Friday, August 30, 2019

Book Review: Mackenzie's Mission (Mackenzie Family #2)

I think I only have two more Linda Howard books unread in the stack I currently own and just a few more to find. I should probably make that list and figure it out soon! Earlier this week I reviewed Mackenzie's Mountain, which was about Wolf but this one is about his son Joe. Joe is all grown up now and thank god because I'm here for it. I actually liked this book even more than the other one just because I really liked Joe and I knew his back story.

Mackenzie's Mission - Linda Howard
Night Wing — the revolutionary test plane with a top secret weapons system — was Colonel Joe "Breed" Mackenzie's number-one priority. And weapons expert Caroline Evans was his number-one distraction. True, the stubborn blonde was giving him the cold shoulder, but Joe hadn't become the best of the best by giving up. Then he discovered someone on the inside was sabotaging Night Wing, and with her late hours and specialized expertise, Caroline seemed the obvious choice. Now Joe had to choose between allegiance to his country and love for his prime suspect...
If you're familiar with Linda Howard books, specifically in this time period (late 80's, early 90's) you know that her go-to trope was domineering/over the top dominant male with an incredibly smart/independent/virgin female. Even still in some of her more recent (mid 2000's) that's something we still see but I can tell she's trying to shy away from it and I'm glad because sometimes that trope makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Of course, plenty of authors use this trope (look at E.L. James with Fifty Shades, she's a millionaire because of it) so I know people like it, but I don't. It's not always one I enjoy.

With that being said, that's the trope used here but I actually really liked this book. Is it cheesy? Of course it is. Could I figure out the who-done-it angle? You bet I did, as soon as the character was introduced, I knew. I saw the entire story set up a million miles away. Did I care at all? NOPE, because that's what I expect out of a Linda Howard book. Knowing that over time her writing would get more sophisticated makes it all the more fun to read these and watch her try to figure out how to do a romance with a small thriller element. For me, that's the best part of reading a favorite author's back catalog, you can see how far they've come and how they're writing style has developed over time, and that's what this book is for me.

In this book we meet the adult version of Joe Mackenzie. In Mackenzie's Mountain we meet him at a hard working, incredibly smart, but also sixteen year old gentleman. He's calm, cool, and collected. As an adult he is still all of those things but he's older and wiser, he's bigger, and he's *ahem* more experienced. As soon as he meets Caroline, who is assisting in the Night Wing project (which is essentially his baby and his entire military career has come to the development of this aircraft and his ability to fly and master it), while she's beautiful, her brains tops her beauty. He sees other men in the workplace circling her and he decides to get the best of both worlds (keep her safe but also spend time with her) he comes up with a plan in which they pretend to be a couple.

(Stop right there, I know you're like, "this would never fly in the #metoo movement!" and you're right, it wouldn't. Everything about this screams "workplace sexual harassment" and I'm with you. When I think about the late 80's/early 90's, I don't think of a workplace that actually gives a damn about any of that so yeah, I could see this happening.)

While the tactic works, it also becomes an excellent opportunity to set Caroline up to look like she's committing treason once some of the key systems fail, someone gets seriously hurt, and the program is almost scraped. In between all of this, Caroline and Joe actually start falling for each other and I'm kind of completely here for Joe. All in.

Overall? I flew through this in a day and I really enjoyed it. The book comes in a 250 pages, it's a light/fun read, and if you like the dominant male genre, also the military romance genre, this might be your jam. Just go into it knowing you'll hit some eye roll moments and just enjoy it for what it is. I'm going to give this a 4.5 start, rounded up to 5 for Goodreads.

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