Night of No Return
Night of No Return is the third book in Silhouette’s twelve-book A Year of Loving Dangerously mini-series, but it is not necessary to have read the first two books in the series to thoroughly appreciate this installment. All you need to know is that there’s a secret government agency named SPEAR headed by the mysterious Jonah, who is being framed for treason by a nemesis named Simon.
As the story opens we are introduced to Alex Bok, an agent contemplating his own mortality. Recently recovered from a near death experience in the deserts of the Middle East, Alex is haunted by the memory of the woman who saved his life. The woman was only an impression in his mind: a soft voice, long black hair, and the scent of lilacs.
Alex wasn’t much more to Dr. Nora Lowe, an archeologist on a dig between Mount Sinai and the Suez. To her he was the mysterious stranger she’d found bleeding to death in the desert during her daily run. She’s shocked when she finds him in the middle of her camp representing himself as an archeologist from a Cairo museum. Both are thrown by their immediate attraction, especially Alex, who feels guilty for deceiving Nora about his true intentions. He’s really there to find the base for a local terrorist organization reportedly selling arms to Simon.
This is a romantic suspense novel, but the suspense takes a cozy back seat to Alex and Nora’s budding relationship. That’s fortunate, because the relationship is a very enjoyable one. Alex and Nora are true equals. Alex may be keeping Nora in the dark as to his true motives, but he never plays her for a fool, and there are blessedly no Big Misunderstandings here. Yes, Alex can’t tell Nora the why he is in Egypt, nor can he explain why she found him near death in the desert, or why he is friends with a known smuggler. Yet Nora doesn’t jump to conclusions. She makes up her own mind based on other things Alex does. For example, when he learns she skipped her high school prom, he starts a game of make-believe that ends up with Nora in a vulnerable position, but he doesn’t take advantage of the situation. She realizes a man capable of such a noble gesture has a certain amount of integrity and therefore gives him a chance to explain. For his part, Alex is protective of Nora and cares deeply for her. One of the most moving scenes is when Alex realizes what he truly fears and what role Nora could play in his future.
Nora is a great heroine, and she is the best thing about this book. She’s a strong, self-reliant woman who has made her own way in the world. Unlike her mother and sisters who have relied on the men in their life for their well being and self-esteem, Nora depends solely on herself. She put herself through college to better her lot in life and looks only to her accomplishments for her self-worth. Nora uses her head and does not march off in a snit when Alex does something she doesn’t like, and she thinks things through before acting. She is more than a match for any hero.
I did have a few quibbles with Night of No Return. It is a series title and somewhat constrained by it’s length. I wish the author had had more space with which to flesh out her characters. This is particularly evident with a villain, who seemed to come out of left field. Also, Nora’s assistant Tim came across as petty and mean. I had the feeling that the reader was supposed to synpahize with him because he was jealous of Alex, but I just kept wishing someone would slap him every time he said something nasty.
This was my first book by Eileen Wilks, and I will keep an eye out for her from now on. I recommend this book to anyone who likes strong heroines, heroes that are smart enough to realize when they’ve found the right woman, and a fast paced story that focuses on the relationship.