There seems to come a point in almost every long-running US-set series, when the characters get sent off to the UK for their next adventure (it happens in reverse too, although not so often, with many British characters venturing only as far as the next county rather than onto another continent altogether). While this tactic can shake up teams and settings, breathing new life into possibly tired dynamics, there are also many pitfalls for the unwary writer, particularly those with loyal British readers. Even one small error or assumption can throw such readers out of the story, and there’s always the potential for them not to return, even after the stories have resumed in their more regular settings. On the other hand, if a story is particularly good in every other respect, even I can be persuaded (mostly) to forgive an author one or two slip-ups.
In this instance, not only is the setting different to usual, although we have been overseas with the Black Knights before, but the initial team is somewhat smaller than we’ve been generally used to seeing. A select group are hiding out in a London flat while one of their number, CIA liaison Chelsea, attempts to plant a bug in their suspect’s computer while working undercover as his PA. Meanwhile, the four other members of the team are left to kick their heels, and, in one particular case, lust after Chelsea.
Dagan and Chelsea worked together at the CIA, before a mission-gone-wrong left the rest of his team dead, and Dagan out of a job. Chelsea knows more about the background to that one than she’s letting on, which is why she’s not acted – so far – on the mutual attraction she shares with Dagan. When the current mission is partially successful, and partially a huge screw-up, the pair are thrown together and forced to confront their feelings at last.
I enjoyed the dynamic between Dagan and Chelsea, as well as the various action sequences the guys and gals are thrown into. I also enjoyed the interactions between the other members of the team – and the allies who come to their aid – especially the discovery that not all Black Knights are heterosexual. The one big jarring issue for me was the backstory to the hold the villain of the piece has over his chief henchman. I just wish US authors would remember that the UK has its NHS for healthcare provision, and we aren’t dependent on insurance for the majority of treatment options. That subplot could still have worked – albeit with a few tweaks – as to the experimental nature of the treatment the henchman’s mother had needed – but the fact that it was based on a fallacy bugged me throughout much of the book.
I’m not particularly looking forward to Christian’s story, which seems likely to be coming next in the series – his English background has been a little erratic in the books so far – but I am keen to see the Black Knights continue their pursuit of their current arch-nemesis, and intrigued to see how things pan out now they have a new President in the White House (though not one as shouty and orange as the real current incumbent, as far as I can make out).
Dagan Zoelner has made three huge mistakes
The first two left blood on his hands.
The third left him wondering…what if? What if he had told the woman of his dreams how he felt before his world fell apart?
Spitfire CIA agent Chelsea Duvall has always had a thing for bossy, brooding Dagan. It’s just as well that he’s never given her a second look, since she carries a combustible secret about his past that threatens to torch their lives…
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