Kiss Me While I Sleep, by Linda Howard

>> Thursday, May 26, 2005

I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of Linda Howard's Kiss Me While I Sleep. I thought I'd have to wait months and months before mine got here, but the sister of a friend of mine brought it back from a trip to the US.

CIA contract agent Lily Mansfield has been a ruthless, professional assassin for nearly 20 of her 37 years, but her work takes a personal turn after the young girl she rescued off the street as a baby, and the friends that were raising her, are killed. Lily turns renegade and avenges their deaths with a brilliantly executed murder, but she soon finds herself hunted by an evil family, embroiled in a plot that threatens the safety of the world, and chased by handsome CIA agent Lucas Swain, who has been charged with bringing Lily back by any means necessary.
Linda Howard is one of those authors whose switch to more Suspense-y books I don't mind at all. She has managed to strengthen the suspense side of her stories while still keeping a strong romance, which is more than what can be said about the authors I've abandoned. Her latest romantic suspense, KMWIS was very good, a B+.

When I first heard what it was about, I did not begin jumping around in joy. Assassins are quite a bit outside my comfort zone, but this is Linda Howard, after all, the author who had me for the protagonists of Cry No More to engage in vigilantism, so I knew I'd read it anyway.

And I was a bit ambivalent about Lily's profession, and, to a certain extent, Lucas'. On one hand, I never got to the point in which I could forget that I have lots of problems with assassinating someone instead of going through proper channels to get them. It took a lot of suspension of disbelief (or rather, forgetting my political views) for me to be able to see Lily and Lucas as viable heroine and hero. Lily thinks at one point: "Perhaps it was naive of her, but she trusted her government not to send her after any of the good guys." Right, I don't trust the CIA to do that. And when it was mentioned that Lucas had spent the last few years being a field agent here in South America, my first thought was that I don't even want to *think* about what exactly he was doing.

On the other hand, I liked that Lily wasn't one of those supposedly highly-trained secret agents who cry at the drop of a hat and freeze if they actually have to hurt someone. She was an assassin and she acted like an assassin. She wasn't a regular girl who just happened to kill baddies for a living. Howard didn't sanitize the psichological effects this life would have on a person, and I liked how she dealt with Lily getting ready to go back into society. It wasn't just "ok, I'll stop being an assassin now", it took time and effort to make her ready.

I also liked that Lily was such an immensely capable person. She did what she needed to do, calculated risks and took the ones she had to and accurately evaluated her weaknesses and took steps to compensate for them. I was a bit surprised by how easily she put her trust in Lucas, but I guess that falls within the "taking calculated risks" and "evaluating her weaknesses" categories. She didn't have much choice if she wanted to complete her mission.

Lucas was a fun character. Good-natured and laid-back, he's the perfect hero for a heroine as wounded as Lily is in the beginning of the book. It's wonderful to see how she evolves under Lucas' influence, becoming less brittle and gradually coming back to life from a point in which she pretty much didn't mind if she died.

Anyway, Lucas. There's a line in the book that describes him perfectly. He and Lily are talking about how sometimes you do want to do something but are scared and anxious about doing it, and he immediately likens it to the sensation when you are about to go on a rollercoaster. Lily is amused and thinks: "Even his anxieties were fun-related". Exactly.

Their relationship is hot from the very beginning, and it becomes surprisingly tender very fast. I loved the way their personal relationship evolved together with their professional one: the way they worked together to put together their mission. They each respected the other's abilities and talents, and Lucas, especially, never became overprotective, which I appreciated.

The suspense plot was fascinating. It was truly terrifying, and terrifyingly plausible, too. The only thing that didn't ring true was that they both knew so little about that particular threat. Ok, so as an assassin, Lily had no reason to keep up with stuff like that, but Lucas is a CIA field agent! And "he's spent the past few years in South America" isn't a good justification, as I've been here for the last 27 years and I still knew pretty much everything they had to call Lucas' expert friend to know.

The plan they put together was really, really good plotting on Howard's part. It was wonderfully elegant and ingenious, and I enjoyed seeing it unfold. That little twist in the end didn't really come as a complete surprise to me (though Howard had me doubting myself after the meeting by the fountain), but it was still a great twist, and one that didn't feel contrived but made things finally make complete sense.

I also adored the setting. You just don't see too many contemps set in Continental Europe, which is a real shame.

KMWIS was a real page-turner, and I can't wait to see what Howard comes up with next.


Post a Comment

Blog template by

Back to TOP