Pros: Interesting action scenes
Cons: Nearly everything else
Rating: 2 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Abby Sinclair rose from a terrifying childhood to become a world-class assassin—one who will use any resource at her disposal to kill the bad guys she’s sent after. She’s currently on assignment in Colombia, attempting to kill an arms dealer, but she’s changed the plan and gone rogue. For reasons no one understands she allowed herself to be caught, and now she’s in terrible danger.
Noelle, Abby’s employer and friend, hires mercenary Jim Morgan and his team—well-known for their ability to extract anyone from any situation—to get Abby out of there. There’s just one problem: in getting her out, they ruined her plans, and now she has to go back.
To make things more complicated, Abby left a psychopathic torturer badly mutilated, and he’s determined to track her down and kill her. And now Kane, one of Jim’s team members, has developed an interest in her—and very much wants to crack the shell she’s built up around herself. In the middle of all of this, the group has to find a way to break back into the place she left behind—unless they want to see a lot of innocent children suffer terrible fates.
I’m not entirely sure where to start with this one. The action scenes are interesting—those are probably the strong point of the novel. Unfortunately they bookend a lot of much less interesting material. I could find only one member of Morgan’s team that didn’t seem like a highly familiar stereotype. And while I have no interest in perfect characters, I also very much dislike characters that are built up to us as being incredibly strong and resourceful—but of course the moment the hero starts to break down the heroine’s “shell”, she’s revealed to be terribly wounded, fragile, and unstable. A bit of that here and there is one thing, but I’ve seen too much of it lately in books, and Elle Kennedy’s Midnight Rescue: A Killer Instincts Novel carried it to an illogical extreme. I was far more frustrated with Abby as a character than even Morgan’s team was, and that’s saying something.
I’ll note for those who’ll want to avoid it that there’s a lot of dark material in here—torture, attempted rape, and assault on children. Now, there’s one reason why part of this seriously turned me off to this book. In part, this book is supposed to be a romance novel. It is supposed to, to a certain extent (even if it is also a suspense/action novel), provide some escapism and sexy vibes. It is incredibly difficult to maintain those in the face of some of the material in this book. I’ll try to avoid too many spoilers, but there’s a pair of characters in this book that is forced to pretend to be interested in young children in order to get to a point where they can help the children. Having those characters go through the motions of being turned on in such a situation—even if they feel sick inside—does not, as far as I’m concerned, belong in something advertised in any way as a romance novel. I’m okay with quite a bit of dark material, but this crossed a line for me.
I kept feeling that Abby was one of those TSTL (”too stupid to live”) heroines. There were far too many points when I, as well as the other characters, wanted to hit her upside the head for being a moron. And far too many times when she could have done things in a smarter manner. (Mild spoiler: at one point, someone threatens a person she cares about from her past. In response, she passively does everything he says. At no time does she tell anyone, particularly given that the people around her are renowned for their extraction skills. Not to mention that it might have behooved her to at least make sure said threatened person was still okay, which she never verified.)
With all of that already out there, it doesn’t mean all that much that I felt very little chemistry between any of the characters in this book, despite the fact that I was obviously supposed to see that chemistry in several places.
I won’t even go into Abby’s co-workers, and how it looks to me like each is destined to, in successive books, fall in love with one of Morgan’s team, presumably to then be “rescued” from her personal issues (or to rescue her lover from his personal issues).
The book started off strong, which made me want to like it. But there were just too many eye-rolling moments after that.