29 June 2013

Code Name: Bikini (Code Name, Book 5)

Synopsis: Ex-cop Gina Ryan traded in her Smith & Wesson to follow a dream. Now she's creating decadent desserts aboard a luxury cruise ship in the Caribbean. But a gorgeous passenger is about to send her perfect world up in smoke...

Trace O'Halloran is a hard-edged navy SEAL, under strict orders to take some high seas R & R. There's a shipload of women in bikinis eager to help him unwind, so why can't he take his mind off the stubborn pastry chef with an attitude the size of Montana?

When a dangerous assassin from Trace's past appears, Gina and Trace must join forces to save the ship’s guests. The clock's ticking, and they'll need every weapon at hand – from body armor to chocolate ganache!

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 2007; 375 pages; received from a BookCrossing member.

My thoughts: For the most part, I've enjoyed this series of books. As the books progress, there is more of a paranormal element to them, with the Navy SEAL heroes all being part of an elite group who are genetically enhanced. I didn't anticipate that, and it didn't really show up as a major plot point until the third book, which was a bit of a let down for me. But the fourth book was very appealing with it's desert island setting. So I wasn't sure what to expect.

Fortunately, it was quite enjoyable. Gina is a likeable heroine, and Trace, who we met in the previous books (he's the sister of book three's heroine and best friend of that book's hero), is a satisfying hero. That being said, neither really stood out from the pack, with neither character being much different than the heroes and heroines in the previous books.

Trace is basically on the cruise ship for an enforced vacation, but also as possible back up for the ship's security officer, who has his own ties to the organization Trace is with. Gina is the ship's pastry chef, and she loves her life of traveling with the cruise ship, and the family she's created around her among her staff and other members of the crew. But she has her own issues of course, knowing that she has a condition which is slowly causing her to lose her sight, which will eventually end her career.

Like all of the Foxfire men, Trace has invested himself completely in his work and has never regretted the decision to join the elite group, even though it means virtually no life outside the group and their missions, and no personal relationships beyond the occasional visit home to see his sister. But Gina of course gets under his skin from their first accidental meeting. Gina has also invested herself in her career, and she has a nemesis on board the ship who appears to be trying to sabotage her, and she has no interest in a relationship. But of course Trace gets under her skin, yada yada yada, you know where this sentence is going.

Since Trace is still recovering and building up his strength after nearly being killed in his last mission, his chips (the genetic enhancement all the Foxfire men have in common) have been inactivated for the time being. The chips were my least favorite plot points of previous books, and I liked this little twist, which left Trace a more vulnerable than the previous heroes. There's also a side plot line about a girl who Trace rescued in a previous mission having died, listed as a suicide but suspicious to Trace, and her ghost occasionally manifesting and trying to tell him something. I would have liked her to actually be more involved and make more appearances than she did, but she was almost like an afterthought thrown into the storyline.

There is also a cat, young triplets, and Izzy even gets a storyline with some family drama. According to the author's bio on her website, she is working on the sixth book in the series, and I'm sure I'll want to read it as soon as I can get my hands on it.

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