Saturday, March 30, 2013

Michele Albert -- Hide In Plain Sight

Michele Albert -- Hide In Plain Sight

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.15}
Action: ♠♠♠.♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣.♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥.♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦.♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠
Action: 3.5 / Emotion: 3.5 / Romance: 4.25 / Sensuous: 2.75 / Suspense: 3.0  //  Laughter: 1 / Tears: ½

Setting:     Los Angeles, California
Era:           Present Day [2006]
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Having read all the books included under The Avalon Investigations Series of Michele Albert's book list, would like to divide this selection into two different series; naming them: {1} The Pre-Avalon Series and {2} The Avalon Investigations Series.

Since there is something special about Michele Albert's writing style that appeals to the reader inside me, it should come as no surprise that Hide In Plain Sight, the fifth book in {1} The Pre-Avalon Series and {2} the first book in The Avalon Investigations Series, is another must read for me.   Although this book did not hold quite the same appeal as some of her previous works, it was still an exciting, intriguing, spicy, enjoyable read.

Hide In Plain Sight is just another example of how Albert is able to immediately draw her readers into her books and then hold them spellbound as she weaves a fascinating story about a hunky, alpha hero and a seemingly ordinary, yet apparently brave-hearted heroine.   If one were to write a headline that prefaced this book, it would be: "Legendary Super Agent is Felled by Bookworm During His Mid-Life Crisis."

As in her previous books, the romance aspect of this story carries more weight than the suspenseful nature of the plot.   The introduction of the super-villain, Rainert von Lahr, one of the most notorious art and antiquities thieves in all of Europe adds a new richer flavor of suspense to this book.   In the Prologue, Avalon Agent Griffith "Grif" Laughton is introduced trying to capture von Lahr, but instead is outwitted by this master criminal, who kills three of his team members.   This particular mission continues to haunt Grif five years later at the opening of this book.

Apparently Albert has decided to forego delving deep into the psyche of her characters to inspire an emotional connection to the hero and heroine and to try and write a story full of romance and suspense.   And while creating an aura of romance and suspense around the actions of Grif and Fiona in this book is instrumental in keeping one turning the pages, she did not create as deep an impact in either of these realms as, say, Karen Rose or Suzanne Brockmann.   The suspense was not intense and the romance was unique -- in that Albert took a close look at the true nature of the female psyche when it comes to 'one night stands.'

After her husband, Richard McMahon, has been declared legally dead after driving his car into a fast-running river five years ago, Fiona Kennedy-McMahon is sitting in her bookshop contemplating taking a holiday in the Bahamas because she understands that the scuba diver instructors were easy.   As the rainy day passes and Fiona makes her reservations for her vacation so she can move on with her life, two drop-dead gorgeous men visit Kennedy Antiquarian Books and flirt with her.   So Albert has begun building the suspense by introducing not only the hero to the heroine, but the villain as well.

Albert does a great job of keeping the suspenseful aspect of the story alive when Grif arrives at the bookshop to contract with Fiona to authenticate a fake manuscript by poet and playwright, Christopher "Kit" Marlowe.   Fiona was an expert on Marlowe and was supposed to be the only person who could reveal the coded messages within this manuscript that Richard had created regarding van Lahr's foremost forger and base of operations.   Grif teases Fiona with a short glimpse of the manuscript and then tells her he will return at closing to take her out to dinner.   Albert totally drops the ball with regard to the manuscript.   Instead of letting Fiona again look at the manuscript during their period of hiding, she focused solely on the volatile relationship between Grif and Fiona.

Albert did a great job of when it come to increasing the amount of action and adventure she included in this book, which seems only appropriate since she had phased into a new series featuring a group of mercenaries who are hired to protect stolen art and antiquities -- an aspect of law enforcement that is often overlooked because they must focus their limited resources on murders and other mayhem.   The secretive organization is called Avalon Investigations and the operatives get their orders from Ben Sheridan.

With just a few well-written scenes, in which Albert describes the offices of Sheridan Expeditions (Ben's actual wilderness expedition travel agency) and introduces readers to Ben and his equally fascinating secretary / bodyguard, Ellie.   To say that these two minor, but important secondary characters drew marked and immediate interest is an understatement.   Albert has done a remarkable job of wetting the appetite to inspire a desire to pick up any future books that may reveal more about Ben and the secret organization that he oversees.

