The Paris Assignment
If you like a good romantic thriller, The Paris Assignment is certainly worth trying. The plot is a fairly classic one, but the author does a good job of putting her own spin on a much-used trope, resulting in a solid read.
Abigail McBane is no delicate flower, but even this strong executive could use help on occasion. Abby serves as CEO of a company that dominates the communications industry and on the eve of what promises to be a big move for her company, she uncovers a serious breach in her computers. Somehow someone has gotten by her security and spent seven untraceable minutes in her databases and she wants the mysterious culprit shut down.
Confiding in a college friend results in that friend sending her brother, computer genius Campbell Steele, to work on the problem with Abby. Since Abby is determined to carry on with her planned annual board meeting in Paris, Campbell tags along in a role that is part computer guru and part bodyguard. Abby is at first reluctant to work with Campbell and since she trusts her staff completely, she does not appreciate Campbell questioning their loyalty. Even so, each recognizes early on that the other is both skilled and highly intelligent, and that helps them bond. The fact that they have almost instant chemistry doesn’t hurt either.
The “heroine in danger and in need of protection” plot comes up pretty frequently in romantic suspense. I’m not fond of weak heroines as a rule, so this is usually not a plot that I seek often. However, Fox throws in some wonderful touches in this book. First of all, we see right away that both of the leads are bright and more than capable; their strengths simply lie in different areas. Campbell knows computers and security so he has ways of picking up on things in these arenas that Abby might not notice right away, while Abby knows her company and her time as an executive has also taught her to read people, a skill that ends up coming in handy more than once in this story.
While the book starts off in the realm of computers, we learn early on that the villain isn’t just a hacker; he has something personal against Abby. This motivation allows for a believable segue from cyberspace to real-life action. Given that the author must juggle corporate intrigue, action sequences and an unfolding romance, she mostly does a very good job of keeping the book flowing smoothly.
There are a few weak points in the The Paris Assignment that bear mentioning. Readers who can’t stand for their characters to be almost unbelievably rich and accomplished might not go for Abby and Campbell. Each of them carries some emotional baggage and they do have flaws, but they are also both rich, super-connected geniuses. In addition, while the villain and his motivations do make sense, some of the twists and turns of his plot stray somewhat over that line between believable evil and ridiculous eeeevilll. I recognized this while I read, but the story was still so much fun that I couldn’t let that pull me out of the action. Because of that, I rate this a B instead of a B-.
If you’re in the mood for some slightly over-the-top – but nevertheless fun to read – romantic suspense, this novel by Addison Fox is action-packed fun. It’s first in a new series, and I intend to follow the rest of the Steele siblings’ adventures.