Undetected // by Dee Henderson


I read this book back in 2014 as an ARC when it was first published, and felt rather ambivalent towards it then.  I reread it as part of my ongoing saga of plowing through all of Dee Henderson’s backlog, and actually found that I liked it even less this time around (or maybe am more impatient towards Henderson’s poor character development when I know she can do better), as I dropped from a 3/5 to 2/5.

Gina is a legit genius who has done some amazing sciency things involving sonar, which she’s especially interested in because her brother, Jeff, is the commander (or whatever they call them) of a submarine for the US Navy.  Gina and Jeff are orphans and are very close, and at the beginning of the book she moves back to the base where he lives on the west coast as a relationship that she’s been in for a couple of years has just ended.  Gina’s 29 and feels like she’s ready to get married, so she asks her brother if he knows any nice guys that might be interested.  Jeff’s first thought is his good friend Mark Bishop (who actually happens to be the brother of Bryce, the main dude from Unspoken).

Mark is a widower in his mid-40’s and he really likes Gina but feels like he’s too old for her because they are like 11 years apart.  (As someone whose husband is ten years older, I found myself a bit confused at this point, but whatever.)  So Jeff finds another friend, Daniel, who immediately likes Gina and they start going out.  Meanwhile, Mark keeps running into Gina and becomes increasingly intrigued by her intelligence and humor, etc etc etc and decides that he IS interested after all because he feels like he would be an awesome husband for her.  So we get this weird love triangle where everyone knows that both guys are interested in Gina, and Mark says stupid stuff about how having two guys like her will be really good for Gina’s self-esteem (or it could make her feel really pressured and confused?!), and both guys are like, “May the best man win” and it’s just really ridiculous and annoying.

Basically, I didn’t like Mark, who comes across as INCREDIBLY condescending.  He’s super pushy towards Gina and spends a lot of time talking himself up, about how he was a really awesome husband during his first marriage and how he knows he’s going to be an awesome husband for Gina, too, because he can READ HER MIND and knows exactly what she needs ALL THE TIME.  And while he claims to be impressed by Gina’s intelligence and independence, my notes say, “So obnoxious how he keeps marveling at her maturity – she’s almost 30??  So youngish, yes, but she was in college at 14, like her being thoughtful and mature shouldn’t be this big surprise.”

But it is!  Then, he finally convinces her to marry him, and after that he does something that REALLY annoys me – he keeps telling her not to worry about things she isn’t worrying about.  So he’ll say something like, “Don’t worry about all the responsibilities that come with being a commander’s wife; everyone will help you out,” and she’s like, “I’m really not worried about; I’m sure I’ll settle right in and handle it fine,” and he’s like, “Okay, but don’t worry about it; I know it’s going to be a LOT of work and REALLY hard, but it will be okay!”  And then later he’s he thinks to himself, “Wow, she is surprisingly good at being a commander’s wife!  That’s crazy!  It’s almost like SHE HAS BEEN IN THE WORLD OF ADULTS SINCE THE AGE OF 14 AND IS NOW 30 YEARS OLD AND KNOWS HOW TO ADULT!”

So once again, a kind of meh story that would have been enjoyable if the main dude hadn’t been so freaking annoying.  I actually really, really liked Daniel and felt like he was a WAY better match for Gina, so I just couldn’t get into Mark as being THE MAN, when if he had tried any of his stupid lines on me, I would have told him where to get off.

2/5, and as I’m reviewing these books, I’m starting to wonder why I kept reading them!?  My only excuse is that I was actually really busy doing lots of other things, so my reading was just a chapter or two a day.  I think if I had sat down and really read large chunks of these books at a time, I would have gotten impatient with them a lot sooner.

Book #2 for #20BooksofSummer!



by Dee Henderson

Published 2014

(Bethany House sent me this book for free, which has not in any way altered my review.)

So, for those of you who were following this blog last spring, you’ll recall that I read through Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series and really, really enjoyed it.  They were suspenseful, had great character development, and allowed the “religious” aspect to flow in a way that was natural, unintrusive, and thought-provoking.  This past winter, I read her Uncommon Heroes series.  While I didn’t enjoy those as much, they were still decent reads, if a little shorter on plot and depth than the O’Malleys.

All that to say, I was pretty stoked when I got a free copy of Undetected, because I’m always up for a new Henderson.  However, while this was a fine book, it was more in line with the Uncommon Heroes than the O’Malleys, leaving me feeling a bit meh about it overall.

Gina Gray, our heroine, is a genius – a legit, incredible, brilliantly intelligent genius.  She and her brother, who is in the navy, are alone in the world, and some of her past projects have dealt with ways to make her brother’s life, on board a submarine, safer.  At the beginning of this book, she’s off to her brother’s naval base to work on a new project, and recover from the sudden end of a two-year relationship.  There, she meets up with Commander Mark Bishop – or rather re-meets up with, as she’s known him for years as her brother’s friend.

And basically, this book is kind of a romantic story with that military background, incredibly similar to the Uncommon Heroes books.  I’m just not that into the military and I don’t tend to get all teary-eyed over it, so I think that this book, like the other series, loses some of its potential emotional impact for me.    Gina asks her brother to help her find a nice guy to marry, basically, and her brother asks Mark if he’s interested, and Mark says no because he’s like ten years older than Gina, and a widower.  (Gina’s almost 30, so it’s not like he’s some dude in his 30’s hitting on a girl just out of high school or something super creepy, just to clarify.)  So her brother introduces her to this other guy, Daniel, who’s really interested in Gina and super, super nice.  Meanwhile, Mark realizes that he actually IS interested in Gina, so he starts kinda making a move on her as well (but in a really gentlemanly kind of way).  So this book ends up being a slightly irritating love triangle story, except a love triangle where everyone is incredibly nice and thoughtful and good at communication so like Daniel knows that Mark’s also interested in Gina and they agree to this kind of “may the best man win even if it isn’t either of us” sort of attitude and………..

I don’t know.  I just couldn’t get into this story.  There wasn’t a lot happening, and while all of the characters were nice, that’s about all they were.  I didn’t feel this depth or character development coming from any of them, and in some ways I really felt like Mark was super pushy about wanting to marry Gina.  Basically, he was like, “Hey, no pressure, but I’m a super awesome dude and I was a rockin’ husband before and I’ll be an amazing husband to you and we will deal fabulously so you know no pressure but” and it kind of got on my nerves.  In the end, it felt like Gina made her own decision, but it all played out kind of weirdly to me.

In the end, this book was a solid 3/5.  It was a fine read with a decent story, but none of the characters really spoke to me, and I felt like there wasn’t enough story to keep things moving.  I read the book when I was reading it, but felt no yearning to return to it if I had to put it down.  While I’m still planning to read what was apparently a first book in this series (? There’s a book about one of Mark’s brothers, and he has another one, so I’m guessing there will be at least one more book??), this really wasn’t a classic I want to read time and again.