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Code Name: Baby Mass Market Paperback – 1 Nov 2005
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Federal agent Wolfe Houston is assigned the task of protecting civilian dog trainer Kit O'Halloran and her four biologically enhanced puppies from a legion of deadly mercenaries that want to get their hands on the powerful pups, forcing them all to go on the run. Original.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The story are pretty good too.
Kit is a dog trainer who contracts with the military, and is currently working with four Labrador pups. The dogs are very quick and incredibly intelligent, and while sometimes Kit wonders to herself stuff like how in the heck did he move so quick, it of course would never occur to her that the dogs have been genetically enhanced.
Wolfe has also been genetically enhanced, as has Cruz, the villain of the story. Cruz had gone crazy and Wolfe and the rest of his team were told he died, but now Wolfe has learned that Cruz is still alive and has gone rogue. He is sent to protect Kit and the dogs, but his real mission is to capture Cruz.
Conveniently for our story, Wolfe lived on the ranch with Kit and her family as a teenager, when Kit's mother took him in to help him escape his own abusive home. He looked upon Kit as a younger sister, but she's had a crush on him ever since. Now of course Wolfe is very attracted to Kit, but in his chosen career a relationship is out of the question, and he has to force himself to remain detached and impassive.
There are lots of descriptions of Wolfe using his enhanced psychic skills, Cruz using his own powerful enhanced psychic skills, Kit angsting over Wolfe being back in her life, Wolfe angsting over his attraction to Kit, the dogs being cute and amazing, etc.
When Cruz and Wolfe finally have contact with each other, Cruz keeps saying that the experiments and testing performed on him had caused his breakdown, and that the same thing would happen to Wolfe and the rest of his team. I thought that this would become an important plot point, and that perhaps in the end Wolfe would even discover this to be true or would at least try to investigate it further. Since the team members are forbidden to be involved with a woman, cannot have families, it would have provide the perfect resolution for Wolfe and Kit to be together in the end. But it was glossed over, and while of course they got their HEA, or at least an HFN, no explanation was really given for how Wolfe is suddenly allowed to deviate from the rules against relationships.
The story just didn't appeal to me the way the previous books did. I liked Kit and her fierce devotion to the dogs, but I never really connected with Wolfe. By the final quarter of the book, I was just wanted it to be over and get to the HEA/HFN already. I think the psychic components, the genetic enhancements, just weren't my cup of tea. At one point Kit falls asleep watching "Casablanca" on TV, and Wolfe picks up the remote control and begins playing with it, marveling at it and the high tech television set. I realize he's been living in isolation with the military for awhile, but a remote control and a TV should not be that fascinating to an elite military man. And he'd never seen, or in fact seemed to have heard of "Casablanca" - that's just too unreal.
Kit O'Holloran is a renowned dog trainer. She's currently working with four exceptional young dogs on her ranch in New Mexico. The pups are more exceptional than Kit realizes, though. Genetically and technologically enhanced superdogs, they're slated to be the next cutting edge weapons of the special Foxfire military unit. They're highly valuable and at the top of the top secret pile.
So is former Navy SEAL Wolfe Houston.
One of Foxfire's top operatives, he's just as technologically and genetically enhanced as the dogs and his skills far exceed normal human parameters. He's Kit's brother's best friend and he grew up with Kit, even spent some time living at the ranch with her and her brother Trace and their parents when they were kids. That's why, when a rogue operative gone way wrong escapes from captivity and heads towards New Mexico after the dogs, Wolfe is sent home to protect the dogs and catch the rogue agent, Cruz. Even if it means using the gorgeous and brave Kit as bait.
And no matter how much she stirs emotions he thought long dead.
This was my first experience with Skye's Foxfire books and I wonder if that may be part of the reason I had so many problems with this book. There wasn't enough world building or exposition to explain Foxfire or give me a good handle on the scope of the unit, nor lay groundwork for the characters and their abilities. I felt like I was lagging a step behind through most of the book because of it, not really able to connect to anything going on in it.
That wasn't the only problem, though. I thought the plot and characters lacked depth - especially Kit, who I never warmed up to. Some attempts were made to provide them added dimension, and Kit's debilitating degenerative disease and Wolfe's tragic childhood were good concepts, but neither plot point was really given much room to impact the story or the characters' development. There were also some stylistic issues with abrupt and awkward transitions that hurt the narrative. I loved the dogs, though. They were the best characters in the book. Unfortunately, that leads me to another problem.
There weren't many explanations offered or answers found in this book, so the entire reading experience felt a bit like a secret mission above my pay grade. What were the dogs capable of? Would what happened to Cruz happen to the rest of the group? If not, why? How, if Cruz has been in roughly the equivalent of solitary confinement in the bowels of a secret facility for the past two years and considered dead to his former teammates, did he find out about the dogs or make the contact with buyers? And how would he know to look for Wolfe's service record before he'd been assigned to guard Kit? Why was Izzy able to willfully defy the head of Foxfire without repercussion?
So many questions, so few answers, and not enough compelling me to continue the series to find out if they're ever answered.
The romance wasn't bad, though the pacing was a bit odd in places. I enjoyed parts of it very much. There was an abrupt jump to HEA at the end that seemed to come out of nowhere given the previous scene that had both Wolfe and Kit in it, but honestly, the romance and the dogs were the best parts of the book.
I still think that had I been around since the beginning of this series, I may have had a more favorable reaction to this book. The problem now is, I'm not sure there were enough good points in this book to motivate me finding out for sure.
Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.