One reason I rarely read novels about the CIA or other spy agencies is that the clandestine nature of these agencies seems to give some authors the idea that they don’t need to do any research into how the agencies work. I was hoping Cate Noble’s latest would be an exception. It wasn’t.
Gena Armstrong is a strong believer in rebuilding. She rebuilt her body after drugs and alcoholism took a toll on it. She rebuilt her life after an abusive husband almost killed her. She is building a home for battered women, so that others may escape a similar situation. Then an explosion destroys that home – with her and one other volunteer still in it. Reeling from the shock of the blast and the injuries sustained by her friend, Gena is even more amazed to see a man from her past walking toward her across the ER. A man who had let her down badly and with whom she hoped she would never have to deal with again – but whom she still loves.
It’s Rocco Taylor’s fault that Gena finds herself injured and in an ER. He had killed the son of a powerful drug dealer while on a mission in Bangkok and that drug dealer, Minh Tran, is now on a mission of vengeance. He will kill everyone Rocco has loved – going back many, many years to make sure he misses no one. It isn’t easy to tell the woman whom he has carried a torch for these many years that he is at fault for the damage to her house and friend, and for the danger she now finds herself in – but he mans up and does it. And gets ready to take her somewhere, anywhere he can keep her safe. But can they keep from acting on the love that still smolders deep in their hearts as they run from danger?
Meanwhile, another former girlfriend of Rocco’s, Maddy Kohlmeyer, is a prisoner of Tran and Rocco must trust his friend and boss Travis Franks with the retrieval of this precious treasure. Precious to Travis at least, who must acknowledge that he hasn’t done a very good job of guarding his heart from the beautiful operative. Now he must not only rescue her from Tran but convince her to take a chance on an old operative who didn’t appreciate fully what he had until he lost it.
Thus begins a tale of double and triple crosses, psychics, wonder drugs, and noisy, noisy law breaking. Forget sneaky, the new CIA is out and proud. No head games here, just a lot of brute force. From what I’ve read of genuine spy work it’s pretty boring stuff. I get that an author might not want to write about it but what I don’t get is why you would write about it and change the nature of it completely. Why have your guy work for the CIA – which has tons of rules and regulations – when you could make him a rogue patriot or part of a made up organization? Knowing that these men worked for a government agency just made what happened seem that much more ridiculous.
I didn’t just struggle with the plot but with the characters. Gena had tons of TSTL moments, starting from when she first meets Rocco back in the day (we get flashbacks to that) to moments after their current encounter. A typical example is when she decides to leave the hospital without Rocco and gets kidnapped within a half hour. Her mix of phenomenal beauty, innocence, and bursts of brilliance mingled with moments of utter stupidity didn’t work for me. Rocco is better, a typical taciturn but caring alpha. His character wasn’t anything new, but it also wasn’t annoying, so that put him several steps up from Gena. Maddy and Travis, the secondary romance here, were barely together. We don’t get many flashbacks with them, just lots of thoughts of how much they love each other and then the saccharin ending for everyone. What I did see of them, though, I liked. In fact, it was my liking of these three characters, along with the author’s fairly decent writing style and a mild interest in the resolution that kept this book from an F.
I wish I could recommend this novel. I am always looking for new romantic suspense and I wanted to like this book. Sadly, I am going to have to keep looking.