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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Pussycat Death Squad by Roslyn Hardy Holcomb

With a title like the Pussycat Death Squad, you know that one of two things will be true - it will either be terribly cheesy and cliche or it will be a book that's good fun to read. Thankfully it was the latter. This isn't your typical romance - IR or otherwise. It also isn't your standard romance couple. As a result, this is a great book for readers looking for a change of pace.

What it's about: Lelia Assad is the leader of an elite military group called the Amazonian Guard. Their duty is to personally protect and defend Col. al-Fariq, the leader of the North African country known as Laritrea. The Amazonian Guard is made up of all women who are as beautiful as they are lethal. Despite their competency at protecting al-Fariq, the Western world has taken to calling them the Pussycat Death Squad, a label that Lelia finds offensive and demeaning. Lelia and her guard have
been busy putting down a series of coup attempts. In the midst of this a reporter interviews al-Fariq and Lelia. The resulting article places a negative and unappealing spin on the Guard and its relationship with the colonel. To prove otherwise, Lelia and a portion of the Amazonian Guard are sent to the U.S. to train with the Marines and to showcase their skills. This is where Lelia, who is sworn to remain chaste, meets Gunnery Sergeant Patrick "Trick" McBride.
Patrick is attracted to Lelia even though he and his men have orders to remain hands-off. Lelia finds herself attracted to the Gunnery Sergeant as well, but knows it's an attraction that can't be. Just as the pair decide to take the risk, trouble erupts back in Laritrea, and danger threatens to the rip apart and destroy the new lovers.

What I Liked: This book is such fun. You have a North African heroine that is also a devout Muslim. How often do you see that in IR (or any) romance? She is smart, brave, and strong. She commands a group of women that are trained as well as any military force in the world. In fact, they have more training and skill than any other military group in their country. Lelia remains strong throughout the book. Not just physically, but she remains strong when it comes to her beliefs and convictions as well. She meets Patrick and doesn't give up who she is. While she takes certain risks that could endanger her position, she does so because it is her choice and she's willing and ready to own up to them.

Patrick is her equal. I love the sparring session that takes place when they first meet. It sets the tone for the relationship between these two and really lets the reader see how Patrick treats her. He doesn't baby or coddle her (not that she would stand for it) nor does he feel threatened by her. You can tell that he is impressed by her skill and position, and is even a little turned on by it. He is a very well written alpha male who doesn't come across as boorish or a caricature. There were natural and obvious obstacles between Lelia and Patrick. I appreciate that the author doesn't create additional contrived conflicts to keep them apart longer than necessary. Other areas that I felt were well done included the interaction with Lelia and the rest of the Amazonian Guard. They had a deep respect for her and she cared about them completely. They were family and it was clear that they would follow her no matter what.

Based on the cover I thought that there would have been more gritty action that involved the hero and heroine, but that wasn't the case. Despite that, there was still enough intrigue and even danger to keep the story rolling. This is impressive considering the length of the story and all that it accomplished in terms of creating a believable love story between Lelia and Patrick.

What I Didn't Care For: One of my biggest complaints (this could just be my issue) about the book were the uniforms that Lelia and her team wore. Their uniforms are designed by a major fashion designer, which I'll go ahead and buy into considering the Colonel probably likes his female Guard to look a certain way that appeals to his vanity; however, these women also work, fight, and train in high heels. High heels! For crying out loud! I just don't see any real woman going into a combat situation wearing high heels. While this made me laugh and roll my eyes, it didn't take me out of the book or hinder my enjoyment of it. It was only mentioned once and I (thankfully) managed to put it out of my head.
Other than the clothing that these otherwise awesome ladies wore, my only real problems stemmed from the length of the book. My copy was an e-pub and the story wrapped up at 123 pages. Roslyn Hardy Holcomb is a writer that you can trust when it comes to turning out a good story that's original and generally well executed. Pussycat Death Squad, while worth the time spent reading it, deserved a longer story that could have explored the Amazonian Guard a bit better, shown them fully in action, and handled the Col. al-Fariq situation with more detail and depth. I bring this up not to discourage readers from reading the book (please do read it, it is very good), but to encourage the writer to give us more. This book deserved it and would only have benefited from more.

My Final Thoughts: Overall I find this to be a very fun book with a decent amount of action; however, I do feel that it would have been truly amazing had it been longer. It is worth noting that this is Book One in a series. So far there is only one other book called The Lion in Russia (Pussycat Death Squad Book 2). I'll be placing that one on my TBR list and any future books in the series. Hopefully we'll get a third book that will be well over 200 pages (300 or 350 sounds nice *hint, hint*). In the meantime I recommend Pussycat Death Squad and give it a 4 out of 5 rating.

Re-released December 6, 2014
Original publication July 2010

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