Caveat: I'm a suspense fiction author and while there's a fair bit of romance in my books, I'm clearly not the intended audience for this book, so take from my review what you will...
I managed to struggle to the 50% point of this novel before I put it down. And I mean 'struggle'. From the beginning, I had the feeling that I was reading a romantic comedy rather than romantic suspense.
We have a 35 year old woman who is made Director of the Department of National Security (modeled, possibly, on Homeland Security), who transferred from the CIA to the DNS to whip the DNS into shape. Her romantic/love interest is a 25 year old male agent who looks like a surfer, carries a revolver (?), and behaves like a sullen teenager. That doesn't really matter, as the new Director acts like a schoolgirl, so they're a perfect match.
Some things that messed up my suspense of disbelief: (possible spoilers)
- Nick takes an inebriated Shiloh home. She searches for her keys in her purse and pulls out a tampon. "Her cheeks reddened and heat flooded his own face."
Really? Adults getting flustered about feminine hygiene product? "All he needed was to see her feminine products. That only reiterated the fact that she was indeed a woman--a very desirable one, at that."
Let me explain something. If a grown man sees a tampon, it won't fluster him. Also, a tampon won't reiterate femininity or make men desire a woman more. Or even think about sex. Just so you know. Continued: They banter as she opens her apartment. He wants to check her dark apartment, but she jokes that she was with the CIA when he was still in school. The light goes on and the apartment is ransacked. How does the 35-year old 'tough as nails' DNS director react? "Her hands flew to her mouth, and she started to shake uncontrollably. [snip] Her eyes filled with tears and for some reason that caused a tightening in Nick's chest. Why the director's tears would stir such a reaction, he didn't know, but he sure as hell wasn't going to analyze his feelings now. She needed him to be strong, and he wasn't leaving her side until she told him to. Maybe not even then."
The tough 'Old Iron Maiden' quivers at the sight of a ransacked apartment and the young agent becomes fiercely protective to the damsel in distress. She discovers a mess in her bedroom and an ominous message. Her thoughts? "Tears slid down her cheeks at the overwhelming scene. No mistaking it. This was a death threat. But who? And why?" While the constant head-hopping is irritating, the main issue is that there seems to be threat, but she has ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA who might be responsible.
- Shiloh thinks about Nick. "Her nipples tightened and she felt a strange warmth steal over her."
A 12 year old girl might consider arousal 'a strange warmth', but a 35 year old woman? What does she do? Does she masturbate, or... No, she punches her pillow and blames the handsome man sleeping in her living room getting her all hot and bothered.
- Suddenly, in chapter twelve, we find that she's filed a restraining order against a fellow CIA agent for harassment. Eh? So why didn't she at least suspect this guy when her apartment is ransacked?
- Shiloh is jealous and uses words like 'totally bitchin'?
- The Director carries her Glock in her purse? Not in a holster?
- Nick is kissing Shiloh. "His mind went blank. All he could think of was the taste and softness of her lips. Deepening his assault, his tongue..."
Deepening his assault? This is not a rape scene, it's supposed to be romantic. What is 'assault' doing in there?
- Shiloh and Nick are constantly wondering why they are attracted to each other. At one point, Shiloh muses "What was so appealing about a man ten years younger than her? Probably all those darn women's magazines writing about how older women in their thirties and younger twenty-something men were sexual equals--both at their peak"
What? You get the hots for a younger man and you blame women's magazines? Older women are close to menopause, not thirty. And most forty-five year old women would consider the term 'older woman' an insult. But that doesn't matter, because "Her breasts were on alert..."
Ehm, does that mean her nipples are hard or are her breasts 'tightening' again?
- "Her hand slid down his stomach into his jeans and..."
His 'stomach'? The stomach is part of the gastro-intestinal system, so that makes this description both laughable and revolting. Suggestion, use the word 'belly' or 'hard six-pack' or 'abdomen'. I held stomachs in my hands, and the last thing you want to do is caress it.
- Nick refers to reading [b:Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus|1274|Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus|John Gray|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1344751094s/1274.jpg|55001], which is improbable, but his conclusion is that women are truly alien...
- Nick has quite a temper. He's constantly balling his fists. You'd expect more restraint/sophistication from a federal agent...
- After a shoot-out, Nick mentions "We need a team down here to look for slugs."
Slugs? Is he with the Mafia, or with a Federal organization?
- Shiloh has a scratched knee. Nick wants to call an ambulance. She refuses because it's just a scratch. They are in the parking lot of the office. Nick then proceeds to take the First Aid Kit from her car trunk (noticing a thick folder on Alzheimer), tears open 'a packet'(?), tells her it's going to sting and applies 'the white patch'(?) to her knee. He removes the pad(?) and blows
on the wound, places a bandage over the gash, then smiles at her and says "All better?"
. Apart from using her car's First Aid Kit (they're in the office parking lot and they have better First Aid Kits in the security booth/reception of any office), Nick shows an appalling lack of knowledge about First Aid. I assume the packet/patch/pad was a disinfectant. Re-infecting a wound with bacteria by blowing over the wound is definitely not taught in the First Aid classes I attended. And "All better?" is something a mother says to a toddler. I assume this was meant to show his caring nature, but the DNS director is surrounded by agents, and he blows on her knee and ask her if she's 'all better?' And she smiles at him?
At this point, my suspension of disbelief popped like a balloon and I closed the book.
I tried to find redeeming qualities, but I couldn't find any. The sheer misogynism of allowing a thirty-five year old woman to consider herself 'over the hill' and constantly worry about her attractiveness was insulting. The 'surfer dude' federal agent who drives a Mustang and carries a revolver is anachronistic unrealistic. Having adults constantly in the throes of overwhelming emotions like hormone-crazed adolescents while holding down jobs in the demanding world of Federal law enforcement is laughable. And describing romantic scenes with words like 'assault' is just plain weird.
So, for those who enjoy a good laugh, this book comes highly recommended if you can overlook the poor editing, but people looking for romance or suspense might better look elsewhere.