Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kiss Me While I Sleep by Linda Howard ****

Wow - 1 series finished for the Serial Reader's Challenge! And it was a great one. I read them all in a row - Kill and Tell, All The Queen's Men and Kiss Me While I Sleep. I'm a big fan of Linda Howard's books anyway, so it wasn't a hardship.

On Fantastic, the books are referred to as the John Medina series - ok, John appears briefly in book 1, Book 2 is his story and in book 3 his name is mentioned one time... Elsewhere I saw it called the CIA series, which more closely describes it.

Interestingly, and especially in book 3, the CIA is made out to be very all-powerful and all-knowing. That's in contrast to my impression that a lot of the time the government guys are, in fiction plots, made out to be desk-jockeys, going by the book, not getting it right. OK, I have no examples of that. But in this series, they are The Man (even the women). And of course, I think I've mentioned my secret childhood fantasy of being a paid assassin/cat burglar, so Lily - the heroine - was a woman after my own heart. (really, I think it was the influence of James Bond books and movies that made me think that would be a romantic career, and not because I actually wanted to kill anyone or even handle guns and steal stuff.)

Lily was approached at age 18 because of her marksmanship talents to become a sharpshooter/assassin for the CIA. After her first kill at age 18, she was hooked. Oh, I think she had some misgivings at first but next thing you know, she's a lethal weapon owned by the CIA. After her best friends and their adopted teenage daughter are killed, however, she turns rogue and sets out to kill the head of the family that put the hit on her friends. And succeeds. But this fellow, as bad a bad guy as ever existed, is also an asset to the CIA and so dangit if they don't have to take her out. Somehow. But how?

Well, John Medina is out of consideration since he's on another job (there's his one mention) so Frank Vinay brings in West Texas cowboy Lucas Swain - he's almost as good as John. Swain goes to France, where Lily killed the Bad Guy, and sets out to find her. He's just a step behind her at every turn - and he figures out where she will be and dangit if he doesn't locate her in just a few days! She walks into the park across the street from the lab where the action is (think avian flu, vaccine and morphed virus development) while he sits there and ponders - and rescues her when the Bad Guys start shooting at her.

Well - there's instant chemistry betwixt the 2 - and he decides to actually help her out. Seems Swain has a soft spot for kids and dogs, and once he realizes that she (a) is grieving over the teenager's death and (b) goes out of her way to help an old guy with a dog, he figures he'll at least see what her motivations and plans are before Taking Her Out. (Look - it's romance - so while we're led to believe Lily will be Terminated aka Killed, I'm going to spoil the ending for you: HEA.)

There's moles, bombs and a terrific security plot that I wished I'd thought of!! Plus the nice vacation in Greece when it's all over, before The Big Sleep. Yeah, there were probably some unrealistic spy things in there - hey, it's fiction!! but they went right over my head!

It was a 4 star read for me - and it's the last in my first completed series in the challenge.

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