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A mediocre action story, but a fun romantic adventure romp
on January 11, 2013
I am definitely a Tara Sivec fan, but this book fell flat for me. I would never make an as*hole comment like "she should stick to romantic comedy," but I do strongly feel she overreached her expertise when she chose to take on an action story with so many moving parts. More on that later - let's start with the good.
- Layers and layers of secrets. Think "Gone Girl" level of lies and surprises. I imagined that Ms. Sivec had to keep a physical storyboard (pictures, names, locations, aliases, titles) just to organize the number of characters and their histories.
- Good pacing. The action keeps the story moving. This is one of those "don't want to put it down because I'm on the verge of another revelation" books. I finished it in two days, which is quick considering the length of the book.
- Hot sex. I appreciate that Ms. Sivec isn't afraid to stray into the erotica realm, since this story is targeted to a slightly older (late 20's) demographic than the Chocolate Lovers series.
Unfortunately, there's only so much suspension of disbelief that a reader can stomach before the mountain of "coincidences" become completely implausible. I tried very hard to not nitpick, but these flaws and holes were impossible to ignore.
- Terminology/technicality issues. There are too many instances of unlikely/incorrect protocols, partnerships, laws and missions to ignore. The military and government have very distinct processes for approaching international conflicts, and the way this story is written is not the way it would be handled in real life. However, I digress on this point because I understand that most readers won't nitpick at things like "Wait, that is not the agency that is supposed to handle that part of the mission" or "That guy would not be that other guy's boss." Whatever, I let it go :)
- Ridiculous timing. There were far too many instances of impossibly timed, serendipitous moments when the right character heard or saw the exact important detail needed to move the story along. It was frustrating that the story was held together by convenient coincidences.
- The "surprises" became grueling. There are only so many "gotcha" moments an author can pull before the reader stops trusting that anything is real. It was like a never-ending Russian nesting doll of "just kiddings."
- The insufferable heroine and hero. Despite their highly specialized careers, those two acted like a pair of irrational teenagers straight from the "New Adult" genre. Their relationship had all the hallmarks of a bad teen romance: jumping to conclusions, long and painfully overwrought misunderstandings that the two never stopped to resolve, going from hot to cold with a single sentence, etc. It was a little insulting to their respective career fields that McCarthy and Parker were portrayed as so impetuous, temperamental and melodramatic.
- The characters are completely one-dimensional. The good guys are selfless and virtuous, the villains are disgusting monsters with no sympathetic qualities or redeeming traits. The only flaws in the perfect hero and heroine are that they put up "walls" and wear "masks" to conceal their feelings for each other. It's such an overused character device that I'm frankly angry to see it used in a book that is supposed to cater to mature readers. Most of us in our late 20's don't act like emo teens over our childhoods anymore.
I personally had higher expectations for Ms. Sivec with this story since I think she's capable of writing with so much heart and finesse, but (and this is a major but!) she did a damn good job for a writer going outside of her genre and comfort zone. I'd recommend this to readers who are less likely to question the details and just enjoy the ride :)