The Bottom Line: A steamy spy thriller that crackles with international intrigue, lesbian romance and horny humor. Highly entertaining. Recommended for spy thriller fans looking for some spice, and for avid lesfic fans looking for high-stakes intrigue.
In the 7th installment in Alexi Venice’s San Francisco Mystery Series, bioterrorists have attacked a local water treatment facility. Early evidence points to Russia, who may be retaliating against the U.S. for assisting Ukraine in the war effort. But CIA agent Roxy MacNeil suspects there may be more to the story. This isn’t just a local threat, and if she can’t find an antidote quickly, global water supplies may be at risk.
Roxy recruits series heroine and ex-lover Amanda Hawthorne for the mission. While never one to run from a fire, Amanda also has personal reasons to welcome the assignment. For one thing, she’s just been fired. Adding to her troubles, longtime soulmate Dr. Jen Dawson has just cheated on her (a revenge romp for Amanda’s fling with Roxy). Amanda’s still recovering from a fight with the “vicious dominatrix” who took Jen to bed.
Joining the mission are Jen’s ex-fiance and baby daddy, detective Tommy Vietti. That leaves Jen to work at the hospital, where scores of victims are arriving – including someone she knows intimately. All the while, Jen longs to reclaim the life she and Amanda shared.
The globetrotting mission – which takes the trio from California to multiple locations in Scotland (where series fans will be delighted with fresh insight into Amanda’s ancestry) – is engaging enough on its own. But the narrative hook is a seemingly endless series of sexual temptations. Jen knows her ex all too well, fearing that by letting her go off with Roxy, she’s given Amanda “a license to philander.” And let’s not forget handsome Tommy, who was once poised to father another child with Amanda (with Jen’s blessing, no less).
While Venice juggles a large cast, the book’s star remains Amanda. Despite enduring heartbreak, she’s also a ton of fun – empowered with crackling, make-you-blush dialogue that will trigger more than a few laugh-out-loud moments (example: in response to Tommy’s clueless pronunciation of a bridge, “Must you pronounce it like an erect penis?”). In all, the book’s witty banter, timely terror plot and a steamy romance make for a highly entertaining read. Lady Hawthorne bodes well for the future of the series.