The first scene starts in Key West, and former FBI-agent Ryan McBride rolls out of bed around noon after drinking all night Ė on a Wednesday night. If this were a mystery novel, he would be crawling through his apartment with vomit-tinged breath and alcohol sweating out of his pores. But I have to love the romance novel genre. Here, he lights up a Marlboro, leans on the door jamb of his apartment, and runs a smoldering gaze over the gorgeous young woman who has arrived with his call to adventure, FBI agent Vivian Grace.
Shirtless, he has electric blue eyes, sleep-tousled brown hair streaked gold by the sun, and rugged beard stubble. He's tall and lean and rangy. On page 11, Grace sees him as follows: "He seemed taller than the six one his personnel file had listed. Definitely leaner than the one ninety he'd weighed according to those stats." It says a lot about Vivian that she'd read Ryan's file before meeting him.
She is in her early twenties, curvy and voluptuous, and has wide brown eyes and dark hair swept in a French twist. On page 3, Ryan notices her most sexy feature: "Nice lips. Voluptuous, pillowy. Made him think of hot, raunchy sex." I love that word pillowy.
As soon as Ryan gets rid of the redhead with the French manicure tangled in his sheet from the night before, Vivian gets down to business: the FBI, which canned Ryan three years ago, needs his expertise on a child-kidnapping case. To say that Ryan is bitter about being fired would be a huge understatement. An obsessive maverick who defies authority, he had to take the fall for his incompetent supervisor whose bad decisions resulted in a child's death. But how can he turn down a new child in danger?
Ryan and Vivian travel to the scene of the crime: Birmingham, Alabama. They meet the agent-in-charge, Randall Worth. On page 24 we learn that Worth has a small stature and a receding hairline. Uh, oh. That can't be good. Yes, Worth is one of those by-the-book types whom Ryan canít stand. Worth doesnít want Ryan on the case, but has no choice. The child-abduction, which is ingeniously carried out, is just the beginning. The villain is a crazy genius who plans to put several people's lives in danger. Each abduction will be a puzzle that Ryan must solve.
This sets into motion a top-notch suspense plot that easily rivals most mysteries and thrillers I've read. Each puzzle is a race against time for Ryan and Vivian who is the only FBI agent he trusts enough to work with. One thing especially that had me turning pages was my curiosity about the villain: what makes him tick? Even when we get full disclosure on his motives near the end, the suspense actually increases due to the return of a traumatic element from Vivian's past.
My one problem with Nameless is Ryanís attitude toward Vivian early in the book as he constantly badgers her with sexual innuendo. He's not doing it in the devil-may-care manner of hopeful males everywhere. It's with hostility and intent to intimidate. His thoughts reveal this, and Vivian's thoughts accurately interpret his actions. He seems motivated by resentment against the FBI as well as deep insecurity that makes him keep people at armís length. But, really, what kind of guy sexually harasses an entry-level female agent, especially once he has figured out that she has sexual trauma in her past? I liked Vivian for her courage and resourcefulness, but wanted to tell Ryan, ďDude, I don't care how good-looking you are. You stop picking on her!" Eventually, he does evolve out of this behavioral pattern and become more like a real hero.
Both Vivian and Ryan get to know and appreciate each other. They even consummate their lust in an unusual location, which shows how animal attraction can overcome even the ickiest settings! Ryan becomes more compassionate and less insecure as Vivian learns to believe in herself. For them having been together only a handful of days, this is well-done character development in a novel that will keep you turning the pages.
Type of Romance: Male-Female Romance
Author: Debra Webb
Publisher: St. Martinís Paperbacks
Subgenre: Romantic suspense
Setting: southern USA
Sex scenes: medium explicit
Viewpoint: two close third-person viewpoints alternating by chapter
Note: I purchased this book with personal funds. I received no compensation for this review from the author or publisher. Look on Amazon.com for Nameless