Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dee Davis -- Exposure

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ .   {4.35}
Action: ♠♠♠♠. / Emotion: ♣♣♣. / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦. / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠,
Action: 4.25 / Emotion: 3.5 / Romance: 4 / Sensuous: 2.5 / Suspense: 4.5 // Laughter: 2 / Tears: 0

In The Last Chance Trilogy, Dee Davis took three gorgeous, extremely alpha, macho men and bound them in an unbreakable friendship by involving them in an operation-gone-wrong when they were part of a Delta Force rescue mission in Iraq seventeen or so years ago.   She then created three vibrant, intelligent, gorgeous women who were just as strong-willed and self-sufficient to give each of them a happily-ever-after.

Dee Davis has a remarkable talent for writing truly intriguing, action-packed romances.   Exposure, the last book in The Last Chance Trilogy is no exception.   Could not help but want to keep reading Exposure in rapt fascination after reading the opening scene -- and didn't lose interest, even after reading the last sentence of the epilogue.

One method that Davis utilizes to keep one engrossed in her books is the way she slowly develops the history and personality of her characters, bit by bit, as the story unfolds.   She introduces a character, shares just enough about him or her to hook interest.   The only way to find out more about this intriguing person and how s/he is woven into the story is to keep reading -- for that next bit of personality revealing information.

For instance, Davis introduced the villain of Exposure, Khamis al-Rashid (and his second in command, Malik Barzani) stealing a chemical compound called R-VX from a decrepit storage facility in Shchuch'ye, Russia.   Obviously, the Last Chance task force will be called in to stop Khamis from discharging this lethal weapon.   Instead of revealing all the pertinent details about Khamis and his ties to either the hero and heroine and why he is determined to exact revenge upon the Americans he so hates, it is necessary to read vast amounts of the story to understand what drives Khamis.   In fact, even though Khamis was a prominent part of the story, he remained in the shadows until page 196 when the team saw his picture as part of their investigation.

Also find it interesting that Davis utilizes lack of physical descriptions of certain secondary characters to keep them forever in the background of the story.   Whenever Khamis appeared in the book, Malik was always by his side.   But instead of richly developing this character (who, by the way, did spark some interest), Davis never revealed Malik's appearance, thus giving him little substance.   Davis furthered her premise of male bonding through the horrors of war by promoting the same loyalty between Khamis and Malik.   It was particularly revealing that Malik did not share the same burning desire for revenge as Khamis, but blindly continued to support him.
"It is your goal, Khamis.   Not mine."
"You do not mean that.   This has been your dream, too."
"No."   Malik shook his head.   "I merely followed the orders of our superiors . . ."   (page 239)
Another tool Davis uses to keep the book more intense is to weave several different colorful threads of intrigue through the story.   Nothing is straightforward -- so the Last Chance team must struggle to untangle all the confusing threads in time to save the world (or in this case, New York City).

First there is the thread tying hero Nigel Ferris to an underground arms dealer.   Nigel and his Spanish counterpart, Enrique, are in Gijón, Spain keeping Alberto Salvatore under surveillance.   Liked that Davis includes more action and adventure in Exposure than she did in Enigma (book two) as Enrique and Nigel (not one to just sit around and watch) end up in a shootout taking out Salvatore and several of his men, thus crippling his underground transportation network.

The next interesting thread interwoven into the story ties Paulo Salvatore (Alberto's son) to Khamis.   Khamis meets with Paulo (after Nigel has crippled his father's pipeline) and demands that Paulo fulfill the agreement to transport the canisters.   Thus, the next thread is interwoven as Paulo refers Khamis to his connection at the UN, Alexi Kirov.

The threads become even more entangled, because Melissa Pope, posing as a photojournalist doing a story on the United Nations, is on assignment (CIA) to find the UN employees who are part of a smuggling operation.   Naturally, Melissa meets the native Russian, Alexi, and determines that he is suspect because of his limp noodle handshake.   (Totally agree about that handshake thing).

So now all these threads are knotted into the tapestry and Cullen Pulaski calls the Last Chance team members together to find the stolen canisters of R-VX, a particularly deadly virus that could wipe out a 40-mile area of the United States.   Although it is not necessary, would definitely recommend that one read the first two books of this trilogy to better understand the emotional ties within the team.   It was wonderful to get to see Gabriel "Gabe" Roarke with his wife, Madison (Endgame, Book One) and Payton Reynolds with his wife, Samantha "Sam" (Enigma, Book Two).   It was also great to see the team work together again, including the wonderful computer genius, Harrison Blake (who did not share as big a portion of the spotlight as he did in the previous two books).

