Liquid Silver Books, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-62210-254-9
Romantic Suspense, 2015
Don’t be fooled by the rather conventional “Every secret agent dude does his job with no shirt on” cover art – MJ Eason’s Covert Affairs is a pretty different kind of romantic suspense. Hannah Sandoval, our heroine, has just recovered from a heart transplant, only this time she has in her head memories that do not belong to her. Memories of the donor of the heart, perhaps? Unfortunately, Hannah didn’t receive the heart of a happy woman whose life was filled with delectable pleasures – no, Agent Lena Wyatt was killed on duty, and now it looks like Hannah may hold the clues to identity the murderer.
To CIA agent James “Jase” McCoy – oh, that name, sigh – Lena was the love of his life, so he vows not to rest until he has tracked down her killer. Or killers, who knows. Hannah isn’t exactly discreet with her “Ooh, I have memories now, so I will creep people out with the things I suddenly know” thing, so he must now figure out whether Hannah is a friend or foe. Why not crazy? Hannah, on her part, is attracted to Jase. But is that Hannah doing the “I want him?”, or Lena’s residual memory is the thing compelling Hannah to want to hump that man?
About the story… oh boy, where should I begin? Well, the good thing first – this is a very readable story. The author has a tight and well-paced narrative going on here, so much so that it is only when I really put down the book to get myself a glass of water that I realize that, for a long time, nothing really dramatic or suspenseful happened. The story just feels that way because of the deftly written prose that can easily evoke urgency, suspense, and any other emotion required from everyone, including the reader.
However, the denouement of the story is a disappointment, as it just sort of reveals itself in a fizzling out manner. But the worst thing here is that the romance is simply unbelievable. Jase is too hung up on Lena to be believably in love with Hannah, and Hannah doesn’t even seem to know who she is anymore. The only thing that drives the happy ending is the fact that Jase knocked Hannah up – not exactly the best reason to get into a marriage with a man who is still thinking very much of Lena by the last page.
Covert Affairs would have been much better, I feel, if it had been a straight suspense story, and Hannah and Jase walk away from one another by the end. While the premise is interesting and a nice change from the usual “spy and me on the run” stories out there, it fails to work as a romance in this particular instance. Still, it’s a very readable story that has me at the edge of the seat most of the time, so there’s that.