Justine suffers from near-incapacitating hypochondriac whose mother died from a rare disease everyone refused to believe she had. Damn good reason to have health anxieties, I say. She struggles through each day as if it’s her last in case that elusive vein will explode in her brain. But living on edge is almost too much for her hunky, yet simple-minded boyfriend, Cubby. That is until she meets Packard, a mysterious Turkish restaurant owner, who says he can save her hypochondriac self-implosion.
Justine (and myself!) is skeptical to say the least, but with her sanity and relationship at risk, she agrees to join Packard’s mysterious team of disillusionists. His minions are various neurotics who can channel their specific fears and anxieties into someone else, preferably an evil person who deserves it. Packard is the ring leader transforming them into vigilantes who break down criminals mentally until they have no choice but to reform (or kill themselves!). Did I mention, he is supposed to be dangerously sexy with reddish brown ringlets and often has his shirt open? Yeah, Justine’s roaming eyes might be excited about this new gig too.
The disillusionists each have a target with silly code names like Silver Widow and The Alchemist. They all go undercover to repeatedly ‘zing’ their neurotic energy into their mark. All masterminded by Packard who pays them handsomely. Justine’s best friend is Shelby, a fatalist from Eastern Europe who doesn’t believe happiness exists. And yet she is quite cheerful and loves to go shopping. She’s one of my favorite characters with her cold existentialist remarks.
Against her better judgement, Justine becomes entangled in a love triangle with Packard and Cubby. How can she resist a man shrouded in mystery who has been trapped in the restaurant by his telepathic nemesis (revealed at end of the book) for last 8 years? Justine is determined to help him, even if he is sexy scoundrel who manipulated her to join his team.
It was highly unlikely I would have read Mind Games if it wasn’t last month’s Vaginal Fantasy pick. Don’t get me wrong, sci-fi/fantasy edged romances are certainly right up my alley… But the idea of weaponizing your neuroses to ‘zing’ dangerous people sounds bit a silly. Nevertheless, Crane expertly gives you window into the crushing world of illness anxiety with detailed medical terminology. The inevitable love triangle (s) were cheesy, but entertaining. And Packard’s nemesis turns out to be more interesting than expected. He’s featured more prominently in the next book, so I might check that out for CBR7.
Review also on my blog