Saturday, October 4, 2008

Without A Trace by Nora Roberts **

Finally I finished the series, and found Trace's story to be just as bad as Chantel's. It's the last of the O'Hurley series, book 4. Books 1-3 are each about 1 of the O'Hurley fraternal triplets, 3 girls who were raised by vaudevillians and performed in shows from early ages. Each went her own way - 1 to Broadway to star in a musical, 1 to Hollywood to become a major movie star, 1 married young and rich to a race car driver who died after a few years (the time frames in that story confused me a lot, trying to figure out how long he was in his son's lives based on what things were said about their relationship with the man, and how long he'd been dead and all that).

Trace is the older brother of the triplets, and he never wanted to be on stage - he wanted to travel, to see the world. His father wanted everyone to stay in the family show forever, so Trace had to steal away in the night with a couple hundred bucks Mom gave him to get away from them. Why later we are lead to believe he broke Mom's heart when it was she who convinced him to run, I dunno.

Now Trace is An Operative With An International Agency. For 12 years he's been secretly sneaking into various countries and performing nefarious deeds in the name of patriotism. He now fluently speaks several languages, to the point he can pass, for instance, as a Frenchman, and he has various covers he can use in lots of countries to get what he needs to fulfill his mission (should he choose to accept it). (Sorry, I have trouble with that fluency thing mainly because it's pretty hard to be fluent enough to pass as native after learning the language as an adult.) He is off-duty and on vacation in Mexico when a young Irish woman comes to him to beg him to help her free her hostage brother and niece, kidnapped by terrorists. Seems brother, heroine and their dad were working on a Serum to protect people from the effects of nuclear radiation, which in the wrong hands could precipitate the End Of The World As We Know It.

Uh, just a slight spoiler, the brother and the niece get freed. But meanwhile, we get a dose of that really incredible plot point: the heroine, who has no training at all in covert operations, gun usage, any sort of self-defense, insists on accompanying the hero to every single meeting and on every foray he makes into finding the hostages. Oh, right, yeah, that would be me - let me slow you down and get in your way even though I have no experience and you are a trained operative. I'd so be slapping her if I were him. In addition to her brother being held hostage as a stress-point for the heroine, she also believes her father liked brother best, so there are commitment issues on her side. On Trace's side, the commitment issues are about not having a home. I'm not sure why she doesn't believe him - he really didn't have a home, since he grew up on the road.

Because of the mediocre narration and stretched-beyond-the-limit credibility thing for me, I'm going with 2 measly stars.

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