Author: Christine Feehan
Page Count: 313 pages
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review compliments of the public library
50 words or less: Jess Calhoun is a SEAL who was horribly wounded in the line of duty and is trying to walk again with the help of bionics. He thought he was doing a good deed by giving Saber Wynter a job and a place to live and that was that. Oops.
This series barrels on with this, the fifth installment, which focuses around Jess (we first met him in the second book, he was the guard at Dahlia's asylum) and Saber, who was raised in one of the horror labs and is the perfect assassin- she can kill with a touch. Saber went AWOL from one of Peter Whitney's labs and has been on the run ever since, moving on before anyone can figure out who she is or before she can accidentally take someone's life. She has an unusually powerful, attractive voice (another one of her enhanced abilities) so working in radio seems like a good, peaceful option.
Well, it just so happens that Jess Calhoun owns a radio station, and a horrible accident just cost him his night DJ and sound guy. Hiring Saber is a natural choice, or so he thought; as the story goes on, we find out just how much of this chance meeting was actually staged and how far Peter Whitney is willing to go to get the results he wants.
Saber and Jess are attracted to each other from the getgo, although whether that's because the feelings are authentic or because they're the result of the enhanced pheromones (again, compliments of Peter Whitney) is a cause of great angst and confusion for Saber. She's kind of stuck in an emotional whirlwind that she can't leave- first she shies away from Jess because a soured relationship would cost her her job and her home, then she shies away from Jess because she feels she can never be accepted by other people because of her dangerous abilities, then she shies away from Jess because she doesn't know that she can commit to him for the long haul.
Normally, these kinds of endless reservations and issues and drama don't really do anything for me, but in this book they were used pretty cleverly to illustrate that everything isn't coming up roses in the Ghostwalker world. This author has a knack for taking what could be pretty damaging plot holes and tying them into the story in a way that enhances the story and makes it feel more authentic. For example, there's a scene where Jess finds out that while one character thinks that he and all his genetically enhanced cohorts are good guys because they're "patriots," which the character defines basically as working for the government, he thinks Saber isn't so good because she "doesn't believe in anything." Jess naturally gets all defensive but he is forced to confront the question that nobody else seems to want to address, namely, what kind of future do they all have, really? Are they ever going to be able to be out and open in society or accepted as anything other than manufactured killers? This is just one example of the story seams that get tightened up in this story, and there certainly isn't a clear resolution, but then again, there usually aren't those kinds of answers in the regular world either.
The other major development in the story revolves around the bionics that Jess is using experimentally in hopes that he won't have to rely on a wheelchair anymore. That isn't a spoiler, but it sure feels like one, since characters with any kind of physical difference are so rare in romance novels to begin with. I applaud the author for "going there," so to speak, but I found the bionics aspect of the story to be kind of a cop out. It's hard to really explain why without getting too spoilery, but suffice it to say that his physical disability is there to serve a broader purpose. What would have happened if he'd remained unable to walk? I'm just speculating and overall it's a minor quirk, but I think there were added depths to this story that could have been explored.
The happily-ever-after was sweet and fun, the appearances from other characters were interesting, and while no earthshattering revelations were made about the future direction of the story, it was still a fun book to read.
Overall Grade: A-