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Not Without Her Son: The Operatives    by Kay David order for
Not Without Her Son
by Kay David
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton

This is not your typical romance. The main female lead, Julia Vandamme-Ramirez is married to a man who is emotionally and physically abusive, and shows little love for her. Miguel keeps her prisoner in their home in San Isidro, dictating exactly what she is and is not allowed to do. For instance, Julia is not permitted to visit the few friends she has, unless he approves of the outing. And he, or his bodyguard, monitors her every move. Miguel is supposedly a diplomat of some kind, but it is obvious his business dealings are illegal and he seems a very dangerous man. Julia is determined that their three-year-old son, Tomas, will not become another version of his father.

The novel opens at an important party being held in the Ramirez's home. As Julia and her best friend (Meredith Santera) share quality time together, Julia confides her situation. Unknown to Julia, Meredith is part of a group known as the Operatives, men and women who deal out their own form of justice. Meredith once worked for the CIA, but left the agency to start her own company. Now, she's in charge of a group of vigilantes who live by their own rules. Meredith decides to get rid of Julia's husband. Meanwhile, Miguel has gone on a business trip and taken little Tomas with him. Meredith has hired a man named Cruz to find Ramirez, kill him and ensure that Julia's son is safely returned to his mother. It's a difficult assignment, because Julia does not trust Cruz and is not making it easy for him to accomplish his job.

Not Without Her Son is a departure from the superromances that I have read in the past. While most of them take place in the United States, this one is set in Columbia, giving it an exotic feel. There is an element of sexual tension between Cruz and Julia, but there is also a harder edge to this story, which is more fast-paced than usual. I enjoyed its mix of intrigue, danger and romance, and am looking forward to reading more by Kay David.

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