Hopefully by now you’ve taken a look at my post on the latest book from the Night Stalkers series, Take Over at Midnight, but I wanted to take a moment to feature one of author M. L. Buchman’s self-published novellas (all of which support the series incredibly well). Interestingly, he tackles these novellas in the context of a holiday, which works as a great framing device.
While Daniel’s Christmas, focuses on the brilliant Ph.D. who serves as the President’s Chief of Staff and manages to have this gorgeous genius find both love with a sexy CIA analyst and thwart a nefarious North Korean plan (with the help of the 160th Night Stalkers, obviously), Peter’s Christmas deserves a special shout out.
Since it took me a little time to figure out the order to read these, let me share my wisdom. The excellent story of Daniel’s Christmas is clearly labeled #2.5 of the series, putting it smack between I Own the Dawn, Archie and Kee’s story and Wait Until Dark, #3 and John and Connie’s story. The novella that follows Wait Until Dark (which was published in February of this year) is Frank’s Independence Day, a terrific story which vacillates between the 1980s and the present day as the head of President Matthews’ Secret Service detail, Frank Adams, recounts to his employer the circumstances under which he met Agent Beatrice Belfour and the first couple years of their tempestuous romance. While he does that, Frank receives word that Belfour, charged the protection of the ambassador to Guinea-Bissau, has disappeared off the map along with her charge during yet another military coup in that tempestuous country. As Frank works to determine if Beatrice is still alive and to hopefully get her the help she needs before the new regime kills her and the people she’s protecting, President Matthews does everything he can to help, even if he is in the middle of some crucial negotiations at the United Nations.
While it’s not necessary to read Frank’s Independence Day, it’s a terrific romance with interesting twists I didn’t see coming and it has some great history, such as the Secret Service and SOAR’s involvement in the invasion of Panama in 1989. Frank and Beatrice are also very visible in Peter’s Christmas, a novella which (despite its publication date in November) actually happens after Take Over at Midnight, so appreciating their characters is a nice bonus while reading this holiday novella.
Kim-Ly Genevieve Beauchamp is the head of UNESCO‘s World Heritage Sights in Southeast Asia. Her job is to be apolitical, deftly handling the various national factions and personal vendettas in order to preserve the world’s heritage in priceless locations filled with ancient temples that have managed to survive the recent decades of violence. With both French and Vietnamese heritage, Genevieve (Genny to her family and friends) knows that men usually only look at her appearance or enjoy her intellect until they become threatened by it. She’s had a very French take on lovers, but it’s been a while since she’s had a serious one, and, as she looks up at the White House Christmas tree, Genny wonders if the reason for the butterflies in her stomach are due to the man who personally issued her an invitation – President Peter Matthews.
Peter Matthews has beaten out British royalty for the world’s sexiest eligible man since the death of his wife two years ago. This widower is not only a good-looking, brilliant policy wonk, terrific friend, down to earth guy, and Scrabble enthusiast but he’s also sure of one thing – that he desperately wants to know Kim-Ly Genevieve Beauchamp better. Since she diplomatically protected several UNESCO World Heritage sites during his time at the United Nations, he’s been taken with her beauty and brains, but his previous personal invitations were rebuffed, so he’s elated she’s accepted one to see the White House at Christmas time. Usually suave and a good reader of people, Peter is flustered to find himself not really sure of where he stands with Genevieve…and delighted when she seems to decide he’s worth the risk of all the public exposure.
Yet a man who is holding some serious secrets, including how his first wife died, might not be able to have the open communication necessary for a relationship and Genevieve’s status is not even one of a U. S. citizen. But the two of them are willing to take a chance, even when the situation in which they find themselves becomes incredibly dangerous.
Wow. Double wow. I love these novellas but this one felt like one of the regular novels of the series to me. I’ve always adored Peter’s character and this novella just made me fall a lot harder for him! Handsome geeks are always my downfall, especially when they are not intimated by a beautiful, brilliant woman, and Peter fits that bill. Genevieve is so not American in her thinking or approach to relationships that she is actually a much better match for him than someone from the U. S., with her family a rich melange of eccentricities and history. Genny is also seriously badass, immediately earning the respect of Major Emily Beale, Chief of Staff Daniel Darlington and his wife, and Secret Service Agents Frank Adams and Beatrice Belfour, so enough said about her awesomeness!
Because President Matthews is clearly single in Take Over at Midnight (which happens in the warmer weather), Frank’s Independence Day is in the #3.5 slot in the series, Take Over at Midnight is #4 and Peter’s Christmas is #4.5, so do read them in that order for maximum effect.
Grab this holiday novella if you can and just revel in the world M. L. Buchman has created with the Night Stalkers series – it’s terrific!!