Book Review

Maverick by Lora Leigh

Title: Maverick
Author: Lora Leigh
Publication Info: St. Martin's 2009
ISBN: 0312945809
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Shop Indie BookstoresEvery night before bed this week I’ve read a few pages of Lora Leigh’s Maverick. I picked it up partly because I know for many readers, her books are Teh Cracke, and because she’s a huge seller in contemporary erotic romance. Plus there’s SEALs and muscular badasses with semi-automatic weaponry in their trousers, plus an actual firearm if they’re carrying, and I’m a total fangirl of law enforcement characters of both genders.

The problem with Maverick is that I read a few pages and bust out laughing – not “Ha ha! That was hilarious dialogue!” laughter but “Wait, are you kidding me?” laughter. I’ve already got more dogeared pages than I know what to do with.

The best section by far is this one:

“She’s wounded, man. You can’t show her the killer face and expect her to trust you.”
Micah turned to look at him now. “The killer face?” he asked evenly.
“Yeah, that icy Mossad façade you’re wearing right now,” he growled.

Seriously. “Mossad façade?!”

And it’s not even a joke! I mean, not that I can tell anyway because the wearer of this alleged Mossad Façade doesn’t see the humor in it. And the speaker wasn’t kidding, either. He was growling. And really, can you growl about a façade?

After I stopped giggling, I had to admit, there’s a real potential for a series here. Not the covert operative collective that’s been done over and over since the turgid peaking of the erotic romance cum romantic suspense genre, but a series built on potential variations of “Mossad Façade.” Leigh is sitting on a gold mine here.

For example:

Navy SEAL appeal. Muscles, sleek wet hair, and fighting of pirates with his mighty mizzen mast.

Marine sheen. Is it Vitalis, or is it vitality? Only Intrepidde Heroinne knows for sure!

Coast Guard petard (as in hoisted by) You always want a man who knows his way around an inlet.

Army Charm! An army of one – to get in her pants!

Air Force horse! – Duh. Hung like one.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police? Oh, come on. Fish in a barrel for law enforcement based erotic romance.

It’s like “Dancing with the Stars” only instead of stars we have hypertrophied men in serious-faced dance routines. I’ll keep trying to read past this page but when the comedic hijinks of my imagination start with the Rockette-style choreography of the Mossad Façade in a dance-off with the smooth rhythm of the Marine Sheen, it’s hard to get back into a story where already I suspect the heroes take themselves too seriously.

Sadly, it doesn’t get much better for me.

Risa Clay, the heroine, is a character, I believe, from an earlier novel who survived hell: she was kidnapped and drugged with some sort of psychosis-inducing sexual stimulation drug, then raped. She was 13 at the time. Her father organized the whole thing. Now it’s several years later, and she’s all grown up, and trying bit by bit to undo the damage.

Maverick, or Micah, has been ordered to tail her, and, irritating as it is for Micah and his façade, her tail is turning his tail on in a big, big way. Faster than you can say “Oy gevalt,” Micah has a boner of a conflict. Risa has been targeted by a mysterious assassin who goes by the name “Orion,” and Micah has a personal interest in both protecting Risa and killing Orion: Orion killed Micah’s mother.

Most of these plot elements I would expect to combine and hold my interest, but the execution (no pun intended) leaves me distinctly not curious. There’s a lot of long paragraphs of rumination, and repeated details of backstory in the internal monologue of the characters, plus a lot of redundant phrasing. All the victims were “pumped full” of the drug that was given to Risa, and the same few words are used over and over to describe the drug itself. It was like reading the same intermediary paragraphs between small sections of dialogue.

Then it just got looney tunes all up in there. Risa has decided she is going to get her groove on and “take a lover” – her first, since prior to being raped, she’d never had sex. So the Elite Ops tail her to a club, and – surprise?! – everyone from the Elite Ops team is here. It’s like those reunions of all the historical romance family members in collective wedded bliss only instead there’s a crew of badass operatives and their wives/girlfriends/fiancees, all hanging around this club to meet up with Risa, dance with her, protect her from assassin dude, and I presume help her on her way to nookie-lation.

