Sunday, March 27, 2016

Review: Feel the Heat

Feel the Heat

by Cindy Gerard
Book 4 of Black Ops, Inc. series

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

Another Cindy Gerard Black Ops book, another great suspenseful read with exciting global conspiracies, terrorist activity, covert ops missions, guns and explosions… following up with the steamy hot sexual tension, a sweet romance, and a heartwarming gathering of great characters.

This is what is expected of a Cindy Gerard book now. At least to me, it’s what I’ve come to expect. And while you always get all of that--especially the heartwarming feeling of togetherness of the BOIs and the rest of their big adopted family--you also get a page-turning thriller that just keeps going.

On top of that, I swear the women in these books just keep getting stronger and more Rambo than I had expected, but Ms. Gerard has always been able to bring out the best in her female heroines. Even if there may be one or two things you don’t like about one of her characters, you ultimately still manage to find them charming and lovely.

Defense Intelligence officer B.J. Chase and Black Ops Raphael “Rafe” Mendoza team up in an undercover mission when Raphael must return to his childhood home in Colombia for intel. There is a potential terrorist act on the horizon that B.J. managed to uncover after infiltrating the NSA--there is encrypted communication, secretly deleted and now recovered, that points to EMP technology and a possible attack with an E-bomb against the States that could devastate America’s economy.

Furthermore, a drug cartel lord, Emilio Garcia’s name comes up--a man Raphael knows only through reputation as well as through family history with ties to his own family history. Raphael’s uncle by marriage works for Garcia. As a cover, B.J. poses as Raphael’s fiancee to better help the couple maneuver around the drug cartel territory as Raphael tries to convince his uncle and Emilio Garcia that he can be trusted.

Once again, another global conspiracy, another terrorist attack brewing, another special ops mission to save the world. While a lot of the plot points in a Cindy Gerard book tend to operate on grand scales, at the very least they are always a different new threat that requires our BOIs to step up and be the heroes again and again. It’s never the murder mystery I love to indulge in with the surprise twists and whatnot, but these kinds of Romantic Suspense stories are still exciting and intriguing.

Undercover operations as a plot device for a romance is always welcome in my book, and while the couple didn’t really jump into their undercover op until halfway through the story, it was still played out very well. Especially when you’ve got the ever capable BOI team member front and center, joined by a tough-as-nails, intelligent and resourceful partner backing him. B.J. Chase is certainly one of my new heroes, granted it would have sat a bit better with me if she’d been more willing to play nice as a team. Of course, this is what makes her unique and different--that she’s cold and withdrawn with more stubborn courage than anyone (man or woman) should be allowed to have, and that she’s also capable of handling herself and several others while she’s at it.

In a world without BOIs, B.J. would be a lone wolf hero who’s always trying to save the world by herself, without people she can trust and without friends to confide in.

As for Raphael Mendoza, not much stands out about him, really. But he IS a good man, and he does well not being the typical broody type of alpha male. There is no broody bone in him at all, and for a change, our female main character is the broody, angsty commitment-phobe. An interesting change of roles which makes for refreshing storytelling on the romantic front, I guess. Rafe Mendoza still makes for good hero material and the other half of our steamy romance; he just doesn’t give me anything outstanding as a BOI…

Although in his defense, I might still be riding on the high of falling in squee-ing fangirl love with Johnny Duane Reed, the goofy, pretty boy who gushes flirtatious charm and puts a grin on your face no matter in what capacity he appears in. When you put the two of them side-by-side, I have to apologize for my bias towards Johnny Duane; he’s just become my favorite and I’m not sure anyone else is up to taking his place right now.


Speaking of the romantic front: While Rafe and B.J. do strike up a rather sweet love story, I found their relationship developed into love too quickly for my liking. For the first five chapters or so, Rafe was all about having a thing for Stephanie Tompkins. He’d fluttered around her worriedly when she was hurt and he’d even mentioned multiple times that he was interested in her, but for reasons wouldn’t ever act on his feelings.

Then, suddenly, along comes B.J. Chase and Rafe is now having hot and steamy thoughts and daydreams about her. Mere moments before the two are carrying out their undercover mission, Rafe suddenly decides that maybe he didn’t really like Stephanie romantically after all. Not long after that, the two have sex (as is staple in a Romance), and then Rafe decides that he’s fallen in love with B.J.

As for B.J., while it’s a little bit easier for her to grasp falling for Rafe, her coldness and aloof personality made the concept a little unbelievable. She jumped too quickly from “relationships and love are unnecessary evils” to “I think I’m in love now.” Granted, she fought the idea for 99% of the book and kept in character with her beliefs, so I’ll give her props for that.

Still, I’m of the impression that all of that love story happened a little too quickly, so much so that it felt a bit out of place and rushed. I can see them admiring each other and being attracted to each other easily. But falling in love with such little development still seems a bit rushed… despite the fact that this is typical in most Romance novels.

Otherwise, I didn’t feel bothered by their romance too much.

This particular installment of Black Ops also made to introduce a future couple in the making, Joe Green and Stephanie Tompkins, who will be featured in the last book of this series, Last Man Standing. We get a little insight into how their relationship may play out as well as get a taste for their romantic chemistry as is typical of Cindy Gerard fashion. I’m guessing something about this couple may or may not be brought up randomly in the next two books preceding the last one.

We also get to officially “meet” Wyatt Savage and get more out of his personality than we’ve seen before. While previous books had him mainly in the background, joking a quip here and there, we actually get a full few lines of heartwarming humor and dialogue out of him for a short scene when he’s teaching B.J. how to operate a steam engine--and we even get to skim the surface of his persona. With those few lines from him, I’ve actually become kind of intrigued by his character, and that’s not just because he sounds charming in that jokey yet genteel southern way.

Final Thoughts: Fast paced and exciting and enjoyable, as per Cindy Gerard style writing. A good storyline to follow with page-turning pacing. The romance could have been handled a little differently, but the characters, as usual, are excellently presented.

I never get tired of seeing the same favorite characters in a series with stand-alone book installments. I love watching the BOIs interacting with each other, I love revisiting favorite characters from previous books and seeing them in a larger role than just a random cameo appearance.

And while Tinkerbell didn’t get much time in the book, I’m glad we get to see enough of Johnny Duane to appease my “favorite BOI, favorite couple” quota.

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in January 2015.

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