Last Man Standing: Sweet End to a Great Series
Title: Last Man Standing (Black Ops Inc.)
Author: Cindy Gerard
Genre: Romantic Suspense
With Last Man Standing, Cindy Gerard brings to a close her beloved Black Ops Inc. (BOI) series that has spanned seven books, and started with Show No Mercy in 2008. It seems strangely appropriate to end the BOI series with “Mean” Joe Green’s story. Joe’s been a side character in many of the books, and the quietly enigmatic man has caught the attention of many fans.
Since early in the series, we’ve been working up to finding out who was responsible for Bryan’s death, and it’s great that all the loose ends are tied up in Last Man Standing. A team-mate to the BOI guys, a close friend of Joe’s, and Stephanie’s brother, Bryan was killed in Sierra Leone years ago, but it’s only in this book that that mystery is finally solved.
Joe finally has a lead on who the culprit is, and decides to go off to Sierra Leone on his own to investigate. Not wanting to drag his team-mates down, he goes rogue from BOI. He then breaks up with Stephanie just before he leaves, in a bid to protect her. But alas, the best laid plans will go awry, and Joe is captured and imprisoned for a murder that he did not commit. A month after Joe’s imprisonment, Stephanie catches wind of Joe’s predicament. Unfortunately, none of the BOI team are available to mount a rescue, so the NSA analyst with little field experience throw caution to the wind, and flies out to Africa, where she’s able (with a little help from some friends) to mount an escape and rescue the much-diminished Joe and bring him back home.
It’s very clear from the beginning of the book who the villain is, so the suspense is mostly in seeing Joe and Stephanie stay ahead of his evil machinations. The villain’s ultimate aim is to assume a very important post in the Administration in order to protect is financial interests in Sierra Leone, and he’ll stop at nothing to achieve his goal. When he discovers that gunning for Joe and Stephanie didn’t work, he turns his attention to Stephanie’s parents, and it’s up to our hero and heroine to save the day, as well as prevent the villain from becoming a powerful player in national security.
For someone who’s been following the BOI series for years, this was a very satisfying book. I loved that we finally get to see so much more of Joe, who is the quintessential strong and silent hero who is gentled by the right woman. (I did however think he was a bit too hard-headed when it came to wanting to go off and save the world all by himself…)
I particularly liked that Stephanie was such a kick-ass heroine – despite her lack of experience. It’s so rare to see the heroine come riding to the rescue – and she really does do that for Joe, since during the escape from Sierra Leone, he can hardly move, and it’s all down to her. The way she handled his ego at not being able to care for himself was truly precious.
I suppose I might have enjoyed it a little more if the other guys and gals from BOI had been a little bit more involved in the story, but it was enough that everyone turned up at the end, full of glad tidings, and many offspring – a sweet ending to a riveting series.
It’s sad to see the series end, but all is not lost for Gerard fans. We’re introduced to Mike and Ty, two extremely charming pilots, and I have it on good authority that these two will be starring in their own spin-off series. I can’t wait!