Shooter (Burnout Series, Book 1), by Dahlia West

Shooter - Dahlia West

"Chris “Shooter” Sullivan has returned to his home town of Rapid City, South Dakota to pick up the pieces of his life shattered by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He only wants to focus on holding what’s left of his old unit together, running his garage where he builds custom bikes and cars, and pretending that his murdered father’s motorcycle gang doesn’t exist.

Hayley Turner is a young woman with her own traumatic past. Fresh off the bus from Nowhere, USA, all she wants is a job and a place to live, until it’s time for her to leave again. She doesn’t want to make friends, or enemies, least of all the ex-Army Ranger who obviously doesn’t like her. She bristles under his watchful eye. He’s even got her convinced she’s bad news.

But circumstances force two people who don’t need anyone to need each other more and more. The more Chris gets to know Hayley, the harder it is to stay detached. And the more Hayley gets to know Chris, the more she realizes she’s been alone for so long she might never recover from it."


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Shooter is a contemporary romance that felt a little like an alternate universe fan fic of Kristen Ashley’s Sweet Dreams. The stories were different, but there were certain elements that reminded me very much of Sweet Dreams. There was the quirky, nosy checkout girl, the kitchen remodel , the nickname (Slick to Lauren’s Ace), the discussion of paint color, the heroine’s cooking/baking, and the sweet tea (reminded me of Lauren’s Kool-Aid). By the 60% mark I had wondered whether

Hayley’s father would suffer a heart attack. Indeed, he does.

(show spoiler)


All of this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. All stories inspire other stories, and many contain similar tropes. For example, who hasn't enjoyed an alternate version of Hamlet or Pride & Prejudice? However, in order for something like that to work, the characters have to take on a life of their own. This is where Shooter fails.


Hayley, the heroine, never becomes a real person. Other than her interaction with Chris and Chris’ friends, she had no true life of her own. No friends, especially with other women, in the story. Her sole activity was cooking for Chris and his crew. It would have been nice to see other aspects of her life. And, there wasn’t progression in her character or any true transformation of her own making.


Also, for the most part, Chris’ crew remained two dimensional. Their role was to be available to Chris at all times, which wasn’t realistic. While we were told they had lives outside of Chris, this never truly comes across in the story. The only ones that were somewhat fleshed out were Tex, and at times, Doc. The rest were cardboard thin. Also, the crew's protectiveness of the heroine was often over-the-top and unrealistic.


Chris, the hero, was okay. He's a jerk in the beginning, but becomes likable as the story progresses. My only issue with him is that his concern for Hayley comes out of thin air. I would have liked more interaction between him and the heroine before he developed such intense feelings of concern. The way it was done felt a bit jarring. 


The last 80% of the story felt tacked on, and some of it, a bit silly. Much of it was predictable so I skimmed a little at the end. 


I did find some parts of Shooter enjoyable, particularly the first portion of the story. But, by the end, the cons outweighed the positives.


Final rating: 2 stars