This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Signet
Released on August 5, 2014
Everything from the title, to the cover, to the blurb told me this one would be an exciting book that I just shouldn’t miss. Aaannd, after closing the cover on the final pages, I’d say that it totally lived up to expectation.
This is the second book of the series, but I had no trouble jumping in with this one though I will definitely be going back for Jack and Sophie’s story.
The story opens with Maria Cervantes going to a party for the rich to connect with donors for her community youth program only to overhear a terrorist plot right before an explosion killed several and left her with memory loss. Maria is the only living witness to the bombing leaving the authorities unsure if she’s a victim or a not so innocent participant.
Cade O’Reilly, ex-Marine NSA operative, discovers Maria’s name on the survivor’s list for a huge terrorist bombing and insists on being assigned to the mission. Years ago, he served with her brother and was best friend to both Riel and Maria. His friendship with Maria had become something more until he suddenly cut off all contact after the death of Riel. He knew he hurt Maria, but he saw no other way. Now, however, he was here for her to protect her, help her remember, and possibly make amends if she didn’t end up hating him for his part in Riel’s death.
Maria has lost so much and it’s shocking to have Cade walk back into her life. Her feelings are conflicted and bounce from anger to grief to attraction as she spends time with Cade working to hunt down the terrorists. She is terrified as danger surrounds her, but she is determined to see it through. Having the capable and lethal Cade there with her makes it all endurable, but also gives her comfort and something much, much more. Enemies close in and continue with their deadly plans leaving Maria and Cade along with the rest of the NSA teams rushing headlong into danger.
The plot was a good strong one and the little bit of intrigue caused by multiple enemies and a rogue operative upped the intensity. There was a good balance between the romance and the suspense. I enjoyed all the big action scenes that were included. The romance was a second chance style so the hero and heroine already had a history making their flare up of attraction not as instant as it might seem. They had to get past the issue of his disappearance, but even while Maria is sorting out how she feels about the abandonment and reappearance, they get hot for each other. I have to say that when it comes to these books telling a story fraught with danger and a race to beat the bad guys before they do something awful that I always find it a little amusing when the passion kicks up and the main couple take a brief detour into the bedroom, bathroom or wherever – perhaps several times. It’s not something that makes me hate a book, but just makes me pause before I dive back in. Nope, didn’t mind at all in this case because I enjoyed these two together. Move over Maria, I might arm wrestle you for Cade.
As to the characters, Maria was a refreshing Romantic Suspense heroine. Maria is not portrayed as some skilled Amazon, but just a beautiful woman inside and out whose calling is to give back to her community and help the youth that ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She goes through a lot in a short time in this one. She reacts in normal ways with emotional moments followed by good common sense. She even handles Cade’s abandonment with minimal drama. She has her moments when her naïveté gets her into trouble, but it all fit with her persona and didn’t cross into the annoying. She sees past all the intimidating size, muscle, tattoos and lethal air to the real feeling, lonely, vulnerable man beneath the surface when it comes to Cade. Cade is a trained operative who does his work well without a hitch until he has Maria to protect then he becomes even more fierce. I loved seeing this alpha male rein it in when it came to Maria. He is tender with her and caring even when she insists on certain things that leave her more vulnerable. He has always valued Maria’s family and their warm welcome to him to be a part of them since his own family was not that way. It’s a struggle for him to put his honest feelings out there and not have them rejected because of the guilt he carries. Love the wounded warrior types.
The regular secondary characters including Cade’s boss and a revisit from others in the first book were a welcome addition. I hope Levi’s story continues in another book.
The story has multiple narrators including a couple of the villains. One of the terrorists was doing bad things, but through his narration I felt some sympathy for his motives which says a lot for the way the author paints him and her other characters with depth.
Overall, this was a fantastic read and a great first experience with this author. The romance was sizzling and the suspense was action-packed the way I like it. Romantic Suspense lovers should definitely give this series a try.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for my honest review.