Come As You Are

Amy J. Fetzer
2007, Romantic Suspense
Brava, $14.00, 355 pages, Amazon ASIN 0758216572
Part of a series

Grade: C-
Sensuality: Hot

I really wanted to like Come as You Are. I enjoy reading books set in different settings, and with a primary locale of Venezuela, this book seemed like a surefire hit. Unfortunately, while the latest in Amy J. Fetzer's Dragon One series might make a great movie with its non-stop action and adventure, it just didn't work for me as a romance novel. In fact, I checked the spine of the book more than once to make certain the words "contemporary romance" truly did appear.

Dragon One is a group of former military men, now working for hire. The team is tasked to go into Venezuela and clean up a mess the C.I.A. created involving the vice president of that country. Logan Chambliss, an integral part of the mission, possesses all of the physical attributes we've come to expect of former Navy SEALS - and more. After leaving the Navy under questionable circumstances, he went to medical school and became a physician. (Although I do question Logan's medical abilities since at one point in the story he administered an antibiotic to attempt to slow down a virus - antibiotics are complete ineffective against viruses.) Additionally, among Logan's many other talents is the ability to use a lasso skillfully and operate a computer like a true geek.

Eleven years earlier, Logan shared one night of passion with Tessa, only to watch her die in front of him. At the start of his mission in Caracas, he breaks into the vice presidential mansion, only to discover that Tessa is there ahead of him. Rather than having died 11 years ago, she took on a new identity, and has since worked for the National Geographic Society as a location scout.

Logan and Tessa had the potential to be a wonderful couple. Tessa is a strong heroine, able to keep up with Logan in any situation. She not only carries Nunchucks, she uses them on various villains, while also rappelling up cliffs, climbing trees with ease, and running through the jungle without barely breaking a sweat.

There is some truly witty dialogue between Logan and Tessa, so it's unfortunate that scenes featuring the two are rare. Each time I began to get interested in their relationship, I'd be yanked out of it into a scene featuring the vice president's wife, a rogue CIA agent, a Venezuelan spy, a U.S. general, one of the other members of Dragon One, or one of the many others from a seeming cast of thousands. Initially, I didn't mind too much, but there are just so few scenes with Logan and Tessa together, that I didn't even initially buy them as a couple.

However, halfway through the book, I actually became interested in Logan and Tessa and their search for the secret at the end of a mysterious map, at which point I began to resent all of the interruptions. If I hadn't been reading the book for a review, I would have skipped the parts that didn't directly involve Logan and Tessa. Of course, if I'd done that, I probably could have finished the book in less than a hour, given how few scenes actually featured them.

The book is filled with so many different characters, and told from so many perspectives, that I had trouble keeping track of all of them - and this didn't apply just for the first 20 pages or so since new characters kept appearing throughout the book. It's not even clear who was chasing Tessa and Logan because they tangled with rebel fighters, drug dealers, members of the Chinese military training Venezuelan fighters, Interpol, mercenaries of various nationalities, rogue CIA agents, and some other people I'm still mystified about.

I have enjoyed several category romances by Amy Fetzer, so I expected to like this book. If you like non-stop action, told from many different points of view, featuring many different characters, it might work better for you than it did for me. As for me, I came away wanting far less action, fewer characters, and more of Tessa and Logan.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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