Fatal Pursuit (The Aegis Series) by Elisabeth Naughton“I want to say a little something that’s long overdue, the disrespect to women has got to be through. To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends, I wanna offer my love and respect till the end.” – Adam Yauch

That. Is. IT. You work your fingers to the bone, set everything up just so, design and plan and make sure that everyone is as safe as can possibly be expected given the fact that the people you work with are security experts with darn dangerous jobs, complete with guns and knives and things that go boom. Oh, it isn’t bad enough that your boss, a domineering jerk with a superiority complex and an ego so overinflated he had to buy a whole other building to store it in, won’t let you go out on field work, because apparently since your reproductive organs are on the inside and not the outside, you aren’t good enough – even though your father spent every hour or your life from the time you were big enough to haul a rucksack and pull a trigger teaching you to be good at field work (although, once you got old enough to actually DO said field work, see above…) NOW the unmitigated JERK changes the whole game on you DURING an op – and leaves you sitting there with your thumbs up your bum and feces on your face while he waltzes in and does what he likes. OH! And yes, apparently everyone else knew he changed up everything – and didn’t even tell her… Well, yep. That. Is. IT.

After three and a half years of working to keep Jake Ryder’s teams safe in the field, of being patient and banging her head against the wall, all the pent up frustration of being shoved to the back of the room, disrespected, ignored, and refraining from pointing out Jake’s idiocy, biting her tongue to keep the peace, well. Anything can happen in a split second in the field – lives depended on being able to be fast on her feet as the Ops Manager, on being on site to handle any of a million complications that can cost lives – but Ryder’s determined that “her place was anywhere besides in the field”. Gender bias, anyone? But this is the very last straw on a very large pile of straw that caused the whole thing to fall down. Marley is out of there – maybe he expected her to do what he wanted, when he wanted, no questions asked. And yeah, maybe she had put up with it for long enough that she had nobody to blame but herself. But this sort of disrespect? Holding her back. Treating her like she is expendable, a mindless tool, after all she has done to keep them safe? Just down right not trusting her? This is finally IT.

“You know what, Jake? You want to do things on your own? Go ahead and do them. Be my guest and do them all. I’m done with this.”

And just as she is walking out the door, who should ring her up but her ex-boyfriend. Her dead ex-boyfriend. Well, everyone thought he was dead, killed on an op gone bad in South America. What perfect timing. In a cold fury, Marley borrows Jake’s jet and pilot and soon finds herself in the jungles of Columbia on a rescue mission. Gray McKnight was alive – and her own father had lied to her about his death – had left Gray behind.

How much more betrayal can a woman take?

Let’s call a spade a spade. Jake Ryder is one of the more obnoxious jerks in the annals of obnoxious jerkhood. Spoiled rotten, self-centered and totally clueless. He works Marley like a slave, gives her no respect, no positive input, basically blows her off and just expects her to be there, like a good little lap dog, when he needs her. And then, when she finally is “done with this” . . . He is shocked?!?!? Where is his good little lap dog, fetching his slippers and pipe and waiting for him to kick her across the room when she is done??

Garg. I wanted to punch them both in the face – Jake for being Jake, and Marley for putting up with it! Because, you know, she isn’t really done, she plans to come back to heel as soon as her rescue is done. It’s not like she couldn’t find a better position, with a boatload more respect, somewhere away from Jake and her dad, someplace where she is appreciated for her excellence at what she does. Nah, she is sure she will come back and, yep, things won’t change, she is just taking a little vacation. In Columbia. In the Jungle. Amongst the drug runners and cartel members and armed psychos. Have I mentioned the armed psychos? Oh, and let’s not forget Grey. There is something odd there – but that is to be seen, because Marley can’t leave him down there, not like her father did.

And then, here comes SuperJake. (Insert 1970’s Superman theme music here.)

Convinced Marley is just “playing a little game” (how demeaning is That, I ask you?) he blows into Puerto Asis, Columbia, all filled with sanctimony and enough pomposity I photowanted to kick his ya-ya’s up between his eyeballs . . . And oh, Doy,One thing registered. That she was still mad. But he couldn’t tell if it was because he’d changed that op, or if there was more going on.” Ya THINK?? Sigh. And, OMG!! When he finally find her in Pureto Asis – GASP – she is With. A. Man!! Well, he certainly didn’t want her for a girlfriend – “He’d sure as hell never pick Marley”.

So, why’s he got his panties in a twist?

Of course, unable to keep his nose out of things that are definitely NOT his business, Old Jakey has to get all up in her business, and she has to drag his incompetent backside through the jungle on her quest to rescue McKnight. And he really is the most incompetent supposed Special Forces dude I have ever come across in a long history of loving suspense and thrillers. Marley actually has to elbow him in his side to get him to shut up when they are within feet of paramilitary soldiers armed with automatic weapons who are determined to track them down and kill them. Really? His lack of jungle skills, fear of creepy crawlies and general incompetence had me rolling my eyes nearly out of my head.

The shame is, the story could have been a lot better. The concept was good, even though there were many times when I found myself screaming at the characters. “Even after everything they’d already been through on this trip, he still thought she couldn’t hold her own.” She showed him up, time and again, in jungle survival, in pulling his ignorant backside out of the fire more times than I cared to count, and he still disses her. The thing is, it really is her own fault. . . . would she forever be stuck in this role-standing on the fringes, waiting for someone to view her as capable, waiting for him to see the real her?” Well, sister, you let everyone push you around long enough without standing up for yourself, why should you be so surprised when they just keep doing it? Jake spends all his time calling other people dumb, idiots, etc… but his actions pretty much proved that posts have a bit more savvy than he does, and yet she still allows herself to be treated badly.

There were many other things that irritated me about the book, most especially the What City Has the Most Spoiled Children?idiocy that occurred after they return to the States. There is the completely obnoxious, “I don’t want her, but you can’t have her, and by the way, I am going to boink her against a wall during your engagement party – you know, the one where you are celebrating your engagement to her – and she is going to let me” thing going on that drove me to drink.

Oy. I put this review off for three days, thinking I would calm down and write a ‘fair and balanced’ review. Nah. There were some spots that were well done, some spots that weren’t too irritating, and a lot of things that just made me yell and throw things and wind up with a killer migraine.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. Definitely a disappointment to me, though ooey-gooey, starry-eyed romantics will probably find it to be just dandy.disappointed