It’s been more difficult than normal for me to write this review because the characters have made me a tad nostalgic for some of my old friends … the type that make you feel good about yourself because they like and enjoy you because of (rather than in spite of) your little quirks. On the surface, this is the story of a man who gets more involved in helping a woman change her identity than he planned. But at its very heart, this is the story of getting to know people, learning to love them in spite of their faults (or stench as the case may be), learning to love their eccentricities, and how far we will go to help or protect those in whom we believe.
Something that makes this story more profound to me is its connectivity with the memory of someone the author lost. As a tribute, it’s beautiful. The sad parts are heartbreaking, but they don’t overwhelm the beauty of the relationships that Richie develops with Sadie/Ambre and Casey. Relationships can be beautiful in their moments of “becoming”. They are beautiful in their moments of laughter as well as in their moments of chaos. Sometimes even connections that we make with someone only temporarily can have a lifetime of impact. How much are we willing to give of and give up of ourselves for those moments? Richie makes drastic choices for a stranger that could negatively affect his entire life, but he doesn’t look back. It’s a rare person who would be willing to change their own identity and lose everything they’ve worked their entire life for just to help someone who is running from unknown pursuers. I have a hard time understanding that type of sacrifice beyond the child/parent bond, but maybe I’m just selfish.
At the heart of Spacey's novels is always the depth of his characters. Sometimes you like them, and sometimes you loathe them, but you always enjoy them. This particular book is mainly full of the enjoyable type. You'll fall in love with Sadie when she sneaks items into her purchase hoping that Richie won't notice and when she botches Richie's new name. You'll fall in love with Casey when she can't manage a gun and when she makes up fake cuss words. And you'll fall in love with Richie because he finds the girls' quirks cute and because he can get away with his flirtations without getting decked. But there's also a heavy sense of realism where bad things happen and the characters really do have to spend some time to mentally come to terms with their situations rather than magically allowing it to roll off their shoulders. However, I have to chuckle because, once again, Spacey's characters are puking and pissing themselves as much as a passel of newborns. I guess it's become a trademark? Please tell me that his next book will be Bodily Fluid Lite.
Another thing you'll find in Spacey's novels that is present here in full force is a suspense that keeps you turning the pages. It's present in creative action sequences as well as in expectant romantic tension between the characters. In fact, this book has enough romantic tension to make me have to label this as a guilty pleasure type of read. I tended to enjoy this part of the book far more than the average romance that has me rolling my eyes (and far more than I'd like to admit). Why? Because the characters' interactions are interactions of bonding and endearment.
The ending kind of shocked me, but it was the perfect mix of emotion and twisty revelations. And, at the end of the night, it made me a little sad, missing various friend interactions like the ones in the book ... missing people who made me feel good about myself simply because they liked my quirks or because we had adventures together. Granted, they weren't adventures in missile silos like these guys have, but we can't all be being chased by unknown government organizations, can we?
P.S. Spacey is currently giving away a couple of copies of this book. Go to the book's main site to find the link to enter.