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Julie Doe

Her Last Defense - Vickie Taylor [Yes, this is posted quite some time after the book came out, but I'm catching up on getting the older reviews from my blog copied onto Goodreads.]

WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS ALONG WITH THE SNARK

When I read, I dog-ear pages that contain snippets of dialogue or description that I want to remember. It doesn't bode well for a review when I start doing that on page 13 - and all of the dog-ears are for stupid stuff.

In Vickie Taylor's "Her Last Defense," Texas Ranger Clint Hayes joins forces with Dr. Macy Attois, a virologist with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to prevent the spread of a deadly virus. When the book opens, a small plane carrying virologists from the CDC, a sample of the particularly deadly virus, and a virus-infected monkey crashes in the Sabine National Forest in Texas. Clint, who sees the crash from the cabin where he is staying while on medical leave from the Rangers, and some of the locals respond to the crash. They get a nasty surprise when our heroine, Dr. Macy Attois, shows up next day with her team from the CDC and quarantines the entire area and the people working at the crash site. Because calling ahead and telling the rescuers to stay away would have been well...the SENSIBLE thing to do. But then there wouldn't be a story.

Clint is not happy about being told he might be a walking dead man, but he helps Macy keep the stereotypical locals--who speak in stereotypical dialect--compliant with the quarantine. Macy discovers that, although the virus container was not ruptured in the crash, three of the plane's occupants are missing, as is the Typhoid-Mary monkey. One of the missing people is David Brinker, Macy's ex-fiancé of about two days. Another is the pilot.

And thus the game is afoot.

Clint and Macy search for errant monkey together and get caught in a rainstorm. Macy falls over a muddy embankment, and Clint catches her--with his right arm, which was injured in a recent shooting. When he tries to pull her up, his arm shakes, and she slips into the gully and is washed downstream. (All together now..."Cliffhanger." Yeah, that movie with Sylvester Stallone and John Lithgow, although the most blatant rip-off of that movie was in "Situation: Out of Control" by Debra Webb. But that's another review.) Macy bobs along, eventually latching onto a log stuck in the bank, and there she finds the murdered pilot.

Macy has twisted her ankle, and she and Clint are both cold and wet--so Clint decides that they should stay overnight in a nearby fire lookout tower. Just the two of them. But first, since Macy has lost her respirator in the dunking, Clint gives her his. Now BOTH of them might be exposed to the virus. They can die together. Oh joy! Once they get to the tower...yep, you guessed it. They hump like bunny rabbits until the chopper comes to pick them up the next morning.

A lot of stuff happens from here on out, including David walking out of the woods, Macy recovering the monkey, the Rangers finding the third missing passenger, Macy getting infected with the virus, and Clint thwarting would-be terrorists and finding an antidote for the virus and saving Macy. To be honest, I started skimming near the end, but I'm pretty sure that's what happened. Oh yeah, and then they get married.

Macy comes off mostly as likeable and competent, and I have only two complaints:

First, why in the hell would she fall for a jacka$$ like Clint?

Second, when Clint asks her why she became a virologist, she says she went into virology because of a bad relationship and that "the laboratory environment, with its bulky suits and airtight work chamber, provided her some necessary emotional distance from her coworkers" So she made her career choice because of a man. Not because she liked a challenge, or because wanted to work on the cutting edge, or any one of many much more interesting reasons. Yikes! And even in this, the author is inconsistent. Despite the above quote, Macy is described throughout the bookas having a close relationship with her team. She even calls them "like family" at one point.

Clint, on the other hand, needs a swift kick in the rear end. When the story opens, he is brooding about the imminent loss of his job as a Texas Ranger. The nerves in his right shoulder are injured so badly that he cannot hold a gun steady to shoot (or pull Macy up the bank). Cannot hold a gun with his right hand, that is. Now the first thing I thought was, "Learn to shoot with your left hand." Unfortunately, it takes Clint 246 pages to figure this out, all the while brooding about how he is so unworthy of being with Macy because he *sob* can't be a Ranger anymore *sob*.

Clint speaks in the "local dialect", calling people "yahoos" and the virus a "bug." It's not cute; he just sounds uneducated. When Macy tells Clint that she was taking the virus back to Atlanta to try to make a vaccine, he accuses her of playing God. Puh-leeze. What kind of backward attitude is that? Now if he had made an intelligent comment about why transporting the virus on a *plane* might not have been wise, I could have respected him.

When confronted with the stereotypical (and, believe me, there's a lot of that in this book) rude and slightly full-of-themselves CDC security guards, Clint resorts to violence. Twice. And later, after a conversation with David---who, remember, has just been dumped by his fiancée (Macy) and survived a plane crash, exposure, dehydration, and major surgery--Clint thinks to himself that he would have slugged David if David had made an issue out of Clint and Macy liking each other. Yup, `cause it's so unreasonable for David to maybe still have an ounce of feeling for Macy a mere THREE DAYS after he was dumped. Made me root for David for a few pages.

But by far the dumbest, most self-centered, most I-have-no-sense-of-priorities thing Clint does occurs about half way into the book. In Macy's desire to recover the monkey alive, she inadvertently steps in front of a soldier's gun and shoots the monkey with a tranquilizer dart before the soldier can kill it. Clint sees this and gets angry. So angry that he shoves her into his truck and drives her to his cabin. When he gets there, he says, "Um,...er,....I forgot what I was going to say. Just don't step in front of a gun again." Huh? So when time is of the essence, and they've finally got the monkey so they can find out if the monkey is contagious, if the area is in danger, etc...Clint takes time out for an aborted personal chat. Arghh. He doesn't deserve to be in law enforcement.

Surprsingly, I found out after I wrote this review that this book is a 2006 RITA finalist for Best Long Contemporary Romance. My faith in the RITA's is now at an all time low.