AUTHOR: Amanda Young
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 61k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotic romance
It’s been six years since the love of Sara McCoy’s life was declared missing in action. Ready to move on, she’s finally accepted the marriage proposal of Tristan’s best friend. She needs to forget the past. She needs a father figure for Tristan’s son. She needs…to stop seeing Tristan everywhere she turns.
Tristan McKade “died” while on duty. He was given a second chance at life with the help of science, and ends up on a special ops team that works to battle supernatural crime. There’s only one catch. Nobody can know he’s alive. That’s not a problem until a serial killer they suspect is a vampire shows up in his hometown. All of a sudden, he’s face to face with Sara again, and like it always does, the truth comes out…
The first of a new series for Amanda Young, Missing in Action has a lot of different elements that usually intrigue me – a touch of paranormal, heavy action, a hero willing to have sex with both men and women. I had high hopes throughout the first chapter. Unfortunately, those didn’t last very long.
Early in the story, we’re introduced to Mark, Sara’s fiancé. Mark is gorgeous, stable, adores Sara, and most importantly, wants to be a father to Sam, hers and Tristan’s son. We already know from Sara’s perspective that she’s settling for Mark, that she loves him but she’s not in love with him, that even sexually she’s not completely satisfied. During one of their first scenes together, Mark brings up how Sam asked if he was going to be his dad after he and Sara got married, and Sara goes ballistic. We already know she’s mourning Tristan, but sweet Jesus, it’s been six years. Next to calm and reasonable Mark who is most definitely not the wrong one here, she looks crazy for going off on him. Sadly, that single scene started a downward spiral for any sympathy I had for her.
I lost any sense at all by the time Sara has finally forgiven Tristan. She spent a good portion of the middle angry with him, hurt when she found out he was having sex with his male partner, Shame. She was friendly with Shame prior to that, yes, but there was a definite animosity about that entire aspect of Shame’s relationship with Tristan. Yet, as soon as Sara and Tristan were okay again, all of a sudden she wants to have a threesome. She wants to watch Tristan and Shame have sex because it’s the most exciting thing she can imagine at the moment. Um…no. I don’t buy it. Maybe if she’d said, “I need to watch you two together to guarantee that it was just to relieve an itch for you like you said it was and not anything else,” I would have bought it. But she didn’t. In fact, to add to that, Tristan and Shame are way more lovey-dovey toward each other in the act than either man has displayed or admitted to previously. It makes that entire section of sex – multiple chapters – tedious instead of hot, because I absolutely can’t buy the character motivations.
Tristan’s character arc makes far more sense than Sara’s, but with Sara putting him up on a pedestal for so long, I found it very difficult to really empathize with him. My dislike for her colored my impression of her opinions, which in turn tainted how well I could fall for Tristan. Without really caring about either of the two leads, it then gets very difficult to care too much about the rest of the story.
For the most part, the prose is very readable, and the flow of action smooth. When it deviates from the plot, however, I had a few problems. There is an odd mix of clinical terminology with harsher slang in the sex scenes. For example, in one scene, “rectum” gets used in the same sentence as “cunt.” For myself, I find it very difficult to get into the flow of a scene when this happens. Clinical terminology sets one kind of mood, while slang elicits a completely different reaction. To combine them mixes signals for me, so by halfway through, I was tempted to just skip over the sex scenes altogether.
In the end, I walk away more annoyed than anything else. Without someone to care about, there was no reason for me to care about the outcome. Honestly, the person I liked the most through the whole story was poor Mark, and he got written out halfway through. I kept waiting for him to come back. Maybe I would have had somebody to root for in the end then.
7/10 – While relatively clean prose, the odd juxtaposition of clinical terminology with slang in the numerous sex scenes was jarring for me.
6/10 – More interesting than his female counterpart with a smoother character arc, but I still found it difficult to care too much about him when I’ve got the specter of hero worship coming from a heroine I can’t stand.
3/10 – Inconsistent and seemingly unnecessarily bitchy, I really didn’t like her.
5/10 – The prose outside of sex scenes and a plot that mostly kept moving forward was enough to keep me reading, though there were sections that I had to grit my teeth to get through.
7/10 – There are some interesting elements here, but the awkward presentation makes some of them seem convenient rather than realistic.