Review of FLASHPOINT by Suzanne Brockmann (see her website)
Ballantine, April 2004
CIA researcher Tess Bailey longs to get into the field but is continually denied the chance. When she overhears that an agent's cover may be blown, she contacts his partner, Jimmy Nash, and includes herself in the rescue. She does a good job but even that doesn't win her the promotion--it does win her a one-night-stand with Nash, though, and she's wanted Nash for a long time.
Frustrated at the CIA's unwillingness to let her into the field, Bailey quits and joins Troubleshooters Incorporated, a private company run by ex-Navy Seals who take on the jobs the government won't do. There she finds herself on a team with Nash, his partner, and several other ex-Seals, Marines, and ex-CIA agents--being sent to Kazbekistan--a Moslem failed state whose warlords are reputed to have close ties to Al-Qaeda. An earthquake has created a humanitarian disaster serious enough to force Kazbekistan to open its borders for the first time in years--and killed the local Al-Qaeda leader. The man may be dead, but his laptop computer, equipped with all of Al-Qaeda's plans for terrorist plots, is still at large.
In Kazbekistan, Bailey and Nash confront the attraction that neither wants but neither can deny. Somehow, between dodging aftershocks, heading off a noisy newspaper reporter, setting up illegal broadcast towers, and chasing down every CIA contact left in the country, they make time for passion. But passion comes with its own price--especially as Nash comes to realize that his partner has fallen for Bailey too.
Throw in a beautiful American whose husband was beheaded by the local dictator and a daring rescue in the fortress-like headquarters of the local warlord and you have an exciting romantic adventure.
Author Suzanne Brockmann (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Brockmann) does an excellent job characterizing the damaged Jimmy Nash and setting him up for redemption at the hands of the first woman who can actually understand and respect him for who he is. I was impressed as well by the way Brockmann dealt with the Moslem resentment against an America which seems more intent on punishing than on understanding and helping--not supporting the attitude, of course, but understanding it. I thought that Brockmann backed away from some of the action and sensual scenes without giving the reader the full bang-for-the-buck, but that didn't stop this from being a completely enjoyable and fast-paced read.
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