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Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: Secondary Targets

Secondary TargetsTitle: Secondary Targets
Author: Sandra Edwards
Page Count: 326 KB (novel length, Kindle format)
Publisher: self-published
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less:  What if not only everything you knew was wrong, but the alternate "reality" was even more unpalatable?  Grace Hendricks just wants to know why her dad's military paperwork is all jacked up, and for that she'll need the help of her ex, Eric Wayne.  The truth, though, is even twistier and icky than either of them would have imagined.

Secondary Targets has a lot going on.  It's simultaneously a political thriller, a military thriller, and a romance, complete with a full cast of characters, some of whom are carrying significant emotional baggage.  While not a perfect story, there are plenty of elements that will appeal to a variety of readers.

The story dives right in with Grace in the midst of a crisis of faith.  While researching her family's history, she makes the disconcerting discovery that not only are her father's military papers incorrect about critical facts surrounding his death, but that the grave, where she herself stood as he was buried, is no longer there. She wants to know what the deal is, and the only person she can think of to help her is Eric Wayne.  There's an unfortunate catch, though- Grace ran away from their relationship eleven years ago and hasn't been back since and didn't provide so much as a by-your-leave to Eric.

Eric, then, would have been entirely justified in telling her to take her messed up papers and missing grave for a long walk off a short pier, but he doesn't.  Instead, he dives right into the mystery with Grace, figuring he can always do justice to a dead man's memory and walk away from his daughter at the end of the journey.

That isn't so easy, as Eric's feelings for Grace are closely intertwined with the events of the story that involve her father.  Turns out Papa Hendricks has more skeletons in his closet than any one person has a right to have; unfortunately, some of these skeletons aren't dead and gone, and instead have come home to haunt his daughter's life.

The elements of this story are relatively common in and of themselves, but are configured here in a way that feels fresh.  The ending felt satisfying, and I enjoyed seeing how everyone's problems were resolved, even if it meant they had to make some sacrifices.  The ultimate lesson about the peril of keeping secrets rings true at the end.

Some readers might see a conflict in terms of the pacing and balance between the rekindling of the romance between Eric and Grace and the political suspense component that drove most of the plot.  In a way, it was kind of like two stories in one- if you were in it for the romance you could focus on that to the exclusion of almost everything else, and if you wanted to know just what the heck Grace's dad was up to, you could focus on that and relegate her feelings for Eric to the background.  The story does require quite a bit of suspension of disbelief but no more so than any other romance or thriller novel I've read recently.

Secondary Targets is also a stand alone book, which is nice in a world where series seem to be the norm.  The story stands on its own two feet, and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, I did enjoy reading.

Overall Grade: B
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