Reading the previous books would also bring a more enlightened picture of the man who created the team.   Cullen did not seem as vibrant and compelling in this story -- he almost seemed to be an inconsequential secondary character.   Not sure why Davis briefly included the very impressive Tracy Braxton (another character from book one) in this story.   Although Tracy inspires great interest, her character was under-developed and not really necessary for the plot line.   (Any lab could have performed the tests the team needed.)   Wonder why Davis has included Tracy into these two books of the trilogy.

Davis was successful in keeping interest throughout the book with lots of action and plenty of suspenseful moments as the team met repeatedly to comb through the clues that led them to find the stolen R-VX canisters.   Their investigation was hampered (or enhanced, depending upon which team member you asked) by the unwitting addition of Melissa to the team.

Three more threads were woven into the story when Melissa's handler, Ed Wyland (another thread), informed her that she was to attend a UN party that night with her sister, Alicia, and her brother-in-law, Aaron Rosenblatt, a mid-level diplomat (personal threads).   Melissa was instructed to turn over any information she had on her UN investigation to a contact working with a special investigation team.

What a combustible meeting!   When Nigel saw Melissa enter the party, he took her to an empty room to kiss her -- as if fifteen years had not passed since he last saw her.   Then Nigel received the second shock of the night when Melissa realized that Nigel (a man she had never forgotten) was her contact.   Commitment-shy (to put it mildly) Melissa passed on the information to Nigel and walked out on him -- just as she did fifteen years ago.   After all, people in their line of work did not get involved in romantic entanglements.

Probably the most disappointing thing about this series is the lack of depth when it came to "feeling" the emotion of the hero and heroine.   Such is the case with Nigel and Melissa.   Very little background information was revealed when it came to Nigel's childhood.   Apparently Nigel is a peer of the realm, but never bought into his father's high-society mantra, choosing instead to become a soldier, then joining MI6.   Thus, Nigel's biggest obstacle towards becoming emotionally entangled with Melissa is based mostly on his nature as an adrenaline junkie and his dangerous career choice.

Melissa, on the other hand, carries a suitcase full of abandonment issues: {1} father left home when she was twelve; {2} mother died three years later; {3} Aunt Kiki tossed the sisters away to get married; {4} her beloved younger sister changed localities when got married.   Being a strong-willed, self-contained woman is important to Melissa, but when she finds herself in a suspiciously dangerous situation, she turns to Nigel for help.   Nigel brings Melissa into the bosom of the Last Chance team to help.

Even though the pages were filled with self-talk on the parts of Nigel and Melissa as they tried to talk themselves out of their love and attraction for the other, it was obvious there was an emotional connection between these two characters.   Gabe and Payton gave Nigel knowing smirks as they comfortably displayed their love for their wives.   Even though Melissa was determined to be independent, she couldn't help the envy that arose when saw the other two couples together.   As expected, Nigel and Melissa couldn't keep their hands off each other and engaged in heated, emotional, sizzling love scenes.

Can see why (after reading Exposure for the second time) it is on "to be re-read" list.   Like the strength of character that Davis instilled in both Nigel and Melissa -- making them both confident and strong enough to compliment each other.   Nigel was tough enough to kept Melissa from over-powering him with her presence and still compassionate enough to allow himself to become vulnerable to her.   Nigel and Melissa's road to finding a happily-ever-after was filled with the requisite action, emotion, romance and sensuality.

Just a few disjointed notes about opinions drawn after reading The Last Chance Trilogy.
{1}   Didn't like Nigel's mustache.   The way Davis described it, kept thinking of the villain in old "Dudley Do-Right" movies.
{2}   Was Davis being philosophical when describing Payton?   In the first two books, Payton's scar was minutely described (very much a part of him).   In third book, his scar was mentioned in passing, like the scar on his face had almost faded away (along with his internal scars).
{3}   Favorite hero: no question whatsoever -- Payton.   Favorite heroine: Madison.   However, did not like Madison in her book (Endgame) as much as liked Sam during her book (Enigma).   Madison became favorite only after seeing her growth in books two and three.
--Vonda M. Reid (Sunday, April 1, 2012 : 10:00 p.m.)     [225]

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The Last Chance Trilogy
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.03-2005EndgameGabriel "Gabe" Roarke / CIAMadison Harper / FBI
02.06-2005EnigmaPayton Reynolds / CIASamantha "Sam" Waters / AFT EEO
03.09-2005ExposureNigel Ferris / MI6Melissa Pope / CIA

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Exposure Quotations:
55". . . it was politics that caused most of the problems in the world."
64"Sometimes fate throws the very things we're most afraid of right at our feet."
253"Sometimes when someone runs away it's because they desperately want to be found."
258"She knew what it was like to always be on the outside looking in.   Knew how it felt to be alone in a world full of people."

