On the Edge by Shannon Stacey (2007) published by Samhain, LTD. On the Edge is the sequel to 72 hours that I read last year and enjoyed. The stories revolve around The Devlin Group and their operatives and their missions that seem to go awry. The Devlin Group works locally as well and globally.
The Devlin Group is led by Sean Devlin and his admin exec is Alex Rossi from 72 hours. On the Edge introduces us to Charlotte Rhames, an executive administrator who has been with the Devlin Group for years. She knows every detail on every secret operative in the field. Then there’s Devlin operative Tony Cassavetti, a Texan who was looking forward to some R&R after his last assignment went to hell.
The story opens with a bang. The reader is placed center stage as a hostage situation is underway. Tony Cassavetti’s cover has been blown. Nine months previous Tony was able to infiltrate their target, am who goes by Chavez and his illegal operations that included child trafficking in Texas.
Under fire from Chavez and his men, Tony is listening to Charlotte on his open comm, informing him of the local law enforcement waiting outside to storm the room. Charlotte also reminds him that the contractual agreement is to get Chavez and collateral damage was acceptable. Of course Tony has other plans. In the end, the hostage is saved and the target is left dead. Mission completed.
After this last assignment, Tony is on a plane, heading to a meeting being held at Alex Rossi’s home. All Devlin group operatives are mandated to attend. Tony is looking forward to meeting Charlotte Rhames, the owner of the sexy voice on his open comm for the last 8 years. Also, Charlotte is looking forward to meeting Tony and making her fantasy into reality by having a fling with him. The two meet and like each other. However, at the meeting something goes seriously wrong. They have an agent who has crossed them which is unprecedented in the history of the Devlin Group.
In the aftermath, the circle of trust is limited to three: Charlotte, Tony and Gallagher. Everybody else is on a need to know basis. A plan is born to go off to Greece to catch the culprit who has killed and wounded some of their operatives at the meeting. The plan: Charlotte to go back to the life she had in Greece, before she joined The Devlin Group to snare their target with Tony playing bodyguard. Alas, this causes major conflict between Tony and Charlotte because of Charlotte’s lack of field work experience and accepting her previous profession of being a prostitute.
I liked the story but the plot flawed. Starting with the characters, I really liked Charlotte and her no-nonsense attitude. However, their plan in Greece was flawed and this further weakened the plot for me. I mean you’re going after a traitor who worked for the Devlin group for 3 years.
Naturally, the antagonist would know some sensitive information about the group. So when things go wrong, it was expected and utterly predictable. The flaws of the plan are also noted in the storyline and by the characters. With their hand already tipped to the enemy, I’m surprised that they made it out alive but this is fiction after all.
Another problem for me was the hero, Tony Cassavetti. I didn’t much like him and his “my way or the highway” type of games he would play with Charlotte. Of course, Charlotte was the perfect match for him in making him understand who’s boss. Tony’s problem is that he suffers from identity crisis because of some baggage that stemmed from his childhood. [cue violin music] He just can’t accept other people sacrificing anything for him. It’s never been done. Nobody’s ever loved him or cared for him until now. Woe is me. Tear. [/cue violin music]. His character at times really annoyed me. Another big problem for me as a reader was the lack of chemistry. Where was it? Their relationship came across as being boring and flat to me. No spark. No sizzle.
Despite all the flaws I noted, Ms. Stacy can write some really good action scenes and she has a good ear for dialogue that seems natural and not forced. I loved the opening of the story but that tension didn’t last long. It pretty much died when Charlotte and Tony’s Bombardier plane landed in Greece. As short as this novella was in length (400 pages according to my PDA), the pacing was uneven and I could and did put this book down and forget it. On the Edgewas missing that something, that umph that I just can’t put my finger on exactly.
Novellas in general are not my favorites despite being quick reads (well some of them are quick reads). Alas, Ms. Stacey did at least give her characters some back story to make their mutual attraction probable and I liked the ending. The author has them take a 6 week break to sort things out after the assignment is over. Relationships developed under stressful situations do not a relationship make sez me.
On the Edge was not a bad read but it was average read to me and unremarkable. As disappointed as I was with On the Edge, I’m glad to have read it and look forward to reading the next Devlin group story. After reading and enjoying 72 hours, I was looking for a more stronger effort here but it didn’t happen. My grade, C+.