Thursday, November 20, 2014

Case Study No. 1687: Maggie Kincaid

Vipers Kiss Book Trailer
Viper's Kiss is the romantic suspense debut novel of Shannon Curtis.
Maggie Kincaid is a librarian yearning for adventure - and she finds it when she's mistaken for an international terrorist spy, and arrested for espionage!
Buy from Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all good Ebook retailers!
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Viper's Kiss
Shannon Curtis

A dedicated librarian secretly yearning for a more exciting life

Gets more than she bargained for when she's arrested for espionage

Escaping from the law, and those who will kill for what she can't give them

She runs into Luke Fletcher - the man sent to apprehend her.

This woman is not what he expected.

As bullets fly
Things start to heat up ...
In more ways than one

Can a cynical security agent
And a librarian
Catch the real Viper before it's too late?

Viper's Kiss
Available now
Carina Press
www dot carinapress dot com

www dot shannoncurtis dot com

Produced by
Info Block
www dot infoblock dot com dot au

Images sourced from:

Cupid's Revenge,
by Kevin McLeod
(incompetech dot com)



Viper's Kiss (McCormack Security Agency)
Shannon Curtis

Publication Date: July 25, 2011

Librarian Maggie Kincaid yearns for excitement - but being accused of espionage is not what she had in mind. Wanted by the police, the FBI and the criminal element, Maggie goes on the run - and runs straight into sexy Luke Fletcher. Unfortunately, when Luke pulls out the handcuffs, it's not because he has something kinky in mind...

Security expert Luke is intent on seeing the murderous spy known only as Viper brought to justice. The un-spy-like behavior of his fugitive makes him suspect he's apprehended the wrong woman. Just as they give in to lust, new evidence convinces Luke that Maggie's not as innocent as she claims to be.

Devastated by Luke's inability to trust her, Maggie runs again. She's determined to clear her name, and if that means tracking down a notorious spy even Interpol can't seem to locate, then that's exactly what she'll do...



Maggie Kincaid is a librarian who struggles to make ends meet and cares for her terminally ill mother full time. Working for a university doesn't provide much in the way of danger and excitement, until Maggie is mistaken for Viper, one of the world's most notorious and wanted spies. Viper has used Maggie's codes for a secret project that she was working on (only as a small time technical component regarding the database and network) and stolen the prototype. And the FBI, the police, a private security company and the owners of the company responsible for the prototype are all looking for Maggie. And they all find her at the same time.

Whilst in police custody, Maggie is kidnapped by a rogue gang who want nothing better than to torture her for information regarding the whereabouts of the prototype and how to get it back. Despite being, well a librarian and with no real violent tendencies, Maggie escapes using little more than a knitting needle in her bag – only to run headlong into Luke Fletcher.

Luke is a private security expert hired to track down the mysterious Viper and find the prototype. When Maggie starts stressing that she isn't Viper, Luke is skeptical. After all, Viper has been around for some time and they're one of the best in the business. Of course if caught, they would deny everything. And what better cover than that of a meek and mild librarian? But the more Luke delves into Maggie's life, the more she pleads with him that she's not this Viper, the more doubts he starts to have. After all, he's seen Maggie's bank accounts. He sees the small flat where she lives with her terminally ill mother. And with all the money Viper would have, from all the jobs they've pulled before, they would be able to afford the best care for someone so important to them. And there's no doubt that Maggie's mother is important to her as she risks everything to see her when she is hospitalised due to stress from the publication of Maggie's arrest and subsequent escape (really kidnap) from police custody.

When Luke's back up arrives, they are determined to find the truth about just who Maggie is and if she is really just who she says she is – an unassuming librarian who was caught up in the middle of a theft executed by a mastermind. Luke believes in her, much to his colleagues chagrin, who think he's thinking with a part of his anatomy that is not his brain. However when Luke hears something that causes him to doubt her, she disappears again, shattered by his lack of trust in her and determined to track this Viper down herself and prove once and for all that she had nothing to do with the theft.

