Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-052339-5
Romantic Suspense, 2003
Gennita Low’s debut effort Into Danger is promising – on a better day the hero and the heroine will be a dazzling couple – but ultimately its showy plot techniques and fancy jargon are its downfall. These very methods in Ms Low’s writing at first gives the book a nice high-tech espionage/spy feel to it, but soon I realize I have no idea what the heck is going on half the time here.
Steve McMillian is a Navy SEAL guy – aren’t they all nowadays? – but he’s a pretty cool Navy SEAL guy in that he’s a charming slick with the ladies. His latest mission is to go undercover and pretend to be purported assassin Marlena Maxwell’s lackey. He’s going to find what Marlena is up to, who she’s going to kill, that sort of thing. But soon it is clear that Marlena is not a killer as much as a target herself.
The sexual tension between these two are pretty hot but the author’s deliberate foreplay interruptus is very obvious and annoying the sixth time it happened in just as many chapters. Oops, she needs to do the laundry. Whoops, time out, he’s hungry. What a tease. In the meantime, the author tries to dazzle me with jargons and codewords. There are guys whose codeword name is Hard-On in this book. There’s an organization called TIARA, and no, it’s not your local beauty pageant thing gone high-tech. People talk about “knowing one’s GEM protocols” and asks people, “Have you met my T?” (I prefer chocolate milk shake, but thanks anyway.)
Still, most damningly, I have to keep a flowchart to follow what is going on, and even so, Villains come, villains go, and worse, I have no idea who Steve or Marlena are. They are two colorful characters that scream “Look at me! I’m hot! I’m sexy!” but I have no idea why they do half the things they do in this story. Scratch a little deeper under their cool exteriors and I will find that there’s really nothing much under the surface of our two main characters.
I’m not saying that Into Danger is a bad book. It’s very readable and the first few chapters are really well-written. But these chapters set up a premise that anticipates our two main characters playing a cat-and-mouse game of tease and deceive, only to give way to a messy story starring a cast of too many people. It would have been so much better if a little time is spent on developing one central plot point instead of the author introducing so many subplots and characters and developing none properly. After all, like they say in Malay – alang-alang seluk pekasam biar sampai ke pangkal lengan, ya? While Gennita Low shows promise, much of the promise remains undelivered in this underbaked tale.
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