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From Barnes & NobleAugust 1999
Cold War, Hot Passion
Linda Howard has built a reputation for penning sizzling love stories that offer up nonstop thrills, both of the romantic and the suspenseful kind. In her last book, Now You See Her, Howard combined a creepy paranormal situation with cold-blooded murder and hot-blooded passion, creating a riveting read that thrills on several levels at once. Now she follows that up with All the Queen's Men, resurrecting an elusive hero from one of her previous books, Kill and Tell, and crafting a spy thriller of high suspense, gut-wrenching emotion, and sweet passion.
John Medina is considered by many to be a legend among the intelligence crowd, though he is all too real. Due to his past efforts, John takes great pains to keep his existence and identity hidden. Only a handful of people even know his real name, and he has no permanent address, preferring to keep on the move to make himself less vulnerable. After years of working as a CIA operative, he has countless disguises and an equal number of enemies, and taking precautions comes naturally to him. But when he watches the shock of grief tear through Niema Burdock as she learns of her beloved husband's death, John feels the first tinges of vulnerability, the first hint of a love he can't afford to feel and is sure will never be requited.
Niema Burdock was one of four children born to an ordinary couple living an ordinary life in an ordinary town in Iowa. However, Niema herself is anything but ordinary. Even as a child, she was unsatisfied with the conventional lifestyle the rest of her family preferred, seeking out adventure and risk. Niema is an adrenaline junkie, someone who enjoys risk and danger, the uncertainty of never knowing what might happen next. For this reason, intelligence fieldwork with the CIA suits her well and even brings her the one thing in life that has made her truly happy: her husband, Dallas. But the work also rips Dallas away from her after only five months of marriage, involving him in a field operation that goes horribly, tragically wrong.
Medina keeps his love and lust well hidden as he observes Niema's grief, knowing it would be inappropriate to approach her and fearing that she blames him for Dallas's death. Though Medina is fairly certain his love for Niema can never be fulfilled, that belief is sorely tested five years later when he and Niema end up working together on another operation. Though Medina tells himself he is asking for Niema's help solely because her expertise is essential to a delicate part of the operation, there is a part of him that thrills at being near her again. Given a second chance, Medina now must focus on keeping both himself and Niema alive long enough for their hearts to connect.
Howard does an excellent job of tugging on the heartstrings while keeping the adrenaline flowing. The dangers, both romantic and physical, are always close at hand, and her characters are carefully and intricately drawn, making their lives and dilemmas leap off the page. Howard gets better with each book she produces. Besting All the Queen's Men will be quite an accomplishment.
Beth Amos is the author of several mainstream suspense thrillers, including Second Sight, Eyes of Night, and Cold White Fury. A longtime romance reader, Amos manages to bring a strong romantic sensibility to the absorbing thrillers she pens.