Review of BAD ATTITUDE by Sherrilyn Kenyon (see her website)
Pocket Books, September 2005
America's leaders know that if they just follow the rules, lives will be lost--American lives. That's why they've created the Bureau of American Defense--B.A.D. Headed by John Q. Public, BAD specializes in bringing in rule-breakers who'll do whatever it takes to make things happen. When they get information on the planned assassination of a foreign leader on American soil, BAD decides they need ex-Army sniper J. D. Steele to infiltrate the private security company that serves as a world-class murder-for-hire organization. Steele has plans of his own--plans that don't include working for anyone, but the possibility of getting sprung from his 25-year term in the Army brig, and the pure sex-appeal of BAD agent Syd Westbrook, just might make him re-consider.
Since eco-terrorists killed her brother and nephew in an attack on lobster boats, Syd Westbrook has hated extremists, even though she knows doing so turns herself into one. She swears she won't be attracted to another agent, but Steele is the kind of guy who makes her want to break the rules. Although she's not a one-night-stand kind of girl, Steele is persuasive.
Author Sherrilyn Kenyon (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Kenyon) takes the two in a thrill-packed adventure of chase, kookie sidekicks, and strange plot twists. Kenyon's strong writing kept me reading this story despite a number of problems that would have led me to toss aside the book were it written by a less capable author. Unfortunately, these problems still detract. First, Kenyon couldn't quite make up her mind whether she was writing an adventure or a comedy. Many of the names (B.A.D, John Q. Public, and The Thi Ho), Steele's pet names for the foreign nation (Oompa-Loompas), the back history with lobster terrorists (really!), and Syd's Toyota that supposedly can go from zero to sixty in 2.2 seconds (compare to 5.0 seconds for a Porshe 911 Targa or 4.5 seconds for a Maserati 3200 GT and you get the idea how silly a 2.2 second figure is), all point to humor. And the over-the-top willingness to violate American Law for the protection of the American Way points to a certain irony. But the setup, adventure, and writing are anything but comic.
Major editing blunders also weaken the story. (Warning--possible spoilers). At one point, Syd realizes that Steele has not fired a shot--a strong moment in their relationship arc--except that he had fired several shots. Steele's statement that he'd never broken a promise was another relationship moment, contradicted by the fact that the opening scene was about Steele breaking a promise to his late spotter's wife. Finally Steele's conclusion that the suspected assassin was too unimaginative to have left a false name at a bed and breakfast strains all credibility.
BAD ATTITUDE required more suspension of disbelief than I expect in a romantic suspense, but Kenyon's writing is strong enough to propell the reader through the story.
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