The third installment in Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s To Catch a Thief series, Reluctant Smuggler is the kind of romantic suspense I’ve come to expect and love from her. For some reason the book is classified on the back as romance. While romance is a strong thread through the book, it is also packed with action and suspense, so don’t be deceived!
Desiree Jacobs is back, this time in Mexico. All she wants to do is go home to Boston, but between a storm that has iced in Boston and the Mexican government that wants her to investigate for them, she’s stuck. Tony Lucano, her fiancé and a FBI agent, is snowed in at the office. Then he and his team participate in a take-down. The only problem is he takes a dive into the frigid waters of Boston Harbor. Are Desiree and Tony’s investigations connected? Will either of them survive the race to catch the elusive Jaguar?
Sometimes by the third book in a series, the reader gets the sense the author is merely fulfilling a contract. Not so with Reluctant Smuggler. Instead, this book is filled with twists, turns, delightful surprises, and a very satisfying ending for those who have been with the series from book one. Desiree is thrown into all kinds of situations—both physical and emotional – that must be dealt with before she can grow and the book can conclude.
While Desiree and Tony are on parallel paths, they approach them from distinctly different perspectives. I could see myself in many of Desiree’s struggles about balancing career and getting married, the honing down to what’s truly important.
The settings were lush. I could sense the sights and smells of the different locations in Mexico. The book was almost as good as a plane ticket down there to see it all myself. The setting supported the book and plot without taking over. And I loved seeing the growth in many of the secondary characters, too. They weren’t merely props inserted into the book to make the main characters look good. Over the course of the series each of them grew as well.
This book was a delight and a satisfying conclusion to the series. I hate to say good-bye!
Jill Elizabeth Nelson graduated with a degree in literature and creative writing from Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota. She served for three years as the senior inspirational reviewer for Romantic Times BOOKclub magazine and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers Group, and Christian Authors Network. In 2004, she served as a Christy Award judge in the romance category. Nelson and her husband have four children and live in Madison, Minnesota.