Noel Casey, Book #1
By Michaela Debelius
Author’s Website: http://www.michaeladebelius.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Lee
Lieutenant Noel Casey is taken aback by her newest military assignment. Her usual routine of vaccine development is interrupted when she’s assigned to analyze Killian, a genetically engineered soldier designed for exceptional strength and intelligence. When Noel is attacked outside Killian’s containment quarters, he is forced to intervene. The altruistic act instantly transforms their relationship, though neither will admit to the shift in sentiment. As if her infatuation with a virtual stranger isn’t enough of a distraction, she begins having terrifying nightmares. Her cryptic dreams appear to harbor an elusive warning as she watches them materialize into existence, proving the nightly visions foretelling. She begins to suspect the military base is concealing far more than an experimental soldier, and she can’t shake the feeling Killian is the axis of the chaos. Noel must decide whether she’ll accept the unconvincing explanations offered by her peers, or reject her comfortable environment for an unimaginable truth. (Amazon)
Lieutenant Noel Casey doesn’t fit into any preconceived molds or stereotypes as a character. She is a 26-year-old scientist in the United States Army who loves makeup, skin care, and high heels as much as she loves testing vaccines and serving her country through her studies of biological warfare. She can melt at the touch of a man she finds herself attracted to but will stand up for herself against all matter of unwanted attentions. She has a mysterious past involving a missing mother, but doesn’t allow herself to become too weepy about it. Overall, she’s a great example of a heroine who doesn’t sacrifice her femininity to kick ass in a boy’s world.
However, this world ends up being a lot more than Noel bargained for. Used to being one of only a few women in the armed forces, she didn’t expect to be the only one at Fort Braeden, subject to extreme sexual harassment and borderline rape. She didn’t expect her assignment to be so psychology-oriented given that it was only her minor in college. Most importantly, she didn’t expect the super-soldier subject of her assignment to draw her in romantically rather than professionally.
The romance is only one piece of the puzzle that is Decoy. There are the visions that Noel finds herself plagued with, visions that end up being diagnosed as premonitions. There is Taylor, one of her only allies at Fort Braeden and who appears to be more mysteriously entwined with Killian and Noel than she originally would have thought. The reasons for Killian’s superior abilities end up having an explanation that will stun the reader, and which opens up a million more doors in the story for Noel to traverse through—and hopefully come out alive. I don’t want to give away too much more about the storyline, suffice to say that many surprises are in store and the pages fly by.
The plot is a little too unwieldy at times for the page length; it is understood that there will be more books chronicling Noel’s adventures but so much happens within Decoy that the reader is often overwhelmed. I would have appreciated more pages and more description, and more background in this first book in order to wrap my brain around the plot and be prepared for the next volume. Debelius’s writing thrives on detail and description that grounds the more out-there science-fiction elements in a world the reader understands, so more pages of such would have indeed been enjoyable. Killian is a little too stiff and boring as a romantic interest; one can understand Noel’s instant attraction to him as he is described as unbelievably sexy and has a literal scientific chemistry with him that cannot be helped. However, he’s not terribly likeable apart from the steamy scenes in which he and Noel give in to their impulses. Taylor is a far more amusing and interesting male lead, and one can’t help but wonder how his role in the love triangle will change and evolve in any further Noel Casey novels.
Overall, Debelius has put together a complicated world, a juicy, science-laced mystery, and a great female protagonist to take the reader along on her ride through it. Goodness knows, no one would ever insist on simplicity from a book; most people do enjoy being challenged when they read. However, one can only hope that as Noel learns more and more about Killian, Taylor, and her connection to them, that things will become a little clearer for the reader as well.