Avon Impulse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-229088-5
Romantic Suspense, 2014
The first few chapters of Kay Thomas’s Personal Target contain the same fabulously silly elements that made the previous book in the Elite Ops series, Hard Target, so much fun. Unfortunately, things then become even sillier, but in no longer fabulous ways.
But first, the story. Nick Donovan, former SEAL and Black Ops specialist and CIA, is now a member of the Elite Ops. Unfortunately, after the events in Hard Target, even superheroes like him have snarling enemies that do things like shouting “I am going to kill you!” right before they miss their target. The villain, a drug cartel boss, wants payback for the death of his family members, and he is going to kill Nick’s family. An eye for an eye, that kind of thing. Since Nick isn’t married, the villain’s first target is Nick’s sister-in-law. Unfortunately, the villain’s henchmen kidnap Jennufer Grayson, Nick’s ex and the sister-in-law’s buddy instead. Now Nick has to rescue Jennifer before they turn her into the latest attraction in the most happening seedy brothel in Mexico.
The rescue is all pretty exciting, as there are bullets and boom-boom stuff all over the place. Unfortunately, what the synopsis at the back cover did not reveal is that the whole rescue thing lasts for only a few chapters. Jennifer, after she is rescued, immediately decides that the wisest thing she can do is to take off to Africa for an archaeology project. Nick is aghast, because there are civil wars, drug cartels, and more flesh traders looking for hot American women to enslave and subjugate, but Jennifer is like, excuse me, she is an independent woman so nobody can stop her, thank you very much, and sneaks off alone to Africa. Mind you, she does this within 24 hours after she is rescued from the Brothel Republic, so maybe she’s not thinking right.
But still, she gets into trouble the moment she lands and has to be rescued by you know who. The story never recovers from the fact that the heroine has gone dumb-dumb and the story becomes quite dumb-dumb as a result as well. Jennifer basically becomes a sack that Nick has to drag along and save all the time, and each time drama happens, I find myself thinking with some degree of annoyance, if only that dumb cow has stayed home and submitted for psychiatric evaluation. Along the way, Jennifer gets to play the Horrified Yet Sympathetic American Chick going oh dear, oh dear, third world criminals are so inhumane towards their women. It’s so sad that these women don’t have their own big strong men to save them every time they decide to run off and do dumb things!
There are still bullets and boom-boom stuff here. The villains are all snarl but as inept as can be, there are the usual “only in such books” stuff like heroes getting aroused while holding a terrified woman in their arms and sex in probably not the wisest moments, but what are normally fun if dumb B-grade action movie stuff is made not-so-fun anymore by the fact that the story has become a little too silly to be still considered fun. The heroine has gone from silly to stupid at a pivotal moment without the author doing anything to make the poor darling look less of a dimwit, and the rest of the drama takes on the “too stupid, not worth saving” taint as a result.
Oh well, at least the guy on the cover is pretty hot, and I guess there is always the next book.