Whisper No Liesby Cindy Gerard
Book 3 of Black Ops, Inc. series
~ Goodreads ~
Rating: 4.5 Stars
**Side note on 3/27/2016:
I ♥ Johnny Duane!
I also ♥ Tink!
And I especially ♥ them together!!
I also ♥ Tink!
And I especially ♥ them together!!
Personally, I want to give this book a full five star rating, but I’m trying to be objective… As objective as a 4.5 Star rating will get you, I guess... so who am I trying to kid? At least I figure I should wait until all the FEELS roll off of me before I decide how to dissect this little review post without squee-ing all over the place.
Which, unfortunately, I cannot do.
I had a feeling I’d love Johnny Duane Reed when he was first introduced in Into the Dark the final installment of The Bodyguards series that preceded this series. The way he was described gave him so many layers and so much of a mystery shroud while at the same time presenting a pretty boy playboy “character” that it intrigued me.
No doubt, there must be some stock in how they say that women are attracted to the men with layers and layers of personality just waiting to be discovered. And on top of that, I tend to lean more towards the cheeky, smarmy types who also happen to come off as sunshine and bunnies one moment, but can instantly flip a switch to being all business and kinda hot to boot for it. In the midst of it all, there’s an underlying goofiness to Johnny Duane that makes you grin every time he appears. And then there’s that seemingly lost little boy mode when he’s out of his element on the romance front and has no idea how to deal with all those foreign feelings.
And when Johnny Duane whipped out the lost and confused seriousness with the stammering and the stuttering, it was truly the most adorable thing ever. You’re just so used to seeing these men in their confidence and their flirtatious, irritating charm that it’s nice to see them in a different light.
Aside from Johnny, the heroine of this adventure was also a sure win from the moment you meet her in the previous book, Take No Prisoners. She’s a fiery, spunky, intelligent, and resourceful woman who can handle herself just as well as the BOIs, and it shows. As a loyal friend who came to Abbie’s aid, no questions asked, I had already admired Crystal Debrowski’s character. When she was described as a former police officer’s daughter and that she’d “trained her entire life” to become police, I was slightly worried she might be over hyped just a little bit (you know, those "she's strong and independent" types on paper, but in actual narrative, she only ever shows her clumsy, damsel-in-distress side).
But the moment she dismantled a picture frame into two glass shard knives and a wooden club weapon, I had a feeling our pixie-like Tinkerbell wasn’t going to let me down on the strong heroine front. She certainly held her own despite still needing a little boost from the BOIs to help get her out of danger. And she wasn’t too proud to show that she wasn’t superwoman and could do everything alone; she deferred to the guy who knew what he was doing, she readily accepted being scolded for making any mistakes, and she had her own resourceful wits about her. Being strong doesn’t always mean doing everything alone in spite of the danger; being strong also means being smart enough to know when to let trained professionals have your back when it’s needed, and it also means admitting defeat or admitting your faults when they happen.
"So how come you didn't tell me you were afraid of heights?" he asked [...]
"What makes you think I'm afraid of heights?" [...]
"Oh, maybe the fact that your face glows green under the Maglite."
"Yeah, so, fine. I don’t like heights. Didn’t stop me."
"No," he said with a huge grunt as he broke a small hole through the outer wall. "It sure as hell didn't."
Approval. She heard it loud and strong. Next, however, she heard the anger.
"You wanna play with the big boys, you don't keep secrets, got it? Secrets get people killed."
She nodded, properly chastised. "Got it. Sorry."
The story sets off with Crystal Debrowski being propositioned by a foreign business man who pretty much tells her she will be his sex slave. When she rejects his offer and sends him packing, however, it seems this man has other ideas that involve ruining her life by setting her up to lose her job and getting arrested for embezzlement charges.
And then he goes and kidnaps her, taking her all the way to Jakarta to become that sex slave he’d promised her he’d make her.
And so now Johnny Duane Reed must travel on his own covert mission to find and rescue Crystal (who was also in the process of trying to rescue herself), fueled on that unknown foreign feeling of his that keeps telling him to come back around to his lovely Tinkerbell no matter how many times he runs away from her. In the midst of this, darker crimes are uncovered as the two learn that Yao Long is sitting on his own empire of human trafficking, weapons smuggling, and counterfeit distribution.
And so then the BOIs are called in when a new twist to the crime is revealed (rescue mission of other important peoples being held captive at Bordella de Sleazy Human Trafficker in Jakarta), and the action just keeps spinning on its side.
Whisper No Lies was certainly action-packed and constantly moving forward. There was no lacking in progression and it seems that when one thing started dying down, another conflict would arise. And in the middle of it were Johnny, Crystal, and a few of the BOIs with a fairly straight shot mission of recovering their American girls and then getting the heck out of Jakarta. Of course, more chaos continues to ensue, and until the eleventh hour, things just kept right on happening.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think there was too much going on, because frankly, for a small, minuscule moment, I DID feel like there might be too much going on. But then Johnny and Crystal would start bickering, or Johnny Duane would do his suave, pretty boy flirting thing, or Tinkerbell would slug someone upside the head or learn to throw a couple grenades… and then I’d be back to enjoying the entire page-turning ride as the book continued on.
As always, it’s the characters of the Black Ops world with their charm and their loveliness and their heart that made this book such an entertaining, enjoyable, and fun experience. And it was Johnny and Crystal and their bickering but steamy romance (and multiple hot and steamy sex scenes) that had all my FEELS amped on high.
I mean, this couple just screamed all sorts of fun, and not just the sexy kind. They were great as a partnership, great as a couple even without the nakedness. And sometimes a fun couple is what you need to truly invest in a good romance.
It also helped that our couple’s love story started off as a simple hook-up by two strangers who were just looking for a good time. It probably helped their love story along that their respective best friends, Abbie and Sam, are married and so despite the no-strings hook-up, Johnny Duane and Tinkerbell still came around to seeing each other a lot. They’re constantly attracted to each other and apparently had spent the backstory between Take No Prisoners and Whisper No Lies hooking up whenever Johnny visited Sam in Las Vegas.
And as time flew by, and they went through one obstacle after another, they grew to love each other.
This is the kind of romance that I can definitely buy into. Sure it started off as instalust, but the rest of the romance developed over time and the word “love” wasn’t even thrown out there until it was necessary.
I knew I’d love Johnny Duane Reed and Crystal “Tinkerbell” Debrowski when they first came on the scene. I’m glad that I wasn’t proven wrong. The two are definitely a powerful couple.
Final Thoughts: An action-packed storyline (that may or may not have gotten a tad bit out of control), a clear cut plot that was going somewhere intriguing, and a lovely romance that was all things steamy, sweet, adorable, and fun, all at the same time.
When was the last time I fell in love with a couple (as well as the individuals) of which I described as “fun”?
This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):
This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in January 2015.