Aspen's twin brother, Austin, is missing after an assignment for the government. There had been a serious attack, but his body was never found. Aspen is sure he is alive. She has his combat dog, separated from her brother during the attack. But Talon is traumatized. Aspen knows the dog could lead her to her brother, but is he up to it?
Enter “Cardinal,” a government undercover operative who manipulates Aspen into going with him and his unit to find Austin. Cardinal has a Russian past that he would rather keep hidden.
Aspen is an odd character. She boxes – men. She's tough. Yet she makes the dumbest decision when she is in a dangerous situation. It seemed so out of her character. I wanted to like her as a character but it was difficult.
Kendig's writing irritates me. (“Plaster leapt at her.” Well, no. Plaster is not alive. It didn't leap. It was propelled by a bullet hitting the building. “The pang of conscience clunked him over the head.” Really. Clunked?) Sometimes her use of descriptive words just don't work for me. For example, “A war seemed to erupt within him, dancing in his blue eyes.” Somehow an erupting war and dancing in blue eyes just don't seem to go together. But then a few sentences later his eyebrows danced...
She is also a master of the cliff hanging end of a chapter. You know, the kind where the gun is aimed at his chest and the trigger is pulled. Then we find out in the next chapter, a few paragraphs in, that at the last minute the gun was pulled aside and he just received a graze on his arm. I don't like that kind of writing that deliberately jerks the reader around.
If I find her writing so irritating, why have I continued to read her novels? There is something compelling about them. There is so much action, so much feeling. At the same time, I think much of the novel's intensity is created by Kendig's style of writing, not necessarily the action itself. For example, “His steel eyes rammed into hers...”
But I think this is it. I am going to pass on any more of her galleys I'm offered.
Ronie Kendig has a degree in psychology, speaks to various groups, is active in the American Christian Fiction Writers, and mentors new writer. He novels have won several awards, including the Christy Award. You can find out more at www.roniekendig.com.
Barbour Books, 352 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.