At one point, a character speaks into a microphone attached to his wrist. Sure, that’s not obvious, some dude chatting into his shirt cuff. Then, Micah and Risa make steamy, electric eye contact:

He stroked the delicate line of her jaw with his gaze, then came back to her eyes. He let her inside him, let her see into the soul and the parts of him that were just a man, just a lover willing to touch her in gentleness. He let her see there was nothing to fear if she let him close to her.

Eyes were more than the windows to the soul. They could lie as well. And Micah was a consummate liar. But as he stared into her wary gaze, he found himself wishing he could be more.

Dude. Does his semi-automatic weapon convert into an acoustic guitar so he can start playing love ballads about rainbows and trout fishing? Because Holy Emo Are You Kidding Me?

Then I began to doubt the brain power of the entire Ops team. The dancing team from Elite Ops figure out that Risa was followed, and they presume by Orion or someone he hired. Micah does not take the news well:

He did breathe in heavily. “Have a crew go into her apartment before she returns home, check for bugs. Orion will lay in listening devices sometimes, to track his mark. Several were found in his last victim’s hotel room. That’s how he knows where to strike and when. Make certain her apartment is clean.”

“That could give us away,” Clint pointed out. “He’ll know we’re on to him and he could run.”

Micah shook his head. “He’s been tracked before and escaped. He’s a master at his craft and the execution of it. He’ll know I’m her protection, there’s no hiding that. Orion will see it as a challenge, but he won’t back off. Nothing will stop him from attempting to kill her.”

He and his father had found the devices in Micah’s parents’ home when his mother had turned up missing. How long they had been there, Micah wasn’t certain. Definitely long enough for Orion to have tracked her schedule and to know where and when to take her.

 

Hold the phone here. Micah knows of at least two other instances where Orion had targeted someone, including his own mother, wherein Orion had placed bugs in the target’s home to verify schedule and times of vulnerability… and it’s just now occurring to him that maybe Risa’s home should be scanned?

Dude. I know there are few people in the Mossad that are that freaking dense, if any. I mean, come on now.  If she’s targeted for assassination, how on earth are the whole muscular posse of them at a club, and not combing her home for bugs, setting up a safe location for her, and generally, you know, doing something other than gazing through a façade with eyes that are the window to lies?

Once I realized that I couldn’t trust this bozo to do much of anything besides gaze and smolder and clench his jaw, I didn’t want to read any more. Time to find another book to put on the bedstand.

Next time I meet an actual Mossad agent, I’m going to compliment him or her on having such an excellent façade.

“Mossad Façade.” You gotta be fucking kidding me.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    “Mossad Façade.” You gotta be fucking kidding me.

    Do you think they could get Grade II listing for it in Britain, though? :)

  2. 2
    closetcrafter says:

    Yeah, this one was not my fave, but she specializes in dialogue that I would never choose to participate in or overhear in real life. And if this were on TV or in a movie, I would click right by it because it would be on the Lifetime for Incredibly Stupid and Wounded Heroines Channel. But it is The Alpha Male Cracke, and I am compelled to read it.

    The reunion scene did kind of smack of Dark Celebration.

  3. 3
    MsMoonlight says:

    You read the last book in an 8 book series so you were missing A LOT.
    Bk 1 – “Reno’s Chance”
    Bk 2 – “Dangerous Games”
    Bk 3 – “For Maggie’s Sake”
    Bk 4 – “Hidden Agenda”
    Bk 5 – “Killer Secrets”
    Bk 6 – “Atlanta Heat”
    Bk 7 – “Wild Card”
    Bk 8 – “Maverick”
    I love the SEALs/Elite series, but you really need to read them in order from the beginning to get the whole story and see these characters evolve, in my opinion.

  4. 4
    Erin says:

    There are definitely some ridiculous moments in Lora Leigh’s books, but I am one of those people who are addicted to her Alpha heroes.  To me, it’s all fantasy and it makes me happy.  But her Elite Ops books are not the best, in my opinion.  I think the first book I read by her was Nauti Dreams, and that’s still my favorite.

  5. 5
    Joy Bowling says:

    I’ve read almost every LL book.  However, I’ve had this one since March and can’t get past page 35.  I think I need to stop reading Elite Ops books; I didn’t like book 3 either.

  6. 6
    Cella says:

    Since you didn’t finish this one, I’m assuming that you didn’t get to Lora Leigh’s trademark buttseks that she adds to every book. I work in a library, and one of my special librarian skills is my ability to open a Lora Leigh book to a spot within ten pages of the anal penetration. Sadly, I didn’t learn that one in library school.

