Finally we get to the last bachelor of Black Ops Inc, Luke "Doc" Colter. After nearly dying while trying to protect Sophie (Wyatt's wife now), he's recovered and on his way back to work with the team. On the train taking him to the nearest city, it's hijacked by a couple of banditos. He's convinced they're after the suspicious looking boy sitting across from him. He decides to step in and help the young stranger. He takes care of the threat and together they jump from the train. Imagine his surprise once the disguise falls and it isn't a young boy standing in front of him, but the source of his many teenage and young adult fantasies – the famous and gorgeous model, Valentina. Coming face-to-face with his teenage crush and protecting her from a bunch of hired mercenaries is the last thing Luke had expected to happen in his life. While on the run from the bad guys and trying to figure out who is behind the attempted abduction, he gets to know the woman beneath the public image. Can he help her see that he's everything she knew she needed but was too afraid to want?
This story is a barrel of laughs. When they first meet, Valentina notices Luke's fedora. His witty mouth and his general description made me think instantly of Indiana Jones. Funny enough, a few lines later, Valentina makes the same observation. As soon as I started thinking about all the Indy-isms, this story started to make me swoon and giggle. The scene at the beginning on the mules was hilarious.
Luke is probably the only BOI who doesn't exactly balk against the feelings he's developed for Valentina. Since most of the trials of her life were fodder for gossip rags, he already knows quite a bit of her problems and how they must have affected her, and still are affecting her, so he takes his cues from her. Valentina, on the other hand, started off as the disillusioned young woman, whose life has spun out of control. The emotional scars of a childhood kidnapping and a failed marriage to a US Senator has left her with major trust issues. Towards the end she finally has a few epiphanies that make her want to grab the reins to her life.
The plot wasn't as good as previous books, but it had a nice balance of humor and suspense to keep things going, and Ms Gerard set the stage for the final book in this series: "Mean" Joe Green discovered something in Marcus Chamberlin's office that had something to do with Bryan Tompkin's death in Sierra Leone (as we know Bryan's death started the first book and his influence carried on throughout the series). Looks like things will be coming full circle in 2012.