Hard Target by Kay Thomas
The first installment in the Elite Ops series, featuring sexy ex-military men ... and the women who rescue their hearts.
Former DEA agent Leland Hollis wasn't planning on being a hero. Recovering from an injury sustained during a drug bust gone wrong and with more personal demons than he cares to admit, he wants nothing more than peace and a chance to rebuild his life. But when Anna Mercado's crazy ex shows up wielding a baseball bat, Leland can't ignore his instinct to help. And after her son is kidnapped, Leland agrees to deliver the ransom into dangerous territory south of the border.
Anna has no choice but to go with this stranger she's just met if she ever wants to see her son again. But getting the boy out of a violent cartel region involves risking everything. And for that Leland will have to convince Anna to do the scariest thing of all ... open her heart and trust him.
This plot has some original ideas that sets it apart from the regular romantic suspense, but the storyline gets messy. It is a bit too far fetched, and has so many scenarios for the possible reasons why things are turning out as they are,
and with so many secondary characters, it is so easy to lose focus and interest.
Leland is a broken man and tattered agent, being wanted, possibly, by the Mexican drug cartel. He has shut down his feelings, because caring for someone equals getting hurt for him. But I liked him, he was humble, honorable, and honest with himself in every aspect, even with his attraction to Anna.
I had hard time connecting with Anna. She is a married to the Tequila King, separated, and seems a bit lost, and very stressed because of the challenges of the past year, not to mention the 48 hours of drama and disaster they are going through in the story. Three times in the story she does, or tries to, use sex as a bargaining tool. Her connection to Leland seemed more like codependent hero worship, than love. And while being portrayed as the all sacrificing mother, she also has sex in the bathroom, with a man she met day before, under possible surveillance cameras, while being held as a prisoner by drug cartel leader, while her son is kidnapped, and her husband is held in prison for attempted murder, of her -- really?!
There are many secondary characters in the story, and I had hard time keeping them all lined up. Which agent was he again? Now what drug cartel did he work again, and he was in war with whom? And this informant came from where, why, how... You get the picture, just too much confusion.
There is a lot happening in this story, like said. The action is fast, constant, and furious, with surprises behind every corner. The drug cartels are after them, the thread from Anna's husband, and the reasons behind every attack change constantly. And when some of the questions are finally being answered, the 'reality' in the tale is unimaginable, and the last chapter's events were just -- unreal.
So the story has a wounded, interesting hero. An army of secondary characters I would like to know more about. A heroine with little appeal but an awesome son. A lot of action, but confusing and unrealistic events in the plot. Yes, it is fiction, but here there is a stretch to the storyline. How do I rate this book, and will I follow the series? I believe in all fairness, it deserves three spoons. There were enough intersting parts in the story to say I liked it.
And as to will I continue reading the series -- time will tell...
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