The Hunted

Rachel Lee
2008, Suspense
MIRA, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0778325385

Grade: C-
Sensuality: Warm

Warning: This book contains scenes of torture and sexual abuse

I started reading The Hunted thinking it was a romantic suspense novel. After I finished, it seemed quite clear that this was simply a suspense as there was no real romance at all – sex yes, but not much emotion or chemistry. This meant that I had to readjust my opinion after the fact, which was harder than I expected. Yet, despite taking all this into account, I still didn’t enjoy the book.

Jerrod Westlake’s sister disappeared when he was a teenager and that major event shaped the rest of his life. He went into military law enforcement, then moved on to special ops. After a good stint there, he entered private military contracting, where ethics finally pushed him into the FBI, which had been his end goal the whole time. Lately he’s been investigating the fraud perpetrated by government contractors. However, his real passion happens to be finding lost children, and he is very good at it. He doesn’t realize that his investigation on a huge company called Mercator will call on all of his abilities.

In her capacity as investigative journalist, Erin McKenna has unearthed a case of fraud against Mercator. In fact, the publication of her investigation acted as the trigger to pull Jerrod into the mix. Unfortunately, Mercator has bought her newspaper and on the day that she testifies against them, she finds herself out of a job. Jerrod knows that she is testifying and understands that she might have some difficulty, so he drives out to protect the witness. He shows up a little late, however, and finds Erin knocked unconscious on the floor of her apartment. The odd thing is that the attack came after giving her testimony, and only electronic devices were removed from her apartment.

Jerrod takes Erin under his protection and goes rogue, since he doesn’t know how far Mercator’s influence stretches. Erin finally confesses that she does indeed have extra information on Mercator, info that might have precipitated the attack. She has an informant inside the company who passes along info which suggests that Mercator might be involved in the white slave trade. The informant has seen drugged girls smuggled onto planes that go to unrecorded destinations. Jerrod and Erin are naturally appalled by all this and decide to team up and go on the attack themselves.

This book took longer to finish than any other review book I’ve read. It wasn’t the worst, not by a long shot, but it just didn’t inspire me to pick it up again. I didn’t get into it until the very end. Actually, it felt like a chore and there were quite a few instances where the prose felt like a lecture and went off on unnecessary “teaching” tangents. I actually didn’t need to know the specific military terms for different types of terrain. Which brings me to my next problem: the idea that a hard-core decades-trained military man could in two weeks take an unfit reporter, who can’t even jog for five minutes straight without stopping to gasp for air, and turn her into a soldier who performs better than most of the career military rookies he’s known. That said, the final scene where they go in all commando-like and rescue the hostages was the best part of the book. Too bad it couldn’t have lasted longer than ten pages.

Since I initially thought I was reading romantic suspense, the lack of romance really bothered me. Because Jerrod and Erin do hook up, I felt like a little sexual tension or connection was called for. Since there wasn’t, I would have preferred no relationship at all – kind of an all or nothing. And the sex scene was rather silly. When “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” (that’s right – 17 h’s) and “yessssssssssss” have to be used to convey feeling that just isn’t there, it’s not good. I even ended up forgetting they had sex – also not good.

The Hunted wasn’t all bad. The idea of big government contractors involved in something as heinous as producing sex slaves proved interesting indeed. And again, the ending was pretty fun. But the lack of connection between the cardboard characters, as well as between myself and the characters, dragged this book below average.

-- Andi Davis

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