2000 Kisses

Christmas Knight

Code Name: Nanny

Code Name: Princess

Going Overboard

My Spy

The Perfect Gift

Code Name: Baby by Christina Skye
(HQN, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0373-77069-3
I liked this book until the last 75 pages. I actually thought I might have a keeper on my hands. Code Name: Baby has intrigue, a little bit of sci-fi, a basically good romance and a blurring of good versus evil all rolled into one. Unfortunately, the ending was rushed, the romantic resolution too canned and enough loose ends left over to make the reader scratch her head and say, “Huh?”

Baby is a dog. She and her littermates, Diesel, Butch and Sundance, are being trained to be superdogs and help covert US operations teams hunt down the bad guys and win the battles. Their trainer is Kit O’Halloran. Kit knows she is training dogs for police work, but not for the special operations unit. She is good at what she does and the dogs love her. What Kit doesn’t know is that they have special implants that enhance their innate intelligence. And she also doesn’t know that they are the target of a rogue agent bent on capturing them and selling them to other countries.

Gabriel Cruz was the first of many agents hired for the Foxfire Unit. But he was one of the best. He mentored the current leader of the unit, Wolfe Houston, who is now considered the best. Trace O’Halloran, Kit’s brother, is one of their team members. This highly secret unit is also the stuff of science fiction. They have been implanted with computer chips and are on medications that enhance their abilities. One chip is a GPS unit so they can be tracked anywhere in the world. The medication increases their ability to be trained. Wolfe has abilities to track, see at night and to change images and distort memories. Cruz, thought to be dead by members of the unit, has been kept for the last few years in a special facility, being trained to control animals. However, the medications are starting to show side effects and he is declining rapidly. He wants to steal the dogs, and make millions of dollars, which would allow him to hide away and live out the rest of his life in freedom.

Wolfe has been brought in to find Cruz and protect Kit and the dogs. He is aided by Ryker, the commander, whose intentions are left for the reader to judge. Another person who plays a prominent role is technology genius Izzy Teague, a man who has shown up in many of Skye’s books.

Kit and Wolfe have a past, although they haven’t seen each other for years and Wolfe’s career really does not allow him to have a social life. They both grew up in the same town.

This story is fast-paced and exciting. Since there is an aura of sci-fi, many of the technological innovations can be accepted. Kit is smart and generally acts like she has the brains to do what she does. Her friends, Liz, a veterinarian and Mikki, are her support systems and play a role in the tale. Wolfe is alpha male – yet still has a bit of a softer side hidden underneath the superman he has been made into. He has been trained to ignore emotions. His response to Kit plays havoc with that training. Both must fight their fears and the issues from the past to determine if their future even exists.

What totally ruined the story were the last 75 pages when Cruz got close. Kit goes from being independent to being protected and told what to do. Wolfe goes from macho man to super macho man. People are thrown into the middle of a messy chase and wrinkles are thrown in just to provide an ending. While I don’t like complete predictability, there needs to be some set-up before a character’s complete reversal at the end of the book.

Then suddenly everything is resolved and all the worries of the previous 300 pages just seem to disappear. Everything is neatly wrapped up, yet nothing has really been resolved or dealt with. I sat with the book saying to myself, well how did that happen so quickly? “Let down” is a minimal description for how I felt.

Code Name: Baby is a great book for 300 pages. Then it sinks to one heart dissatisfaction.

--Shirley Lyons

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