Kyle Tremont, against his better judgement, has taken one last mission from his boss at the FBI–extract an undercover agent who’s been investigating the crooked Gregory Haroldson. He knew that Rianna Sullivan was under deep cover, but the mob boss’s fiance? That’s pretty hardcore. When Rianna engineers their getaway, it goes off like clockwork, but Haroldson wants his fiance back…
Rianna has her motivations for wanting to take Haroldson down–her father worked for him, years ago, and when he turned state’s evidence, and went into Witness Protection, Haroldson eventually caught up with them and killed her parents. Rianna has, all her life, borne the burden of guilt over this, and wants the crook brought to justice.
Herein is my first misgiving, and the biggest one, about this tale. I find it hard to believe that the FBI would hire someone with this sort of single-minded obsession, and even harder to buy that they’d put her on this particular case. We’re given an explanation near the end, which I won’t tell you in order to avoid spoiling the tale, but it just further messes with my head. If the true-to-life FBI tried this, someone would be testifying before Congress…
If you can suspend disbelief there, though, we have a great adventure tale, a la North by Northwest. Car chases, hiding out in plain sight, gun battles, never quite knowing when the seemingly-indestructible bad guys will turn up, it’s all there. Definitely an enjoyable suspense thriller.
Our hero is a recently-retired agent who’s come back into the trade for this one mission, at the request of his boss. He lost a partner some years ago, a woman he was close to, in an operation gone bad. Rianna, for her part, has been so focused on her mission of vengeance that she’s never had time for men, and is independent enough to think that there’s just no point in it for her. Somewhere along the way, in their flight and hiding out from the bad guys, these two unlikely souls start to bend toward each other–first, for comfort, and gradually they start to realize they can both have a fresh life, with each other.
I say “somewhere along the way” there for a reason. The book is over halfway through before our protagonists get intimate with each other, and, as the title alludes to, Kyle is surprised to discover that his lover is a virgin, and had not, in fact, prostituted herself to a criminal in order to do her job. But the getting-to-that-point is very gradual. We spend a lot of time in Kyle’s head, and it’s clear from very early on that he has the hots for her. Rianna, too, is attracted to the handsome Kyle, but resists the urge to act on that in the early going, though it’s not entirely clear why, to me.
Once they do open up to each other, it’s a beautiful, well-done love-in-adversity story. They’re crazy about each other, but each thinks they have nothing but mischief to offer the other, and so it goes, until they both admit that they’re better together than apart. As is often the case, the ending is predictable, but getting there is half the fun.
This story is atypical for my reading habits, but I quite enjoyed it. If you’re an action/adventure fan, I suspect you’ll like it too!