Brant Jacobs is determined not to screw up his first mission as a Knight of Ambra. Sneak in, retrieve the stolen artifact and disappear. Easy…right up until a woman in yoga pants stumbles through the wrong door at the wrong friggin’ time. She’s too cute and too innocent to be left on her own, but bringing her along might put them in the greatest danger of all.
Michaela Alberto only took the stupid delivery job out of necessity. How the crap she wound up here – between the barrel of a mobster’s gun and some super secret government agent – is beyond unfair. Now they’re on the run and Brant promises her safety, but what happens to all that when he has her life…and her heart…in his hands?
I don’t even remember how I stumbled across this book as the author is new to me, but I am always looking for adventure romances so I decided to give it a shot. It wasn’t a great book, but I thought it had some potential, and it interested me enough to keep me reading to the end.
Brant Jacobs is a new member of a secret organization called the Knights of Ambra. The Knights rescue famous historical artifacts in order to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. His very first mission is supposed to be easy–buy the sword of Hannibal from a collector trying to sell it on the black market. However, when he arrives he walks into a bad situation, with a room full of guys with guns, one of whom is about to kill Michaela Alberto. Michaela has a crappy life. She has no family and seemingly no friends. Her job as a bike delivery person for a laundry service is barely keeping a roof over her head, let alone helping her pay off her debts. When she inadvertently gets sucked into this confrontation, Brant can’t let her get shot so he ends up taking her with him to go after the sword. The two have to evade mobsters and drug dealers, keep Brant’s mysterious boss off their backs, and rescue the sword.
I love the set up for this series. I adore stories about secret organizations tasked with protecting the world’s treasures (e.g., TBS’s The Librarians show, Zoe Archer’s Blades of the Rose series, etc). So I was 100% ready to love this book. Unfortunately, the world building is frustratingly light. There’s nothing but the most cursory explanation given for the Knights and what they do. Where did they come from exactly? Who runs/funds them? Why do they feel the need to protect all these treasures (and why are they worth killing to obtain)? What do they do with the treasures once they have them? I desperately wanted to hear answers to these questions and more, but so little information is given I was left without even a fuzzy understanding of the Knights other than they collect these artifacts for…something good? HUGE missed opportunity here!
The book is also pretty sketchy on Brant and Michaela’s backgrounds. There’s a little discussion of life history, but it’s brief and not particularly logical. It’s not clear why Michaela’s hauling around people’s dirty underwear for a living (or how what is presumably a rock-bottom paying job could even begin to pay for her apartment) or exactly how she ended up in such a woeful financial situation. It’s not that it’s totally unbelievable, but the book just doesn’t do much to connect any dots. We know Brant has been training to be a Knight for quite some time and wants to succeed, but we don’t really know why. These characters just drop from the sky as they are, and little consideration is given to what came before.
There’s a lot of action, but when I thought back over the book I realized there’s no complex plot. It’s basically just “chase after the sword.” Brant and Michaela have to go to Honduras in pursuit, where they also tick off some kind of drug runner. Who exactly has the sword, why they want it, or how that party relates to the drug runner is never explained. Brant has a seemingly inexhaustible (and, of course, unexplained) supply of cover stories and identities. He knows how to hotwire cars, create explosives from simple chemicals, survive in the jungle, etc. He’s very MacGyverish, which isn’t necessarily a problem but does get a little silly sometimes.
It’s not all bad, though. The relationship between Brant and Michaela kept me interested. Michaela is a blunt, straightforward person, and she’s not afraid to share her feelings with Brant. Some of the dialogue is a little contrived, but for the most part it’s funny and snappy. I like how Brant can’t help but take care of Michaela, and I enjoyed their growing attraction. I also enjoyed some of the adventure aspects, like their trek into the jungle or the way they smuggle Michaela to Honduras. It’s not realistic, but it is fun.
Maybe I’m just being optimistic because I am such a sucker for the premise and romantic adventure, but I’ll probably give the series another shot in the future. It has so much potential! I just hope we can get a little more world and character building next time.
Grade: 2.75 out of 5