June 6, 2009
Jacket Copy:
When a high roller at the Vegas casino where Crystal Debrowski manages security makes a scandalous proposition, she flat-out refuses, especially given rumors of his shady overseas connections. But then counterfeit bills mysteriously flood the gaming tables, and her reputation—and her life—are on the line.

Despite his big, flirty grin, Texas heartbreaker Johnny Duane Reed can’t get sassy Crystal off his mind. When she asks him to help her defend herself from an international crime lord with a threatening obsession, he takes a leave from Black Ops, Inc., to pursue a dangerous mission of his own.

Between Crystal and Johnny burns a scorching flame, but as they trace her relentless stalker to a remote hideaway on the other side of the world, they uncover a malicious arms trafficking and slavery ring. Together, they must destroy the tyrant’s wicked enterprise or face his reign of terror themselves. . .

Johnny Reed and Crystal Debrowski have been dancing around each other since TAKE NO PRISONERS when they both were round up to help Sam and Abby. Since then they’ve been having some sort of sexual relationship. Whenever Johnny's in town he looks Crystal up for a quick romp in the sack and then leaves again to go do what he does. Crystal is okay with it since she is just as not ready to commit as Johnny is. Things change when some creepy Chinese rich guy propositions Crystal at the casino where she works as a gaming manager. She turns him down politely but adamantly. After that the trouble starts for Crystal: counterfeit chips and money during her shifts, theft from the casino vault and disappearing security footage. Crystal is arrested and bailed out by Yao. Not long after that she is abducted from her apartment and finds herself a victim of human trafficking by Yao who is the head of a vast crime syndicate. Johnny and the Black Ops Inc. (BOIs) come to the rescue and save her and a few others. They set out to take Yao completely out of business and a lot of things happen before they can safely set foot on Las Vegas grounds again and even then, Crystal is not safe.

Johnny is something else. He is the embodiment of a womanizing charmer with a glib tongue. He has this "pretty boy" image but don't let that mislead you. He is dedicated, competent and intense. Nothing seems to faze him but when he gets in gear and the action starts he shows his professionalism and capabilities. If you thought you'd read all about heroes who are so much more than they seem, wait till you meet Johnny Reed! From the beginning I knew there was more to Johnny than I was led to believe. When these suspicions were confirmed I met a complicated man behind the suave, blonde womanizer he pretended to be. In the beginning I couldn't totally figure him out but I was sure Cindy Gerard would provide some insight along the way, and behold, by chapter 8 it began to unfold. As with many heroes the driving force behind his tormented youth and his incorrect self-image was his abusive father and indifferent, selfish mother. Johnny is convinced he has nothing to offer a woman. That's why he makes sure they have fun while it lasts and never let's feelings come into play. He learned at an early age how to hid his true feelings and pain.

Crystal is such a great heroine. She is one of my favorite characters/heroines that I've read so far; I almost loved her more than Johnny and that is some feat because I really, really liked him. Crystal is brave, outspoken, resilient, resourceful and stubborn. She is the perfect woman to bring slick playboy Johnny Reed to his knees. She is a woman with guts and she knows how to handle herself in dangerous situations. She isn’t fearless which would be unrealistic but she does everything to look beyond her fear and do what she has to do. Where she ended up in the end of the book, career wise, was absolutely no surprise to me and I loved this development in the series.

It’s not only Johnny who is good at masking his emotions. Crystal is also very adept at it. Both Johnny and Crystal are commitment phobic. Crystal has a problem with trusting men because of her track record with them. Johnny has a problem with intimacy. But they both turn out to be the cure for each other's phobias. The attraction and chemistry between Johnny and Crystal is scintillating. Their encounters both sexual and intellectual are heated and fiery. Neither of them wants to show vulnerability or admit their feelings for the other. Feelings that are most definitely simmering beneath the surface, just waiting to erupt.

