Reviewed by May
“Couple ex-CIA spooks, an FBI negotiator, a Delta Force medic, an explosives tech…” His eyes slid away for the barest instant before he continued. “And a Marine sniper. They’re all experts in their fields-“
With former Navy SEAL Gabe Bristow at the lead, this new hostage rescue team (known as HORNET) is well on its way to being established – and how better than trial by fire? The guys haven’t ever trained or worked a day together and yet they’re being put to work immediately, to try and save a kidnap victim down in Colombia. Now they have to work together, save their guy, and now his sister too. Because the hostage’s sister Audrey has landed in Colombia and is intent on saving her brother – and she has no interest in stepping back or leaving this to the professionals.
What made me pick up this book was the set-up of men who are for one reason or another perhaps past their prime, have injuries keeping them off elite teams, incidents that have them out of service, or otherwise washed up being put together for a raggedy team for hire. I love the idea of this, and I really liked how this author showed these guys getting together and things not going so smoothly. Orders not being followed, the team not working together seamlessly, problems arise – it was very well done and I loved watching the group dynamic develop and getting to know these men a bit better in this story. Each one clearly has a lot of history and back-story, and I am assuming the author will get to each in turn.
Harvard was out the door before Jean-Luc could stop him. He moved smoothly, kept his rifle at the ready, and cleared both vehicles, all quick, efficient, and quiet-like.
Maybe Jean-Luc thought as he followed, they had all underestimated the genius boy’s abilities. “Where did you learn to do that?”
“Call of Duty.”
Or maybe not.
Their group chemistry and getting to know each other, as well as struggling to work an op with very few resources and even less knowledge of how the others work best, it was well done. The problems arise with Gabe and Audrey, our main couple and focus of the story.
I still am not sure why Audrey thought she could traipse down to Colombia and figure out what happened to her brother or why she figured she would do anything but get herself killed. Repeatedly this heroine annoyed me with her lack of consistency and tendency to lean too close to being the stupid heroine in a romantic suspense. She is an artist and often on the impulsive side, but then suddenly she’s also level headed and good under pressure. The pieces didn’t always fit.
Gabe was also a problem for me. We know he has a badly injured foot – and while it seemed like it is as healed as it is going to get, I didn’t feel like it was consistent. How can he need a cane, have his foot swell to the point of needing his boot cut off just from walking, but then later be ok to carry Audrey around? I also felt like we never really scratched the surface with Gabe. His father is an Admiral and raised him very strict military. He has siblings (including a flamboyantly gay brother) whom he loves, but what else do we really know about him? I felt like as a character, I never really understood what made him tick or why he acted the way he did.
The real sticking point with this romance is that it was beyond insta-love. Now I know this isn’t uncommon in the romantic suspense genre, but in this story it in no way worked for me. These people have never met, but in a few short intense days filled with searching for her brother now they’re in Love? In fact, at one point one of Gabe’s teammates points out that for all they know – Audrey could be the one behind the kidnapping!
But no, he won’t believe that because he loves her. He knows her. Um, no, no he really doesn’t any more than she knows him. For me, this kind of big proclamation of love when characters have only known each other a few days makes me crazy especially when they haven’t been developed enough and it isn’t believable. I won’t go into spoilers but I will just say things continued to fall apart with both the romance and plot in general in the last third of the book. Gabe miraculously recovers from very serious wounds, Audrey does some manipulative stuff that I found really hard to swallow at the very end, and none of it worked.
While the romance didn’t work at all, and big chunks of the story fell apart for me, I still did enjoy the idea behind this group. The author wasn’t afraid to give them imperfections and make them have trouble working together and function as a unit. I really liked the tension and intensity in that, and I think she has a nice writing style for this type of story. This one hit a lot of bad notes for me, but it had some good moments too and I’d be interested to see what this author does with this HORNET group in the future.