Show No Mercy -- Cindy Gerard
Book 1 of Black Ops, Inc. series
-- follows The Bodyguards series
2008 Release -- Pocket Star Books
Romantic Suspense, Military, International
I read a short BOI novella in SEAL of My Dreams which reminded me why I loved Cindy Gerard. And in doing so, it cemented my need to finally dive into the Black Ops, Inc. series with a goal to tackle all seven books within the next two months. (But let’s be honest, if I marathon the way I normally do with no regard for sleep or tomorrow or other Real Life priorities or the rest of my TBR list, I’ll have these books done by the end of this month… which makes me wish I had a few extra vacation days.)
Jenna McMillan and Gabe Jones were introduced to Cindy Gerard fans in the last book of her first Romantic Suspense series The Bodyguards, as they aided Dallas Garrett and Amy Walker in uncovering and destroying some evil organization and conspiracy; a mission that just seemed too out of this world on a global level to be anything but Made For Movies, but yet I contentedly went along with because I loved the characters and the sense of excitement and urgency building as the storyline progressed.
For this, I willingly suspend my disbelief.
To be totally honest, I’m not the biggest fan of non-mystery Romantic Suspense novels. I’m a big lover of mystery stories, criminal or not. So the reading of many Romantic Suspense novels and my enjoyment of them is based purely on whether or not the story is fanned out well, and whether or not I like the characters and, yes, especially the love story that unfolds.
And as it turns out, even if the story unfolding isn’t the best in the world, I’ve never felt let down by the characters in a Cindy Gerard book (even if at least one or two characters were boring or were kind of assholes). Nonetheless, one thing I’ve taken away from a work written by Cindy Gerard is that her characters have heart; sometimes they have cheesy dialogue and tacky monologues and incredibly “too perfect to be true” personalities and attitudes and behaviors… but they have heart. And some of them have charm enough for me to enter the squee mode of ship-dom for the couple depicted.
And also, Cindy writes a pretty good suspense around her romances, in my own personal opinion. These are definitely action-packed page-turners.
In Show No Mercy the “Big Evil” sort of takes a sequel-ish continuation from Into the Dark with our story picking up months after Jenna and Gabe last saw each other in Argentina. While our other couple, Dallas and Amy, have gotten their happily ever after, Jenna and Gabe were on the fence about each other in a love/hate, grumbly, and bickering relationship. And nothing says cute romance and hot, sexual tension like a Bickering Romance.
After the events of Into the Dark, Jenna McMillan has found herself hiding from her usual journalistic subjects due to a fear that developed from witnessing all the blood and gore in Argentina. Being held captive by strange and rough persons also didn’t help. But straightening up her backbone, with thoughts of how her friend Amy managed to toughen out despite everything she has been through, Jenna decides that it’s high time she quit hiding and moping and get back to her life.
Shereturns to Argentina to pick up a new story in order to return to her glory of being the “hotshot” reporter who uncovers all the big, important news, internationally. Being requested specifically by a shadowy foreign billionaire to conduct an interview, however, places Jenna back into the dangerous territories of which she both feared and found intriguing. At the same time, it reunites her with Gabe Jones of the Black’s Operators, Inc., a low-key organization serving as private contractors to operate dangerous missions that should otherwise not be known about--a band of shadow warriors who work under the radar to do Uncle Sam’s bidding, but on their own terms.
While awaiting her chance to interview this billionaire at the National Congress in Argentina, a bomb is what throws Jenna and Gabe back into each other’s lives. As the action unfolds our couple learns that they both have an enemy who has orchestrated a ruthless plan of vengeance.
And of course, romance ensues with the typical untamed lust that turns into love… with obstacles included and lots of violence and guns and bombs and so on and so forth. Of course. Oh yes, and also a frustratingly self-created angsty Gabe Jones who’s broodiness really hits a new high--Yeah, I had a feeling I’d had enough of broody alpha males...
It didn’t take me long to determine that Jenna and Gabe were the actual targets marked for death and not the shadowy billionaire, Maxim. There were a lot of givens going on from the beginning of the book, going forward. The plot itself felt mundane and done over many times, but the progress of the story left no room for contemplation; action after action after action just kept happening, and by the time I could think of any reason to find something to complain about, the story was finished.
Ever since Into the Dark, I’d found myself curious about the continuation of all the new characters introduced who would comprise the Black Ops series. Unfortunately, Gabe Jones and Jenna McMillan weren’t the couple that I had been all that interested in following. They have the traditional Bickering Romance device that I love, but as individuals, Gabe and Jenna really just don’t stand out. I like me some Bickering Romance, but to be honest, Gabe’s broodiness hit an all new assholery level on his side of the bickering.
They are the typical Romance novel broody alpha male and spunky gorgeous babe combo, both with hearts of platinum gold. They aren’t unique and they aren’t really all too relatable as people. They are very stock-standard Romance novel hero and heroine.
These are things that I already expect from a Romantic Suspense. The trick is making them unique apart from the rest of the standard alpha male and spunky female combos.
Of course, Jenna DOES one up a lot of the other typical Romance novel heroines out there. She’s straight forward about what she wants and she goes after it without beating around the bushes. For this, at least, I can admire her. She doesn’t play coy nor does she play at the “I don’t usually do stuff like this” demeanor. She’s honest to a brutal point, which I like seeing in a female character.
In contrast, the rest of the characters in the book stand out just a little bit more, and I’ll admit that I’m slowly working my way to Johnny Duane Reed’s story in the series’ third book because he intrigues me more than any other.
Overall: An enjoyable read with great character interaction and a spunky heroine I can potentially love. Bland and typical romance (which wasted the lovely Bickering Romance device), but cute and fun and with one of the hotter love scenes in a Cindy Gerard book I’ve read (yes, the first time our couple has sex, it was pretty steamy). Predictable story and plot, but good sense of progression and action and suspense. The ending could have been a bit more epic, but who’s complaining, really?
This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):