Tuesday, April 13, 2010

All The Queen's Men - Linda Howard

John Medina, the CIA's legendary Black Ops specialist, works in the shadows of the government's deadliest missions. And no one knows the dangers of getting close to him better than does communications expert Niema Burdock. Five years ago, Niema and her husband, Dallas, worked with Medina on an explosive mission that trapped Dallas in the crossfire - fatally. Although she has slowly healed from her terrible loss, Niema never planned to see Medina again. But now John Medina needs her....

A French arms dealer is supplying international terrorist units, and only Niema can plant the undetectable bugs needed to crack the deadly ring. Against her better instincts, Niema infiltrates the dealer's glamorous world by going undercover. But when their careful strategy begins to crack, Niema and John take flight in a strange land - and find their partnership sparking with an erotically charged electricity. In a world of deception, John Medina has once again set Niema on a free fall into danger and desire.

I was somewhat surprised when I realised that although I've read plenty of Howard books in the past this is the first one that I am reviewing. And while I have loved many of her books (Open Season, After The Night, Dream Man, etc) I found this one to be just an average read... I'm not sure if it's me or Howard but since I have at least two more of hers in the TBR pile I sure hope I like them better.

Five years ago Darrell Tucker (also known as John Medina) led a mission in Iran that saw one of his agents die and him having to bring out his widow. He has never forgotten her and now he feels that it is time to claim her. He is planning a new operation against Louis Ronsard, a french arms dealer and decides to ask Niema to be an undercover agent and get herself invite to Ronsard's house at the same time that he will be there.

My first problem with the story - besides the fact that that Niema was very much in love with her husband but feels immediately attracted to Medina - is that she is not a field agent anymore, in fact she gives him several valid explanations why he should choose someone else. Can a true CIA agent, with responsabilities and concerns toward his country, choose someone with little experience and almost no training for an important mission just because he wants to spend time with her? I don't think so...

But Niema accepts and off she goes to Paris to meet Ronsard. It is so easy to intrigue him and have herself invited to his home (and even to meet his daughter that no one knows about) that I felt a bit of an anti climax. Where's the danger? The suspense? There wasn't any... and we even find out that Ronsard is only dealing arms so he can have money to save his sick daughter, a bad guy yes but for a good cause, if one can put it that way. This also means we got to know a lot more about Ronsard than about Medina and even Niema.

And while Niema pretends to be an american socielite Medina arrives playing a villain who wants to do business with Ronsard. What he really wants to do is enter his computer and get all the information about a new explosive and stop Ronsard from selling them but since Niema is there and available for a little romance he pretends to fall for her at first sight and spends part of the time kissing her and eventually having sex to evade Ronsard. Not only did I not feel much suspense but I also never felt much chemistry between Medina and Niema. I guess I needed more build up to create the tension than what we had here and since Niema spent more time with Ronsard than Medina it was impossible to achieve it.

Still readable and entertaining but I felt it could have been much better.

Grade: 3/5


  1. I'm sorry to hear you didn't like this one. This is my all time favorite Howard. I love most of her older work (Mr. Perfect, Dream Man, etc) but this was my first Howard and I loved it. I actually just re-read it to make sure that I was not imagining my love for it, lol! You meet a shadow of who Medina is in Kill and Tell where the plot revolves around the murder of his father. Anyway, I hope your next read is more up your alley. Have a great day!

  2. Hi Sandy, thanks for stopping by... I have more Howards in the TBR pile so maybe I'll like those better... :-)

  3. This is one of my least favorite Howard's. Like you I felt the chemistry was missing between the couple, the mystery/danger anti-climatic and the character development sadly lacking.

    There are so many others I'd recommend before this one.

  4. Holly,
    I'm glad to have company. ;-)
    I must check my shelves and see what else I have there by Howard...


I love to chat about books and stuff and I would love to hear from like minded readers. Please do leave me a comment :-)


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