Nameless

Debra Webb
February 2008, Romantic Suspense
St. Martin's, $6.99, 335 pages, Amazon ASIN 0312942230

Grade: C+
Sensuality: Hot

Nameless is a better than average romantic suspense starring some emotionally scarred characters. I actually had a hard time deciding if this book should be in the C or B range. However, even though by the end I was pretty interested in the story, it had more average qualities overall than not.

Three years ago, the FBI fired Special Agent Ryan McBride after his first failure. He was a specialist in kidnapping and rescued every person he went after, except for his last time, when the little boy he tried to save was murdered. The FBI needed someone to take the fall and Ryan was the guy. Since then, he has sought oblivion in alcohol and sex. For the first year he waited for the FBI to realize their mistake and reinstate him, but after three years of no word, he gave up hope of his life ever having the meaning it once did. So when an Agent Grace shows up on his doorstep asking for his help on a case, he’s not only shocked, but bitter, angry, and doubtful of his own skills.

Vivian Grace is a 24-year-old rookie who was just assigned to her hometown, a place she’s avoided for several years. She desperately wants to prove herself and intends to do anything necessary to solve the kidnapping case to which she’s been assigned. The problem is that the unsub (nickname for perpetrator/unknown subject) has a mission to get McBride reinstated, something the FBI really doesn’t want to do. The unsub will divulge clues, but only if Ryan is involved. When things get down to the wire and no progress has been made, Vivian is finally sent to fetch McBride. She doesn’t know what to expect of the legend known as the Hunter, but when a rumpled, bleary-eyed, bare-chested man comes to the door, followed by a gorgeous woman, she’s shocked by how much she’s attracted to him. She’s able to roust him from his house, but the man only agrees to help under certain conditions. One of those is that she be his partner, which is great for her job, but hard on her nerves.

The unsub begins a game of challenges for McBride, intended to show the Bureau what a mistake they made when they let him go. While Ryan and Vivian do a good job of meeting the challenges, they are something of a mess. Vivian freezes up on occasion due to a trauma in her past and Ryan must deal with some serious personal doubts. Add to that major stress, lack of sleep, and sexual tension and you have a partnership that’s just waiting for a slip-up.

I thought that the first half of the book was merely average. The plot was okay, but didn’t grab me and the challenges were pretty ho-hum. It also didn’t flow very well; things were scattered and pretty hard to follow. The larger story arc fared better, but disorganization showed in the details. Speaking of details, there were a lot of unnecessary action details that also interrupted the flow. For example, if Ryan is told that he’s received an e-mail from the unsub and goes to the computer, I’m ready to see the e-mail, but instead Ryan sits down, uses tabs, presses buttons, see’s the e-mail, opens it…you get the idea.

The relationship was average, too. The tension between the couple was nice and the sex was pretty hot, but I didn’t feel that it was believable. Vivian has some serious emotional issues caused by her traumatic past experience, which seriously hampers all her sexual relationships. But this issue wasn’t really resolved before she jumped McBride. The characters have plenty of emotions regarding their pasts, but not enough when it comes to each other. The romance just wasn’t well-developed, which is unfortunately typical in romantic suspense.

Luckily, things do pick up and Nameless ended on a much better note. Twists added to the conclusion, the storyline flowed much better, and I became much more invested in where things were going. However, it didn’t change enough to raise the grade level above a C+. Nevertheless, there was enough promise that I’m willing to check this author out again.

-- Andi Davis

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