Beyond Instinct by Lynn Ames is an absolute must read if you are an adventure/thriller reader. When Tara Scott suggested it to me, I had never heard of Lynn Ames and could not believe as I read the volume how I could have missed it. It is just my sort of book!
Vaughn Elliott is a tall, handsome woman who has been employed by the CIA since graduation. Following an incident, which was ‘off grid’, Vaughn was placed on desk duty for the rest of her career. One year later she has been given an assignment in Diplomatic Security to Mali, Mauritania to ensure the protection of a senior US congressional group visiting the country. Vaughan is told that this is her only route back to active duty.
On arrival in Mali, she is met by the Political Officer, Sage McNally, who comments on her appointment coming through unusual channels. There is some attraction between them. Sage reminds Vaughn of a past girlfriend, and this pulls her internal struggle about their relationship to the surface.
Both women find themselves trying to get a handle on the situation and end up having some wild passion (think kitchen worktops!). But Sage goes missing the next day, and the staff at the embassy appear unconcerned. Vaughn is worried and here the story really starts, involving chases and journeys across borders, trying to both find Sage and find out what was so important about the congressional visit that it needed Vaughn to be there.
The characters are written with such clear understanding by Lynn Ames. She is so good at writing her butch lead characters. Vaughn Elliott is emotionally closed off and has been for a year before events in the story. She finds herself attracted to Sage even though she doesn’t want to be and her character arc is such that this internal fight continues through the story. She thus vacillates between wanting the closeness and pushing Sage away.
Sage McNally is a complete contrast to Vaughn, as she’s small, blonde, light and bubbly. She has an enthusiasm and sense of wonder about her that ensures that we, as readers, buy in to her character. She is totally entranced by Vaughn and finds herself falling in love with her.
Mention must also be made of Sabastien Vaupaul, a computer hacker who works for the CIA, (originally recruited by Vaughn) who Vaughn contacts for help throughout the story; and Justine Coulter, also from the CIA, who puts herself on vacation to allow her to help Vaughn. There are a number of other characters such as the diplomatic staff within the embassy, and a variety of local Malians and friends from surrounding African countries who are well written.
The Writing Style
Lynn Ames is a master storyteller. Sage, after one of the action sequences, comments that she feels as if she is in a movie, like the Bourne Ultimatum. This is so Lynn Ames, recognizing that a political officer in an embassy will be unused to this amount of violence and shooting, and explaining it so well.
Lynn Ames writes in such an easy manner that the action sequences pass quickly. In some books you, as the reader, end up trying to work out who is where and how the sequence works; not so with Lynn Ames. The action sequence is happening and once it is finished, you feel as exhausted as the characters that are in it. You have no thought about who was where, all you want to do is work out who has been hit, just as the characters would in that sequence.
Those thriller action sequences are really my favourite element of the book. But I must mention that Lynn Ames writes very sparkly romantic dialogue, often flirtatious, between her leading ladies and this book is no exception. Her take on Vaughn’s issues is beautifully done.
There are none.
Although this was my first Lynn Ames, I have since read most of her thriller/action stories and in my view, this is the best. It is very good. Go try it.
Excerpt from Beyond Instinct by Lynn Ames
“I do trust you.” Vaughn pressed her lips into a thin line. There was more truth in the statement than she wanted to admit. She was not someone who trusted easily, so the revelation, so close on the heels of the other thoughts swirling in her head, was unsettling. Impulsively, she said, “We could start over dinner tonight. I still owe you a dinner from last night.”
Sage seemed on the verge of declining, so Vaughn pushed ahead. “After all, the visit is only three weeks away, and there’s so much I’m going to need to know. There’s no time to waste. Not to mention the fact that I don’t know anyone else here and you’d be leaving me to fend for myself.”
“Oh, sure. Lay it on thick, why don’t you.” Sage tapped her fingers on the table as if considering the notion. “Okay. But we’re not eating out. I’ll cook.”
“Something wrong with that?”
“Not at all. Tell me what I can bring, what time, and where.”
Once they had settled the details, Sage rose. “I’ve got to get back to work. I’ll see you later.”
When she’d gone, Vaughn murmured, “Indeed you will.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781936429028
- Publisher: Phoenix Rising Press
Lynn Ames Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Beyond Instinct by Lynn Ames. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.