The Irish Enchantress

Irish Knight

Naked Truth

Perfect Weapon

Renegade Heart

Single Father Seeks...

Taming the Beast

Come As You Are
by Amy J. Fetzer
(Brava, $14, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-7582-1657-1
With a kickbutt heroine, a hard-hitting hero, an exotic locale and a slew of backstabbing villains, Come As You Are promises non-stop action and breath-taking romance. But somewhere amidst the complicated twists and the unmarked turns, it lost me, and that is not a good thing.

Logan Chambliss and his Dragon One crew are sent to Venezuela to clean up after an aborted CIA mission. A failed army coup has left an undercover agent masquerading as the country's Vice President. The U.S. government cannot afford his real identity and their involvement to be discovered. The former secret operatives must either rescue him or, failing that, kill him.

Logan is quite prepared to do what is necessary. Paul Ramos's gung-ho tactics cost him one mission, the one in which Tessa, the only woman Logan has ever loved, also died. Logan is not at all prepared to run into the very same and very living Tessa during this mission to Venezuela.

Several years ago, Tessa Carlyle had realized that the only way to get out of a very bad situation was by staging her own death. Since then she has been working under a new identity as a National Geographic location scout. She wishes she could have told Logan, but has few other regrets. When, however, the man who once helped her calls in a favor, she finds herself in Venezuela, face to face with the man she once loved and running straight into the very life she tried so desperately to escape.

Logan has a few questions for Tessa, but with the entire Venezuelan armed forces on their heels, he can't spare much time to ask them. The days that follow are just as busy. Logan, Tessa and the Dragon One crew find themselves on a treasure hunt with conspirators in hot pursuit. No time for a breather and no place for failure: the fate of the free world and the honor of their country lies in their hands. It's action and intrigue, more action and more intrigue, all of which add up to a little too much action and intrigue for me.

Don't get me wrong. I like action-packed stories as much as the next reader, but I also like things to fall into place. While it was nice to see that Logan and Tessa were up for a serious challenge, I also felt that the true purpose of the complication count was to increase the page count. The answers we are finally given, including the reason for Tessa's disappearance, were so unconvincing and so disappointing that I resent their many detours. The cardboard villains and their gratuitous killing sprees didn't do much to change my mind.

Logan and Tess are decent and honorable characters who are more than up to the moral and physical challenge. But although I certainly appreciate a heroine who is her lover's equal, I found their romance less than satisfying. For one, he is a little too fixated on the past and a little too uninterested in who she has become. Worse, the last fourth of the book has very little to do with their relationship. In fact, for reasons I can't go into, Tessa is almost entirely absent. A vanishing heroine, especially one who is no shrinking flower, isn't what I want in a romance.

In sum, there is some potential to Come As You Are, but it lacks the extra something to hold it all together. Ultimately it didn't work for me.  

-- Mary Benn

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