Series: #5 Killer Instincts
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Signet
Released on November 4, 2014
I wasn’t five pages in and I started mentally kicking myself for waiting so long to pick up this book so thank you, voters. Yep, it was sensational, jaw-dropping, can’t breathe, squirming, all the good stuff romantic suspense. I’ve read many that claim the description of ‘enemies to lovers’ trope, but really didn’t. However, this baby, it was the Real McCoy. These two hated each other and had good reason, but they also had the skills to kill and never get caught so that added some real edge to it all.
This was the fifth installment of the Killer Instincts series. I’m going to pull a ‘do as I say not as I do’ bit of advice and suggest that they get read in order even though this was my first in the series. I say that because yes, I loved it and had little difficulty reading it as a standalone, but there were also times that I wished when little hints or familiar characters appeared in the scene that they had been, in fact, familiar to me. I think that I would have gotten even a stronger connection than I did to the story, characters, and series if I had but read them in order. So yeah, it will work as a standalone, but would be a much better reading experience in its place.
The story opens with super assassin, Noelle, getting contacted to do a hit. She is surprised to discover the hit is on her greatest enemy, ex-Army Ranger and now mercenary, Jim Morgan. Jim used her and betrayed her in the worst way nearly 20 years before, but Noelle is uneasy about the hit and does something unprecedented for her.
Jim is the leader-owner of a merc group that are quickly going from a bunch of single soldiers of fortune like himself to people in strong satisfying relationships. He never wants that for himself, but his latest short-term situation with a woman has ended and he is edgy after the woman speculates about what woman in his past burned him for a second chance. He can’t and won’t share that he once loved a woman and betrayed her love for his country before she revenged herself in a bigger way destroying any feelings he had for her.
Something is coming his intuition warns. And when he finds Noelle in his compound, the source of his edginess is explained. The years roll back and they both remember the past even as they warily circle each other now. Jim is astounded that Noelle has come to warn him about the hit, but no more than she is by her actions. He has to trace the source of the hit and neutralize it before the hit goes public and every assassin is after the reward for his death.
Noelle thought to inform Jim and then leave, but he returns to Paris with her and will not go away even requesting her help, reluctantly and through gritted teeth. Their love was killed long ago and the hate is very hot, but what neither of them anticipate is the heat of passion blazes even hotter. While they follow the clues back into Jim’s past and through the present to the identity of his shadowy enemy, they also are forced to confront their own shared past. Noelle will not give in and let Jim close and Jim wonders if she is too broken to ever love again. Meanwhile, there is one surprising and deadly twist after another waiting for them and their team of helpers.
As I said, this is enemies to lovers at its best. It’s a story told switching between point of views and alternating present with the past. I thought that part was all well done and easy to follow. I liked how it all worked on me so that I was forced to revise my opinion several times with each new surprising reveal. I felt a certain way about the characters and thought I had their motives worked out, but I only got some of it right. I enjoyed the fast pace of the action that still allowed room for introspective moments. And the passion? Good golly Miss Molly, these two channeled all their frustration and emotions into the physical and it was as dangerous and intense as any action scene.
[quote]Reluctance creased Jim’s forehead as he roughly placed his hand at the small of her back, so low that he was almost touching her ass. “I fucking hate the waltz,” he muttered.
Fighting a grin, Noelle corrected his pose by shifting his hand further up her back, then rested one hand on his shoulder and tucked her other one into his. When another grumbling sound left his lips, her grin finally breached the surface, because there was truly nothing she enjoyed more than seeing Jim Morgan out of his element. He fit that tux to perfection, moved with a grace you wouldn’t expect from a man so big, and yet despite all that, she’d never seen him look more uncomfortable.
“I think I’m going to lick your pussy when we get back to your place.”
The raspy declaration caught her by complete surprise, which, she realized, was exactly what he intended.
As her pulse raced and her sex clenched, she stared into his eyes and was unprepared for the sensual gleam she saw in them. He no longer looked ill at ease, but confident as hell, and incredibly arrogant.
The romance was by necessity slow to develop. I was grateful to the author for distinguishing between lust and love. These two were lusty, but the growth of love was something wispy and didn’t become tangible for a long time. Even then, it was the sort of love that was bruised and tentative because of what they had done to each other in the past and because of who they are, hard-core people in the death-dealing business.
[quote]“Noelle…” a warning note crept into his voice.
“Now, I’m going to change out of this dress, get in the shower, and wash all traces of you off my body,” she told him, finally feeling calm and centered again. “Please don’t be here when I come out.” Noelle paused. “And just in case it’s not clear enough? Our little cease-fire is officially over.”
There were a couple other minor character plot threads that I enjoyed, but were also a little distracting because I wanted to stick with the main plot. I think these must be setting up for books following this one.
Speaking of minor characters, there is a whole host of them. There is the plethora of people from Jim’s merc team and Noelle’s assassin squad that mix and match because of previous stories in the series brought them together. They are all lethal operators and yet they form a hodge-podge family. Other secondary characters include the villain group. I liked that the author took the time to develop the villains’ characters and their motives so that their actions and emotions make sense and there is depth.
Alright, so this was one brilliant thrill ride that I hope to repeat both by catching up on the series and continuing forward with it. I heartily suggest Romance Suspense lovers give these a try.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.