By Taylor Stevens
Published in 2015 by Crown.
Reviewed by K.L. Romo.
Taylor Stevens does it again with the fifth book in her Vanessa Michael Munroe series – The Mask. At the end of her last assignment, Munroe is weary of the fight, and longs to spend time with the love of her life, Miles Bradford. She agrees to meet him in Japan, where he’s currently on assignment to try to live a more “normal” life. Although she tries to embrace a life of domesticity, Munroe finds herself fidgety and accompanies Bradford to work—an investigation being conducted at a cutting-edge biotechnology company. When the investigation unravels, Munroe is forced to take the lead in sorting out the many layers of the puzzle that left one woman dead, and multiple threats of retribution aimed at Bradford and Munroe.
In each new book, not only are we entertained by Munroe’s skill in self-defense, but we delve more deeply into her personality—her strengths and weaknesses. And again, the hardened warrior not only carries out her mission, but rescues others along the way. We see her empathy for women who have been mistreated, and for people who are broken, just like Munroe. Once again, her compassion for victims outweighs her hard veneer, and she once again does what’s right to save the one most vulnerable.
Although her character is akin to a super-ninja-killer-spy, readers are also given glimpses of her frailties and weaknesses, basically, what makes her human.
The novel begins with an assault against Munroe on day 7, then backtracks to day 63 before the event that shifts her world once again. The story is told in chronological order until the pivotal incident, and then continues for another 24 days after. As always, we are plunged into Munroe’s dangerous occupation, but instead of Africa and Europe, we are taken to Osaka, Japan.
The plot is action-packed and entertaining. Readers can’t help but admire Munroe’s extreme skill at self-defense, but can also relate to her brokenness and emotional upheaval. Another great read, Taylor!
K.L. Romo is a member of the Writers’ Leagues of Texas who lives with her family in Duncanville, Texas. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her novel From Grace I Fall – about a modern woman who’s suddenly transported back to 1907 Dallas, seeing the world through the eyes of a reformed prostitute who’s determined to seek justice for victims of human trafficking, and other women forced to sell their bodies. You can visit her at www.klromo.com.