Even though Grif was sent by Ben to protect Fiona as they used her as bait to lure the 'impossible to catch' villain from his lair with a fake Marlow manuscript, Hide In Plain Sight, is not so much about catching von Lahr as it is about the redemption of Grif and the re-emergence of Fiona back into life.   [Warning: most readers will not like the following interpretation regarding Fiona's reaction to Grif's revelation that he was not actually a lawyer, but a secret agent.]

Women are a fickle lot -- and Fiona is no exception.   She takes a gorgeous, handsome, charming man she just met back to her home to end her five years of abstinence.   Fiona even tells Grif:

"I want to be honest with you, Griffith.   I'm not looking for love or romance or commitment.   I'm just looking for a night of hot, sweaty, wonderful sex."   (Fiona, page 87)

Then when Fiona learns that's Griffith's entry into her life was false, she hauled off and hit him in the mouth, saying:

"You bastard.   All along you lied to me.   You used me!   (Fiona, page 148)

Fiona was so typically female.   She lied to herself, and was okay with using a man when it was her idea, but when she learned she had never been in control, she flew into a fury.   But, then, again, this also pointed out that Fiona was one of those women who could not do casual sex -- she let her emotions get all tangled up in the actions.

she wasn't the kind of woman who had sex with a total stranger.   (Fiona, page 72)

"How does it feel to use people?   Or do you just not care?   It must be so amusing, watching people make such fools of themselves.   What I might be thinking or feeling never mattered to you.   None of what happened meant anything to you, did it?"   (Fiona, page 171)

This book is peppered with hot, sensual, fiery, scenes in which Albert reveals her talent as a writer who knows how to pen powerful sex scenes.   She knows the words to use that inspire heat, interest and sizzle as readers enter into the world of Grif and Fiona as they each try to prove they are in control of what is happening between them.

Albert displays her skills at creating realistic characters by introducing the confusion and conflict within Fiona as she is forced to deal with them when Grif must take her to a safe house.   She is attracted to Grif.   She is furious with Grif.   She wants to hate him.   She wants to love him.   She wants to leave him.   She wants to stay with him.   But what she finally comes to realize after they spend time confronting one another in the safe house, was that she believed in Grif -- and then tells him so.

"I think you're wrong about people not believing in you." . . .   "I believe in you."   (Fiona, page 231)

"I'm not blind or stupid, Griffith -- though I've been pathologically naïve these last two days.   I don't exactly trust you, but I believe in you.   . . ."   (Fiona, page 232)

"Now all you have to do is believe in yourself.   If you want something more out of life, make it happen."   (Fiona, page 232)

This is where Albert fails to measure up when it comes to character development.   She has created this phenomenally charming, charismatic, super agent.   Yes, readers watch Grif as he begins to take note of his life choices as he spends time with Fiona in the safe house.   He obviously has a strong sense of right and wrong and wants to win (at all costs), but Albert failed to build his history.   Why had he failed to contact any of his family in ten years?   And why did not one of them even care?   There was such potential to expand Grif's character and create such a deep emotional connection that when he had his visit with Ben Sheridan in Seattle, the reader would be grabbing for Kleenex instead of just feeling sad.

"remember rule number one: Get the job done, no matter what.   It's the only rule people like us live by."   (Grif to fellow agent, Perry, page 12)

Sitting in the soft light of this bedroom, in front of her dresser mirror, he had a good look at himself and didn't like what he saw.   (Grif, page 86)

There was something about her that had him wondering what it would be like to have a life like this.   To have a place of his own, a place of peace and serenity, of warmth.   (Grif, page 94)

. . . even if it meant she was a sentimental idiot , she'd sensed the weary loneliness of someone who'd taken a good look at his life, didn't like what he saw, and didn't believe in himself enough to change.   (Fiona, page 296)

Probably the reason it was so easy to identify with Fiona was because she felt so ordinary.   Again, Albert failed to develop the emotional angst that Fiona must have experienced when she dealt with her husband's jealously, betrayal and death that led to a sandal that forced her to leave the world of academia.   In fact, this scandal was mentioned in passing as if it carried no weight in the world of Fiona.   Instead, Fiona just comes across as a quiet, little bookworm who is brave enough to take a handsome stranger home and then haul off and belt him because wasn't her prince charming after all.

