2.69 stars, rounded up.
Sometimes you want cheese, and it's just the right amount, and you're in cheese nirvana:
Other times you want cheese, and it's just too much, and you end up with all the regrets:
This was a little of both.
Clearly, a story about terrorism, child abduction and a mother in peril just isn't meaty enough to carry the plot of an entire book all by itself, doncha know. Nope, this thing needs some filling. Lots and lots and lots of filling. So much filling that you pretty much lose sight of the plot entirely for huge chunks of the book. Because who cares about terrorist plots when romance is in the air, amirite?
So, you have a story wherein a little girl and her great-grandmother are abducted by extremist terrorists (not just your run-of-the-mill terrorists,(show spoiler)
, and held in custody until you, the girl's mommy, bring them a terrorist from an enemy cell so they can kill him. Then, and only then, will your daughter and grandmother be released. Do you: A) immediately call the FBI and inform them of this terrorist threat and tell them everything you know upfront to give them the best opportunity possible of saving your family as quickly as possible, or B) follow the terrorists' exact instructions, hoping on dumb luck and the gullibility of some guy you knew once a few years ago, and go along with the terrorists' plan because obviously, even though they're terrorists, they're totally trustworthy and will follow through with their promises if you deliver what they want, all the while acting like the epitome of the stereotypical hysterical woman? If you're smart, you choose A. If you're Meg, you choose B.
She chose B so hard, y'all.
And she's a mom, I get it, but she set womanhood back by at least a few centuries with her hysteria. I mean, she called in John because she knows him and trusts him. But then she doesn't trust him and is constantly lying to him and badgering him about how untrustworthy he is even though he(show spoiler)
And John Nilsson was every corny movie action hero ever. Bonus points for stripping atop a car hood, in the rain, while hanging on with at least one hand the whole time, while the car is in motion. He must have godlike powers to accomplish that feat.
And then there's Alissa Locke. She was set up as a really cool character in the previous book. The first woman who even stood a chance of getting into the SEALS but had to settle for the prestigious job of an FBI sharpshooter instead. And here, we find out that she doesn't know how to track her targets or how to keep her targets from spotting her, doesn't know how to dress for a sweltering hot day in D.C. even though she lives there, and doesn't understand how alcohol works. But have no fear! A man's here to show her the ropes! And what a man he is! A condescending, patronizing, sexist Texan redneck, complete with a cowboy hat and a high opinion of himself. Of course, she must have him!
But Sam's a classy guy. Really. He is.(show spoiler)
I just didn't understand this subplot. Why was it here? I certainly hope I'm not supposed to be rooting for these two to get together in the future. And the whole stupidity in the motel room was ... well, stupid. It was like something out of a 80s sitcom with the stupid handcuffs and the abuse of chocolate syrup.
Then there's Amy and Eve, in the hands of their captors, and Eve spends the entire time telling their sole guardian (why were these guys not on rotation?) about her love affair during WWII. Which is actually the only thing that happens in this book that makes a lick of sense. Getting your captor to see you as a human being is goal number one for anyone who has been abducted. It's your best hope for escape or release, and it can work. So go for it! But my lord, did I so not give a crap about her story.
Once again, this is a dual narration, and I believe all the books in this series are. Patrick Lawlor is the better of the two. He's much more natural than Melanie Ewbanks, who can sound a little too technical at times. Still don't like getting two sets of voices for the same characters, and their various accents were almost painful to listen to. Still, Lawlor was at least fun to listen to at times.
Thankfully, I was in the right mood for cheesy and stupid, even if I did find a lot of it frustrating.