Avon Impulse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-229090-8
Romantic Suspense, 2015
Easy Target is very similar to the previous book in Kay Thomas’s Elite Ops series, Personal Target, in terms of strengths and weaknesses. But it is a better book because the heroine in this one, Sassy Smith, is nowhere as braindead as the creature in the previous book. Yes, despite her name possibly giving you the wrong kind of impression of her. Okay, so maybe running off to do a “freelance journalism” thing in an area infested with flesh traffickers that just love pasty white American women isn’t the smartest thing ever, but hey, we all make do with whatever we are given. Incidentally, this is one book that is best read after having read the previous two books, as the plot brings up many things from those books as it ties up some loose ends.
Sassy Smith wants to clear her brother of a murder charge, but before she can do anything, she must first find a way to save herself. She has been captured by some flesh traffickers around Algeria. She manages to avoid sexual assault because of her romance heroine plot armor, and shortly after the story opens, she manages to sneak away, only to end up almost being gang-raped by a bunch of local guys. I have a feeling that the author may receive a strongly-worded email from the tourism department of Algeria should this book find its way there. Anyway, Sassy gets rescued just in time by our hero, Bryan Fisher, who pounds the living crap out of these villains, killing two of them while that
The Star-Spangled Banner AMERICA, FUCK YEAH! song plays in the background.
Just like in Personal Target, though, the story then becomes comparatively oh-so-boring when they get back to America and the focus shifts towards a more domestic kind of drama involving moles and what not. The characters, who are basically stereotypes, behave like they are programmed to, and everything is ho-hum and oh-well. Sassy’s virginity and man issues are predictable, the flippant “Oops, no condom used, but it’s okay, I say I’m clean so you know I’m clean!” post-sex romantic talk – and the unfortunate implication in one of Bryan’s lines in that scene, that virgins deserve to be condom’ed but non-virgins don’t – all of these come together to create a rather pedestrian romance. The whole thing is not very exciting after all that initial “Those foreign rapists are coming to get you!” drama, and I find myself wishing that someone will go kidnap Sassy again and drag her off to… I don’t know, has anyone ever set a story of this kind in Lima?
Still, Easy Target has its charm as it is akin to a Suzanne Brockmann story on steroids at times. It can get campy at certain moments, and this campy aspect allows the characters’ frequent dips into Buffy-speak style of quipping more at home than they otherwise would be. I won’t consider this a story a heavy-duty read that would change anyone’s mind or world, but for some throwaway “don’t think, just roll with in” moments, this one ain’t bad a read. Just read the previous two books first if you are new to the whole thing.