Heart of Danger

Lisa Marie Rice
November 2012, Romantic Suspense (a few years from now US)
Avon Red, $14.99, 304 pages, Amazon ASIN 0062121790
Part of a series

Grade: C
Sensuality: Hot

Lisa Marie Rice’s latest, Heart of Danger, is the first in her new series Ghost Ops. The premise of the series is fairly outrageous. The books are set ten years after the death of Osama Bin Laden and the heroes are members of the “famed SEAL Team Six” that killed him. (Bin Laden was indeed taken out by a real Team Six.) In Ms. Rice’s series, a subset of Team Six became a group of an elite secret military unit called “Ghost Ops.” This group was framed for an illegal botched attack on US soil and court-martialed. Before they could be tried, however, they vanished, and are still being sought by the US government.

This premise didn’t bother me — Ms. Rice’s books are so far-fetched this seemed to be just more of her usual zaniness. I’ve never read a book of hers without rolling my eyes repeatedly, but despite that, I keep reading and enjoying her books. She’s dependably erotic, her plots, though improbable, are page turners, and she’s great with characterization and dialog. I’ve been entertained by many of her books; this one, however, didn’t float my boat.

Tom McEnroe along with two other Team Sixers — now Ghost Ops guys — were on a mission to destroy the Arka Pharmaceutical Laboratories in Massachusetts which they thought was producing a deadly biological weapon. The mission was a disaster — their intel was bogus — and the three men just barely escaped. They vanished, went totally off the grid, and now live in a compound hidden deep in a mountain. Even though this compound is so secret they’ve never been discovered by all the best minds in the CIA, FBI, etc..., the place has become home to others — men and women who also need to disappear - who have found their way there. Tom and his compatriots survive — and boy do they survive; the compound is a Shangri-La of a place — by electronically stealing millions from evil drug lords.

Catherine Young is an uber-brilliant neuro-scientist who works at an Arka research facility in Northern California studying dementia. She thinks she’s doing work that will lead to a cure but in reality the head of the lab is a depraved nut-case attempting to develop a drug that will turn men into super soldiers. Dr. Lee is doing this because he plans to create an undefeatable army for his home country of China. His favorite man to experiment on is the former head of Team Six, Lucius Ward, whose men he think betrayed them in the blown-up lab incident. Tom and the other Ghost Op guys think Lucius is off enjoying ill-gotten gains, but really the poor guy is being tortured by Dr. Lee who keeps trying all his nasty super soldier drugs out on him. Most subjects die when exposed to the various derivations of this drug, but Lucius — a real life super soldier — has stayed alive.

Still with me? Because that’s just the set-up.

Catherine has a secret super power — she can read someone’s emotions just by touching the person. She’s kept this a secret from most — it freaks out people — and Dr. Lee does not know she can do this. This is important because Catherine is allowed to study Lucius who seems, most of the time, almost comatose. He, however, has recently begun sending Catherine telepathic messages. These messages tell her she must get in her little electric car, drive up a mountain in a snowstorm, and find Tom McEnroe. So, she does this, almost freezes to death, and is rescued by — bingo — Tom McEnroe whose hideout is in the mountain.

Tom brings her back to his world — he can do this because he has a drug that will completely wipe her memory of being in the compound if need be — and grills her. She tells him she was sent by Lucius and that not only is Lucius alive (and not evil), he and several other Ghost Op men are being held in the Arka Lab and are on the verge of death. They must be rescued! Tom and his crew — their technology makes James Bond’s look like the printing press — run checks on Catherine and decide to let her stay in their compound while they research Arka and a whole host of other things that involve rescuing their team.

Within hours of Catherine’s arrival, Tom falls deeply in lust with her. She is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen and he knows she’d never want him because he’s ugly. One side of his face is scarred from a knife fight; the other is marred by burns from the bungled lab attack. Catherine, though, is just as attracted to him. And before you can say “Hey, it’s only been two damn days,” the two are madly in love and having sex around the clock. Well, not all the time. Some of the time they are coming up with an utterly unbelievable plan to save Lucius and the other men from the clutches of the evil Dr. Lee.

It was all too much for me. I’m all for mindless fun, but this book was too wacky for me. It’s also insanely complicated. At times, I wasn’t sure what was going on for stretches of the book — even though the storyline takes place in less than a week. The villains were evil and yet silly. The science was so removed from reality it was nonsensical.

And while I’ve enjoyed Ms. Rice’s eroticism before, the sex in this book made me giggle. At one point, Tom’s penis, buried deep in Catherine’s heavenly passage, “nodded enthusiastically.” Tom’s penis is actually a character in its own right. When Tom tries to lift his huge body off of Catherine’s so she can get some rest after several rounds of mind-blowing sex,

….his body didn’t want to leave hers, not in any way. Not even separating his chest from her breasts. And farther below, his dick was screaming “Are you crazy? You want out of here? What’s the matter with you?”
The talking dick, the convoluted plot, the insta-love, the excessively evil baddies, and Catherine’s random super-power made Heart of Danger less than compelling for me. I spent too much time either giggling at things that weren’t intended to be funny or shaking my head at the latest ludicrous twist. I give it a C.

-- Dabney Grinnan

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