Nikki Wright is desperate to help her brother, Bobby, who hasn’t been the same since escaping from a detainment camp run by terrorists in Colombia. Rumor has it that he betrayed his navy brothers and conspired with those who held him hostage, and both the press and the military are hounding him for answers. All Nikki wants is to shield her brother so he has time to recover and heal.
But soon they realize the paparazzi are the least of their worries. When a group of men try to abduct Nikki and her brother, Bobby insists that Kade Wheaton, another former SEAL, can keep them out of harm’s way. But can Nikki trust Kade? After all, the man who broke her heart eight years ago is anything but safe…
Hiding out in a farmhouse on the Chesapeake Bay, Nikki finds her loyalties—and the remnants of her long-held faith—tested as she and Kade put aside their differences to keep Bobby’s increasingly erratic behavior under wraps. But when Bobby disappears, Nikki will have to trust Kade completely if she wants to uncover the truth about a rumored conspiracy. Nikki’s life—and the fate of the nation—depends on it.
“Who were those men, Bobby? Please tell me what’s going on.”
Were they members of the US military? Since Bobby hadn’t willingly been debriefed, was the government trying to coerce him into doing it their way?
His gaze clouded again, and he crossed his arms before peering out the window. “The terrorists are after me, Nikki.”
She shook her head, not wanting to believe his claim. Those terrorists were based out of Colombia. Nikki and Bobby were in the DC suburbs right now.
“We’re on American soil. ARM can’t be here.” Her words didn’t sound convincing.
Bobby began pacing, almost frantically. Four steps. Turn. Four steps. Turn. Arms across chest. Eyes flickering. “They’re everywhere. They look like us. They dress like us. But they’re here to destroy this country.”
His words chilled her. The very idea was terrifying, but so was his behavior, his paranoia. “Bobby . . .”
He stopped moving and stared at her. “You don’t believe me, do you?”
“This is so overwhelming. I just don’t know what to think, to be honest. I guess I’m left wondering . . . why? Why are terrorists after you?”
Bobby’s eyes widened until white was visible around this irises. He stared at her with such intensity that Nikki sucked in a quick breath. “Can’t you see? They’re after me because I escaped. They want me dead. I know too much. I just can’t remember any of it.”
Another chill washed over her. Was her brother speaking the truth, or had his time in captivity done something to him? Maybe he was paranoid and having an episode. Yet there was nothing delusional about what had just happened to him and Nikki. It was all too real.
Bobby paused and grabbed his head, bending over as if in pain. He let out a deep groan.
Nikki rushed over to him. “Bobby, are you okay?”
“My head isn’t right, Nikki.” He rocked back and forth, clawing at his scalp. His shoulders were hunched and his breaths shallow.
“Let me get your medication.” She reached for her purse.
“No! I’m not taking those pills anymore. I can’t think straight when they’re in my system.”
Nikki paused. “But the doctor said-”
“I don’t care what he says.” Bobby looked up. His eyes were red and bulging. Veins popped at his temples, and he appeared to be wound tighter than a cobra poised to strike. “Can’t you see? They’re all in this together.”
Nikki took a deep breath before responding. “I handpicked your doctor, Bobby.”
“Anyone can be bought. Anyone.”
“Not me, Bobby.” She needed him to calm down. He was scaring her. The truth remained that neither of them could afford to turn on the other. They needed to stick together to survive.
I was expecting to enjoy this novel much more than I did, based on previous books I have read by this author. Admittedly, I have only read a small sampling of her total output, but I definitely remember enjoying ‘Dubiosity’ (whose main characters play a small role in this novel) more than this one.
The action starts from page one, with Nikki and her brother swamped by media as they leave the hospital Bobby has been recovering in. By the end of the chapter, they’re running for their lives, and the action doesn’t really let up until the end. But the whole story was weighed down by incessant telling (often to the point of redundancy), a tendency to explain the characters’ motivations for everything they said and did (again, to the point of redundancy), and a general lack of sophistication in the writing.
The plot was definitely fast paced, but it got a little cluttered by events that seemed to have something to do with the main plot, but then turned out to be nothing more than convenient coincidences – convenient because they kept readers guessing and provided more suspenseful scenes. To me it felt more like author contrivance rather than a natural chain of events, especially when a similar tactic was used to artificially inflate the suspense at the end of a few chapters, closing with an ‘oh no!’ moment only to have it revealed as a false alarm in the next sentence or two.
There was also a very obvious example of the author failing to foreshadow something that was instrumental to the resolution. I don’t want to give anything away, and I suspect the omission was deliberate in order to keep the reader wondering how it could possibly work out for the good guys, but I could almost hear Maxwell Smart exclaiming ‘Ah yes! The old *_________* trick’. Again, it felt like a bit of a cheap trick to keep the reader in suspense.
The romance didn’t exactly get off to a good start with me either, with an über-clichéd moment appearing only 10% of the way through the book. I think I actually groaned out loud when I saw what was coming. I like to feel the tension between the romantic leads in their interactions, but in this novel the majority of the romantic tension came via the characters’ thoughts: Kade is still attracted to Nikki but constantly reminds himself he gave up any chance to be with her when he left her to protect her and was unable to tell her that’s what he was doing; and Nikki is annoyed that she’s still attracted to Kade even though he obviously never loved her at all. And to be honest, I found a lot of their ruminating pretty clichéd and even tending towards cheesy at times. It just wasn’t what I look for in a romantic plot.
All that being said, I’m sure there will be many readers who will love this book. I was just a bit disillusioned with the way it all came together.
I know, I know. Dreadful pun. But it was kind of hard to resist…
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Buy from US: Amazon
Release date: 9 August 2016
Publisher: Waterfall Press
Author’s website: http://www.christybarritt.com/