Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thoughts: Under the Wire

Under the Wire

by Cindy Gerard
Book 5 of The Bodyguards series

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.5 Stars

To the point, I was having trouble getting into this book. The instalove and Manny Ortega’s almost instantaneous 180 jump to conclusions of assholic proportions was a little stifling. I remember when I called Nolan Garrett an asshole. Well, he doesn’t quite hold a torch to Manny’s misplaced anger and assumptions. Fortunately for Under the Wire it still had a couple of good things going for it even if I had trouble sympathizing with our main characters.

And also, Dallas just gets hotter and hotter as that silent hero in the background, brooding his sexy brood, and generally just helping his friends and family get the job done. I’ve never been drawn by too much broodiness before, but Dallas Garrett: It’s working. I am so in love with him and I haven’t even gotten to his own adventure and happily ever after yet. Kudos to you, Ms. Gerard for slipping enough Dallas time into the past few Bodyguards novels for me to be on the edge of my seat, anticipating the next book following.

But now back to THIS particular Bodyguards book in the series…

Let’s start with the quibbles; this is to say, let’s just tackle that romance head-on.

For starters, after Manny and Lily reunite after being separated for so long, things were only slightly better concerning their relationship. But what started off in the beginning wasn’t exactly easy to buy into.

The instalove was pea soup thick with this one. If I had thought that the love line between Ethan and Darcy was too sudden to appeal to my misgivings about instalove… well, this one rivals it fairly well.

While some people might have seen Manny’s come-ons as a young eighteen year old sexy Latin lover as romantic, I found some of it kind of tacky. And maybe a little pushy. At least Lily hadn’t thought so, so I’m not one to complain. But leave it to a man to decide that sex is the answer to all problems in the world. (Barney Stinson sure endorses that point…) But Lily was grief stricken and Manny just wanted to have sex with her. Maybe his heart was in the right place with the best of intentions… but it didn’t quite sit well with me.

But that’s just me.

Afterwards, the instalove seemed to just suffocate the heck out of that seventeen year old flashback. Manny was suddenly deeply in love with Lily… based off of roughly eight days of nothing but sex. Heck, they didn’t even seem to bother getting to know each other. (At least Ethan and Darcy had tried to make small talk and serious “getting to know you” conversation amidst their screwing like bunnies.)

And to make matters worse, when the shit hit the fan, Manny was willing to immediately believe the worst of Lily despite her assurances. Before the idea even occurred to anyone else, he was ready to think that she’d go and betray his secret that he’s a freedom fighting spy in the big evil Sandinista government’s court.

I might not have much experience in the love and romance arena, but I'm inclined to believe that if I was deeply in love with someone, I'd be more than willing to give them the benefit of a doubt.  After all, isn't that the whole point of "love is blind"?

But anyway, why he even told her that big of a secret in the first place was a little questionable.  She didn’t coax it out of him, she didn't allude to wanting to know more about what he does, she didn't even lead the conversation in that general direction in a sneaky fashion or anything…  He just up and said it straight out while they were having breakfast akin to a conversation starter like: “Hmm, it looks like rain. By the way, I’m a freedom fighter infiltrating Poveda’s ranks to find and feed information to his enemies.  But this is a big secret and don't tell anyone or I could be killed. In fact, I shouldn't have even told you.  But I just did for no apparent reason, so you better not betray me to my enemies.  How are those cheesy eggs working for you?”

There was no rhyme or reason as to why he just up and mentioned something so disastrously secretive. It just happened… as if there needed to be a reason why the plot could happen, for there to be a means by which Lily could betray him about his secret so that he could live in hatred the rest of his life when all hell breaks loose and his life turns up in ruins.

I don’t know, it just felt out of place.

And then when he DID almost get killed, he was willing to believe that Lily had betrayed him and left him for dead.  In the reunion scenes, he wouldn't even let Lily tell her side of the story and was willing to hold onto his anger and the misguided notion that she'd lead him to his death.

It was a little disconcerting where their relationship was heading (and even more still how it had ended up panning out… at least until Manny accepted that he’d wrongfully blamed and hated Lily all these years… finally.) He grew a freakin’ conscience and decided to quit being an asshole.

To me, this reeked of a young, idealistic and hopeful boy being in love with the idea of being in love with an alluring older woman. I’m not an expert on relationships of love, but it seems that when Manny didn’t even take a microsecond to doubt Lily’s betrayal, it was disappointing enough for me to doubt that he actually loved her like he kept proclaiming. The fact that their relationship was built on instalust and lots of sex made it easy for me to wonder whether he was just being a young foolish boy (despite the many, many claims that he’d grown up from a boy into a man at a young age already).

But here’s the kicker… you can still be a matured man, and still be a jackass. Which is exactly what Manny ended up being from the moment he chose to believe that Lily betrayed him and ruined his life, and all throughout his unyielding assholery and his unwillingness to believe or even think about believing Lily when she laid the truth out to him: that she hadn’t betrayed him and that she’d been lead to believe he was dead and that he’d been lied to.

But anyway, things DID progress to better points and I found myself not really worrying too much about this relationship in the end anyway. I hold reserves in pointing out that Manny isn’t one of my favorite Bodyguards guys, merely for that pig-headed stubbornness of his throughout the book. He’s a good man in all other terms, but with romance, maybe not so much.

And the fact that Lily even had to feel like she was the one who needed to work on fixing their relationship when she’d been wrongly resented was kind of a downer. There were times that she was strong and tough, but then there were times that she let herself be a pushover. But otherwise, I didn’t really have much to complain about with her. She just didn’t really stand out much.

Anyway, the rest of the story, suspense, conspiracies, rescue mission… the works, was well written and intense (as per usual). I followed it well and I got caught up in the excitement. Government conspiracies, wars, politics… it strains me a little, but it was executed well enough. I loved seeing the Garrett brothers working their stuff. Always. Like I said already, Dallas is so uber awesome it makes my head spin!

The penultimate conclusion was… well, I’m going to admit, it was actually kind of boring and kind of left-field, but at the same time, it was expected. I’m not going to file this one under one of my favorites, for specific reasons…

But hey, not every couple can be as much fun as Sweet Baby Jane and her Baby Blue, right?

And now... I'm ready for you Dallas Garrett.

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

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