Albert gave Rainert von Lahr a point of view voice in this book.   What was particularly surprising about the development of this arch-villain was the layers that Albert began to give to von Lahr.   Rainert had previously been painted with a brush filled with a solid color of cold-bloodedness.   Now, however, Albert begins painting other colors into his personality -- delving into the reasons for his actions and that he didn't so much kill for the joy of killing but because of {1} expediency, {2} the desire to prove his superiority, {3} to ensure his safety, and {4} to promote his lifestyle.

Hide In Plain Sight is an easy, enjoyable, entertaining read.   Albert kept one turning the pages, by providing the necessary facets that make for a great read. {1} Grif, a skilled super agent who was charming, suave, debonair, and was having to come to grips with his life choices. {2} Fiona, the proverbial 'girl next door' who was leaving her cocoon to offer solace and compassion to a man who betrayed her. {3} Bouts of action and adventure that added the much needed excitement into the plot. {4} A degree of suspense regarding Avalon Investigations, it's operatives, it's leader, and it's number one villain. {5} Although there was an emotional connection to Grif and Fiona, the intensity did not reach that special level that Albert usually provides to make her books so memorable. {6} The romance factor was prevalent as Grif and Fiona immediately gave in to their attraction . . . and then fought about the feelings that arose for the remainder of the book.   {7} The sensuality was, typically, hot and spicy. {8} The secondary characters, while minimally developed, added interest and inspired interest in future books.   Because Albert's writing style holds such a strong appeal for me, I am anxious to read the next book in the series.
--Vonda M. Reid (Wednesday, December 12, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.)     [293]   //   Revised: (Sunday, March 31, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.)

Books In The Series: "The Pre-Avalon Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.09-1998Absolute TroubleJulien Langlois; stripperDulcinea "Dulcie" Quinn; former cop
02.10-2002Getting Her ManDr. Jack Austin; archaeology professorDiana Belmaine; Private Investigator
03.09-2003Off LimitsRobert "Bobby" Michael Halloran; detectiveEmma Frey; homicide detective
04.03-2005One Way OutDr. Alex Martinell; paleontologist; professorCassie Parker Ashton; treasure hunter

Books In The Series: "The Avalon Investigations Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.05-2006 Hide In Plain SightGriffith "Grif" Laughton; Avalon OperativeFiona Kennedy; bookstore owner
02.04-2007Tough EnoughWilliam "Will" Tiernay; Avalon OperativeMia Shaeffer Dolan; art restorer
03.03-2010Her Last ChanceVincent DeLuca; FBI Special AgentClaudia Cruz; Avalon Operative
04.hoping. . . Ben Sheridan; Avalon CEO. . .
05.hoping. . . Russ Noble; Sheridan Expeditions. . .

