Reviewed by May
Growing up wasn’t easy on Sam, always fending for himself and having to watch his own back. The one time he allowed himself to open up to someone and fall in love it only lasted a short time. At eighteen his first love told him to go away and that she never wanted to see him again as he was leaving for basic training. He always blamed himself for the trauma she went through and understood why she pushed him away, but it didn’t make it hurt any less.
Being a loner and a highly skilled sniper, someone without family or connections made him the perfect choice for a secret branch of the NSA. Officially Sam died overseas, and the man known as Jack Stone is one of the most elite agents they have. While they removed most of his tattoos and gave him a new face, the one thing medical procedures could not do was erase the memory of his first (and only) love Sophie. His latest mission is to get close to her because her company and boss are suspected of aiding terrorists. He will be going in posing as a silent partner in a company they work closely with, but before he even gets a single day on this job someone tries to kill Sophie and the pair has to go on the run.
I liked the suspense part of this plot, and the depth in which the author developed the supporting characters to make this a story that came to life on the page. It is not easy to make a story with so many characters running around smooth and easy to follow, but this book succeeded in that.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this story is that this couple is already in love (neither ever got over their first love) and that we get a few glimpses back as well as seeing how they react to each other now as adults. It balanced out well with all of the suspense and action of this story to have them be reunited lovers. This is not to say the romance overall is successful in this story, but I liked the set-up in general for this couple.
I would classify this book as a military suspense with romantic threads. The romance was definitely secondary, and rather disappointing overall. We did not get to see how this couple is perfect for each other now, we are just repeatedly told about how when they were teens they were the perfect couple and so in love. The heroine is into this man because he reminds her so much of her first love, and I kept wishing that she would love aspects about the man in front of her, here and now, instead of just reminiscing.
Of course our hero Jack is no better, he looks at her and her remembers the girl she used to be. I did not see admiration and respect for the woman she is now, both characters are clearly rooted in the past and holding to that love they once shared. The problem with this for me aside from being uninteresting romantically is that I have a hard time buying their happily ever after. Won’t they just become the couple that realizes they grew apart and are different people now that they’re grown?
I also felt like there were a lot of little details in the writing that I wish had been edited differently or removed altogether.
The turquoise water glistened under the bright sun and there literally wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
Literally the sentence above bothered me enough that I remembered it (and one other occasion where the author uses ‘literally’ like this). The other big stand-out writing issue for me was paragraphs that would get overly descriptive about a random character or place. These slowed the pace and pulled me out of the story when they really could have been removed altogether.
Stephen was a bit of an ass-kisser, but he was good at what he did, no doubt about it. He’d graduated from MIT with a degree in political science and he was a genius with computers. Sometimes Wesley wondered why he was working for the NSA instead of a private firm.
While later it makes sense why we might get a bit of info on this Stephen, in that scene and at that point in the book this did nothing but slow things down. And really? I didn’t remember this info dump until I went back looking at highlighted passages to use in this review so obviously it didn’t add to the story for me.
Finally, I had major issues with the heroine. Not only is she drawn to this man because he reminds her of someone she used to know (and ok, in all fairness he IS that person- I just got tired of hearing it!), but she also made my head hurt with bouncing between smart and idiotic.
For example, she decides she must go into her friend’s house to see if she can reassure herself that she escaped and is ok. Now note that there is absolutely nothing she can do, no leads she can pursue or way she can find her friend – she just wants to see “because”.
“Isn’t this what you do? Can’t you get us in without being seen?” She bit her bottom lip and he could feel himself caving.
“Unless I’m your hostage, I’m going with or without you. Decide if you want to help me or not because I’m going.”
She would too. He could see it in the stubborn set of her jaw.
She would pull stunts like this, make demands, run off and act like a total idiot, and then she’d get practical and make good choices in other scenes. I will simply say that the ending leaves me leaning more towards total idiot, and I had a strong dislike of this character by the last page of this book.
Overall this story was an entertaining suspense book, one that moved quickly and navigated all of the characters and twists well. I would recommend this to someone who is not wanting a rich and satisfying romance, but rather a suspense book set in Florida with some light romantic elements featuring a second chance at love couple.