I’ve enjoyed almost every romantic suspense novel by Linda Howard, including last year’s Cry No More which featured every parent’s worst nightmare. I was just as anxious as the next reader to read her next romantic suspense novel. However, Kiss Me While I Sleep by Linda Howard was a big disappointment for me.
“If you sense someone’s watching you from afar, or if you feel a shadow other than your own at your back, I might as well pack it up and call it a day.”
It’s a job that makes a killing. Efficient, professional, and without apology, Lily Mansfield is a hired assassin, working as a contract agent for the CIA. Her targets are the powerful and corrupt, those who can’t be touched by the law.
Now, after nineteen years of service, Lily has been drawn into a dangerous game that hasn’t been sanctioned, seeking vengeance for her own reasons. Each move bolder than the next, she is compromising her superiors, drawing unwanted attention, and endangering her very life. Though stress and shock have made her feel somewhat invincible and a little cocky, Lily knows that she too can be taken out in an instant. And if it’s her time, so be it. She intends to go down fighting.
A CIA agent himself, Lucas Swain recognizes the signs of trauma in the line of fire. His orders: either bring her in or bring her down. Yet he too is drawn into the game with Lily Mansfield, dancing on a tightrope as he tries to avoid a major international incident while still battling a tenacious foe who is dogging their every step. Keeping laser focus on the task at hand while vigilantly watching her back, Mansfield never sees the lethal peril that lies directly in her path… and how loyalty has a price.
The new novel had me really excited because I liked the Paris setting and the heroine was an assassin set out for revenge. I don’t much care for revenge stories but with Linda Howard writing the story, I was willing to give it a try. The opening sequence starts off with a bang which is typical Linda Howard fashion as both Open Season and Cry No Morehad gripping opening scenes but even they couldn’t sustain much of the suspense afterwards. In fact, the sinister feel of Open Season in the prologue dissipates.
Anyway, KMWIS, the problem eventually surfaced–quickly– with the lack of “showing” and more “telling.” In this novel, the introspection was very repetitive and annoyed me quite a bit. Of course many readers will and have responded that they don’t need to see a lot of the stuff that Howard writes about Lilly’s past. I found myself skimming the middle just to get to the good parts but there were none. Lilly is an assassin set out to revenge her best friends deaths. They were agents who for some reason, took a job after their retirement and ended up dead. All I could think of after learning this plot twist was that I hope it wasn’t for the money.
Lilly, against the US government’s wishes sets out to destroy the enemy who killed her friends and while at the same time –Lilly decides to play detective and find out why they came out of retirement in the first place. What would make them risk their lives and that of their daughter to accept this assignment? The opening sequence pretty much sets up the tone of the book but unfortunately, it didn’t hold up long afterwards. The suspense sort of fizzled out and all you had left was bafflement and confusion. Well, I did.
By the time Lilly has assassinated the first person on her list, she is running around with no one to trust or to help her. And things start to get boring and repetitive introspection sets in big time at this point in the story. Where’s the hero? Oh. Enter Lucas Swain – coming from another assignment in South America. Divorced with two kids, he seems to be a pretty laid back guy who loves the adrenalin rush of the job but finds that he is ready to settle down with the right woman if she actually shows up. And she does.
Enter Lilly. She has no one to trust, no one to help her, she desperately needs support and good contacts because the enemy is right on her ass. Lucas and Lilly meet up with each other in Paris and work together and eventually, they fall in love, ahhhh, so sweet.
The biggest problem for me was the characters – which are introduced as professionals yet they are anything but. Nothing makes me quit a book faster than when we are introduced to characters who are described as skilled and professional only to watch them behave quite differently and stupidly. I felt less connected to the heroine and it wasn’t because of her profession. Swain was your typical guy – fast cars, fast life, fast women – looking to settle down now that he no longer cares for the game. He is ordered to bring Lilly in – dead or alive – who knows which but hey, why not have a fling with her before handing her over to the government? This is a romance novel after all. [eye roll]
Despite the Paris setting this novel had nothing else working for me. When I put this book aside after struggling to the middle, I decided that this was my last Linda Howard book. My pocketbook cannot sustain another hit. Hello to my local library which is getting a copy of her new book, Cover of Night. More than a dozen copies in fact. I’ve put my request in and can wait.
Overall, not all that great a read to me but reader response is varied. Not recommended. Howard’s last couple of books haven’t been all that hot. I felt that Cry No More was somewhat boring and uneven and in certain spots – interesting. Then the last 3rd of the book turned out to be more riveting and I didn’t want to put it down. My personal favorites are the original paperback novels: After the Night, Kill and Tell and Son of the Morning. Thus far, none of her hardback novels have been keepers for me. None.
[tags]Linda Howard, Romantic Suspense Review[/tags]