My rating: 1 of 5 stars
At first, I found this one merely improbable but at least interesting then at chapter eight it went off the rails. It opens well with a terrible thing that rips apart Sophie Dunston’s family then picks up two years later. Sophie is working in a sleep lab as a doctor studying/treating nightmares. Her young son, Michael, suffers night terrors from what he witnessed. For some reason, Sophie is being helped by Jock (that name drove me nuts) a super soldier because she wants to stop the man she used to work with, Sanborne. Before that can happen she’s nearly taken out by Matt Royd, another super soldier before Jock can stop him.
It turns out that Sophie had created a drug for Sanborne that was meant to help people with night terrors but instead could be used to do mind control and break a soldier down and let them be reprogrammed if you will (witness both Jock and Royd, the former now working with MacDuff some Scottish lord who seems to be a spy master or something). Royd wants her dead for helping make the drug but once Jock changes his mind, Royd wants her as bait to get to Sanborne.
I was okay with these two men somehow stumbling onto Sophie and the super secret drug she made for Sanborne (and potentially that military) and their determination to stop Sandstone even though about the only character I liked was Jock. But once we get to chapter eight, I lost all respect for the characters. Jock is elsewhere at this point leaving Sophie alone with Royd who has a PTSD night terror and she (keeping in mind she’s a doctor specializing in night terror treatment) goes bungling into his room and nearly gets beat up when she tries to wake him. He calls her unprofessional when she calls him crazy (yeah because shaking a soldier she KNOWS has been tortured mentally and physically and drugged to make a completely obedient super soldier is so professional). But that’s not even the weirdest turn this takes. By the end of the next chapter after a raid on Sanborne’s labs, Royd goes from hating Sophie and using her as bait to wanting to have sex with her.
And spoiler here, when Sophie learns someone in her life has been killed so she can be framed for it, Royd goes out of his way to belittle the person, forces her into a sympathy hug and then keeps bringing up the idea of sleeping with him. It’s utterly creepy. Don’t believe me? Here, have a direct quote:
It wasn’t easy to lie next to her and not move over her. Why not to do it? He thought recklessly. He’d never been known for his restraint, and Sophie was very vulnerable at this moment. He could make her want it. What the hell was he doing trying to be some noble schmuck? He’d always taken sex where he found it, so long as it didn’t hurt the woman..
So this is our romantic lead. He’s perfectly okay with manipulating a woman who just lost someone so he can get his rocks off. He is such an alphahole it’s unbelievable. So we have a manipulative alphahole, a whiny unbelievable as a doctor heroine and a rather ludicrous plot.
I almost never rate a book this low but Royd and Sophie made my skin crawl. I’ve read other books by Johansen that were better. This one isn’t worth the time.
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