Seconds to Live
Homeland Heroes #1
by Susan Sleeman
My rating: 2.5 / 5
Genre: Christian suspense, romance
When the WITSEC database is hacked and the lives of federal witnesses are put in jeopardy, U.S. Marshal Taylor Mills works with FBI Agent Sean Nichols and his team to find the hacker, recover the witness information, and keep an already-exposed witness safe. Mills & Nichols have a tenuous online friendship, which is put in turmoil when they meet for the first time to work on this case together.
Right off the bat, this book introduced a character in a way that painted her in a terrible light, and it never really recovered from there for me. The police procedural-type story was all right, but the romance was strained and the characters and dialog were wooden.
I never really did like the female MC. After she ignored calls from a witness in danger because she was too put-upon, I just couldn’t understand why she is touted as an amazing U.S. Marshal the rest of the book. (Honestly, if she’s so overworked that she needs an hour in the tub that badly, which she got into after missing 2 calls from a witness, who she knows could be in danger…maybe it’s time to find another job.) The male MC wasn’t too bad. As far as side characters went, I think that if the other FBI team members had been given more time in the spotlight, it would have helped. Instead, we got the ridiculous Dustee (the federal witness) and her childish attitude.
The federal agents searching for the hacker before thousands of witnesses were compromised could have been a decent story. Unfortunately, their emotions got in the way. Every. Step. Of. The. Way. Every other thought the two MCs had was about each other and how they felt about the other, how they just wanted to stare at the other, how they didn’t know how to proceed when neither of them really wanted a relationship. And how they both had such hardships in their past that they couldn’t really trust anyone. It permeates so much that it drags down the action & suspense side of the book.
Besides what I already mentioned about the romance, it was far too much about the physical for my taste, especially in a Christian novel. Don’t get me wrong–there is no sex, and not exactly a lot of touching. But there is a lot of gazing, staring, even (in my opinion) leering. Too much narration about watching hips and legs…and it all became so repetitive. And there was so much discussion at inappropriate times, in the middle of important parts of the investigation.
There was an interesting twist near the end, which I suspected only shortly before it was revealed. I liked the explanation for that twist and the real-life science behind it. I also did find myself wanting to know who the hacker was along the way, and what it would take to catch him. When the MCs weren’t coming across as incompetent because they spent more time thinking and talking about their non-relationship than they did working on the case, I liked the way the case was presented and solved. I expected a little more in the way of twists, but it’s not billed as a thriller, so that’s probably my own issue.
I don’t think the book was bad, exactly, I just had some irredeemable issues with it. If you’re a fan of drama-filled procedural stories, you very well may enjoy this. It’s clean overall–no language and light on the violence–and though the Christianity in it is a little light, it’s probably worth checking out if you aren’t bothered by the things I mentioned above. There are plenty of reviews in favor of it, so be sure to read some of those too.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bethany House for providing me a copy of this book to review.
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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!