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REVIEW:  Hard Target by Kay Thomas

REVIEW: Hard Target by Kay Thomas

Hard Target: Elite Ops - Book One by Kay Thomas

Dear Ms. Thomas:

This book started out with so much promise that I wondered why it had been so long since I picked up a romantic suspense book. After about a third of the way through decisions and actions by the characters gave me a stark reminder of why I’d abandoned the genre. There’s a certain sense of fantasy that you have to be able to buy into when it comes to RS and the author has to do a very good job of setting up the world so that you can lose yourself within the fantasy. Here, I was jerked out of the book frequently by questioning the actions of the characters.

Anna Mercado is vacationing in Mexico with her ex husband and her son who is in desperate need of a heart transplant. Her handsome ex invites her upstairs for an afternoon of  “comfort sex” and old feelings and the need to be close to someone convinces her to meet her husband upstairs. At the door she hears that he is planning to do nefarious things to her and their son.

Anna’s situation is desperate. Her son needs a heart transplant and she is waiting for the call any day. Her wealthy husband is pursuing her and she has little recourse. The situation is tense and anxious.

Leland Hollis, a DEA agent, has just testified on behalf of a cartel member because the DEA royally screwed up an investigation resulting in the death of innocent people. He’s offered a position by a friend with a private security firm and is contemplating a job change when he hears a woman in a nearby hotel room being attacked. 

He rushes to her aid despite an injury to his foot which has him in a boot cast. Pain in his ankle is causing him to swallow pain killers like they are candy. Leland is able to save the woman but the son is kidnapped. Coincidentally, the same cartel that Leland testified for is involved in this kidnapping mess.

It’s at the introduction of Leland that the story goes south. He immediately involves himself in her rescue which includes obtaining $8 million and running down to a small town in Mexico owned by a drug cartel. Leland and Anna can trust no one but each other.

The romance story is awkwardly injected. I did not feel any chemistry between the two and I set the book aside for a few days when Anna and Leland take a break in cartel country to have sex. It made no sense to me how Anna, so devoted to her son and is eaten up with worry that he’ll miss his heart transplant appointment, would be interested in having sex with some stranger. Maybe in another book or another setting I would’ve bought into it but not in this story.

I had a hard time buying into Leland’s Bruce Willis act. His foot was in a cast but he was still able to run, shoot, and protect Anna. It was as if the injury didn’t even matter. At times, Leland’s growing addiction to pain killers was raised only to be discarded and ultimately was never addressed.

Despite Anna’s interesting start and her clear love for her son, as the book wore on, she became more like a mannequin dragged here and there by Leland and the cartel. While she didn’t have the skills to rescue herself, as Leland and his staff did, she also didn’t exert herself in any way. She was a passive reactor but for the first couple of scenes.

The story becomes more and more implausible, particularly in the Mexico setting. Leland himself said that no one could be trusted, yet he acts in direct opposition to his words and the results are unsurprisingly grim. A lot of his actions in Mexico rose to the Too Stupid To Love level and it was only by the grace of the pen that either of the two made it out alive.

What started out promising quickly devolved for me. Neither the action nor the romance worked.


Best regards,




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REVIEW:  Midnight Vengeance by Lisa Marie Rice

REVIEW: Midnight Vengeance by Lisa Marie Rice

Midnight Vengeance (Midnight #4) by Lisa Marie Rice

Dear Ms. Rice:

Midnight Vengeance is the fourth book in a series that was first published in 2004. I’ve always enjoyed the Midnight series and have re-read the first one (as well as recommending it to others). The best thing about Midnight Vengeance is that it picks up right where the last Midnight book left off and it is written in the same spirit and tone as the other Midnight series. That said, it brings nothing new to the table. While the beginning was strong, it wrapped up rather quickly leaving me feeling a tad shorted.

Lauren is on the run from her wealthy family. She’s inherited a fortune from her stepfather’s illegal organization. Her step brother wants to claim the fortune and so arranges to have her killed. (Ignoring, of course, laws of inheritance to some degree. If she has a will, the money would go to those in her will. A stepbrother might not even inherit if she died without a will.) She lives a low key life although has allowed her art to be displayed by one of her friends. During an art showing, Lauren feels that she is exposed and that the danger she left behind has just caught up with her.

Morton “Jacko” Jackman has been poleaxed from the moment he saw her, barely able to form to coherent sentences in her presence. The conceit of the LMR book is that the hero is so taken with the heroine that he devolves into a single cell organism capable of only one action–being close to the heroine. As a former Navy SEAL and current security services professional, he’s uniquely suited to protect Lauren.

Beyond the setup, there isn’t any emotional activity in the book and I’m not certain why they fall in love other than they do. There were many scenes devoted to the person who was pursuing Lauren and perhaps a few of those could have been focused on seeing why Lauren and Jacko belonged together as a couple beyond their physical imperative.

The story easily pulls off the sweetness of the big bad security guy falling for the talented, beautiful and fragile heroine. Jacko’s internal monologues were humorous and Lauren’s worry about her safety was understandable. There was very little dialogue, however, which maybe contributed to the lack of connection I felt between the two and the love scenes seemed truncated and less intense.

One weird element is that he has his motorcycle stashed in the back of his SUV for nearly the entirety of the book. I found that odd and I kept getting hung up on it. Like could a big hog really fit in the back of an SUV? Felicity, a geeky Star Wars quoting nerd girl, was a scene stealer and I look forward to her book.

I’m glad I read Jacko but for newcomers to LMR, I’d recommend Midnight Man to start with. C+

Best regards,


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