Friendly Fire is a novella that digs deep into the question of how death can inspire loyalty, even for the most hated of individuals and what people are willing to sacrifice to that end.
When DEA Agent Kendall Frasier is sent to be mentally assessed by the government on a tropical island she looks at it as an opportunity to take in some sun and sand on someone else's dime. However, when Zane Vincent, the man who shot and killed her partner is also there for a similar reason, she begins to think that maybe she should have looked before she leaped. Even worse is the guilt she's bombarded with because of her attraction for her fellow agent. Megan Hart once again shoots (I know…the pun, that's how I roll) and hits her mark with this novella.
Megan Hart's writing is like a palette cleanser for me.
It wipes away all of the fireworks that I can get caught up in when I'm on a book binge, and it distills a story down to brass tacks; a man and a woman who fall in love and have to deal with the emotional ramifications that come with it. No vampires, no shifters/weres are harmed in the making of her stories; instead I always get really good plot, well thought out characters and romantic conflict I can don't have to suspend reality to believe in (not that I don't mind doing that, mind you).
For Kendall, Zane is off limits for one reason: he killed her partner. Denial is a river in Egypt for this heroine. Lest we forget that she hated the bastard…we have Zane to bring it to the forefront.
"You must miss him."
That statement made a short, sharp laugh burst from her throat. "Dan? He was a mean-spirited son of a bitch who made my life miserable. He was a misogynistic, chauvinistic pig who thought women could never do half the job men could. I spent all my time with him defending myself against his digs, trying to convince him I was as competent as he was. That I could do the job. Working with him was its own special level of Hell. He was awful."
I could find several comedic ways in movie form in which this could play out, but I prefer how Hart dives into the issue of self loathing, loyalty and how we often are willing to forgive bad behavior when someone dies tragically. As a device of romantic conflict it works well. Because the story is short the issue needs to be dealt with in a relatively quick manner, but without seeming contrived and eyerollingly obvious. Both of which are avoided.
I wish this novella had been a bit longer if only to see what happened to the characters after they left the island…but then again, I feel that way about all of Megan Hart's stories, and good reads, every last one.