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Characters Found In "Exposure"
Character Description
Nigel Ferris[Hero] British special agent (bc) home in Gloucestershire (18) hated flying (33) tall; dark; English accent; mustache (40) born peer; great deal of debt (43) deep husky whisper of a voice, clipped accent (45) liquid brown eyes; hair flopped over right eye; smelled of exotic English aftershave (46) smile endearingly crooked, mustache giving rakish touch (46) British Intelligence, MI6 since left the military (50) devastatingly handsome (54) hated society functions (73)
Melissa Pope[Heroine] photojournalist (bc) clandestine work for the Company (32) photography; CIA (41) auburn hair tumbled in loose curls down her back (44) award-winning photojournalist; jagged cut on arm (49) wasn't beautiful in peaches-and-cream way; had Renaissance air with pale skin and burnished hair; eyes neither green nor blue, curious mix of both (50) eyes tilted upward at corners as if perpetually crinkled in laughter; full, lusty lips (51) biological clock ticking (68) adrenaline junkie (69) a grace about her, unaware of her appeal; born in Dallas (110) orphaned young; raised by aunt in Lubbock; dumped girls when remarried; girls moved to Austin (111) 5'6" (162) father left when she was 12, mother died 3 years later (252)
. . .. . .
Hassan [al-Rashid][No Appearance] Khamis's 3-y-o son (240)
Kerea [al-Rashid][No Appearance] Khamis's wife (240)
Khamis al-Rashid[Major Secondary Character] (11) Arabic; broad of face; slightly bulbous nose; thick black mustache; neither old nor young; heat of desert creased his face well in advance of his years; angry, haunted eyes; Islamic extremist; rumored to be connected to al-Qaida (196) tenacious; searched for years for evidence (206)
Najid [al-Rashid][No Appearance] Khamis's 6-y-o son (240)
Malik Barzani[Secondary Character] Khamis's second in command (11) normally placid face (65) waiting not a strong point (126) expert on munitions (198) boyhood friend of Khamis (240)
Bashir[One Appearance] Khamis's contact; checking on Nigel (237)
Harrison Blake[Major Secondary Character] genius when it came to bits and bytes; ability to manipulate a computer taking on more legendary proportions with each operation; never met a puzzle he couldn't solve; tenacious (33) obsessive about anything that seemed inaccessible data (82) flop-haired, boy-next-door face (116) hacked for a living; works for Phoenix (154) usual optimism (245)
Tracy Braxton[Brief Appearance] forensic pathologist (109) statuesque black woman; one of foremost forensic pathologists in the world (123)
Hakan Celik[Brief Appearance] party attendee; deep, foreign voice; dark brown eyes; distinguished looking; evenly shaped too-white teeth; courtly manners; dark hair and complexion making him seem exotic and slightly menacing (56) Turkish Consulate (57) 6'2" (162)
Yuri Dynkin[Brief Appearance] motivation purely financial; couldn't be trusted; knew where R-VX was stored (11) fired as guard from Schhuch'ye for insubordination (36)
Enrique[Brief Appearance] Nigel's Spanish counterpart; surveillance; wife (18)
Ermo[Brief Appearance] dock worker (271)
Andrew Ferris[No Appearance] second son; Nigel's brother; in the spotlight (73)
George[Brief Appearance] man in charge at docks (270)
Jason Hardcastle[No Appearance] Nigel's immediate supervisor (17)
George Haverton[Brief Appearance] Special Forces; MI6; worked with Nigel for 15 years (169)
Horatio[Brief Appearance] dock worker (271)
Ivan Jacovitz[Brief Appearance] aka: Johnny Jacko; Russian mafia; 8" hunting knife preferred methodology (222) ties to Vetalav (223)
Kevin[No Appearance] killed (50)
Aunt Kiki[No Appearance] took in Alicia, Melissa when father left, mother died; more worried about finding husband 3 than rearing girls (135)
Alexi Kirov[Secondary Character] Idina's boss; native Russian (29) good-looking; blond; blue eyes; weak chin; limp noodle handshake (31) Russian; air of superiority (173) Brooklyn Heights brownstone apartment (204)
Mariam[No Appearance] journalist; involved in espionage; Payton's first wife (49)
Idina Meloski[Brief Appearance] UN logistics officer; territorial (27) junior logistics officer for UN Peacekeeping Operations (29) Czech (30)
