Fiction: “Desire Never Dies” by Jenna Petersen

Hey, check it out! I finished a book today and I’m writing the post today! IT’S A MIRACLE.

So this is that book I started reading, then realized I needed to read the first one first, only to discover it wasn’t an homage to Archer, which made me sad. So.

This picks up about a year after the last one ended, and this title focuses on Anastasia Wittig, the … hm. I don’t have the requisite Charlie’s Angels reference to make, because I totally never watched that show, and I’m not sure which of those women was the quiet, intellectual type. Well, totally mixing my metaphors here, but Anastasia is the ‘Q’ branch of this little trio of spies. She spends her days in the basement building things and decoding other things, and pretty much being Tony Stark but without the Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist stuff. Or the arc reactor. Or the snark. Hm… maybe that was another failed metaphor.

The plot begins with Anastasia and Meredith’s cohort, Emily, getting shot in the line of duty. But don’t worry — she’s fine. (She’s the star of the third book, obviously.) Emily was investigating attacks of spies with th liaison from the War Department, Lucas Tyler. With Emily incapacitated and Meredith unavailable, it falls to Anastasia to help Lucas with his investigation.

Only Anastasia doesn’t want to work in the field – she wants to stay at home in her lab, working on … oo! I know — Anastasia’s not Tony Stark, she’s Bruce Banner! Only with even less emotion, because when she gets mad, she … well, she gets snarky like Tony, but still … no. Y’know, this Avengers thing just isn’t working. (Can you tell that all I want is to buy The Avengers on Tuesday? AND I’M OFF ON TUESDAY. SYNERGY! SUCCESS!)

ANYWAY. Can you see where this is going? Ana doesn’t want to work with Tyler because she doesn’t believe in her abilities. Tyler doesn’t want to work with Anastasia because he doesn’t want to carry her. And then he sees her passion for her friends underneath her mousy exterior, at which point he falls in love with her. But she’s a widow and still loves her dead husband, which is a whole ‘nother layer that Tyler tries to break through, until eventually Ana falls in love with Tyler, and —

And here’s my problem with this book, versus the first book in the series. In the first book, it was Meredith and Tristan Archer falling in love around the plot. Meredith was always actively investigating him, he was always trying to do what he needed to do … but in this title? The plot became secondary to the romance. And look, I admit that I read romances — some of which literally do not have a plot, and yes, unlike Joe Biden, I am using that correctly — but when I read a romance that purports to have a plot and then doesn’t deliver? I’m going to get pissed off. And when I get pissed off, it’s going to take me forever to read that book. And according to my Goodreads page, I started reading this back in early July.

Okay, what else? I laughed a couple of times at this, didn’t I? … Hm … there were a total of three dogears I’d made while reading this, and reviewing them, I have no idea why I marked two of those three pages.

The third one, though — oh, so the whole plot thing. You’re not going to be pissed if I reveal the stupid thing, right? No one’s going to yell SPOILER ALERT? Okay, good. Anyway. It turns out it was Tyler’s best friend, Henry, who was orchestrating the attacks on the spies, because he was getting paid to do it and he was greedy. Throughout the book, he’s made it look like he was crippled in one of the attacks, to throw the scent off of him. Anyway, he lures Anastasia to an abandoned warehouse and then stands up. And when she exclaims, “Henry! You can walk!,” I shouted, “Uh, duh and/or hello!”

(I may have also, the entire time I was reading this, inserted Ray Gillette for Henry. If Tyler had had to pick him up and carry him somewhere, you know I would have been snickering “Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.” Also, Ray is one of the best on Archer.)

So there was that. At first, I was inclined to read the entire series. But after this disappointed me so thoroughly, I honestly think I’m going to turn away from romances for a while and get back to things that never disappoint: violence, murder, and mayhem.

Although I may also be picking up the next Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter book. But at least when those are a funny disappointment.

Grade for Desire Never Dies: No stars.

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