Thursday, July 29, 2010

BOOKS: Medusa Rising by Cindy Dees

We're getting to the end of this Reading Month and I'm not quite finished with the Romance genre yet. Having been pleased with how little mushiness existed in Medusa Project, I was more than happy to dive into Medusa Rising, Cindy Dees' second of seven books in the Medusa series. And you know, it wasn't half-bad.

Whereas the first book in the series was almost all action, with a little smooching to get it past the Silhouette Bombshell editors, this book ramps up the Romance a smidgen. Still not too much for this relation-phobe. But there's definitely more sexual tension. It also stars another member of the team, rather than team leader Viper.

This time around, the Jamaican-born Dr. Aleesha Gauthier, code-named Mamba, is the star of the team exercise, which is the re-taking of a cruise ship that has been taken over by a combination of bad guys from Europe and some American ideologues. If it sounds like a re-routed script from a Die Hard movie, you wouldn't be far wrong.

Focusing on Mamba has its moments. She tends to resort to island patois in times of stress, or when a role in an operation demands it. She's a healer who doesn't know if she really has killing in her. (I tried to think back to the first book and the skirmish in the Middle East with a insane posse of crazy Arabs, and I can't actually remember her shooting anybody. And as good as that book was, I wasn't going to re-read it for just that one detail). And she's really good in water, opening the book on a training exercise with some SEALS. About the same time as that exercise, the bad guys are setting the stage for the denouement in the book, setting up some undersea mines.

It doesn't take long for the Grand Adventure to get taken by Viktor Dupont and his merry band of Basque separatists and militarily-trained American dopes, pushing an agrarian agenda. Naturally, Dupont has a hidden agenda of his own that he keeps tight to his vest until very, very late in the book. With the kooks in charge, it's up to the Medusas to get on board and re-take the ship with minimal loss of life, ending the Gordian Knot of who should do what between the Yanks, Brits and Bahamians.

Mamba and the Medusas get on the ships in what would make a cracker-jack movie action sequence. Then, most of them hide out in one of the various rooms left open by the villains getting all the men off the ship or murdered quite early in the takeover. Obviously, being women is a key to this operation. Aleesha ends up being the most visible of the Medusas, as she's caught, more or less, by one of the bad guys, away from the team. As luck would have it, the bad guy that catches her is an undercover MI-5 agent, Michael Somerset.

The middle part of the book is taken with intelligence gathering and the dance between Aleesha is he figures out she's part of a rescue plan and then tells her that he's a mole and tries to prove it. Meanwhile there's a lot of sighing and brushing by and, you know, tension. In the end, when the big rescue comes, Aleesha has to act on her instincts and trust him, all the while breaking her "Do No Harm" oath in a major way. Like I said, it could be a Die Hard movie.

All in all, while not as good as The Medusa Project, this was another enjoyable read. I could really go for Romance books if they were all like these two.

BUT we know they aren't.

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