The Woman Left Behind
by Linda Howard
Book 2 of GO-Team
Jina Modell works in Communications for a paramilitary organization, and she really likes it. She likes the money, she likes the coolness factor—and it was very cool, even for Washington, DC. She liked being able to kick terrorist butts without ever leaving the climate-controlled comfort of the control room.
But when Jina displays a really high aptitude for spatial awareness and action, she’s reassigned to work as an on-site drone operator in the field with one of the GO-teams, an elite paramilitary unit. The only problem is she isn’t particularly athletic, to put it mildly, and in order to be fit for the field, she has to learn how to run and swim for miles, jump out of a plane, shoot a gun... or else be out of a job.
Team leader Levi, call sign Ace, doesn’t have much confidence in Jina--who he dubbed Babe as soon as he heard her raspy, sexy voice--making it through the rigors of training. The last thing he needs is some tech geek holding them back from completing a dangerous, covert operation. In the following months, however, no one is more surprised than he when Babe, who hates to sweat, begins to thrive in her new environment, displaying a grit and courage that wins her the admiration of her hardened, battle-worn teammates. What’s even more surprising is that the usually very disciplined GO-team leader can’t stop thinking about kissing her smart, stubborn mouth…or the building chemistry and tension between them.
Meanwhile, a powerful Congresswoman is working behind the scenes to destroy the GO-teams, and a trap is set to ambush Levi’s squad in Syria. While the rest of the operatives set off on their mission, Jina remains at the base to control the surveillance drone, when the base is suddenly attacked with explosives. Thought dead by her comrades, Jina escapes to the desert where, brutally tested beyond measure, she has to figure out how to stay undetected by the enemy and make it to her crew in time before they’re exfiltrated out of the country.
But Levi never leaves a soldier behind, especially the brave woman he’s fallen for. He’s bringing back the woman they left behind, dead or alive.
The truth is that this book probably doesn't deserve more than 3 Stars. It isn't the best outlined, and would even come across as fairly boring to anyone looking for an action-packed story where our heroine gets left behind, and needs to fend for herself until her team comes back for her. But the summary blurb is a little bit misleading, frankly, and the action-packed part of the book really doesn't take place until well into the last half of the book.
The Woman Left Behind had tons of potential to be a great book, but it fell short of that by maybe spending too much time on Jina's day-to-day training life with the GO-Team she's been re-assigned to work with. This part of the book, in itself, is already a little unbelievable, and requires a very high willingness to suspend disbelief.
By narrative, Jina ends up spending six months on physical training and drone training. In the book, there are times where you want to get on with the story. On the other hand, I can't find myself just blowing off that first half of the book she spends challenging herself and pushing herself to physical limits she never knew she had. And I honestly loved the camaraderie built between her and a team of macho super paramilitary men who didn't think she was going to make it in the first place.
Color me contradictory--those six months she spends getting to know her knew teammates was truly loads of fun. I love a character driven story, and I love great character interaction, and this book certainly had that in spades. To others, it might come off dragged out and too banal for a romantic suspense, or military romance thriller. And once again, the entire ordeal requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief anyway--because who in their right mind actually thinks its a great idea to take a bunch of chair-bound tech geeks and force them through high impact military precision training so that they can join these elite GO-Teams in dangerous operations?
I have a hard time believing that the higher ups couldn't have just transferred in some military personnel, already trained for battle, who also have great tech skills.
But moving along, because something about that entire training sequence sort of appealed to me anyway.
Yeah, I'm kind of wishy-washy in my opinions.
And speaking of the romance, for romance lovers, this book might also kind of fall to the wayside.
While we DO have a lovely couple to focus on, we unfortunately don't get to see much of the chemistry, or the romantic bond building between Jina and Levi. And also, Levi sort of runs hot and cold, which helps him get categorized squarely on my asshole list. I don't care that he also had some very good personality traits, he crossed a couple lines he shouldn't have crossed and that makes him an asshole. The way that the romance was resolved made me a bit pissy.
On the other hand, I like how Jina's own self-revelation journey/conflict was concluded. Somehow, it seems appropriate for her.
So without a whole lot of suspense and without a whole lot of romance, and without even a focal conflict, this book, instead, ends up becoming a sort of self-journey book for Jina, as an individual. And it's a fairly thought-provoking journey that I thoroughly enjoyed.
And we'll just kindly side-step that strange, background villain subplot that lurked along the entire book, and took up precious book space every few chapters.