COULD NOT FINISH THIS ONE
From the very beginning of the first chapter, everything about this book rang false. By the end of the third chapter, my disbelief could no longer remain suspended. I scanned the middle and final chapters for any signs of improvement. Finding none, I raised the white flag of surrender and shelved the book.
The novel has a catchy title, sharp cover art and a great promotional blurb. Unfortunately, the author’s execution of her plot line falls apart within the first few pages. There are too many problems to recount them all, so I will justify my rating using the Rule of Three.
First is the main story line, Sophia Taylor’s widowhood. As the promotional blurb states, Sophia’s husband of three months died in a traffic accident several months ago. As the story opens, she is told by one of her friends, Suzanne, that “Martin” is not dead but is an undercover CIA agent along with herself. She is also told that “Martin” married her to get close to her friend, Eliza, and Eliza’s fiancé, Roberto, who are suspects in a drug operation. Coincidentally, Eliza and Roberto disappeared three weeks prior to Martin’s staged death, and Suzanne states that she has known where they are all this time.
This sounds good except for at least six things. For instance, Sophie was never allowed to see the body. Wrong! Then, Suzanne announces that she and Martin are CIA agents while in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Really! Next, even in a joint task force, the CIA would not take point in a domestic drug investigation. That honor would fall to the DEA or DHS. Also, no government agency has either the time or the money to care about the mental health of thousands of people who are considered informants on any given day, regardless of what Sophie is told by Sam/Nate.
Plus, no government agency is going to spend the money necessary to “kill” an agent, neither in funeral expenses nor in the plastic surgery necessary to keep that agent operative in the US. Frankly, he would have “disappeared” to Sand Land or the Tundra for several years and the agency would have filed for divorce for him.
And finally, through embarrassingly personal experience, I know that a field agent’s handler would never allow an engagement to proceed, let alone wedding preparations and an actual ceremony. Pillow talk may be useful but marriage is a liability to an undercover agent, both to his career and to his life expectancy. There is simply no way, regardless of what the author intimated, that the handler did not know what was happening.
Second in the Rule of Three is the main subplot, Eliza’s disappearance. In the first few pages of the book, Suzanne tells Sophie that the CIA incarcerated Eliza four months ago as part of their investigation into the drug issue. Again, the author is choosing the wrong agency to do the wrong thing. Incarceration without charges or trial is a Patriot Act/DHS purview. And the chances that a suspected low-level foot soldier or dealer would be held in that manner for that long are quite low. That scenario is simply too expensive for what little reward might be generated.
And third is the writing itself. It was stilted and juvenile. The story is written in Sophie’s first person POV and there are an incredible number of “I” sentences. Sophie’s self-pitying, isolationist act comes off as annoying and her internal monologues sound like those of a flighty teenager rather that those of a person of her age and professional standing. And Sam/Nate’s dialog is actually more reminiscent of a female in one of those bodice-ripper novels so prevalent in the mid-twentieth century than it is of current speech.
There are certain costs to doing business as an author. One is the cost of a professional copy editor to clear out typos, misspellings and poor wording. Another is the cost of a content editor, a person who is not related by blood or friendship, who will critique the copy for flow, feasibility and feeling. And thirdly, there is the cost of conducting research, whether it is time spent on the Internet, time spent with a reference book, or time spent listening to a subject-area specialist. Ms. Lassiter might want to consider increasing her payments in these cost areas.
I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway Program. That fact did not, in any way, influence my opinion of the book.
Cover Art from Goodreads