Street Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
To express my powerful feelings for the GhostWalker series, I would like to borrow the words from Oliver by its namesake: "May I have some more please?" Street Game takes the GhostWalker series to a different level, but captures everything that I loved about the preceeding books. I love how this series is so intricate, with different storylines that intersect. There are familiar things here that continue to light my fire for this series, but this story is also unique as Mack McKinley and Jaimie Fielding get closure on their past relationship.
Street Game focuses on the Urban Warfare team led by Mack McKinley. He loves his job and what he does. He even loves the enhancements that Whitney's program has given him. This is slightly different from the heroes in the prior books, because they generally felt betrayed that their bodies had been manipulated in such a fashion. Mack takes it all in stride, enthusiastic that his enhancement enable him to do what he does best, fighting the bad guys and protecting his country.
Mack is very much an alpha hero. In fact, he almost comes off as nearly unlikeable at times. He is the macho type, not one to express his feelings unless it involves putting his fist into something, giving orders to his men (and girlfriend), and expecting them to be followed, or having a bout of energetic sex with his girlfriend. He is blown away when Jaimie leaves him. He tells himself that she'll come back, because she needs him much more than he needs her. However, he finds that to be far from the case. Jaimie was his everything, and every day without her is like a gaping hole in his life. When a mission leads him to Jaimie's doorstep, he's determined to get her back, still baffled that she left him.
I said that Mack nearly was hard to like at times. Well, this would be be the case without Ms. Feehan's masterful handling of him. Hugely surprising to this GhostWalker fan, but Mack is probably the most alpha hero yet in this series. He is aggressive and intensely male, take charge, and used to giving orders. At first, it's hard to see his vulnerabilities, because he's quite adept at keeping that part of himself concealed. He's not a man who likes feeling helpless or wounded, and doesn't know how to express himself emotionally. Being in control is crucial for him. Before, this was something that Jaimie was used to. Mack was the one who kept their self-formed family together. They met when Jaimie was an eight year old genius who was already in high school, and Mack took care of her from the very beginning, protecting her from bullies and watching over her, along with the rest of the guys and girl they grew up with in their Chicago neighborhood. Over time, their relationship became a romantic one. For as long as he could remember, Jaimie was his, to protect, to watch over, and to come home to, loving the fire that they had together. Mack always admired Jaimie's intelligence, and was proud of her, but he didn't like her expressing doubts about the GhostWalker program, especially on a botched mission, and his way of dealing with it turned out to be the last straw for Jaimie.
Jaimie never stopped loving Mack, although she knew they couldn't be together, because they were too different, and she didn't like the violence of what their GhostWalker abilities allowed them to do. She didn't trust their superiors when they went into a mission that could have led to the death of some of their team members. When she tried to express her doubts about it, Mack doesn't listen. Instead he dismisses her concerns. She's devastated that he doesn't trust her or take what she's saying seriously, and knows that she has to leave him. Two years later, Jaimie has made a new life for herself, but plans to set up her business so she can take care of her brothers. She knows she can't be with Mack any more that way, but she still cares about him. When Mack and his team end up on her doorstep, she isn't surprised, knowing that she's being set up to be taken out because of the information she had recovered about the conspiracy behind the GhostWalker experimentation.
This book delves further into the conspiracies behind the GhostWalker program, going above and beyond Whitney to the power players that have ties with the White House. Jaimie is a thinking woman's heroine. Her phenomenal brain and analytical skills are used to follow the trails of information to find out who is setting up the GhostWalker teams and why. This installment of the series flows seamlessly into the other books, although the only returning characters are peripheral ones, or characters we only got an intriguing glimpse of in past books. Instead, we meet a whole new group of men, who managed to claim their place in my heart. What I love about this series is that each book makes me want more.
Christine Feehan really knows how to write characters that you become attached to, and yearn to read about. You see their flaws and their pain, and you want them to be happy. This book challenged me, because men like Mack tend to rub me the wrong way. I'm not a big fan of chest-thumping type men. But I was allowed to peel back the layers to see that Mack is a simple, yet complex man who takes his responsibilities very seriously. He has to be brash and confident, because he takes the lives of his team as a powerful responsibility. His way of taking care of others is leading and protecting them. For him, his feelings for Jaimie couldn't be described with mere words. Yet, Mack had to learn that Jaimie needed more from him that he was giving her. He thought that she saw his devotion and adoration, but she felt as though her only place in his life was as his hero-worshipping, cheerleading, brainy, and nurturing girlfriend.
This book has some moments that really strike me with their emotional intensity. These moments show the profound nature of the feelings between the characters. My favorite is when Mack is finally able to express into words just how much he loves Jaimie. I love how that scene is written, and how unexpected it was. She's blown away by it, and so am I. You know that Mack will never be the type to say the three words all the time, and freely, but it's more than clear how much he does love Jaimie. The steamy sex in this novel is pretty awesome, but the emotions behind it are what really enthrall this reader. You feel the fire between Mack and Jaimie, and the powerful bond between them that goes beyond the bedroom to the deepest parts of their heart and minds.
As usual, I love all the interactions between the GhostWalker team. I already love the new characters introduced in this installment, and look forward to seeing more of them. Each character brings something different to the table. I am impressed with the incredible storyline that Ms. Feehan has created with this series. I love reading about the abilities of the different characters, and how they seem imminently plausible, but fantastic at the same time. The action scenes are well-done, and I feel that this book would appeal to a fan of techno-thrillers as much as paranormal and romantic suspense fans. But what I love about these books is how you get the octane moments, the well-thought out and often mind-boggling plot involving the GhostWalkers, the steamy love scenes, the funny and heartwarming moments, and the three-dimensional characters that you cannot help but love, all fashioned together into a beautiful package. This book ends with the evidence that there are more adventures ahead, as the groundwork is laid to follow up on some important storylines introduced in the preceeding books, and touched on in this installment. And all I can say is, I Can't Wait!!
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