Hide and Seek

In Too Deep

Kiss and Tell

Seducing Mr. Right

Out of Sight by Cherry Adair
(Ballantine, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 9-8041-2002-1
I’m usually in favor of innovation in romance novels. Ms. Adair, however, has opened a new area that might better have been left unexplored – the Too Stupid To Live Couple. Twice the aggravation at no extra charge.

AJ Cooper is supposed to be a top sharpshooter with T-FLAC, a covert operations group. She tanks her first assignment badly, however, missing Raazaq, the terrorist she was supposed to take out. She then refuses an order to retreat, insisting that she must stay and finish the job, even though everyone (including her) knows that the “tango” has fled the neighborhood. In the disastrous aftermath, one man is wounded and another killed.

Kane Wright, the leader of the “op,” a T-FLAC legend, and the man whose career AJ worships, is furious at being stuck with this incompetent rookie. Kane usually works alone, and if he’d been allowed to do things his way Raazaq would be dead.

He’s even less thrilled when their superiors decide that, having failed to shoot Raazaq, the only way to deal with him now is to have AJ get close to him (in addition to being a ‘trained operative,’ she’s also breathtakingly beautiful) and take him out with poison. To attract his attention, she’ll pose as a model, and Kane as a photographer (in addition to being a legendary undercover operative, he’s also a world famous photographer).

This is not nearly the last of the unlikely plot twists. The author (whose previous books I have read and enjoyed, by the way) spends almost no effort trying to make this story even remotely plausible.

We’re told that T-FLAC operatives are put through a selection regime that makes the SEALs’ Hell Week look like a day at the beach. (Just one week? What a bunch of pansies.) AJ apparently “thrived” on the ordeal – and yet managed to come out of it without an ounce of discipline, self or otherwise. In spite of the fact that this is her very first “op,” she disobeys every order, disputes every decision (escaping by the skin of their teeth from some “tangos,” she actually argues with Kane over who should drive), and sulks when she doesn’t get her own way.

She obsesses over her attraction to Kane and her need to prove herself to him, pouts about his lack of trust in her (which she earned, believe me), and generally acts like a teenager whining because nobody treats her like a grownup. She loftily informs her fellow agents that “this op is too important to let egos get in the way.” Well, everyone’s ego but hers. This girl is so full of me-me-me, she should have been an opera singer.

Her utter lack of professionalism is apparently contagious. Kane, who’s so grim and uncommunicative he makes a chunk of granite look like a feather pillow, is so darned annoyed at being attracted to her that he jumps on every chance – all of them in totally inappropriate circumstances – to screw her brains out. Because she “made him hornier than he could remember being. Ever.” Oh, well, that’s okay then.

Even better, right after they have sex, Kane realizes he totally misjudged her. She’s not an immature little twit after all, she’s strong and competent and just full of subtlety and hidden depths! Ah, the romantic magic of hormones.

Sex transforms AJ, as well. When they finally catch up with Raazaq, he’s holding the President of the USA, the Queen of England, and myriad other world leaders hostage at a remote resort. Apparently, the two hundred agents the world leaders brought with them were standing around with their fingers up their noses waiting for someone to tell them what to do. AJ – on her first “op” remember – stops making like a bunny with Kane long enough to take charge. She gets over her distaste for killing, too. Terrorists or not, to say that I was creeped out by her glee in killing several human beings in rapid succession would be something of an understatement

In the end, the whole thing is so far fetched I could only wonder where the author’s head was when she dreamed up this ludicrous scenario and populated it with idiots.

-- Judi McKee

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