|Wise Moves is a witness-on-the-run story with predictable twists and turns and more than its share of improbabilities.
Elena Benito had agreed to testify against her drug lord brother,
Antonio. After his men attacked her safe house and a police officer
died trying to protect her, she decided to trust no one. Several
months later, her hair dyed and her name changed, she is hiding out
in a small Virginia town and working as a receptionist in a yoga studio.
Former FBI agent Dane Cambria vowed to revenge his sister, who lost
her life defending the Benito witness. Now that legal means have
failed, he is going for less orthodox ones. He is determined to find
Elena and use her as bait to draw out Antonio. While waiting for
confirmation that Kristen Rodale is the woman he wants, he gets to
know her. Pretty soon, Dane begins to regret bargaining with Elena/
Kristen's life and to doubt whether he will choose revenge over love.
Of course, once Elena finds out who Dane really is, things go bad.
The novel goes an extra mile to highlight its theme: never lose
trust in your fellow human beings. The yoga studio owner gives Elena
a chance; Elena takes in a stray adolescent and even after paying for
the consequences doesn't relent her decision. And, of course, there's
her relationship with Dane. Unfortunately, regardless of the theme,
it doesn't ring true for someone on the lam.
Elena isn't entirely clueless and thinks something is strange about
Dane (among other things, she believes he is living in his car). Yet,
it never occurs to her that he might be connected to her former life.
She doesn't think too much before initiating an affair with him.
Given everything else about her, I found her reaction completely out
With betrayal definitely on the horizon, there is a lot of build up
towards the final show down. The outcome is nevertheless predictable.
I don't want to go into details, but I did feel shortchanged with the
final capture and remain concerned that credibility is sacrificed for
I stopped counting the annoying editorial oversights. Here are some
big ones. Dane Cambia refers to the dead cop as his sister, but it
turns out she is his foster sister. I get the fact that in both cases
there's a close emotional tie and a long past history, but to
casually elide over the differences is sloppy. Then, there's the
problem with Kristen's make-believe boyfriend. To keep Dane off her
back, she pretends she is serious about someone. Dane accepts the
pretext, but once she kisses him, he never brings it up. He obviously
knows the man doesn't exist (he has been following her, after all),
but a good undercover agent should at least act as if he had bought
into the story, shouldn't he?
Finally, the writing could do with tightening and cleaning. One
telling example: during one of the love scenes, Dane "nips her with
his white teeth." With what else would he do it? His biting tongue?
His tobacco-stained incisors? Yeah, I'm quibbling here. Quite
frankly, if either the plot or the characters had grabbed my
interest, sentences like this one would have passed me by. Instead I
point my accusing finger and suggest other readers think twice.