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Kiss Me While I Sleep    by Linda Howard order for
Kiss Me While I Sleep
by Linda Howard
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

The CIA recruited Lily Mansfield at age eighteen. After almost two decades, she has become one of their most effective contract assassins. She's sacrificed family and friends and shied away from any serious relationships -- the risk is simply too great. The friends she does have are in the same line of work as Lily, and have recently retired for the sake of their young daughter. When Lily learns that Tina, Averill and Zia Boudron have been brutally murdered, she uses all her resources to find out who orchestrated the hit -- and why.

With vengeance in her heart, she successfully eliminates Salvatore Nervi, one of the most influential and ruthless men in Europe. Now Nervi's two sons are hot on her trail, as well as another CIA operative who's been ordered to 'bring her in or take her out'. Nervi had been a valuable source of information for various counterintelligence agencies and none of them are pleased about his death. CIA agent Lucas Swain is surprised to find Lily still in Paris -- why didn't she disappear after eliminating Nervi? Surely she was aware that it would only be a matter of days before either the Nervi brothers, or he himself, tracked her down. Impressed at her nerve, and certain that Lily still has unfinished business with the Nervi sons, Lucas keeps his true agenda hidden and becomes her ally. Together they ferret out the reason why the Boudrons were lured out of retirement. Now Lily and Lucas must put their own lives on the line to finish the game or sacrifice the lives of millions.

Great action and suspense, and a chillingly timely plot device, keep you turning the pages of Linda Howard's latest. While the manner in which the agents outsmart the villains seems a little too pat, a nice twist at the end makes up for it. There's plenty of sizzling attraction between Lily and Lucas, both of them well-drawn and very likeable characters. Lily is balancing on a precarious rush of vengeance and trauma. Only another agent could understand and Lucas is right there, ready to catch her the moment she falters. Kiss Me While I Sleep is another impressive addition to Linda Howard's growing collection of romantic thrillers.

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