TRUE HONOR

Dee Henderson, Author
Dee Henderson, Author . Multnomah $11.99 (350p) ISBN 1-59052-043-2
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This absorbing third entry in Henderson's Uncommon Heroes series exemplifies why Henderson, a wildly successful CBA novelist, is dominating this market's paperback fiction bestseller list. Darcy St. James, aka "Hound Dog," is a strong yet vulnerable retired top-notch spy for the CIA. When current events pull her back into active duty, her path crosses that of Chief Petty Officer and Navy SEAL Sam Houston, aka "Cougar." Their romance, while inevitable, is endearing; Sam has "always prayed to meet an interesting woman," and he finds one in Darcy. There's a bounty on Darcy's head, however, and the suspense builds as she eludes her attackers throughout the novel. Darcy is admirably cast as a strong, career-minded, middle-aged woman—a combination that is rare in CBA novels. Henderson has conquered a problem she had with heavy dialogue in previous novels and also cut down on the dense military jargon without losing the flavor of the series. The story is chock-full of fresh details, fine descriptions and unexpected plot twists. It's not without pitfalls, however: the amount of Scripture swapping that goes on between Darcy and Sam may feel a bit awkward to all but the most hardcore evangelical reader, as will numerous italicized conversations with God. There are some unusual terms not referenced in the glossary ("chocolate chip cammies"); a retelling of September 11 is rather bland and emotionless; and the last chapter feels unnecessary. But overall, this novel is Henderson's best work to date. (Sept.)

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