Friday, April 28, 2006
Perfect Weapon by Amy J. Fetzer
I found Fetzer’s next book, Perfect Weapon, as good as Naked Truth in some ways, not as compelling in others.
Stay alive. That’s all Dr. Sydney Hale can think. In one terrifying minute, her life was turned upside down. Now, the cops think she’s a murder suspect, the government wants her to come in, and somebody will do anything, including kill, to the get the knowledge only she has. Alone, she’ll never survive on the run. What she needs is a perfect weapon, and Marine Jack Wilson just may be the answer to her prayers.
Jack has always been clear about who the enemy is, but now, he’s not sure. Why is Sydney Hale the only survivor of a government lab breach? What secrets is she hiding? Why is the government lying to him? Jack intends to find the answers to all his questions, but first, he has to keep Sydney alive long enough, and if there’s anything this marine knows, it’s how to keep moving and fight back. What he doesn’t know is what to do about the fierce desire she awakens in him. With no one to turn to but each other, sexual tension explodes into a passionate hunger and tender love neither can fully trust—or live without. And with the stakes rising, Jack and Sydney will make their stand, gambling everything they have on a choice that could save—or destroy—them both…
The action and suspense in this is every bit as good as it was in Naked Truth—which I liked very much. Fetzer writes with such economy, such precision that her pace seems to be on fast-forward. Again, not a word wasted and no place for the reader to catch their breath before the next turning point. Tight action. A narrow window of time. Multiple, layered forces—both good and evil—in play. And a hero and heroine at the core, drawing all of the forces in around them, shrinking the circle of action to a single point of conclusion. Very like a Clancy or Grisham novel, except for the on-air time for the heroine. Fetzer gives equal footing to both hero and heroine; the latter is not just a character trait for the hero.
So the pace and the sharp writing style are there in Perfect Weapon. What isn’t there is the unexpected, but powerful connection between the hero and heroine. Sure, there is attraction. There is even humility, humor and great tension in Fetzer’s sex scenes. But in Naked Truth, Fetzer gave us a hero and heroine drawn with such depth the reader knew them; and felt just as overcome as they did when sex and emotion converged with surprising poignancy. The romance of Naked Truth took my breath away more than once. Perfect Weapon held none of those moments for me.
The difference, I think, is the depth and believability of each character. They do not seem as strong in Perfect Weapon. In this one, the hero suffers terrible loss at the onset of the story. Fetzer does a fair job of crippling him with grief in the first part of the book. But then that grief seems to just slide away. Not in a “he’s over it” way, but in a “the grief no longer warrants its own character” kind of way. As if the devastating and brutal loss no longer plays a role in motivation or character definition. That was a problem for me. I think Jack would have been far more interesting if Fetzer had let him power through those life and death situations without lessening the crushing weight of his guilt and grief.
In Sydney, Fetzer gives us another strong, capable heroine--brilliant and assertive actually. She is also thrust into a deadly, horrifying firefight within the first 20 pages of the book. We see her in total panic, scared out of her mind, before we get to see her in competent, self-commanding mode. The switch between the two felt abrupt and the inherent conflict underdeveloped. Placing a woman who is always in control into a set of circumstances and events that are completely out of her control makes for some interesting conflicts. It just didn’t feel like Fetzer bared enough of those inner conflicts or connected Sydney’s wisecracking to her desperate reach for the nearest coping mechanism.
All that being said, I still found the couple engaging and their attraction sexy. Their lack of angst—as compared to Naked Truth—does not completely undermine their power to captivate the reader. I’ll shut up on this now.
Interestingly, Fetzer’s third leading character, Cisco, nearly steals the show. He is a deeply intriguing government agent with more emotional and intellectual depth than either Jack or Sydney. His struggle for the truth and all of its consequences is captivating. And his care for unwitting participants—namely Sydney and Jack—is palpable, even though it is largely unspoken. Here, Fetzer gives us a beautifully drawn character that powers the story as much as the action.
Overall, this is another Fetzer book I would recommend to other readers. I will continue to look out for new work from this author. Despite what appears to be little marketing or promotion efforts on her behalf, I have found mention of a new release slated for July.