All The Queen's Men
From the back cover ~
The Past Proved Deadly. . .
No one knows the dangers of getting close to legendary CIA Black Ops specialist John Medina better than communications expert Niema Burdock. Five years ago, she and her husband worked with Medina on an explosive mission that ended in tragedy. Although she has slowly recovered from her terrible loss, Niema planned never to see Medina again. Until now.
History Is About To Repeat Itself. . .
A French arms dealer is supplying international terrorists, and only Niema can plant the bugs needed to crack the deadly ring. Against her best instincts, she infiltrates the dealer's glamorous world. But when the plan goes awry, Niema and Medina must take flight in a strnage land - and soon find their partnership sparked by an erotic charge. In a world of deception, John Medina has once again set Niema on a free fall into danger. . . and into desire like she's never known.
I consider myself a fan of Linda Howard, although if I had to pick favorites it would be her older titles like Duncan's Bride, MacKenzie's Mountain or Son of the Morning. I decided to read All The Queen's Men because I read and enjoyed Kiss Me While I Sleep which it's loosely related to and because it's a Howard that's been on my tbr pile too long.
The story starts off with a flashback of when Niema and John Medina worked together years ago and when the tragic event occurred that shattered Niema's world. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Niema, it's a very emotional scene. But it's also a risky business that both she and her husband worked in so it's not completely surprising that at some point those risks catch up to them.
Niema Burdock is slowly putting her life back together. She's constructed this safe little world around her and doesn't like to deviate from the routine. Niema deals with her guilt and her grief by closing herself off from any potentially close relationships. She works hard but doesn't seem to enjoy much in life. I do think her portrayal was realistic because she seemed to be stuck, afraid to move forward and chance losing someone she cares about. Then John Medina comes back into her life and she has to make decisions that will cause her to move forward rather than stagnant in the safe little world she has created.
John Medina has a reputation in the spy community but no one really knows who he is. He's very much in control and dedicated to the job. He's smart and lethal and his only real weakness is Niema. He's conflicted when it comes to her. He's very clear in how he feels about her but refuses to act on those feelings, giving her plenty of time to grieve. I liked how John dealt with once again working with Niema - balancing the job and their growing relationship.
Niema and John together made for some serious tension. Niema is certain there is no way she will become intimate with John. John is certain they will. Ha! What they will do for the mission and playing their part turns out to possibly be more than what even the government might ask of them. But this is a romance so it's not completely surprising that there's sex on the job. :)
There were some parts that stretched my beliefs and reminded me that this is fiction because it wouldn't be believable if it were real life. The antagonist has some interesting and questionable motives and I did like the interactions between Niema and Ronsard. There are some steamy sex scenes and at one point I did have to roll my eyes at the outcome, stretching my imagination again to make it fit the plot.
Overall, All The Queen's Men was an entertaining romantic suspense written with plenty of tension and intrigue. If I had to test the limits of believability a few times, it was worth it for the satisfying read.
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