Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-4605-4
Romantic Suspense, 2004
I was far from impressed by Julie Kenner’s last “noir” romance. Someone at Pocket has wised up and decides not to market The Spy Who Loves Me as noir, which is good. Which is even better, though, is the fact that the author has allowed her heroine this time around to display some brainpower. Never mind that the heroine is ripped out from the TV series La Femme Nikita, this one also is also a nice change in that this time it is the heroine who’s the agent while the hero is one who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Amber Robinson is an agent of the Unit who has been recruited since she was a teenager. La Faux Nikita here is a cold-hearted spy whose latest intel on the Evil Spy Woman, Diana, leads her to our hero Phineas “Finn” Teague. Finn is a lawyer who misses his days of aimless bumming before his white collar days, and often indulges in fantasies of him being James Bond and Diana being one of his many Bond babes. La Faux Nikita wonders whether Finn is in league with Diana. Well, there’s only one way to find out.
This story is very heavy on the action scenes. Woosh! Here comes the rain of bullets! Omigosh, explosions! Run, they’re coming after us! Watch out, we’re stuck in one of Houdini’s aquarium thingies and we’re so going to drown! But of course, there are always time for sex. More bangs after the bangs, so to speak.
Because Ms Kenner is writing with her tongue firmly against her cheek, it is easy to suspend disbelief and enjoy this story as what it is: a campy, spaghetti schlockfest action adventure with some romance tossed into the mix. Characterization is superficial: La Faux Nikita has commitment issues and she had a bad childhood, boo-hoo-hoo, which is probably her excuse for turning into a bit of an emotional airhead later on in the story. Finn is a guy who doesn’t have much ambition in life except to flex his muscles and be surrounded by sexy women. Alas, he soon realizes that being a spy isn’t as exciting as his romanticized fantasies make it out to be, but he’ll have to pull up his socks if he wants to make it out alive at the end of the day and get the woman to boot.
The plot and the characters won’t hold up under scrutiny, but this book isn’t operating by the usual laws of logic. It wants to be campy, over-the-top, and fun. La Faux Nikita won’t qualify as one of the best kickass heroines in my book as she tends to dip into stereotypical over-emotional behavior at inconvenient moments, but Finn is quite a lot of fun and so is the non-stop rollercoaster ride he and La Faux Nikita are stuck in. All in all, it’s a story that’s worth a look, especially if you’re a fan wanting to kill some time while waiting for the La Femme Nikita DVDs to arrive on your doorstep. Just keep in mind that this book – and La Faux Nikita – is more similar in nature to the Season Four episodes than those in the earlier seasons.