The Last Mile (Blood Ties #2) by Kat Martin

the last mile

This title may be purchased from Amazon

When Abigail Holland awakes to the sound of a nighttime intruder in her rambling Denver Victorian, she knows exactly what the black shrouded figure is after—the map she recently inherited from her grandfather. Whoever he is, the man who grapples with her, then escapes, is willing to kill for the location of a treasure King Farrell hunted for more than ten years. The Devil’s Gold has claimed hundreds of lives, and it was her grandfather’s obsession.

With a killer pursuing her and her own family not to be trusted, Abby decides to take up the search herself. But she’ll need help to do it, and there’s no one better than renowned explorer and treasure hunter Gage Logan. Despite the instant chemistry between them, Gage is reluctant. Innocent people have been hurt on his watch before. But when Abby shows him a genuine gold ingot she found with the map, his curiosity is piqued. Before long they’re heading into the flash floods and brutal winds of the Superstition Mountains, straight into a passionate entanglement—and the dark heart of danger.

Rating: C

I know that Kat Martin is a veteran author of dozens of romantic suspense novels, but I haven’t read any of them, so I decided I’d jump in with The Last Mile, a story that promised to combine the excitement and danger of a hunt for lost treasure with a romance between an Indiana Jones-type seeker of lost artefacts and a young woman who has been left a treasure map by her late grandfather, also a famous treasure hunter. Well, the story delivered on the excitement and danger part and the plot is well put-together, if somewhat predictable. The romance, though? A total non-starter. There’s as much chemistry between the leads as between a pair of dead fish, and some of the pronouncements by the alpha male hero reminded me why I so rarely read m/f romance any more. And don’t get me started on the amount of mental lusting – it starts in the first chapter and Just Does Not Let Up. Ugh.

Abigail Holland is being targeted by someone out to gain possession of the map left her by her late grandfather – renowned explorer and treasure hunter King Farrell – that supposedly shows the location of two hundred million dollars’ worth of gold – Devil’s Gold – that King had spent the last ten years searching for. As it appears someone is willing to kill her to get hold of the map, Abby is more certain than ever that the gold actually exists, and has made the decision to finance an expedition to carry on King’s work and find it. To that end, she approaches Gage Logan, one of the founders of Treasure Hunter’s Anonymous, and asks him if he’ll take the job on. Gage is sceptical – most in the treasure hunting community had grown impatient with King Farrell’s obsession – but eventually signs up. He’s not keen on Abby going along for the ride – he doesn’t take his clients on jobs – but Abby tells him she’s going anyway, and that if he won’t take her, she’ll find someone else who will. Gage reluctantly agrees that she can accompany him.

The storyline here falls into two parts, the first in which Abby, Gage and his team travel to Arizona following the map; the second takes them to greater danger in Mexico with its corrupt officials and drug cartels who all want a piece of the action (or all of it!). It feels like your standard Hollywood adventure movie with plenty of action and really creaky dialogue, but it’s entertaining enough. For some reason, Ms. Martin decides to include a third PoV (a cartel boss) late on, which is jarring and pointless, and the book as a whole is over-long, with a final section that really isn’t necessary where, completely our of the blue, the author turns a bland bit-character into a villain.

The Last Mile is an easy read, and I enjoyed the amount of detail the author provides as to the various locations Gage and Abby travel to, and to their thought-processes as they work through their ideas, the clues they’ve been given and the information they glean from various sources. It’s clear that this treasure-hunting lark is something that requires a lot of skill and attention. But oh, dear, the romance is dreadful and both leads have come straight out of central casting. Gage is your typical tall, dark and handsome commitmentphobe wracked by guilt over something that was in no way his fault and who therefore Will Not Love; Abby is a bit of a loner who has “never lusted for a man before”is determined to focus on finding the treasure and will Not Allow Herself To Be Distracted, so Gage – no matter his off-the-charts hotness – is off limits. Gage doesn’t sleep with clients and doesn’t get involved with anyone, ever. But Abby Is Not Like Other Women – and he decides that, okay, hands off while they’re out on the search, but once back in Denver, all bets are off:

“I’ve dreamed of having you naked and spread open beneath me, dreamed of being inside you. Now that I know that’s what you want too, I promise you it’s going to happen.”

because

“I’m what you need, and we both know it.”

Ugh. Surely I can’t be the only one rolling my eyes and banging my head on the desk reading that?

I’m sorry Ms. Martin, but ‘Me, Tarzan You, Jane’ pronouncements are no substitute for having actual chemistry between your principals and neither is being constantly bashed over the head with page after page filled with lustful thoughts. The physical attraction we’re constantly told exists between Gage and Abby is at the forefront of everything they say, think and do, but I finished the book having no idea why or how they fell in love.

In the end, The Last Mile is just about average. The predictablity of the plot together with two-dimensional characters and a boring romance that totally lacks sexual tension means I can’t recommend it.

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