Sunday, 13 June 2010

A Kiss to Kill by Nina Bruhns

Thoroughly awful. Total rubbish.

The back blurb says the story is about Gina and Gregg. However equal, if not more space is given to Rebel and Alex. And there's yet another couple Sarah and Wade.

This guy Wade deserves a special mention. All the female leads have either slept with him or want to sleep with him. Yes they all work together. And I thought. Eww. So Gina and Gregg, and Rebel and Alex is not about romance. It's about just moving onto the next guy. What's more all the characters work for agencies dedicated to keeping the US safe from tangos. But how can they be doing that effectively when they seem to be on some kind of carnal merry-go-round.

So now we come to the main flaw. The character of Gina. She was kidnapped, tortured and rescued. She blames her more current lover Gregg because he handed her over to the bad guys, in ignorance. So now she hates him and is dedicating her life to drawing him out of hiding so she can kill him. But what does she do when she meets him. She doesn't make any effort to harm him. She listens to him deny any part in her abuse...and then she totally believes him...because he was her lover and wouldn't betray her. Ok. Not particuarly smart but understandable. Never mind that she has trained for months to knife him dead. Gregg says he's innocent so it must be true. No other evidence required.

Of course the agency Gregg used to work for isn't quite so gullible, so he's still in hiding. Gregg stashes Gina in a hotel and advises her not to leave because the bad guys are probably looking to harm her still. So what does she do? She leaves the hotel room to get some ice for her freakin' house champagne. From that moment on I hated the stupid woman. Who by the way is supposed to have a doctorate. But there's more to come...and worse.

There's a traitor in the agencies that all the characters work for. A traitor who's feeding intel to the tango cell. At some point suspicion falls on Wade. And in an official briefing Gregg, Alex, Rebel, Alex's boss and Gina all discuss the evidence against Wade. So what happens. Wade calls on Gina. Who instead of behaving normally. This stupid woman blabs to Wade all about how the others suspect him of treason. Why? Why? Because he was her lover and can't possibly be guilty. Although there is a lot of circumstantial evidence against him. Praise be that the nation's security doesn't depend on half-wits like her. The thing is. As far as I could tell. Gina wasn't part of any black-ops team during the course of this book. So why was she there during the briefing? Because she used to be attached to the team before she was kidnapped, because Gregg was her lover, because Rebel is her good friend. See. There was no reason for Gina to be present at all.

In the end the author wants the reader to believe that Wade isn't a traitor. Except that he's being blackmailed to give out classified information. But he's giving it to another american so that makes it right. Wade is actually a case study of a traitor. It could be argued that the reason the prez was in any danger at all was because of Wade passing on info...about Gina...about STORM. Of course Gina forgives him. (Save me from this eejut.) Another thing about Gina is that she is so needy in the novel. Always on the verge of tears despite talking tough. I could completely understand why given what she suffered. But then she should have been in therapy. Not back with her old team getting stressed out on a daily basis.

Rebel and Alex have more pages in the first half of the story. Unfortunatley Alex is an agent with a tendency to get PTSD flashbacks in tight situations. I know it's supposed to make him loveable...but as a reader I thought he was one liability too many for an ongoing operation. There is a briefing that takes place between Rebel, Alex and their boss, Quinn. And without asking, the two guys expect Rebel, a perfectly competent agent, to make them coffee and sandwiches. Rebel actually fetches a ziploc bag for Quinn to put his sandwiches in. Yup. That's what happens when guys in the workplace start serially sharing the women around. Gross.

I hardly read any of the pages involving Sarah and Wade. He came across as just too slimey.

I did read the book to the end. If only in the hope of seeing Wade charged and jailed. Or even fired. No such luck. The final wtf moment involved the identity of the traitor. Where did this guy Tommy come from?? Was he mentioned at the start of the story? No way am I reading the book again.But in a way it doesn't matter. Because for the reader, Wade is the person who gave up classified info. He is the bad guy. It is a serious mistake to expect the reader not to hate his guts and not get angry that he faces absolutely no consequences for his actions.

On a minor note. Poor little me struggled for a while with all the obscure abbreviations in the novel. I can handle CIA, FBI and NSA. I'm ok on POTUS, CONUS, CSI. Trouble was. This novel had all those plus PMC, STORM, AFIS, NCVIC, SAC, ZU-NE, TOD, LT, BCD,...and still more. Mainly in the first half of the book. It just seemed like technical overload.

The love scenes were few and far between and seemed out of place generally. In fact the story worked better as a spy adventure than rom-sus. The relationships on view were just so icky.

btw. The first clue to the general stupidity of this novel comes early on. The tango cell are based on a yacht moored in Chesapeake Bay. The name of the yacht? Allah's Paradise. As if. Why not just put up a sign that reads 'Raid Me.' Just such a freaking stupid (and embarrassing) story. Don't even think of reading it if you are even the slightest bit patriotic.

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