Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thoughts: Running Blind

Running Blind

by Cindy Gerard
Book 3 of One-Eyed Jacks series

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

Once again, Cindy Gerard does not disappoint with her action-packed and sizzling romance in Running Blind!

:P Haha... I sound like some sort of advertising tagline for the book. But truth be told, I've said before that I'm not sure I'm capable of NOT enjoying a Cindy Gerard book anymore. But it also helps that her romantic suspense novels are attention-grabbing, engaging, and have a lot of excellently created characters you readily fall in love with.

Running Blind was definitely NOT perfect. And it wasn't as exciting as I'd been hoping it to be, what with a title like that. It could have used a bit more structure, that's for sure. But it works and I loved it in its own way and it kept me happy.

In the end, it all comes to whether or not I had a good reading experience, doesn't it? :D

The Story:
The aftermath of a sniper attack leaves a dear friend fighting for her life. The discovery of their attacker's hideout reveals a vendetta--someone is determined to take out the original three One-Eyed Jacks, Mike Brown, Jamie Cooper, Bobby Taggart, as well as Mike's wife Eva. The investigation begins as the entire team comes together, groping blindly to find some connection between the four targets and past enemies.

Meanwhile, Coop and blonde Bombshell, Rhonda Burns, gets pulled off the investigation to take care of other jobs that have cropped up and Coop is NOT happy about that at all. Throw in his festering lust and attraction to the Bombshell, and the next few days on their field mission feels like it will be hell for him. Rhonda's own searing attraction isn't sitting well with her either, and her own determination to never falling in love and never caring starts to break down.

My Thoughts:
Running Blind is very much half romance and half military thriller, disguised very well as a full romantic suspense. Because there is a LOT of action in this book. But at the same time, we spend even more time developing the love line between Coop and Rhonda, by finding a reason to separate them out from the rest of the group by throwing them on an unrelated mission, but eventually bringing them back around to a different, related mission.

Well played, Cindy. For a while there, I'd been wondering why we took such a tangent with the love line development. But I suppose not every romantic suspense has to pit our main couple into mortal peril for 90% of the book, no matter how entertaining it usually gets.

I was just hoping there'd be a bit more action that what was presented... except, there was a lot of action. And I did like that there was a lot of investigating. And I did like how the investigation progressed. It just felt kind of weird to send Coop and Rhonda off to develop their romance just because it gave them both an opportunity to be separated from the rest of the group.

I mean, the mission they went on, which lasted a good few chapters, didn't even really tie-in with the main conflict in the book.  In a way, it felt like a cop-out because we couldn't figure out how to get these two alone together any other way.  But in a way, if this had been some contemporary romance without the initial sniper attack hanging over our heads, it would have worked really well.

This is really just a story about two coworkers who have been lusting after each other since day one, but have hidden that attraction behind irritation and hostility.  Then they're finally forced into a situation where they cannot NOT admit their attraction... and then they do something about it.

There just also happens to be some big military/international conspiracy going on as well.

Anyway, I still enjoyed the book. And I loved Jamie Cooper in all his jokey, sexy, charming glory. Rhonda had me conflicted. She's a computer nerd slash sexual fantasy for men--I love that she wasn't either one or the other and could be nerdy AND confidently beautiful without all the computer nerd stereotypes. I also loved that she was badass and trained with the rest of the team to take on combat as a field agent.

But I did not love that she spent so much time pre-judging Jamie Cooper by filing him into a playboy mold who disrespectfully saw sleeping with women as a conquest. THAT got on my nerves a little bit, because we later find out that she did that on purpose to "protect her own heart" because he was the type of man she could fall for. So instead of setting aside her past problems and being civil coworkers, she spends a lot of time being purposely antagonistic to Coop, no matter how hard HE tried to be professional and civil.

Then again, I guess Jamie's penchant for flirting with every woman probably didn't help his case any and made it easier for Rhonda to continue being bitchy towards him.

Not exactly my favorite couple in the world, but their love line was developed quite well and for that, I am satisfied.

Final Thoughts:
While I knew that Cindy would never outrage her readers, I was also struck with a moment of anxiety during the sniper attack when one of my favorite characters went down. I mean, I knew she was going to be okay in the end, but it didn't stop the FEELS from creeping in throughout the entire first half of the book as we watched her fight for her life.

Anyway, Running Blind was entertaining and enjoyable as a Cindy Gerard romantic suspense usually is. And, of course, I'm definitely looking forward to the next few books, especially with more appearances from my favorite characters, Johnny and Crystal, Mike and Eva, etc...

Johnny showed up for one line of dialogue in this entire book. ONE. But it was a good, flirty one, so I'm happy... I guess.

I ♥ Johnny Duane!

On a side note, it took a little bit for me to get this entire black ops team straightened out. So we've still got Nate Black's BOIs, but now we've also got Mike Brown leading his own group (though it looks like he still reports to Nate) of One-Eyed Jacks with new recruits. The two teams are filed under Uncle Sam's Department of Defense as a top-notch security firm as their cover, denoted as ITAP. Meanwhile, Black Ops, Inc. and the One-Eyed Jacks technically don't really exist and they still go on the same kinds of missions as before.  They just have more pull in the government now than they used to.

Or something like that.  I think.

Side note end.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in February 2016.

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