  7. 7
    Margaret says:

    Maverick? Okay, I’ve already got two problems – Tom Cruise and John McCain. Three, actually. Sarah Palin. Maybe four. Tina Fey. Okay, Tina Fey rocks, but the other three…I’m going to pass, and drink another beer.

  8. 8
    Carrie Lofty says:

    Tina Fey should totally be a romance heroine.

  9. 9
    Jess B. says:

    @MsMoonlight – Thanks for typing out the full order. I read Wild Card and I hate jumping into a series part way through (although I was sort of under the impression it was the first book in a spin-off series). Either way, I could tell I was definitely missing out on background info, but I enjoyed the book.

    I was looking forward to Micah’s book as well, and I may still give it a shot. The dialogue and the emo and the ANGST was pretty strong in Wild Card, but I still enjoyed it for what it was. Not a go to author for more realistic special ops, but a fun read none the less. :)

  10. 10
    shuzluva says:

    I work in a library, and one of my special librarian skills is my ability to open a Lora Leigh book to a spot within ten pages of the anal penetration.

    Cella, thank you for making my morning!

    If she’s targeted for assassination, how on earth are the whole muscular posse of them at a club, and not combing her home for bugs, setting up a safe location for her, and generally, you know, doing something other than gazing through a façade with eyes that are the window to lies?

    Then what would be the point of the book? I read Hidden Agendas a while back and thought that the total lack of “real” protection was slightly hilarious, but certainly made it a hella lot easier for the H/H to connect. Pun intended.

  11. 11
    MaryKate says:

    I read one Lora Leigh book and had two issues:

    First, the H/h were constantly doing the deed. I mean, constantly. It’s like “Assassins are in the house! Let’s fuck!”

    Also, the dripping. My god, everything drips. Get a Z-pack to treat that.

    But I do get that many, many readers really love her books. She’s just not for me.

  12. 12

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police?

    Mountie Bounty?

  13. 13
    GrowlyCub says:

    I read only one of hers (Marly’s Choice) and I felt dirty afterward and not in a good way.

  14. 14
    Lori says:

    Also, the dripping. My god, everything drips. Get a Z-pack to treat that.

    I read Dangerous Games while on vacation and was amazed with the amount dripping, oozing, soaking, gushing, and slushing.  Good lord, woman, get thee to the clinic!

    Between the H/H’s leakage issues, the complete and total absense of reality, and the cheese-tastic dialogue, I struggled to finish.  I almost put it down in favor of reading the air sickness bag on the plane.

  15. 15
    Jrant says:

    OK, I’m still a bit new to SMTB, what does the DNF rating stand for?

  16. 16
    MsMoonlight says:

    I loved “Dangerous Games”.  These are erotic romance fiction and I don’t expect them to come across as nonfiction.  They’re ‘guilty reads’, merely some sexy (often erotic) entertainment. If you aren’t looking for that, don’t pick up a Lora Leigh book and if her SEALs/Elite series is too much, you really don’t want to read her “Breeds” books (pure erotic fiction).

  17. 17
    Randi says:

    @Jrant: Did Not Finish.

    I’m with Erin. I only read her Nauti books (and sadly, the 4th one was boring). I’ve tried a Breed book here and there and never finished one. I’ve never tried any of her Ops books and don’t plan to. I’m a Nauti girl all the way; although, if the 5th one doesn’t go back to pre-4th level, I’ll be breaking up with Lora Leigh.

    Often53: There is often 53 scenes of buttsecks in a Lora Leigh book. woot!

  18. 18

    “Mountie Bounty”, indeed, with the theme music from Dudley Do-Right playing over the credits….

    As for “Mossad facade”, I’m trying to imagine the Ziva David character from NCIS finding out that some of her fellow agents had been as careless as the given plot summary suggests.

    I think I hurt now.  And that the fellow agents (if they didn’t quickly become ex-fellow agents) would have to turn in their International Consortium of Heroes membership cards, on account of having lost certain essential qualities of heroicness.

  19. 19
    SB Sarah says:

    OMG, Ziva. Ziva would give them a most righteous assing, and there would be hell to pay 6x over. Oy.

