Friday, November 1, 2013

eBook Review: For Her Eyes Only

Ryan Brennan has worked plenty of jobs for the McCormack Security Agency, so going undercover at a couples resort to identify a pair of killers should be easy. Except his assigned partner—uh, "wife"—is Vicky Hastings. It takes all his willpower to keep their relationship professional, even when they're not sharing a secluded cabin.

Finally out from behind her desk, Vicky can't wait to prove herself in the field. But with Ryan? Their office flirtation cooled when he turned her down after a scorching kiss at the office Christmas party. Working together while sharing close quarters certainly isn't making it easy for her to stop thinking about him.

After a series of escalating "accidents," including Vicky's near-fatal fall from a tampered bridge, the two have to work together to wrap up this case fast, before more than hearts get broken.

Romantic Suspense and me have a rocky history. I used to read a lot of Harlequin's Intrique books (mostly because I loved Rebecca York's almost Soap Opera-esque "43 Light Street" series), but my interest waned as I became more involved in the Paranormal Romance lines. Something about this book's synopsis caught me though. I haven't read the preceding titles and I may not since what worked for me in this book was Ryan, Vicky and the "Maxwell" couple. If I was being totally honest it was mostly the Maxwells.

Let me explain.

A lot of suspense books I don't buy into the "suspense/mystery" part of the story. Too often it feels as if the author truncates that in order to deliver the romantic heat/relationship development needed in what is often a very short time frame. So we'll have killers (so very often killers) who have brief moments of actual menace before they become some sort of cardboard cut out.

The Maxwells though? They--in particular Jade--felt truly menacing. Curtis does a good job tossing red herrings as to who the couple could be masquerading as, plus what their motivations were. Several of the theories that the MSA/Ryan and Vicky postulate make sense for the couple. But the real bite lies in what they muse on oh so briefly and then toss aside because it doesn't fit the Maxwells current pattern of behavior.

As individuals Ryan and Vicky got a little bit annoying to me. If Ryan wasn't brooding about how Vicky was 'so special' to him and 'had to be protected' constantly, he was angsting about his lust for her. If Vicky wasn't emo'ing about how Ryan (and the team in general) don't take her skills seriously, she's angrily contemplating why Ryan refuses to ravish her. More then almost any couple I can think of these two had big time communication problems. Ryan's oblivious 'you mean everything to a friend' conversations with Vicky and Vicky's hair-trigger temper when he tried to keep her protected got in the way of the time of them understanding the underlying reasons.

And after about a 100 pages of that it got old fast.

Drew, the "James Bond playboy" of the group (who I hope gets a book as I'd love to see him actually fall for a woman, Curtis sort of sets up this in the book to tragic results), is amusing as their backup support and the various couples at the retreats all have sordid scandalous lives they're trying to hide from their spouses.

But the real shining gem for me was watching Jade and Simon unfold their meticulous, patient and sociopathic plan. Because Curtis keeps us guessing right up to the end--and everyone is pretty suspicious--I as the reader was constantly trying to guess who they were posing as. Was it Kurt and Paula--who had suspicious drugs in their room? Or Deborah and Hank--who seem a little to cheerful? Jennifer and Elliot--who always seem at odds with each other? Or Margie and Jeffrey--who seem so 'in tune' with each other all the time? The reveal at the end was surprising, but looking back made complete and utter sense.