Alias may have the same title as a certain TV show, but it’s actually more reminiscent of a recent movie. If your idea of a kick-butt heroine is Jennifer Lopez in the movie Enough, this may be the book for you. If not, there’s little here to make the book more than an average read.
Darcy Steele was married to a Hollywood producer who controlled every aspect of her life. When she found out she was pregnant, her husband reacted violently and did everything he could to make her lose the baby. Finally, after her son was born, Darcy escaped, taking an assumed name and disappearing where her husband couldn’t find her.
Now known as Piper, she helps abused women escape their partners. She has help in this endeavor from bounty hunter Jack Turner. She trusts Jack about as much as she can any man, but he still knows nothing of her past. When Darcy sees a story about her husband on an entertainment news show, she becomes convinced that he murdered the financier of his latest movie. Proving it might be her way out of hiding, putting her husband behind bars where he belongs.
Darcy travels to L.A. to search for evidence. Meanwhile, since this is also the second book in the Athena Force series, it continues the storyline set up in the first book, Justine Davis’ Proof. Darcy is a graduate of the Athena Academy, an elite boarding school educating tomorrow’s female leaders. One of her old friends and classmates died in the last book, and Darcy continues the investigation.
The two plots aren’t integrated all that well, and more than once I thought the book would have been better with either one or the other. As it is, the story moves quickly. There are a few good action scenes, and Darcy displays some toughness and ingenuity. It’s a fast read, but also kind of shallow and empty due to a lack of development.
The characters are drawn in the broadest of broad strokes with no dimension whatsoever. Darcy and Jack are decent characters, but nowhere close to being three-dimensional people. When she was pregnant, Darcy’s husband threw her down a staircase to cause her to lose the baby. He threatened to cut it from her belly. But now he wants nothing more than to get his son. Why? Because he’s eeeeeeeevil. That’s it. Readers looking for any deeper explanation into his psyche won’t find them here.
The author also indulges in one of my pet peeves: she has supposedly smart characters act stupid for the sake of the plot. In the end, Darcy and her son are endangered simply because she wasn’t careful when she should have been. You’d think a woman who knows her crazy husband is after her would be a little cautious, but in at least one instance that should set off warning bells in the minds of any reader, Darcy plunges into a situation without even considering that the person involved might be dangerous. She pays for it, and I had a hard time feeling bad for her as a result.
But then, Darcy is a contradictory character who doesn’t make all that much sense. In the end when Darcy’s husband asks her where she learned all of her fighting skills, Darcy tells him it was the Athena Academy. But she attended the academy before she married him. If she had the ability to stick up for herself all along, if she attended a school that trains girls how to be strong women, why on earth did she let him dominate her at all? And what made her change? She didn’t defend herself in her marriage, but after getting away from him, she was suddenly able to tap into the skills she had the whole time? Huh? It’s hard to take the concept of the Athena Academy seriously if this school whose purpose is to develop strong, powerful women doesn’t bother to teach its students that no man is worth putting up with abuse.
I’ll also mention that the author’s portrayal of Hollywood is typically fake and unrealistic. It’s the kind of fictional Hollywood where Darcy’s husband makes really cheesy-sounding action flicks that get rave reviews from the critics (yeah, right). On the other hand, the title is actually quite fitting, since almost no one in this book is who they claim to be. The romantic element is also fairly well executed, even if it doesn’t end in the tidy finish a full-fledged romance novel would deliver.
In the end, Alias is a fast and easy read, but it’s also sloppy and underdeveloped. It’s an effective time-waster, but not much more.