  20. 20
    Lori says:

    These are erotic romance fiction and I don’t expect them to come across as nonfiction.  They’re ‘guilty reads’, merely some sexy (often erotic) entertainment. If you aren’t looking for that, don’t pick up a Lora Leigh book and if her SEALs/Elite series is too much, you really don’t want to read her “Breeds” books (pure erotic fiction).

    I don’t expect it to come across as non fiction.  I wanted sexy erotic romance, and what I read was neither sexy nor erotic.  Instead, it was more like a poorly written letter to Penthouse.  Of course, that’s just my humble opinion.

  21. 21
    Michele says:

    I am a fan of erotic fiction, but this one made me want to wash my eyes out with bleach. Was the word “pussy” on every page?

  22. 22

    I’ve never read one of these novels, but I have to say that the comments are making me LOL.  Thanks, Bitchery!

  23. 23
    LaurieF says:

    I read Lora Leigh and she is a cheesefest and a guilty pleasure.
    Her Breed series were the first books I read from Ellora’s Cave and since then I’ve been hooked. Her books are”Teh Cracke”.

  24. 24
    JenD says:

    I haven’t read any LL but the whole time I was reading the review I kept seeing Orion and ONion.

    I had this picture of a giant evil onion bent on assasination. Now there’s a book I’d love to read.

    Run OMG It’s the ONION! For God’s sake woman, RUN!

  25. 25
    Chicklet says:

    OMG, Ziva. Ziva would give them a most righteous assing, and there would be hell to pay 6x over. Oy.

    It sounds like DiNozzo is smarter than this guy, which is saying something, given that the NCIS writers think DiNozzo is an idiot about 70% of the time.

  26. 26
    Suze says:

    I’ve been really enjoying Lora Leigh (except for the Nauti books, which press a few too many WTFRRARGH! buttons.  Torture?  As a plot device in an erotica novel?  Not BSDM, but espionage-related torture?  Really?).

    Anyway, her military ones are definitely military-ish, like historical-ish.  We don’t want too many details, we just want the general flavour.

    And yes, Maverick wasn’t her best offering.

    Still, the majority of her stuff is entertaining and squishy.

  27. 27
    April says:

    Coincidentally… Last week I found myself saying “I’m really in the mood for something involving, oh, military men.” but I couldn’t find much I hadn’t read.  I’d tried a Lora Leigh breed book before and gotten nowhere but I too was hit by the thought “Well, lots of people love her, there has to be something there?”  So I grabbed Maverick.

    I’m a bit more than page 35 in, but not much, and was trying to hold on through sheer force of will.  The book so far is a string of not-sexy yuck feelings between incredulous wtf? moments, and a vague feeling that I’m somehow contributing to the horrible victimization of the heroine by reading a book about her (after all, if there weren’t readers to titillate, the author wouldn’t have needed to throw in, oh, people calling her ugly ON TOP OF the whole torture, rape, father betrayal, friend dead, long-term medical issues, long-term psychological issues, thing). But I was going to finish it, dammit… My high DNF rates are why I can never find anything to read anymore.  Maybe if I wasn’t such a judgmental snob I wouldn’t be bored in a house full of books.  And so many people really really like her books!

    But if someone else out there can’t take this book either….  Okay, I’m done.  Thank you for saving me from my self-inflicted peer pressure hell.

    Also, on the start at first book vs not issue, I’ve taken to always starting in the middle of the series.  Some of my favorite series’ had some fairly weak first books, and I ended up not finishing them, only to later regret that when I did finally make it to a later book.

  28. 28
    Nadia says:

    I’ve read through “Killer Secrets” in this series, and have the novella from “Rescue Me” on the TBR pile.  Definitely guilty pleasures, and not part of the reality-based community.  My first question was why these Navy SEALs are based in Atlanta.  Did I miss an ocean during my visit there?

    And oh, the sexxoring.  Now, I know these are erotics with a capital E, that’s the point of reading them.  But with the Fucking Olympics going on here, you’d think there’d be some serious chafing.  Maybe all that gushing reduces friction and drag.

  29. 29
    Micah says:

    What IS it with people using my name in horrible, horrible books? First Laurell K. Hamilton, now this. Must every fictional Micah be a bastion of fail?

    *shakes fist*

  30. 30
    Anne C says:

    Micah- Micah…Your name is still my favorite..bad books or not..

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