|Tess Bradshaw is a new employee of the US covert intelligence community. She has joined the compass and sextant groups which provide private special ops based on an agent's special abilities. In Lyn Stoneís series featuring these groups, †these abilities have ranged from photographic memories, phenomenal ear for languages, or psychic skills. Tess is an empath and has the skill of being able to read people, not derived from any paranormal gift but through self training.
Tessís first assignment is to recruit Cameron Cochran to join her in a worldwide search for a terrorist hacker who is threatening to close down the US power grid, presumably by the use of his computer. The challenge is to find him within the week as he is employing blackmail with the hint of this deadline.
Cameron, according to Tess's boss Jack Mercier, will not be an easy recruit. He is former CIA, set up to take the blame for the poor judgment of his boss when they were confronted by the same threat allegedly made by the same people some 18 months earlier. They were close to an arrest when the op was blown and Cameron was thereafter cashiered. Mercier, through his cross agency influence, can offer Cameron reinstatement and the reestablishment of his reputation if he cooperates and joins her in the hunt.
Tess shows up in Tybee Island, Georgia where Cameron now has a fishing boat business with the offer in hand. The book weakens at this very early point because the dialog that convinces him to join the op occurs in an almost conflict free encounter making it far less than persuasive.
He agrees too quickly and gets them on the road for St. Tropez on the French Riviera where for some unexplained reason he knows the hacker is operating. En route on the private jet of Mercer's, he makes their plans. Step One in his plan is to turn serious and business-like Tess into a sex object. Step two and following is for her to lure the terrorist onto a boat, then get him out to sea with his computer, abort the plot and have someone arrest him. A luxury yacht has been provided for them and Cameron figures he will be the jock bodyguard and pilot during the seduction.
Pages are devoted to the shopping and hairstyling to perfect this conversion. In addition, there is a problem since Tess is seasick while moored to the dock. And, she is falling for Cameron, as they start looking through the casinos for their terrorist mark.
The most redeeming featuring of the book is the use of the French Riviera by an author who has clearly been there and can accurately describe the life. The plot is vaguely constructed, and not very credible. A threat of this supposed magnitude involving all agencies should not be solvable so simplistically. Add to this shallow character development and less than believable dialog makes for a two heart rating.
Having reviewed Lyn Stone previously, I suggest Beauty and the Badge to new readers.