License to Thrill
Tori Carrington is actually a pseudonym for two authors. I am wondering if they split the book in half – one starting and one finishing, because each half of License to Thrill reads like a different novel.
In the first half, the reader learns that Melanie Weber is an ex-Secret Service agent who is about to be married. She is pregnant, but the father of her baby is not her soon-to-be husband. The father is Marc McCoy, her ex-partner. Marc and Melanie had recently parted ways because of Marc’s inability to commit. Then Melanie was shot in an assassination attempt, which left her questioning her ability to do her job. While she was hospitalized, she discovered the pregnancy and sensibly resigned. Marc does not know she is pregnant, and she is not sure if she’ll ever see him again, let alone tell him about the baby.
During a pre-wedding dinner, Marc suddenly shows up and kidnaps Melanie. It seems that Tom Hooker, the man who shot her, has escaped from prison and is out to find her, so Marc takes it upon himself to get her to safety and keep her there until Hooker is again behind bars.
First of all, this premise is hard to believe. Given that police departments do not allow partners to fraternize, why would the Secret Service? How could you protect the lives of political leaders if your lover might also be at risk? The fact that Mel and Marc’s relationship was well known to the Service was not believable to my gullible mind, and I can often suspend disbelief easily.
Then there is the entire first half of the book. I learned more about Mel and Marc’s physical reactions to each other than I needed or wanted to. There was purple prose:
“Mel finally moved, but the slinky way she did made him wish she had stayed where she was. With short, measured steps, she came in front of him, the evidence of her arousal clearly evident by the two points smiling at him through the silk. His throat – along with another body part – tightened painfully.”
Marc is always adjusting himself – due to painful engorgement I’m assuming – and Mel is always shaky and confused, with lots of descriptive heat and moisture involved. I found it surprising that two people who are supposed to be as quickly decisive as Secret Service agents could never get a word in. In the first half of the book there is hardly any dialogue.
The second half, on the other hand, reads quickly. Lots of snappy dialogue, an introduction to Marc’s numerous brothers and crusty father, and a heroine who finally behaves like she is a Secret Service agent despite being pregnant.
License to Thrill is a book that drags in the beginning and picks up in the end. It was fun reading how Marc used women’s magazines in an attempt research what women want. I particularly enjoyed the article he found entitled Ten Ways to Win Back Your Lover For Good. What worked well was Mel’s strength during the second half, and Marc’s family (who, by the way, are all going to have stories of their own, as this is the first in The Magnificent McCoy Men series). None of this, however, makes up for the almost painful-to-read beginning. Maybe in the next McCoy book, these authors will get rid of phrases like milky thighs, and stop describing just how often the hero and heroine swallow nervously. I hadn’t realize I could get tired of reading about the physical effects of suppressed desire – License to Thrill proved me wrong.