Viper's Kiss was another easy, quick read on my Kindle that has helped keep me reading through the month. And this was a fun, if silly and light-hearted read riddled with some romantic action cliches, such as Luke, the handsome mysterious private security man who after an armed services past, is on his first solo assignment. Maggie herself is another stereotype – the quiet, shy unassuming lady who is wrong place, wrong time. Except that in real life, anyone else would've been tortured to death by the first rogue gang that grabbed her, rather than manage to overpower two of them (armed with a mere knitting needle) and do a runner!

Luke is possessed of all sorts of interesting technology and gadgets that helps Maggie in her quest to convince him that she's not the notorious Viper but Luke still isn't clever enough not to board up the window to the bathroom in the safe house he takes her to, which means that Maggie high-tails out of it when she hears her mother has been hospitalised, but that's not the most laughable part of the plot. Oh no, the most laughable part is that she manages to escape in this fashion not once, but twice, the second time evading not just Luke but also his two colleagues. For private security men, Luke and his fellow employees aren't really that clever. Or good at their jobs.

And once Maggie escapes she makes the decision to go after the notorious Viper herself, just to prove to Luke that he was wrong about her and that she was telling the truth all along. Oh she also wants to clear her name, which has been publically dragged through the mud, but mostly it's just about Luke. So armed with well, nothing, she goes to find Viper (which proves to be alarmingly easy for a mastermind spy). And given what sort of novel this is, the outcome isn't too difficult to predict. It's not about the ending with this book, it's more about the journey there.

Both Maggie and Luke are likable enough and Maggie has the added incentive of a broken home and incident from her past that makes it doubly likely that she'd never steal anything in her life. I'm a huge wuss though, so I can never quite get behind the main characters that take matters into their own hands. Even though Luke and co were relatively inept most of the time, by the end they manage to get their act together and assist quite awesomely so I'd have been happy to just let them do it! Of course I wouldn't have bothered jumping out any bathroom windows either! But Maggie, for all her mellowness, is definitely no chicken, although it is sort of unlikely that proving her innocence is best accomplished by charging off to the meeting place where Viper is attempting to sell the prototype to the highest bidder.

Viper's Kiss is readable enough to get you through a lazy afternoon quite easily and it was an enjoyable way to pass the time. But ultimately the plot is a bit thin (both what the prototype is and how easily Maggie's identity is swiped and used against her and how swiftly everyone assumes it is her, despite the fact that any cop worth their salt could tell that she has basically no idea what they're all talking about). The romance is cute, but like the plot, a bit lacking in plausibility and not quite as well fleshed out as I would have liked.



In college, I worked at the library in the circulation department as part of my financial aid, and as a result I've always enjoyed reading about librarians. So when I saw that the heroine of Shannon Curtis' Viper's Kiss was a librarian, I had to read it, and when I realized that said librarian was accused of being a spy, I was hooked. After all, what librarian doesn't dream of being a spy? Viper's Kiss will be released on July 25 and is available at the Carina Press webpage and on Amazon. The novel's a short romantic suspense, only about 53,000 words, so it's a quick read and a fast-paced adventure. And the hottie on the cover isn't hard on the eyes, either! This was a fun read, and I'm looking forward to seeing more in the future from Ms. Curtis.

Maggie Kincaid is a librarian at the University of Washington, and her life has suddenly grown much more exciting than she would like. Miss April HotRod, aka Kandy Karamel, is a dead ringer for Maggie, and suddenly the demure librarian is being hounded by people mistaking her for the pin-up girl. Shortly after dodging a herd of horny male students outside the library, two men in black arrive and arrest her for espionage. She's been working with the Department of Defense and tech company Tek-Intel on a top secret invention, and they're accusing her of stealing the prototype. To make matters worse, as soon as she and the detectives pull out into traffic, they're rammed by a van, the detectives are murdered, and Maggie's dragged off by some truly frightening villains. Just like the detectives, they're convinced that she's a female spy working under the codename Viper. Maggie is barely pulling together an escape attempt, when Luke Kincaid arrives and whisks her away to safety on his motorcycle.

