This is the first e-book that we have Dished about and it's a good one. Caridad Pineiro’s The Fifth Kingdom is a fast-moving romantic suspense that had the RT reviewer raving, "This story is an Indiana Jones-style thrill ride".
Morgan: I think the first thing that struck me about this book is that it is really easy to read. I opened it on my iPad and before I knew it, I was halfway done.
Whitney: Agreed, it was so easy to devour! I think that in part this has to do with the fact that the story very naturally moves itself along. The heroine’s estranged mother, archaeologist Dr. Miranda Adams, has been searching for Montezuma’s tomb for the past fourteen years. When she locates it, she’s captured by a Mexican gang, Primera Mexica, that is determined to use her find for their own (nefarious!) ends.
Morgan: The FBI and CIA are working together to head off the gang of terrorists. So they locate Dr. Adams’ only child, the adult Dr. Deanna Vasquez, who has become a famous archaeologist in her own right. The agencies hope that Deanna will agree to help them locate the tomb before Primera Mexica can get to whatever it holds.
Whitney: So the beginning of the story is set in New York City where the handsome CIA agent Bill Santana locates Deanna at her job at a prep school. After he convinces Deanna to put aside the resentment she feels about Miranda —
Morgan: Hold up, I think it’s important to note that at this point Deanna is so upset with her mother for abandoning their family all those years ago, she doesn’t even call Miranda “mom.”
Whitney: Right, Bill definitely has his work cut out for him. But pretty soon the pair is preparing for the rescue attempt that will bring them up against the Primera Mexica.
Morgan: And take them straight into Mexico, where Bill and Deanna pose as a recently engaged couple in order to make the gang think that they a) aren’t a threat and b) have no idea that Miranda has been kidnapped.
Whitney: And boy, do they do a good job of pretending to be a pair!
Morgan: Well, it’s not pretend for long. They get very close, very quickly, but I feel this is understandable. Bill is a pretty dreamy hero. He is stable and supportive person. Authoritative and sure yet, never cocky.
Whitney: And Deanna can really use some stability since her life has been thrown into turmoil.
Morgan: The couple totally got points from me for the amount of time that they time spend together. They really became a team and stuck to each other like glue.
Whitney: But I did wonder how much the CIA would let her be a part of the investigation. I mean, skilled archaeologist or not, at the end of the day Deanna doesn’t have any military training.
Morgan: Oh, I really liked how the foot dragging about her being a civilian didn’t factor into the story. I hope that in the event of any terrorist threat, we send in whoever can help.
Whitney: Willing or not?
Morgan: Hmmm. I’m not so sure, but thankfully, it never comes to that, as Deanna is always very willing to do whatever is necessary to help. Even when it means facing off against some pretty terrifying bad guys.
Whitney: And her own estranged mother. Although at that point Miranda has been with Primera Mexica for a while, and while it hasn’t been a vacation, the situation could have been much worse.
Morgan: Worse than hooking her up to a battery and electrocuting her?!?
Whitney: Um, yeah. I feel like I heard that some of the Mexican gangs and the drug cartels behead people. And that’s not the treatment that Miranda got.
Morgan: But the author doesn’t only show the violent side of modern-day Mexico. There is lots of talk about Mexican archeology and the region's history. Pineiro infuses the story with bits of Aztec life without the boring museum speak.
Whitney: Hey, as someone who likes all of that “boring museum speak” I felt like there was just the perfect amount. After reading the story I'm itching to learn more about the Aztecs and Montezuma. But I did appreciate that the historical facts never overshadowed the emotional drama that plays out in The Fifth Kingdom.
Morgan: Exactly! Even though this is a romantic suspense story, there’s such a big emphasis on the importance of family. Especially with the way that Deanna and Miranda have to work to re-build a relationship.
Whitney: But think, if Deanna and Miranda had been together and all chummy at the beginning of the story, they both might have been captured by Primera Mexica. And also, Deanna and Bill wouldn’t have been able to form such an instant bond. Because Bill had been abandoned by both of his parents, this gave the hero and heroine a real sense of mutual understanding, connection, even.
Morgan: Bill is a great hero, he’s got emotional depth but is in total control without being a jerk about it. He is the leader because he knows how to lead. Everyone listens to him because he knows what he was doing — and that’s really hard to pull off!
Whitney: This makes him the perfect match for the strong-willed Deanna. Losing her mother at such a young age made her really strong on the outside. But Bill is able to break through to her heart.
Morgan: And part of capturing her heart definitely involves the connection they make in the bedroom.
Whitney: And because the novel is like 300 pages, there's time for a lot of "bedroom business".
Morgan: You know, the story is about a lot more than just sex. These are some hurt characters who are each on their own paths. And those paths don’t always lead back to each other.
Whitney: Or do they?
Morgan: The readers will just have to pick up The Fifth Kingdom for themselves to see!
This is our reaction to The Fifth Kingdom by Caridad Pineiro and now we want to know what you think. Leave comments below and if you want to read along with next week’s Dish we’ll be chowing down on Victoria Dahl’s new contemporary series starter Good Girls Don’t!