Grand Central Publishing, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-5387-5957-8
Romantic Suspense, 2019
Fierce Justice is another entry in Piper J Drake’s True Heroes series, which revolves around action figures with canine companions, but this one has remarkably far less doggy antics compared to previous entries. In fact, this one is as close to being another generic romantic suspense entry in a series revolving around a parade of action figures that work for some all-awesome agency.
This time around, the handler is Arin Siri, a secondary character in the previous book, whose canine companion is King, a German Shepard Dog. By the way, I would suggest reading the other book before tackling this one, as there is some considerable carry-over stuff from that other book. Back to this book, she comes across an unconscious man whose physical beauty, fortunately, isn’t marred in any way by whatever it is that knocked him out. That man, Jason Landon, is a mercenary – in this setting, everyone hires mercenaries like they advertise on Craigslist or something – who is having some soul searching about his morally grey career up to this point. Together, they will take down a kidnapping ring. And fall in love. And introduce enough people to get everyone to buy those other books in this series too. In other words, it’s business as usual in that sequel never-never-land known as romantic suspense.
What do you call a romantic suspense in which the most memorable moments are not remotely related to the suspense? For example, in this one, I am amused by Arin’s internal monologue about chocolate abs versus washboard abs, while I can’t remember much about the suspense. As for the romance, while it is amusing for, oh, a few chapters to have a hero for once who gets the stuck-in-sick-bed treatment, the characters are barely better than cardboard cut-outs. Arin is supposed to be a competent heroine, but I remember her more for being constantly “angry”, and she is one of those blandly competent types whose personality consisted of a Wikipedia entry about Thai culture. Jason is a conveyor belt action hero – he’s so by the numbers that he may as well come with a pencil for me to join the dots from the head to the… ahem.
If the romance feels generic, the suspense is no better. I would have loved to see something interesting, or perhaps be treated to some twist that makes me go “No way!”, but no, instead I get a straightforward good-guys-steamroller-generic-nameless-bad-guys tale, on a glacial pacing to boot. The good guys are too competent, and there is no compelling bad guy to give them any challenge, so it’s hard after a while to determine whether the suspense is the filler for the romance, or vice versa. Everything feels like a filler of some sort here, and I feel like I’d been seated for a long time, looking forlornly at Fierce Justice and wondering when the party is going to start.
Maybe it’s time to let the next book be about the dogs ditching the boring cookie-cutter humans to go on their own adventures?