Magnus
by Jambrea Jo Jones, contemporary (2009)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-627-2


I am not familiar with Marine terminology, so pardon my ignorance, but is there any position or rank within the Marines called "solider"? My initial thought is that the author had typed "soldier" wrongly several times (twice on the first page!) and somehow these mistakes had been overlooked during the editing process. I've searched my dictionary as well as scanned the search results on Google for "solider", but I've found nothing related to the Marines.

I don't envy our heroine Emily Patterson's situation. An officer with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service or NCIS, she is currently working undercover as a new recruit in the Marines, and worse, she's supposed to screw up in order to attract the attention of possible men in this particular squad which may be associated with a sex slavery ring. I'm still not sure how Emily is supposed to get to the bottom of this case by pretending to be a screw-up, especially as those villains are kidnapping innocent civilians, not incompetent female Marines. Still, she does attract the attention of Colonel Joe "Magnus" Rivers, the leader of the team. But can she trust him long enough to do a thorough body check of that man?

Okay, Emily is really bad at her undercover job - she knows it, the author knows it, and Ms Jones knows that I know it too, heh - and I still have no clue why Emily is posing to be an incompetent nincompoop, but oh my, Magnus is so entertaining that it easily falls under my personal definition of guilty pleasure. Magnus is such a sexy figure, so macho and virile without being an obnoxious jerk in the process, and Emily, when the author is not deliberately making her do silly things, has some potent combustible chemistry with him. To give Emily plenty of credit, she is not distressed by the challenges she faces in Magnus's team or in her mission - she's a tough girl, she knows what she has signed up for. I like that. The villain is too over the top to be taken seriously, but oh my, the build up and the denouement of the plot are all pretty gripping.

I also love how the author doesn't shy away from the gritty aspects of her story. Emily gets pretty roughed up here - as she should be at the hands of a psychopath - but that's part of the job that she signed up for. The language of the men in uniform here is so crude and laden with the F-word that they actually do come off like realistic men in the military, heh. And yes, Emily's language isn't genteel or sweet either. She can toss the F-bomb like a professional too.

The plotting could be better and there is always the mystery of the solider, but all things considered, this book is just too much fun for me to stay grouchy at for long. If Ms Jones can tighten up the plot in her next book while retaining the strengths that make Magnus such a fun read, I think we will be golden.

Rating: 86


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