Next to Johnny and Crystal there's an impressive cast of secondary characters that the book couldn't have done without. The secondary cast consists of bad guys Yao and Wong and of course the BOI-team sent to Jakarta: Nathan Black, Luke “Doc” Colter, Wyatt “Papa Bear” Savage and Joe Greene. Sam Lang and Gabe Jones (heroes of the two previous books) also make important appearances and as Crystal’s best friend, Abby Lang Hughes couldn’t stay absent. It was great to see how the couples from the previous books were doing. I always appreciate that in ongoing series.

All these supporting characters provide the stage for Crystal and Johnny to shine on. The BOIs are getting tighter and closer with every installment in this series and with every HEA each one finds, the heroine adds to the mix and dynamics. Their camaraderie, their support to each other is matched by their bantering, even in dire situations they don't stop jabbing at each other. But they are always there for each other, emotionally and professionally. The bond between the BOIs is growing in every installment and I love it.

The bad guy Yao and his sidekick Wong Li are so good at being bad it's almost over the top. But fortunately Cindy Gerard has a writing style and a way of setting up the suspense plot that this doesn't happen, for which I’m extremely thankful. The scenes with them in it, especially Yao gave me the creeps and isn't that just the point of the suspense part of a romantic suspense? She really has a knack for writing some seriously messed up bad guys who meet their fate at the hands of either hero or heroine in an incomparable way.

Cindy Gerard never fails to entice, entertain, arouse and even educate. I know exactly how to arm C4 with blasting caps, the differences between all types of guns and how to make lethal weapons with just a giant-sized perfume bottle and a framed mirror. What I liked is that it is never annoying or intrusive on the plot or the romance. And yet, she never gets too descriptive. She uses quite some abbreviations and military jargon and a lot of what I call tough-boy talk, but strangely it is never distracting from the story, as I have experienced with other authors. The abbreviations are immediately explained either explicitly or by the surrounding context, so there's no interruption by having to look things up and she doesn't overdo it. And the tough-boy lingo fits the situations and the characters. Some authors (not mentioning names here) should follow her example. Cindy Gerard has found the right way to balance the mix and offers extensive background without overdoing it.

With Cindy Gerard's BOIs you just can't go wrong. She writes believable but nail biting suspense, hot romance and awe-inspiring characters that are very easy to like and to root for. This was another great book. Fast-paced and filled with action, including horrific bad guys and suspense that is so realistic and current, it's really scary. The romance and characters are just as excellent, if not more. I loved the entire book but I must say that the second part of this book just blew me away. The pace picked up at warp speed, the action was unstoppable and it was, both literally and figuratively, explosive.

WHISPER NO LIES took me from the Las Vegas Strip to the sweltering Jakarta and back and when you think you have had all the plot twists Cindy Gerard could come up with, she throws another one at you to keep you glued to the pages not wanting to stop reading for fear of missing something. The chemistry between Crystal and Johnny is sizzling, Crystal is on my favorite heroines list and Johnny has made the alpha heroes list. That should say plenty. A while ago I thought Johnny's book would be the closing book of a trilogy but I was very pleased to find out that there will be more installments in this series, number 4 (FEEL THE HEAT) is scheduled for October 2009.

For me this was the best Black Ops Inc. book of the bunch so far. Everything worked for me and was right up my romantic suspense alley: Johnny, the bad guys, the action, the romance, the love scenes and especially Crystal, my super heroine!

Crystal's newly adopted motto was: Men. Can't live with 'em. Can't tie 'em to a train track and wait for Amtrak to do the deed.

He needed to think. He needed to think really, really hard. And he needed to do it without the distraction of a certain green-eyed pixie who glanced up at him and smiled a smile that made him melt and want to swallow her whole and get out the old vampire cross at the same time to ward her away.

The cowboy cleaned up good.
Johnny Reed wearing faded jeans, bed-head hair and a scruffy beard was enough to give a woman heart palpitations. But Johnny Reed in a suit and tie, blond hair perfectly styled, and clean-shaven was cause for a full-blown heart attack.


Mandi said...

Great review!

I love a book with great supporting characters to let the main characters shine.

Pearl said...

Hi Mandi,

Cindy Gerard is good like that!!
Have you read her?

Mandi said...

No, I have not read her. It sounds like I could pick any book of hers and be satisfied:)

Nice to meet you!

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39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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