When Matt travels to Syria to volunteer for an immunization program alongside Doctors Without Borders, he’s ready for a little adventure. What he doesn’t anticipate is being mistaken for someone else, kidnapped, and locked away to die. Terrified and alone, Matt fears the worst, until a group of Navy SEALS find him and brings him to safety. Now aboard a military carrier, Matt is surrounded by welcoming strangers and faced with an impossible task.
Travis, aka Mope, isn’t sure about using a civilian in a military operation, but rescuing Matt was fortuitous and if he agrees to help, he could make a huge impact on their mission in Syria. But more than that, Mope finds himself attracted to Matt. But Mope is in the closet and Matt has a boyfriend back home. There’s no hope for them on that front ,but at least out here, where danger surrounds them on all sides, Mope can keep Matt safe. That will have to be enough, no matter how much both of them might want something else.
I first read Latakia years ago, soon after it was originally released. At the time, I loved the book and found myself tucking it away for further, future readings. Somehow those readings never happened. Latakia got buried under all the other books coming across my desk and I decided our International Week for the 2018 Reading Challenge Month was a great opportunity to revisit this story. And now I kind of wish I hadn’t, because upon re-reading, Latakia wasn’t quite as good as I remembered.
While the basic plot to Latakia is somewhat far fetched, it’s still generally enjoyable. The first half of the book especially moves easily and there is a sense of threat that comes through once Matt is kidnapped. His connection to the rest of the soldiers is well established and their personalities, perhaps more than Mope’s, seem defined. The pacing slows down dramatically after Matt’s return to civilian life and Latakia loses its sense of purpose. It tends to meander until finally finding it’s conclusion and while the ending itself is satisfying, the part of the book makes the reader really work to reach it.
Latakia’s biggest issue is its excessiveness. Instead of a drama, we get a melodrama that lacks enough insight to understand it’s own failings. Because Latakia plays out like a soap opera, even the emotional moments come off as stifled and hokey. And this really hampers the romance between Mope and Matt. Their tender moments left me rolling my eyes instead of enjoying their chance at happily ever after.
Sometimes you can’t go back again and Latakia was proof of that. While an adequate read at its core, too many moments of excess left it foundering under the weight of its own ridiculousness. Which was disappointing, but we’ve all read books that failed to hold up to the ravages of time. Latakia just happens to fall into the category of a book that was better left to the fondness of memory.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for International Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a prize pack of some of our favorite International Books. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on International Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.