02 May 2013

Code Name: Baby (Code Name, Book 3)


Synopsis: Navy SEAL Wolfe Houston is on a mission of national security: protect one stubborn – but gorgeous – civilian in charge of training valuable government assets.

But tracking down four genetically enhanced service dogs and guarding their furry backs 24/7 is going to take all of Wolfe’s tactical skills. The dogs’ unsuspecting trainer, Kit O’Halloran, doesn't know that deadly mercenaries are determined to kidnap her charges. With hostiles to evade and bullets to dodge, there’s no time to waste – so why is Kit pressed against an adobe wall by moonlight, reveling in the hot magic of Wolfe’s slow, skillful hands?

Wolfe is fascinated by Kit’s devotion to her puppies, especially Baby, the incorrigible runt of the litter. But two other trainers have died under strange circumstances – and a foreign government has just posted a staggering bounty for Kit’s capture. Before Wolfe can explore their white-hot attraction, the two are on the run, forced to decide which of their secret contacts is friend…and which is deadliest foe. Only Baby can lead them through the storm to safe haven in each other’s arms. Good dog!

First line: The dogs were howling.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 2005; 378 pages; purchased at Half Price Books.

My thoughts: Having enjoyed the first and second Code Name books, I went into this one eagerly, but was quickly thrown for a loop. The hero, Wolfe Houston, a military man as are the heroes in the previous books, is part of a very elite group who all have some sort of psychic ability. I was not expecting that touch of the paranormal and it took my mind a bit to adjust to it. However, I then got involved in the story pretty quickly, for awhile anyway.

Kit is a dog trainer who contracts with the military, and is currently working with four Labrador pups. The dogs are very quick and incredibly intelligent, and while sometimes Kit wonders to herself stuff like how in the heck did he move so quick, it of course would never occur to her that the dogs have been genetically enhanced.

Wolfe has also been genetically enhanced, as has Cruz, the villain of the story. Cruz had gone crazy and Wolfe and the rest of his team were told he died, but now Wolfe has learned that Cruz is still alive and has gone rogue. He is sent to protect Kit and the dogs, but his real mission is to capture Cruz.

Conveniently for our story, Wolfe lived on the ranch with Kit and her family as a teenager, when Kit’s mother took him in to help him escape his own abusive home. He looked upon Kit as a younger sister, but she’s had a crush on him ever since. Now of course Wolfe is very attracted to Kit, but in his chosen career a relationship is out of the question, and he has to force himself to remain detached and impassive.

There are lots of descriptions of Wolfe using his enhanced psychic skills, Cruz using his own powerful enhanced psychic skills, Kit angsting over Wolfe being back in her life, Wolfe angsting over his attraction to Kit, the dogs being cute and amazing, etc.

When Cruz and Wolfe finally have contact with each other, Cruz keeps saying that the experiments and testing performed on him had caused his breakdown, and that the same thing would happen to Wolfe and the rest of his team. I thought that this would become an important plot point, and that perhaps in the end Wolfe would even discover this to be true or would at least try to investigate it further. Since the team members are forbidden to be involved in an actual relationship with a woman and cannot have families, it would have provided the perfect resolution for Wolfe and Kit to be together in the end. But it was glossed over, and while of course they got their HEA, or at least an HFN, no explanation was really given for how Wolfe is suddenly allowed to deviate from the rules against relationships.

The story just didn’t appeal to me the way the previous books did. I liked Kit and her fierce devotion to the dogs, but I never really connected with Wolfe. By the final quarter of the book, I just wanted it to be over and get to the HEA/HFN already. I think the psychic components, the genetic enhancements, just weren’t my cup of tea. At one point Kit falls asleep watching “Casablanca” on TV, and Wolfe picks up the remote control and begins playing with it, marveling at it and the high tech television set. I realize he’s been living in isolation with the military for awhile, but a remote control and a TV should not be that fascinating to an elite military man. And he’d never seen, or in fact seemed to have heard of, “Casablanca” – that’s just too unreal.

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