Susan Bischoff is one of the best indie YA authors out there. (I like her better than Amanda Hocking. That was SEO for you, Susan. More people will read this post because I did that. I swear. I’m thinking of just mentioning Amanda Hocking randomly in a bunch of blog posts and then hosting a scavenger hunt for free ebooks. She won’t mind, will she? And imagine the clicks!) From her snappy Whedon-esque dialogue to her to-die-for characterizations, she’s a winner.

The second installment of The Talent Chronicles doesn’t disappoint. Joss and Dylan get closer and much kissing ensues. (Bischoff commits the sin of letting teenagers sleep chastely in the same bed, which I think is unrealistic, but what do I know? Anyway, I didn’t care, because I BELIEVED it. It helps that Dylan isn’t lots older than Joss–do you hear that Myer and Caine? Do you?) The angst piles up, as the two misread each other’s intentions–but not in a stupid, romcom way either. In a this-is-totally-the-way-teenagers-actually-think way.

Heroes ‘Till Curfew finds the two struggling to sort through their complicated feelings for each other while Marco and the gang mount attack after attack on the Talents. Additionally, we learn more about both Joss’s and Dylan’s screwed-up parental situations.

The book rushes towards a tense climax involving the threat of rape (absolutely horrific, btw) and burning buildings. It left me tense and flipping pages like a fiend.

I think Bischoff’s strength is that she really knows how to plot a story like nobody’s business. She balances all the elements–romance, action, etc–perfectly, and she makes it look easy. A story like that would read well no matter what she did. But her characterization is spot on too. And add in that snappy dialogue… (“Have you ever thought of me as more than a friend?” Long kiss. “Nope. Never.”) …she thrusts her book into the stratosphere.

This book is highly, highly recommended.