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Monday, March 14, 2011

Dark Approach by Karen Wiesner

Dark Approach by Karen Wiesner
Book 12 of the Incognito Series
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (122 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Network operatives and lovers Lucy Carlton and Vic Leventhal have spent years living in shadows, the property of the covert organization they gave their loyalty to in the lofty pursuit of justice for all. Disillusioned, they’re now determined to live their lives on their own terms. When the Network’s arch enemy, a reorganized terrorist group called R.E.D., secretly approach the two about defecting—freedom for information that will disable the Network—the couple must choose between freedom, love and loyalty. In the process, they jeopardize the Network’s anonymity...and its very existence.

The Incognito series ends with a hard hitting, gritty yet cautiously optimistic bent that delivers exactly what readers have come to expect from the talented Ms. Wiesner.

I’ve often wondered how the author was going to pull off the final chapter and what astounding dark secret from the Id would she explore to a reader’s adventurous satisfaction. How could it be as diabolical as some of the exploits the Network has had to deal with in the past? What other dastardly thing had yet to be explored and conquered? I couldn’t wait to find out.

This final story in the Incognito Series, Dark Approach, deals with Victor and Lucy. Lucy ends up being more special than anyone ever expected and it is revealed early on during the course of this tale. Shannon McKee, the head of Oversight who usually sticks her head and hand into the situation with brutal manipulation, is missing from this tale but Angelo, second in command, more than makes up for it when he has to play the most important life and death chess game of his career. In fact, even though Angelo has had his own happily ever after in Dance in the Shadows, in my opinion, he is even more heroic in Dark Approach. The sacrifices he’s had to make over the long course of his time in the Network with an end game that might or might not come to fruition had to have been a severe and burdensome pressure on his heart and mind for that entire duration. In fact this book makes him all the more human because it gives readers an honest and open view of what demons drove Angelo, and it’s a whopper.

I will say that I wasn’t too keen on the initial buildup in the first chapter and a half. I found it a bit slow and tedious and I sort of wanted to shake Lucy a few times and tell her to snap out of her waffling and whiny attitude. But I stuck with it because I knew the caliber of Ms. Wiesner’s writing and figured she was painstakingly setting a reader up for what was about to happen and I should just let her do it. How right I was. Once Vic and Lucy get mixed up with the remnants of the terrorist organization who has finally found the ultimate weapon to take down the Network from the inside, the insipid waffle turned into a waffle iron and a reader gets hit with it right between the eyes. The action, the drama, suspense and the truly morally and ethically offensive plan against the Network is revealed.

As usual, a reader’s emotions are engaged once Vic and Lucy realize just what it was they were seeing inside the terrorist cell. Sure there was horror, but fear, anxiety, anger and hopelessness rear their ugly heads too. Despite it all, the steadfast and burning love that Vic and Lucy have for each other rings true. It’s the internal dialogue that sheds light on it for a reader. With their determination and skills taught to them as operatives, their belief that they could pull it off never ceased – dimmed maybe, but never truly stopped. They really are a credit to the Network and to each other.

The interesting personal dynamics aside, this story does justice to the series. It presented a solid happily ever after for Vic and Lucy, which I enjoyed, and delivered a promise for a hopefully ever after for network operatives in the future. Dark Approach also touched based upon the very real possibility of the moral dilemmas scientists face today. Yes we might have the technology but does that mean they should do a thing just because they can? The book reveals a very plausible reason why there is and should be a line in the sand. Sometimes the ends do not justify the means and the author had Angelo face that very fact. Yes, they can make hard and difficult decisions but some things really are taboo and there’s a darn good reason why that is so. I happen to agree with Angelo and Celine, the doctor whose research it was, and in a roundabout way, the author too. The conflict, plot and delivery were well thought out and executed and the drama once again kept me on the edge of my seat.

Dark Approach is the end of a series that never became complacent, stale or predictable. The only thing I could count on was the hero and heroine would somehow someway, despite and in spite of all the risks and dangers, find the loopholes to love and flourish. This story delivers on that promise as well. The difference this time is that Vic and Lucy weren’t alone in wanting their happily ever after. They had some powerful help and it was bittersweet. Another good thing about this book is that it really can stand alone. I’ve followed this series from book one and found it to be a consistent element – all these books can be read alones because Ms. Wiesner focused on the hero and heroine but always provided just enough background to make it all fit without it ever coming close to an info-dump. Sure, it helped to have read the other books because a reader catches the deeper undercurrents. You know, to find out why it was easy to hate some characters and then be astounded when a reader found they couldn’t dislike them anymore because they got to know them as people and understood what made them tick. The Incognito series was a wild and intense ride all the way through with some powerfully awesome and stellar writing to make it all come together in a memorable fashion. Thank you, Ms. Wiesner, for a truly riveting and entertaining reading experience. It was the best.