Rating: 3 stars out of 5
“Freeze or I’ll shoot!” Aaron yelled and aimed the gun at Jordan’s chest.
“Angel, no, please.” Hacking fluid-filled coughs broke up Jordan’s words.
“Jordan?” Aaron whispered his name as recognition painted a mural of memories of their life together on his face.
“Yes.” He coughed red into his dirty hand. “Please help.”
And with those words, Angel’s Truth begins, picking up immediately from Angel’s Hero when supposedly dead Army Captain Jordan Collins arrives home after a month as a POW in Afghanistan. Sick and injured, Jordan finds his enemy Major General Troy Hart just leaving his home before Jordan reaches out to let his husband, Aaron “Angel” Collins, know he is alive and home once more. As Aaron welcomes Jordan home and rushes Jordan to the hospital, Jordan reveals that Hart is the man behind his imprisonment in Afghanistan and death sentence he was under.
As Jordan adjusts to freedom, he also has to contend with PTSD, a shattered confidence, and the fact that his enemy,Troy Hart, is still free. Aaron realizes that the man he thought was a friend to him during those painful times where Aaron was looking for answers about his husband’s disappearance and unlikely death is actually a danger to them all. Now Aaron must help Jordan recover his emotional and physical health and together discover just what Major General Troy Hart’s betrayal and deception means to them and to the nation.
As stated in the publisher’s blurb, Angel’s Truth picks up exactly to the word where Angel’s Hero ends. If you haven’t read the first story, this one won’t make any sense as there is very little back story included in this sequel. At 64 pages, it is a tad shorter than Angel’s Hero and somehow that works to this story’s advantage. The narrative is tighter, and some of the more problematic plot elements from the first story are gone, including a fractured timeline that jumped back and forth between present day and the beginnings of their romance. That was more confusing than helpful. Luckily, that is absent here. But other larger errors appear. Let’s get to those now.
But while the loving relationship between the men is reestablished by their reunion, some of the issues I had with the plausibility of their professions and Jordan’s escape still stand. This is Jordan’s explanation as to how he arrived (sick, coughing up blood and in Afghanistan Army uniform pants) back in the US, apparently only miles from Bethesda, MD. The conversation picks up at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in Bethesda where Jordan is telling his story to his superior officer:
“… had “accidently” dropped a piece of paper with information about a cargo plane to the United States in his cell weeks before. Jordan then explained that he hitched a ride on a delivery truck, and offered to read the English map to the US for the pilot in exchange for a ride home. “
Now Jordan changed some of the details about the nurse who helped him get free to protect her. But all this took place in two days time. In two days, he got free from a horror of a desert prison, just before his date with a firing squad, hitched a ride out of said desert (not that a mixed heritage of black and Korean American wouldn’t stick out like Uncle Sam) but he is also limping on a severely broken ankle, with a bad case of pneumonia, and wearing an Afghanistan Army uniform. And after the reader makes a huge leap over that implausible plot canyon, you still have to believe that he then hitches a ride in a native’s truck to an airfield, hitches another ride (still coughing up blood, same attire) on a foreign cargo plane, which lands in Bethesda (with no problem apparently even without an airport or the ever present homeland security), and then makes it to his house on foot, just a couple of streets over. Only in a comedic send up of the military and Washington, Dc would such an escape be possible. Or remotely realistic.
Then there is the fact that in the story Aaron calls 911 and Jordan is taken immediately to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Bethesda, MD. Our local 911 responders are not allowed to do that even if the person being transported requests/demands to be taken to Walter Reed for emergency care. Instead the injured party would be taken to a civilian emergency room, evaluated, and then later transferred if required. That’s the law and that fact can be easily checked with Walter Reed authorities, also known as Command Personnel.
In addition, it says Jordan was a prisoner for over 2 months time. Sometimes its a “little over a month”. As a prisoner of war under harsh conditions, a month or so would have an enormous impact on the prisoner’s health and mental state. But the actual time as a POW seems to fluctuate from page to page. These things alone serve to disconnect me from the story, pulled out of whatever dramatic action is happening to think about the errors in front of me. If the reader can’t believe in the characters or the plot, how can they invest even a part of themselves in a story? I don’t think they can. Then there is the lack of security and isolation around an escaped ill prisoner who just “came back from the dead”. These days that happenstance is called a major security risk.
Unfortunately, this author just stumbles into one pitfall after another with her characters and story location to this story’s detriment. And this leads into one of my issues with this series. To some it may land on the side of nitpicking, but to this reader it says the author hasn’t done their research.
Writing about Washington, Dc and it’s surrounding environs can be tricky. You either get it right or you don’t. And Liz Borino mostly doesn’t get it. Built as the only Federal city in the United States so many people have decried its lack of “thereness” , of that inescapable uniqueness that cities such as Baltimore, Chicago and New York City have and are associated with. And that’s intentional. On our maps should be the sentences “here lie the NSA, the CIA, the FBI” and all the other alphabet agencies so necessary to the security of our nation just like it used to say “there by dragons” on ancient maps. Here lie Congress, the Capitol, the White House, and all the other government organizations meant to reside here from the very beginning. Then the World Trade Organization, all the embassies….and soon you can understand why the District of Columbia lacks the very individual nature, the vivacity associated with other cities. It’s not built into its personality on purpose. It thrives on anonymity, on power disguised behind common tailoring and less than modern haircuts….on people who are secretive and withdrawn by nature. No one who burbles on at work makes it here…unless its done on purpose and with a hidden agenda. How long would Aaron have lasted at the CIA? Not long, if he even made it through the door.
None of the characters here are believable within the ethos of Washington, DC , whether it be political, military or intelligence agency. I think Borino had a good idea somewhere in here but not the attention to detail that these characters, their professions, the location, and even the plot requires.
Do I think all of the above will bother every reader? Probably not, which is why this got by with a 3 rating instead of the 2.5 it deserved. Some readers will love the romance and the “aww” factor found in the reunion and HEA. I will admit this is a tighter narrative on the surface than Angel’s Hero, and thus a better story as far as that goes. But as someone who lives in the Washington, DC Metro area, all the errors committed within these stories caused any enjoyment I might have found in the Angel series to fade away, like Cherry Blossoms in a stiff wind…in the Spring of course.
Cover art by Anthony Walsh. Again, very nice cover. Works for the story and characters.
Angel series include:
Angel’s Hero (Angel #1)
Angel’s Truth (Angel #2)
ebook, 64 pages
Published March 14th 2014 by Lazy Day (first published March 10th 2014)
ISBN 1612581250 (ISBN13: 9781612581255)