Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-13227-6
Romantic Suspense, 2002
Broken Honor is a story about the grandchildren of two World War 2 army officers (Americans, of course, not Nazis) working together to clear their grandfathers’ names. What happened was that in 1945, three American army men were in charge of overseeing the transportation of stolen jewelry and other goodies belonging to Holocaust victims back to their rightful owners. But oops, things went missing and… well, in 2000, things hit the fan when people start making noise.
Colonel Lucien “Irish” Flaherty is determined to clear his late grandfather’s name. Amy Mallory, a history professor (what are you expecting, a millionaire?), wants to clear her grandfather’s name too. Meanwhile, the grandson of the third guy knows some secrets, but he is too busy lusting after his own cousin to actually be of any use, except as an annoying “keep secrets until time’s right for the revelations” plot device.
So that’s it. It makes a decent mystery if I’m not fussy. I’m fussy because I realize that (a) Amy and Irish are more in love with the investigations than with each other, and (b) I hate deus-ex-machina “letters that tell everything” plot devices, you know, where a letter filled with revelations and dirty secrets is finally found in the last chapter, and our hero and heroine read it and finally nod their heads – “Ooh, so that’s it!” Ooh, finger this, inept plot device!
Let’s focus on (a). Seriously, the “romance” is a kiss and an instant orgasm out of the blue, and then Irish and Amy, who show no interest towards each other before the quickie instant-just-add-water thing, are professing love and devotion. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I also find it amusing that for every one sentence of Irish’s “I can’t believe my grandfather is guilty, so I will try to clear his name”, Amy has to go “Ohmigod, grandpappy is strict with me but I, like, you know, want to love him and clear his name because he is innocent! Innocent! He cannot be guilty! Come here, my doggy Bojangles and give your momma a kiss, anyway, where am I? Grandpappy’s innocent! INNOCENT! INNOCENT!!!” Why is this, anyway? First, we have to make the heroine a lousy “womanly” teacher figure, then we make the bad guys go after her, when they could easily go after the hero too (maybe his uniform scares them off), and now we have ten pages of annoying “I wanna love my grandpappy!” psychobabble to the hero’s brief, short, and simple thought process.
And (b). Well, I think I’ve covered (b) already: the contrived heroine-in-distress thing, the reliance on those “everybody knows it, but they only start blabbing everything at the last few chapters” plot devices, and oh yes, that Dreaded Letter.
Yes, I’m picky, but the lackluster and stingy romance and the less than satisfying resolution of the mystery thread makes Broken Honor a rather dry read.