book of the series, though I haven’t read it). Now that she’s in danger he finds he can’t stay away, and the two begin exploring a relationship. They must not only catch the criminals but also figure out how to have a relationship between two people who are used to always being in charge.

Dash is definitely an alpha. He is strong, wants to protect and care for those he loves, and likes to be the boss. But unlike 95% of other alpha romance heroes, he is also good at stepping back. He respects Margo’s job and completely understands why she has to be tough. Even better, he actively works to support her and not undermine her authority, especially around her colleagues. That doesn’t mean he’s not protective or concerned–he pushes back when he thinks she’s putting herself in unnecessary danger, and he isn’t afraid to offer his help, but he doesn’t “take charge” of her work. He trusts her professional expertise and loves that she’s a total bad ass, which I have to say is so awesome! Dash is pretty swoon-worthy.

Besides the case and the attempts on their lives, the other main conflict in the book is Margo’s unease with letting herself be vulnerable. Her family is horrible, so even from a young age she learned not to depend on anyone but herself. In the book, she has to learn to trust Dash and let herself be soft sometimes. I enjoyed seeing how Dash has to figure out how to be a different kind of partner for Margo (still strong but not always in charge), while Margo has to learn to open up and trust that Dash will love her as she is. This conflict also plays out in the bedroom, though I never felt like that was as fully explored as it could be. The book sort of dances around the idea that Margo likes to be a bit more submissive during sex, but I actually didn’t think it went quite far enough. I would have liked to hear more conversation from Margo and Dash about it, and I wanted to hear more about Margo actually owning that side of her sexuality. I felt like it should have been a bigger psychological barrier for her, given her family history and her line of work. Still, I really enjoyed that this isn’t a D/s erotic novel, just a story about a couple who has varied kinds of sex. While it’s clear Margo often prefers Dash to take charge during sex, there are times where she takes control too, which feels realistic to me.

I did have one quibble with the book. It establishes Margo as competent, tough, driven, and very, very good at her job. The reader can see how stressful her position must be and why giving up control sometimes might feel good, but then the book goes out of its way to emphasize how she wants Dash to be in charge in the bedroom because “she’s a woman.” For instance, there are a few comments like this:

“But sometimes a woman enjoyed the innate contrasts of being smaller, gentler and physically weaker than a man.”

It’s not that this can’t be true for people, and it’s certainly not something bad for an individual to feel, but I didn’t feel like that explanation was necessary here. I was already on board with Margo’s desire to not always be in charge, and I felt like I understood how her history, her job, and her personality would create that feeling. It wasn’t just because she was a woman, and I didn’t love the book trying to apply the statement to all women. It doesn’t come up a lot, but it’s mentioned just enough to be a little wrinkle in my enjoyment of the story.

Still, if you like strong heroines but enjoy your alpha males sometimes, I think this book would hit a sweet spot for you, just like it did for me!

Grade: 4 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

This book is available from Harlequin HQN. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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