Deceived is the seventh book in Silhouette Bombshell’s Athena Force miniseries. I stopped following the series after the second book, but this one promised a heroine who was a thief with paranormal abilities. That sounded right up my alley, so I figured I’d jump back in. While it was easy enough to understand without having read the last few books, this one was still a disappointment.
Lynnette White was raised by her godfather Jonas. An incredibly wealthy businessman, Jonas was fiercely protective of her, watching over her every move. He trained her to become a thief, using her extrasensory abilities to break into the most secure spaces. Lynn’s heightened senses allow her to register things on a level most people can’t. She’s also physically strong and moves extremely fast, both of which come in handy on her missions.
Lynn believes Jonas works for the U.S. government, stealing back stolen treasures from those who obtained them illegally in order to return them to their rightful owners. As she puts it, she’s robbing from the wrong to give to the right. Her inclination to believe what she’s told by the man who raised her is understandable. Even so, the idea that the government would be having her do these things is so far-fetched and has so many holes that Lynn appears dense for not catching on to the fact that her godfather isn’t what he seems. As the story begins, she’s starting to have some doubts about her missions, but they’re not strong enough to redeem the character.
FBI Agent Nick Barnes has been undercover in Jonas’s organization for two years. The FBI believes Jonas, a man with numerous criminal connections, is trafficking in stolen antiques. They just can’t figure out how he’s stealing the items, which seem to disappear despite being guarded by the most sophisticated security systems. Finally, Nick’s superiors order him to seduce Jonas’s goddaughter Lynn in order to learn whatever she might know. A graduate student, Lynn is shy and sheltered. It’s easy for him to romance her. He doesn’t imagine there’s more to her than she seems.
Deceived is a decent enough read. Cassidy is a capable writer with a reasonably engaging style. The story moves quickly and goes down easily. But it falls short in the two areas Bombshell books are supposed to excel: the action and the heroine. There are only a few action scenes, and overall the story lacks excitement. It’s more focused on the romance and the characters, which wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the characters were better developed.
The biggest disappointment is Lynn. The Bombshell line is supposed to be about strong heroines, and Lynn is anything but. She’s young, virginal, vulnerable, naive, inexperienced, easily manipulated, unsure of herself, and often foolish. Basically, most of the traits you wouldn’t expect or want to see in a kick-butt heroine apply to Lynn. Late in the story, the author writes, “For too long Lynn had been dependent on others. She’d allowed herself to be led without standing on her own two feet.” This is supposed to be a strong woman? The author really doesn’t do anything with Lynn’s paranormal abilities, and most of the time it’s easy to forget she has them at all. She may have physical toughness, but we only see this side of her a few times. A handful of physically demanding scenes don’t do much to disguise the fact that this is a weak heroine.
Nick is fairly one-dimensional. His family history is a source of angst for him, but it doesn’t amount to much and is the only thing we know about him. It doesn’t help that the author does a lot of telling instead of showing, telling us what the characters are thinking and feeling point-blank instead of revealing this to us through the characters themselves. As a result, two characters who were already flat felt even more so. At one point the author tells us that Lynn had grown a lot in the past 24 hours. I could only shrug and think, “If you say so.” It would have been nice to see some evidence of that, but that’s the kind of book this is.
Deceived is a fast, easy read that was never boring, but it’s also pretty shallow and forgettable. I’m not giving up on this series. The next few books are by Evelyn Vaughn, Harper Allen and Ruth Wind, all authors I’ve really enjoyed in the past. Hopefully those books will provide the exciting plots and strong heroines this one was lacking.