Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thoughts: Leave No Trace (A Black Ops, Inc. novella)

Leave No Trace

by Cindy Gerard
Listed as Black Ops, Inc. #5.5

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.0 Stars

*This novella seems to take place some time after Risk No Secrets, though the timeline seems kind of sketchy.

**This novella is also part of the Deadly Promises anthology.

We first met David “Cav” Cavanaugh in Whisper No Lies, a CIA operative who was also acquainted with the two former CIA BOIs, Wyatt Savage and Joe Green. With his help, our heroes managed to extract Crystal from Jakarta after she’d been abducted by a human trafficking tycoon.

Despite the fact that I knew there’d be a novella starring Cav, his presence in the third BOI novel created no less of an expectation. Described as unforgivingly handsome with his own hero complex and a penchant for being one of the good guys, I’d be surprised if Ms. Gerard didn’t try to either insert him into another of the BOI novels, or give him his own story.

And so now we have a novella.

What I had a feeling for (though I hadn’t really expected), was that Carrie Grainger, who is introduced in Black Ops installment number five, Risk No Secrets, would be his leading lady. Carrie is an old childhood friend of “Papa Bear” Savage’s; they had been an item when they were in high school, and she still maintained a flame for him, even as he returned to Georgia years later, bringing with him the love of his life, Sophie Baylor, and officially taking himself off the market. And thus, heartbroken and ready to move on, Carrie decides to do something spontaneous, such as get involved in medical care in foreign nations.

When this little novella (which isn’t very little at a slightly over 100 pages of content) starts off, we learn that Carrie has disappeared from the grid. Wyatt contacts David Cavanaugh for a favor involving finding and retrieving Carrie. She had arrived in Myanmar as planned, but not long after a taxi ride, she’d gone missing. On her side of the story, we learn that Carrie had noticed a woman being beaten in public, tried to intervene, and then got caught up in a botched up arrest, where she was wrongfully held in captivity for some sort of legal matter. The next thing she knows, she’s being hauled off to a slave camp to do hard labor in the ruby mines. From Cav’s side of the intel, Carrie’s arrest was a mix-up, and so in order to cover up this problem, the government figured that they better just keep quiet about it and make her go away.

And thus starts a suspenseful adventure of rescue by a non-BOI hero of the Black Ops series world.

The novella was action-packed and well-written, as is typical of Cindy Gerard. And because of the usual consistently forward-moving story progression of her books, I’d never really stopped to appreciate the detail and vivid imagery she manages to infuse into the different cultures and nations that our heroes continuously “visit” for their missions. But the beginning of this novella, with David Cavanaugh sitting quietly in his little mansion, showed a lot of excellent description of his home, the room he was in, and a little bit of Jakarta that is appreciated.

And then the action starts and we forget about great detailed settings and imagery and move right into the excitement.

There was a lot of story to go on with a simple rescue mission. We’ve already covered rescue missions before, and because of the fact that neither Carrie nor Cav were unique nor stood out amidst the rest of the lovely BOIs in their full-length novels, I can only delegate this novella into a simple, enjoyable read. Carrie was the typical damsel in distress who manages to surprise her hero by holding up as strong and determined. Cav was the typical broody alpha male hero with his wits, his heart, and his “I have commitment issues due to my angsty childhood history” and the like.

There was nothing new there on the character front, nor was there anything new or exciting about the romance front either. The dialogue and writing were done excellently, and I did give a goofy grin when the BOIs make their appearance at the end (as I seem to do regularly now). But otherwise, this Romantic Suspense novella was standard fare.

In fact, I even feel like the romance was a bit rushed and the word “love” was cast around a little too easily. But what else is new with a Romance novel, right? A couple meets under dire circumstances, they are attracted to each other, they imagine all sorts of naughty thoughts about each other, they give into their carnal needs… they start to care about each other, and within a nano-second of all that has happened, they’ve fallen in love and can’t live without each other. Developments of Romance novels to be taken with a grain of salt and no over-analysis, otherwise, it’s hard to enjoy yourself and immerse yourself in the feel-good, heart-warming scenes that take place.

Simply Put: An enjoyable, yet lengthy novella with the right amount of suspense and the right amount of excitement. It may or may not have made for a good full-length novel, given the chance. A romance with unnecessary bittersweet angst… and so let’s get back to our BOIs in the next full-length novel, shall we?

Also, it feels like the timeline for this novella is a little bit off.  When the BOIs show up in the end of the novella, Cav makes it sound like Carrie had never met them before, but we know everyone, including Carrie, showed up to Wyatt's wedding in Risk No Secrets.  So either that was an accident, or Carrie has met, but doesn't remember our Black Ops boys... which is certainly strange, because a room full of Gabe Jones, Johnny Duane Reed, Rafe Mendoza, Luke Colter, and Joe Green would be pretty hard to miss... or forget for that matter.

Also... I hadn't pegged that Johnny Duane would be fully recovered from his skateboard stunt injury already, but it might have been months after the events of Risk No Secrets.  Also, I thought that Doc (Luke Colter) was supposed to be on vacation.

I'm not certain when the events of Leave No Trace takes place, really, and it could be a long time after Wyatt's wedding.

Oh well, it's not like I'm really complaining or anything.

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

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