Characters Found In "Hide In Plain Sight"
Character Description Also In
Griffith "Grif" Laughton[Hero] shot in back by 14-y-o in Al-Fajr; nearly died (18) loved Seattle; hated LA (20) drop-dead gorgeous (33) tall; dark hair; friendly, "brainy guy" good looks; round wire glasses; genuine WWII-era flight jacket; broad shoulders; blue eyes (34) friendly wholesome charm (39) rich, chest-dip laugh (45) grandfather's jacket (55) aura of excitement, adventure, mystery and danger (67) amazing, clear, light, direct eyes; scent of leather and spiced cologne; uncanny piece of work (70) dark, finely arched brows (72) from Gary, Indiana (73) faint line of hair on belly (88) whipcord lean build; muscles sharply defined but not overdeveloped (107) scars (119) mercenary (159) with Avalon 15 years; 19-y-o when joined; 34-y-o; joined Army out of high school (180) moved with confidence and strength (181) 1. Hide In Plain Sight
Fiona Kennedy-McMahon[Heroine] cute little redhead with lots of freckles; genius when comes to Marlowe (17) sells antique books out of old Victorian house near USC (18) 36-y-o (24) Irish accent; transplanted Belfast girl (29) no longer used McMahon; no longer in academics (36) thick, dark red hair; pale skin dusted with freckles (51) brainy; respectable; practical; refined (77) trim body (83) small breasts; long hair in French braid (84) fine bones; slender; redhead's pale skin (88) vanilla perfume (94) aura of warmth and softness; full spectrum of red hues in her hair; green eyes (95) met Richard when sophomore in college; married year later; disappeared shortly after 10th anniversary (112) academic career took off (163) everything about her honest and real (226) pretty; smart; warm; funny; tenacity of a pit bull (258) 2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
. . . . . . . . .
Ibrahim al-Shadri[Brief Appearance] [prologue] member of notorious al-Shadri clan (4)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Yousef al-Shadri[Brief Appearance] [prologue] Ibrahim's nephew; member of notorious al-Shadri clan (4)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Cassie [Parker Ashton][Brief Appearance] [Heroine of Pre-Avalon Book 2] blunt; Fiona's friend (42) Wyoming (180) outgoing; brassy; stubborn (220) 2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits (m)
4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
Travis [Ashton][Brief Appearance] Cassie's son; handsome; junior (335) 3. Off Limits (m)
4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
Jack Austin[Brief Appearance] [Hero of Pre-Avalon Book 2] born charmer; Diana's husband (334)2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits (e)
4. One Way Out (m)
1. Hide in Plain Sight (m)
Diana [Belmaine] [Austin][Brief Appearance] [Heroine of Pre-Avalon Book 2] just got married (24) P.I. in New Orleans (179) cool; clever; elegant (220) blond bombshell (337) 2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits (e)
4. One Way Out (m)
1. Hide in Plain Sight (m)
Bouchet[One Appearance] [prologue] Avalon lookout; knifed (14)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Bressler[One Appearance] came to bookstore to get manuscript; short; dark hair; crooked nose (132) 1. Hide In Plain Sight
Diva[Brief Appearances] Avalon agent; tiny brunette (8) had Latino or darker Mediterranean blood; olive tinted skin; angular face; greenish brown eyes; short, feathery hair; scar across her left eyebrow; scar on lip; attractive in a scary way (290) 1. Hide In Plain Sight
Ellie[Brief Appearance] Ben's longtime bodyguard and secretary; young; blond; athletic suburbanite (300)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Faustus[Brief Appearances] Fiona's cat; huge; pure black; male (25) left tom-catting ways behind; snobby; contrary; lazy (26)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Annamari Hakkinen[Brief Appearance] [prologue] von Lahr's lover (2) long legs; big bust; blue eyes; von Lahr's liaison (1)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Bobby Halloran[Brief Appearance] [Hero of Pre-Avalon Book 3] Diana's friend; New Orleans detective; good looking (341)1. Absolute Trouble
2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
1. Hide In Plain Sight
Oliver Hanson[No Appearance] smart opportunist; negotiating with von Lahr (102)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Kemal[No Appearance] Avalon agent in Iraq (19)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Kurt[Brief Appearance] [prologue] local cop (11) bartender; bald head; massive shoulders eliminated his neck; curling handlebar mustache; looked like turn of the century circus strongman (2)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Louisa Lau[No Appearance] an acquaintance of Fiona's (296)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Liebowitz[Brief Appearance] [prologue] Avalon agent; red hair (10)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Lynne[Brief Appearance] Sheridan Expeditions receptionist (314)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Christopher "Kit" Marlowe[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] Fiona an expert on his work; poet; playwright; provocateur; Fiona's first crush (38)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Alex Martinelli[Brief Appearance] [Hero of Pre-Avalon Book 4] Fiona talked about Alex and Cassie (212) Cassie's fiancé; rough around the edges (334)4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight (m)
Richard McMahon[No Appearance] Fiona's husband; legally declared dead; ran his car into fast-running river 5-y-a (24) 'creeping around the dark' type; not dead (50) spineless little bookworm (50) struggling to attain tenure; lackluster research; caught falsifying data and stealing research (163)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Russ Noble[No Appearance] worked for Cassie; for Sheridan Expeditions (322) good looking; dark hair; Native American ancestry (338)4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
2. Tough Enough
3. Her Last Chance
Noonie[Brief Appearances] Avalon rookie; leaving New York to help (52) young; dark hair (141) 1. Hide In Plain Sight
Wyatt [Parker][Brief Appearance] Cassie's brother; rough around the edges (334)4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
Perry[Brief Appearance] [prologue] new Avalon agent (8)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Ramirez[One Appearance] [prologue] Avalon lookout; shot (14)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Rebeka[One Appearance] call girl; black hair; olive skin (79) von Lahr paid for her for the night; impressive breasts; smelled nice; pretty; attentive (80) 1. Hide In Plain Sight
Rico[No Appearance] Avalon agent in Amsterdam (20) 1. Hide In Plain Sight
Ben Sheridan[Secondary Character] Grif's boss (2) gravelly voice; tall; rugged looking; dark hair; disorganized desk (301) tall; rangy; dark hair; shrewd dark eyes; kind of comfortable good looks that wouldn't threaten other men but fascinated women; late 30s, early 40s, etc. (311) unreadable eyes; politely attentive (312) more dangerous than he looked (313)4. One Way Out (m)
1. Hide In Plain Sight
2. Tough Enough
3. Her Last Chance
Balthasar Sherman[Brief Appearance] Patrolman; former marine; deep black skin; shaved head; goatee; build of a professional wrestler (286)1. Hide In Plain Sight
Rainert von Lahr[Major Secondary Character] German (2) one of the most notorious art and antiquities thieves in all of Europe (3) tall; blond; most beautiful man Fiona had ever seen; voice, a smooth rich tone; white-blond; blue-eyed good looks; well-groomed; handsome; radiated sexuality (28) untouchably perfect (34) Aryan handsome (71) master criminal; operating 20 years; ruthless; smart; very dangerous; specializes in antiquities and art thefts (176) vain; megalomaniac; calculating; flair for the theatrical (228) German army trained him as sniper (265) 4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
2. Tough Enough
3. Her Last Chance

