Run Among Thorns
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Whenever a young person makes a poor choice in life, you’ll often hear someone say, “Oh, what a shame. He/She showed such promise.” That encapsulates how I feel about this month’s Fabio Files selection, Run Among Thorns by Anna Louise Lucia. The book started off with such a promising premise, an inventive and original plot. But, just like the wayward teenager, in the end, it just didn’t live up to its full potential.

Jenny Waring would be the first to tell anyone that she’s nothing special. A conservationist on exchange from England to the United States Park Service, she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the book’s beginning, she finds herself in the clutches of three armed men. Showing an uncanny ability, Jenny single-handedly takes down all three in mere seconds.

Kier McAllister is a lone wolf who makes his living “breaking” people, and he’s very, very good at his job. If you held your country’s nuclear codes, McAllister could have you singing like a canary in a heartbeat.

A shady CIA-type organization is intent on finding out who Jenny works for, enlisting McAllister to work his magic. Neither Jenny nor McAllister is ready for what happens when he tries to wrestle her secret from her. Will she divulge the truth? Will McAllister learn that there’s more to life than his job? And can the two of them resist their attraction and simultaneously stay alive?

My first thought when reading this book was Wow, this would make a pretty good movie. But, by the end, I’d amended that to ...a halfway decent movie on Lifetime that I keep on in the background as I fold laundry. The story has a great premise, but just falls apart about a quarter of the way through.

For someone who appears so badass in the beginning, Jenny seems pretty wimpy and craven. I had a hard time getting behind her as brave heroine. McAllister, meanwhile, is just a jerk—not a jerk with a heart of gold, but a jerk—and his inevitable rehabilitation at the end doesn’t seem all that believable.

The book is full of suspense, though, and it kept me on edge for the bulk of the novel. The villain is unnerving in his relentlessness stalking of the couple. And though I’m sure it’s all a part of his training, McAllister has a habit of calling Jenny by her name in almost every sentence. I suppose the tactic is meant to unnerve his target, and it sure worked. I spent the better part of the book in a very tense state—which wasn’t exactly a good thing, since I usually read to relax at bed time!

As always, I hoped the sex scenes would redeem the rest of the novel, but no such luck. The scenes are vague and perfunctory, almost making you wonder if Jenny isn’t actually falling for him but instead suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

All in all, I think I’ll read this novel again, if only because I get the feeling that I’ve missed something along the way—sort of the same reason you have for watching the Matrix movies a hundred times, hoping to understand them better with each successive viewing. If I re-read it, I’m sure I’ll find some of the romance I was promised, since Lucia certainly delivered the thrills. I did find this book in the ninety-nine-cent bin in the Amazon Kindle store, though, so I guess it’s like my father says, “You get what you pay for.”

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