cover image Dare to Run

Dare to Run

Jen McLaughlin. Signet, $7.99 mass market (336p) ISBN 978-0-451-47759-0

McLaughlin’s Sons of Steel Row series opens with this dark, edgy contemporary. Ex-con Lucas Donahue, a high-ranking gang member, is back to smuggling weapons after doing his time. When he sees Heidi Greene, his neighbor, about to be assaulted by a rival gang behind her Boston tavern, Lucas kills two of the assailants. To avoid a gang war, Lucas claims that he was just protecting his girlfriend, but this ruse requires Lucas and Heidi to demonstrate publicly that they are, in fact, lovers. They discover that their phony relationship isn’t hard to fake given their strong attraction to each other. Subplots involving Lucas’s brother and political tension within the gang provide more insight into Lucas; Heidi learns that his life of crime began with noble intentions. Despite the violence, McLaughlin’s well-crafted characters are relatable, sympathetic, and appealing. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency. (Feb.)