Locations, Organizations Found In "Hide In Plain Sight"
Location / Organization Description
al-Shadri clan tribe in the thick of looting and smuggling ancient operations; extremely dangerous (4)
Avalonsmall, private outfit that operates in the black market art trade around the world. We recover stolen and looted art and antiquities (161)
Hamburg, GermanyPrologue location; Grif meeting with two Iraqi men, Annamari; five years before Chapter One
Kennedy Antiquarian BooksFiona's shop (27) description (57)
SeattleGrif in Seattle calling for updates from Ben regarding his assignment to protect Fiona (19)
Sheridan Expeditionsbusy travel agency (299) description (307)
Torrancelocation of an Avalon office (19)
Trixietyrannosaurus rex
Ur-Nammu treasureprincess's headdress, necklace, earrings, bracelet (10)
WyomingGrif meeting Fiona's friends

"Hide In Plain Sight" Quotations
43avoiding the casual "he" or "she" in a conversation wasn't natural at all.   It required considerable effort.   (Fiona)
189People obey the rules only because they're afraid of what will happen if they don't.   (Reinart von Lahr)
214"Which is why people shouldn't have expectations.   That way they'll never be disappointed."   (Grif)
232"Now all you have to do is believe in yourself.   If you want something more out of life, make it happen."   (Fiona)

"Michele Albert -- Hide In Plain Sight" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
---- Michele Albert's WebsiteAuthor (Michele Albert is Michelle Jerott's pseudonym)
---- Michele Albert's FacebookAuthor (Michele Albert is Michelle Jerott's pseudonym)
---- Michele Albert's Wikipediamini biography
. . . . . .. . .. . .
B / warm04-26-2006All About Romance--Sandy Coleman // liked, good take on Albert's skill
3.80 average{10 reviews}Amazonas of: March 30, 2013 // --baltimore0502 = excellent
4.67 average{3 reviews}Barnes & Nobleas of: March 30, 2013
9 / 6 / 902-14-2006Eye on Romance--Tracy (also: Suspense Romance Writers) // okay, buzz words
----Fantastic FictionList of Michelle Jerott's Books
----Fantastic FictionList of Michele Albert's Books
----Fict FactList of Books In "The Avalon Investigations Series"
----Fiction DBList of Michelle Jerott's Books
----Fiction DBList of Michele Albert's Books
3.49 average{10 reviews}Good Readsas of: March 30, 2013 (no impressive review to date)
4.0010-05-2006Joyfully Reviewed--Nanette // a few good details // also on: Amazon
3.63 average{3 reviews}Library Thingas of: March 30, 2013
94--Mrs. Gigglesimpressive review / liked
3.60 average{20 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: March 30, 2013
4.00 05-....-2006RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviews--Jill M. Smith // PR review
2.75 average{4 reviews}Shelfarias of: March 30, 2013
2.0005-30-2006The Romance Reader--Lesley Dunlap // okay review, just didn't like the book
4.1503-30-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Hide In Plain Sight review link to table, just ask

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