THE SIREN'S STING - Miranda Darling
THE SIREN'S STING is the second Stevie Duveen novel from Miranda Darling, following on from THE TROIKA DOLLS.
These books are thrillers, featuring Stevie who works as a risk assessor in the personal / company protection game. Starting off much where the first book ended, Stevie has been assigned to mind a temperamental opera star travelling on a luxury cruise near Somalia when pirates strike. Helping drive off this attack, there's something a little odd about how easily the pirates withdraw. But there's not a lot of time to consider that until later, as Stevie undertakes her next job - working on a threat assessment for the young son of her bosses ex Clémence Krok and her now husband Vaughan.
Stevie has very little trouble posing as a jet-setting party girl friend of Clémence, cruising around on the Krok's luxury yacht, surrounded by a suitably threatening cast of arms dealers, aristocrats and billionaires. To say nothing of love interest Henning and his very glamorous mother.
Needless to say there's going to be a connection between all this luxurious sailing around, Krok's mercenary army and arms dealing, the pirates and just about everybody in this circle, even including the glamorous opera star and the Greek billionaire she picks up on the original voyage.
THE SIREN'S STING takes what was originally more than just a tad of James Bond type scenarios and settings in the first book and slathers that on plus some. There's glorious women, sinister men, arms-dealing, money, diamonds, luxury yachts, fancy speedboats and all sorts of elaborate machinery and gadgets. There is a plot as well, and whilst there doesn't seem to be quite as much action from Stevie as there was in the first book she's not above a bit of combat, and her own life is under real threat at a few points. There's also an interesting twist with another female character who starts out being one of the villains and comes across to the good side just when she's needed.
It really has to be remembered that both of these books are thrillers - they are entertaining, slightly frenetic, often borderline unbelievable and fast paced. The plot in THE SIREN'S STING is made up of quite a few elements, which you know are going to come together (it's a thriller after all!) but there's some nice twists and turns along the way. There's a sprinkle of romantic tension, there's a fair bit of sightseeing around glamorous locations and there is a particularly big twist at the end, telegraphing book 3 in the series. Undoubtedly there's some aspects of this ending that are a risky undertaking for an author. It's either going to excite some readers with the possibility of what's to come, or disappoint other readers who hate that sort of "and in our next episode" closing.
Either way, I really liked the first book in this series (THE TROIKA DOLLS). In THE SIREN'S STING Stevie did feel a little more subdued, but really, for a reader like me who wouldn't recognise a "Brand" if she fell over it, who breaks out in an allergic reaction at all that "socialite" stuff and gags at the sight of too much romantic twaddle, I was hugely entertained and happy to spend some time with Stevie Duveen. As far as I'm concerned - bring on the third book.
She was not an action woman: she could not run very fast; she favoured ballet slippers over combat boots, never swore and still suffered from nightmares; she did not enjoy confrontation of any kind. She was reluctant to face risk, and it was a quality that made her very good at her job. Her art lay in her ability to pass unnoticed, to slip in and out of the cracks of life, to be quietly invisible.
Aboard a luxury yacht as the minder of the world's greatest-and most temperamental-opera star, Stevie Duveen manages to thwart a pirate attack off the coast of Somalia, but soon realises the attack is merely one salvo in a ruthless campaign of terror. Other vessels are being hijacked, and ransoms in the multimillions are being demanded as shipping lines and insurance companies run scared.
On the orders of her adored boss and mentor David Rice, Stevie flies to Sardinia's idyllic Costa Smeralda to recuperate from her injuries. Soon, however, a favour for Rice sees her plunge back undercover: a threat assessment on the young son of Vaughan and Cl?mence Krok. At first the job seems simple enough, WC only Krok happens to run the world's most powerful army of mercenaries . . .
Posing as just another jet-setting party girl on the lookout for a wealthy husband, Stevie cruises aboard the Kroks' mega-yacht, Hercules, surrounded by arms dealers, aristocrats and billionaires. The action swings from the sun-kissed marinas of the Mediterranean to diva season in Venice, through the oilfields of Azerbaijan and on to the billionaires' playgrounds of Spain, but Stevie soon uncovers more questions than answers: is the Kroks' son really in danger? What secret deal is Krok brokering? How is he connected to the pirate scourge? And why is someone trying to kill her?
At her discreet and dangerous best, Stevie must fight to save everything she holds dear as she finds herself at the heart of a deadly double game.