Sharpshooter - Leslie Murray This book is very enjoyable...if you love romances. Despite the seriousness of the blurb, a good deal of the book is spent on developing the romance. But that doesn't mean action/adventure fans are terribly shortchanged, because the book is twice as long as the usual lesfic, making for enough detail, plot and action to satisfy our craving for suspense and thrills.

Seven is a scout sniper. Her weapon of choice is a big, badass sniper rifle. Her targets are whoever the government deems kill-worthy. On a mission that should have been almost routine, everything goes FUBAR. Shot and bleeding out, she has resigned herself to death. But a nosy and stubborn doctor would have none of it...

The book starts out in the past with an excellent prologue. When we catch up with our sniper heroine Seven in the present, we're hit with a longish info dump that, while efficient in bringing us up to speed, is a little too heavy handed on the narration and had just a tad too much hero-worship (e.g. Rambo Seven). Once you get past that little hill, the action and suspense picks up quickly, and doesn't stop until it gets effectively derailed by would you believe, the romance. :) I would normally find the interruption annoying, but, the slow-burn romance is actually very well done. The leads have got great chemistry, as evidenced by their delightful teasing banter. Their opposite personalities play off each other wonderfully--dark and brooding assassin vs bubbly, feisty doc--almost the same dynamic as Xena/Gabrielle (same hair too. Is this an ex-fanfic or uber?). This is all well and good, except that an entire village of heavily armed goons, thugs and one seriously crazy killer are after them. This is where the plot starts to veer into silly-Hollywood-movie territory. What happens next requires a major suspension of disbelief. Multiple ones even. Instead of getting the hell out of there, Seven decides to find out if her partners are really dead by going into the lion's den. Even though she had already seen and/or inferred their deaths from the phone call. They could have been buried anywhere or nowhere. Granted she obviously still harbored a secret desire to finish her mission and avenge her partners' deaths, but she has a helpless civilian tagging along with her. It was just incredibly stupid and recklessly negligent to endanger her by leaving her all by herself in enemy territory. And Crazy Eyes Maria is such a classic villain trope. She had a million and one chances to deal with either lady but, of course, she had to wait until the very last minute, lol. Rants aside, I must admit it does make for a very action-packed second act, but this book was doing so well up to this point, I was kinda hoping it would hold up all the way. Also, the mood changes so drastically when the book shifts to romance mode that when I remember the dire straits the ladies are in, I wanted to reach into the book and slap them into reality. :)

Anyway, when I mentioned slow-burn romance, I mean really slowwwwwww-burn. Both ladies spend many, many pages vacillating, second-guessing, hand-wringing--the uncertainty and nervousness is endearing, up to a point. But it gets a bit exasperating after the umpteenth chapter, and also considering these two gals aren't exactly wallflowers when it comes to going for what they want in life. But in love, they are apparently clueless. :) Still, with a little patience, lesfic romance lovers will thoroughly enjoy these moments and all the sexiness that comes after. ;)

This is not to say the last third of the book isn't exciting. Romance while on the hunt. For me, its a more well-balanced execution than the earlier romance-on-the-run. No more over-the-top silliness, though there are some detours that probably wouldn't have survived word for word an editor's sword. The plotting is tense but realistic. Loose ends are tied up, but not all in pretty little bows, more like, gnarly knots. And everything's topped off with a fancy flourish--some readers may cringe--but romantics will love it.

To sum it up, the book's got great characterizations, sparkling dialogue, exciting if not very realistic plot. There's lots of humor, lots of loving...and lots of killing too. The pacing could be better. A little more stringent editing on the romantic side as well. But I had great fun! And thanks for not splitting the book in two.

4.75 stars

P.S. The helicopter scene had me in stitches. The seriousness/absurdity of it was priceless. I wanted to kill Jenny and hug her at the same time. Best. Scene. Ever.!!