Phillip Merrick[No Appearance] Madison's father (42)
Charlotte Northrup[One Appearance] party attendee (42) dowager with faintly blue hair; came on to Nigel; plump hands (43)
Shamus O'Rilley[One Appearance] head of militant splinter group of the IRA (19)
Jacques Ormand[No Appearance] hosting party (55)
Cullen Pulaski[Secondary Character](17) kingmaker of sorts; stayed behind the scenes; managed to control everything he touched (33) enormous presence; medium height, almost short; curling brown hair headed toward gray; attention compelling hard polished agate brown eyes (118) sheer presence of personality (119) Madison's godfather (122) God complex; paternal streak toward team (245)
Payton Reynolds[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 2] (18) CIA; scar; guarded expression (34) unorthodox; loyalty absolute (101) accepted CIA assignment no one else was willing to carry-out, usually one-man missions (112) physical presence; panther-like grace; moved with stealth of assassin; unmistakable stillness of a hunter; gave nothing easily; had to earn trust (122) a 'consider them guilty until proven innocent' type of guy (271)
Samantha "Sam" Reynolds[Major Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 2] Sam (33) Payton's wife; AFT explosives officer (34) complete opposite of her husband; angel to his demon; tiny; blond; energy crackled around her; air of competence (189)
Patrick Roan[One Appearance] IRA (19)
Andrea Roarke[Brief Appearance] Gabe, Madison's daughter; chubby; cheerful (33)
Gabriel "Gabe" Roarke[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 1] (18) dark brows (44) tall; dark (54) unorthodox; loyalty absolute (101) Homeland Security; spent bulk of career n CIA working deep-cover operations overseas ; Delta Force team leader; black ops (112) impossibly large (122) discerning man (145)
Madison Roarke[Major Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 1] new mother; profiler for FBI; Gabe's wife (33) stunning blond (54) too perceptive (62) depth of compassion in eyes (121)
Aaron Rosenblatt[Secondary Character] Alicia's husband; diplomat (39) mid-level diplomat; career officer with foreign service; not an extraordinary rise; Jewish (111)
Alicia Rosenblatt[Secondary Character] Melissa's sister; elegantly regal; flawless beauty; nothing every out of place; perfect diplomat's wife; loyal to husband (39) pregnant (40)
Micah Rosenblatt[One Appearance] Aaron, Alicia's baby boy (348)
Alberto Salvatore[One Appearance] arms dealer (17)
Paulo Salvatore[Secondary Character] would sell his mother; Alberto's son; Spaniard (65)
Peter Stoeler[Brief Appearance] another assassin who worked for Alexi (235)
Walter[One Appearance] waiter; young man; hint of beard (105)
Umbert[One Appearance] sailor Nigel knocked out (318)
Igor Vetalav[No Appearance] runs one of the major Russian mafia families; killed four Russian Jewish jewelers 4-y-a (223)
Ed Wyland[Secondary Character] Melissa's handler (40) stickler for punctuality (67) nondescript record; Melissa's only handler; started in research, worked way up (146) consummate bureaucrat (278)

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Dee Davis
♠   Website
♣   The Whine Sisters (Blog)
♥   Twitter
♦   Facebook
♠   My Space

♣   Fantastic Fiction
♥    FictionDB

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Exposure Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
3.86 average{7 reviews}Amazonas of: May 17, 2012
4.25 average{4 reviews}Barnes & Nobleas of: May 17, 2012 (all Amazon duplicates)
4.20 average{5 reviews}Good Readsas of: May 17, 2012
4.00 average{3 reviews}Library Thingas of: May 17, 2012
3.80 average{48 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: May 17, 2012
----Reader To Reader (aka: New and Used Books)positive inflection (quoted on Dee Davis's website)
4.50 average{2 reviews}Shelfarias of: May 17, 2012
4.3505-17-2012Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, B&N, fdb, GR, LT, Shelfari

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♥  Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥  Very Subjective Rating
♥  Willing to share Cheat Sheet
    ♦  in whole or in part
    ♦  WordPerfect or PDF
♣  Will add your Exposure review link to table, just ask

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