by Roslyn Hardy Holcomb, contemporary (2009)
Loose Id, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-947-8
Note: This review has been modified from a previous version because due to me being a fuddy-wuddy, I didn't realize this one has an epilogue that showed Patrick's conversion into Islam. I stopped reading when I reached the last page of the last chapter, mistakenly assuming that the amount of white space on that page meant that I've reached the end of the book. It doesn't change my score of the final book, but any inaccurate impression caused by my initial inaccurate review is deeply regretted.
No, the Pussycat Death Squad is not the feature film featuring the ladies of Pussycat Dolls in skimpy camouflage costumes. It's the name given by some Americans to the Amazonian Guard, a bunch of kick-ass female bodyguards that protect the life of Colonel Murad bin Sulaiman al-Fariq in the North African country of Laritrea. Sgt Lelia Assad would love to show those people who liken her team to a bunch of Bond Girls what she is capable of. Well, she may get her chance when Colonel al-Fariq decides that sending a few of the Guard to train with the US Marines will show those Americans that the Guard are not to be viewed as silly sex slaves with guns or anything that these Americans may believe. Lelia is, of course, part of the program.
Gunnery Sergeant Patrick McBride is at first not willing to waste his time with a bunch of women who seem like Commando Barbies right down to their eye-catching camouflage suits. But soon he will be eating his words, especially when he finds himself impressed by Lelia. The fact that she looks good enough to eat only adds to his admiration of her. Lelia's vow of chastity, taken when she joined the Guard, is the least of their problems, however, when her boss takes a dim view to her relationship with Patrick.
Let's start with the good things first, shall we? Lelia is a genuine kick-ass heroine, which is great, and I like the fact that Patrick admires this aspect of her instead of trying to subjugate that aspect of her personality. These two have some combustible sexual chemistry here. The story is a well-paced read, entertaining and sexy from first page to last.
However, I wish the author hasn't made Lelia Muslim. I'm not sure whether I like how Lelia's vow of celibacy is associated with her Guard duty. Islam does emphasize celibacy before marriage and in some conservative Muslim countries, premarital sex, or more accurately, being caught in such an act is a pretty big no-no. Therefore, I find it odd that Lelia's virginity is tied up to her Guard vow rather than her religion. This won't be so bad if Lelia is portrayed as, say, non-religious. However, Lelia prays regularly, so she doesn't have that excuse. I find the portrayal of Lelia's religious nature to be confusing here as her actions, especially her readiness to move past first base with Patrick only he's hit her right buttons, can contradict what I am told is her nature.
Pussycat Death Squad is an enjoyable read with some ass-kicking and hot sexing. It's just that I wish the heroine's religion hasn't been mentioned here, because it only leads to some head-scratching on my part that distracts me from fully enjoying the story.
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