Review: Primal Instinct by Janie Crouch

primal instinctTitle: Primal Instinct

Author: Janie Crouch

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2014

The heroine: Rancher/FBI profiler Adrienne Jeffries

The hero: FBI Special Agent Conner Perigo

The blurb: On the crowded streets of San Francisco, a serial killer watches and waits. Known only as “Simon Says,” he lures his next victim while the FBI grasps for answers. Desperate, they turn to Adrienne Jeffries. Adrienne has an uncanny talent for getting inside the city’s most dangerous minds. But first she’ll have to get past FBI agent Conner Perigo. Skeptical of Adrienne’s abilities, Conner begrudgingly enlists her help…unprepared for the powerful attraction that could jeopardize their focus. With little time, and everything to lose, they must work to find Simon’s next victim—before he does.

Standalone or series: Book one of the Instinct series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: FBI Special Agent Conner Perigo has heard of The Bloodhound, a woman who used to work for the FBI years ago as a civilian profiler. Her reputation precedes her; she helped solve an untold number of cases in a two year period. However, eight years ago, she suddenly stopped working with the FBI and has become somewhat of a legend whispered about at the water cooler.

San Francisco has a serial killer named Simon Says in its midst, and the FBI are desperate to find him. He’s been taunting them by sending boxes with locks of hair, and the women the hair belong to turns up dead shortly after. The body count now stands at five, and Conner and his partner, Seth Harrington, are willing to do anything to find him.

Adrienne Jeffries now owns a horse ranch a couple of hours outside San Fran, and her manager, Rick, has a warrant out for his arrest for failing to meet the conditions of his parole for minor crimes. So when Conner’s boss tells him and Seth to go to Adrienne and bring her in to help them with the Simon Says case or else they’ll arrest Rick, Conner is torn – he doesn’t like the idea of blackmailing this woman, but he has to follow orders.

He expects to find a middle-aged woman when he turns up at Adrienne’s ranch, but what he gets is something quite different: Adrienne is a softly spoken, petite twenty eight year old. He learns that she was only a teenager when she worked for the FBI and she has a gift – she’s able to sense malevolence and evil in people. She can hear their thoughts in her head. She has a constant buzz whenever she’s around people, which is why she chooses to live on a quiet ranch out of the city, and using her gift takes a very big toll on her in every way. The evil voices scream inside her head. She gets nosebleeds and migraines. She’s barely able to stand in their presence. But the FBI did not look after her in any way, just demanded she kept helping them solve cases, and eventually it became so hard for her that she had to walk away.

Which is why she is reluctant to go back to the FBI, but she does to help Rick. Something about her just gets under Conner’s skin and he’s rude the first time they meet, causing Adrienne to amusingly refer to him as Special Agent Jackass. But as he starts to become aware of her gift and how it works, he’s in awe of what an amazing woman she is, to live with what she does and not go totally insane. Adrienne realises that when Conner is around her, she can’t hear anything in her head – he seems to take away her ability to sense anything, leaving her in blissful silence.

When Simon kills another woman, Adrienne knows she can’t walk away, no matter the personal toll it takes on her. There is one scene where Adrienne is in a coffee shop one morning and can hear a man intent on murdering two of the people in the coffee shop with Adrienne that is just incredible. The closer he gets, the more Adrienne can hear him in her head and his rage is so overpowering that she’s close to collapse, but she manages to call for help in time and saves the couple, who turn out to be the man’s estranged wife and her new boyfriend.

I did guess the identity of Simon Says, but there was a twist I didn’t see coming that explained why Adrienne didn’t identify him straight away at first; it was very cleverly done. Even though they’ve known each other for a short time, Conner and Adrienne realise they’ve fallen for each other, so once Simon is caught, they plan a life together.

This is the first in the Instinct trilogy – Adrienne is a triplet, and her sisters Paige and Chloe also have a gift. The next two books are their stories. Be prepared to be sucked into this book – I read it one night for hours until my phone fell out of my hand because I was so tired!

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