by Cherry Adair

May 1994
ISBN: 0-373-25592-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Harlequin
Mass Market Paperback

If you are a regular visitor to our site (and we hope you are), you may have read the reviews of Cherry Adair's two books, Hide and Seek and Kiss and Tell. Both books got a perfect "five" rating, and inspired me, for one, to read them. They certainly deserved every star, being tense, exciting, funny and hot! Books like this encouraged me to look for other work by her, and I was lucky enough to find The Mercenary, one of Ms. Adair's first novels.

Laying the foundation for her later work, Cherry introduces the T-FLAC unit in this story (T-FLAC stands for 'Terrorist Force Logistical Assault Command', in other words, really hot and hard-bodied guys with rampaging alpha male tendencies who like to shoot big guns!!). Marc Savin is nursing a serious case of job-burnout - losing a member of the T-FLAC unit to torture and murder is not exactly a good day's work. So imagine his surprise when mild mannered Victoria Jones arrives on his doorstep and announces that she is the twin of Alex Stone, the agent Marc is mourning - oh and by the way, her brother isn't dead!

All the elements of a classic romance are in play here - the hardened and cynical agent whose eyes have seen more than they should, etc. etc., and the naive accountant who wouldn't say boo to a goose but suddenly turns into a female 'Terminator' when her back is to the wall and she has an Uzi in her hands!!

If you look closely you can definitely see the beginnings of the writing style that made Ms. Adair's latest two books bestsellers. But you do have to look closely! The relationship between Marc and Tory takes center stage, and blows hot and cold so rapidly I got whiplash from a couple of passages! One minute Marc is snarling at Tory for her naive optimism and incompetence, the next he's running his fingers through her hair and cuddling her! Sure, I know it's hard for the tough and jaded hero to get in touch with his tender side and confess that he's got a serious case for the heroine, not just the urge to slip her out of her undies, but the balance is not quite even here! What is here is the trademark steamy sensuality that Cherry Adair does so well! Once embarked on an affair, Marc and Tory could heat up the Mediterranean, and Tory's mild-mannered bookkeeper persona slips away with her shirt to reveal a surprisingly sexual woman!

The plot is relatively simple - Marc must set up a scenario for himself and Tory to rescue Tory's brother without getting any of them killed. The relationship between Tory and Alex, as twins, is a bit of a strain on the reader's credibility; I know twins share a special and unique ability to communicate, but I think this may go a little far with that idea! The settings are exotic, and the idea of a bubbling hot spring inside a cave is very seductive! But I must confess to a few doubts about Tory's ability to handle a wounded Marc and a motor scooter over a rocky beach although admittedly not at the same time!

While I unhesitatingly endorse the positive reviews of Cherry Adair's recent books, this one is clearly a less polished work, although interesting from the point of view of tracing the beginnings of a really good writer. For Cherry Adair fans, it's worth keeping an eye open for, but if you haven't read any of her work, go straight to her latest books and enjoy the smashing stories she is writing today.

Reviewed in January 2002 by Celia.

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