Luke is a security expert with McCormack Security Agency, and he's tasked with recovering the Visi-suit prototype that Viper's stolen. He can't quite believe that Maggie Kincaid is guilty, but all the evidence points in that direction. Too bad that the first job he's in charge of involves a female spy he finds really appealing. Maggie finds Luke attractive as well, but every time he starts to believe in her innocence, evidence surfaces that convinces him that she's not trustworthy. In the end, she's the only one who can uncover the truth and recover the visi-suit, clearing her name in the process.

Viper's Kiss is non-stop action, with poor Maggie escaping from one dangerous situation only to find herself in another. The plot progresses quickly, and just when you think that she can calm down and relax, the action picks up again. It's a fun ride, and Ms. Curtis introduces two supporting male characters, Derek and Noah, whose presence makes me believe that she has sequels planned for the two of them, which would definitely be good news for us readers!

Maggie is a likeable character, and despite the danger and trouble she finds herself in, she manages to escape each time, thanks to her own actions. That makes her really appealing, since she's had a tough time of it for the last few years, but instead of being overwhelmed and complaining, she acts to resolve the situation herself. She's also always one step ahead of the so-called security experts, figuring out a way to escape them and solve the mystery surrounding the true Viper while recovering the Visi-suit prototype.

While there are definitely sparks between Luke and Maggie, their romance feels a bit rushed. They're clearly attracted to one another, but from the beginning of the novel Maggie has been cautious about men, insisting on a 90 day probationary period before sex with all dates, which has resulted in her still being a virgin in her mid-twenties. This caution is blamed on a bad relationship her mother had with a boyfriend when Maggie was 16 (more about that later), so it seems somewhat inconsistent with her character that she would choose to act on her attraction as quickly as she does with Luke. I prefer romances that develop over time, but the novel is so short that it's difficult to see how Ms. Curtis could have maintained the fast pace of the action and included the romance in any other way. I would love to see a longer work from her, which would give her more room to develop the relationship between the characters.

Because I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel, I hate to criticize but I do have two complaints, although the first is somewhat minor. Given how the action unfolds, I have to think that McCormack Security Agency must hire the most inept employees in the world, because every time Maggie needs to escape, she asks to use the bathroom and wiggles out of a window, with the so-called experts none the wiser. First, how many bathrooms have windows, and second, how could this trick work on them more than once? Seriously, she's portrayed as an innocent and naïve librarian, yet she's easily able to escape the security experts and goons who try to force her to reveal the location of the Visi-suit.

The second complaint I have is about a plot point that bothered me so much it actually lessened my enjoyment of the novel. ***Warning: Spoilers Ahead*** We learn that when Maggie was 16, her mother had a boyfriend named Andy who tried to sexually assault Maggie. When her mother learned of the attempted assault, she kicked Andy out, and he retaliated by robbing their house and wiping out her checking account. This forced Maggie to have to work to help support them, plus required her to work to pay for her college education. Later, her mother falls seriously ill, and Maggie has to find a way to pay her mother's overwhelming medical bills. So when Luke looks into Maggie's finances as a way to prove that she is the spy they're looking for, he's stunned to see that she's barely eking out a living and lives in a one-bedroom apartment with her mother. What drives me crazy about this is that I don't understand why her mother didn't go to the police when their house is robbed and the bank account is wiped out! She just sits back and does nothing, allowing her daughter to work like crazy to pay for her education. This seems inconsistent with Maggie's behavior at the very least, since throughout the novel Maggie acts to clear her name rather than remaining a passive character. It seems so odd that there was absolutely nothing her mother could have done, and it felt completely contrived.

Despite this, the rest of the novel was a fun, quick read with a likeable hero and heroine and lots of action. I definitely enjoyed it and can't wait to see future books by this author, because her writing drew me in quickly and I loved her choice of heroine.

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