Formats available: ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance
Series: Team 52 #7
Published by Anna Hackett on April 19th 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon
She’s the one woman he’s always wanted and the one woman he’ll never let himself have, but former Delta Force soldier Axel will risk everything to save his covert team’s beautiful archaeologist.
Axel Diaz knows that fighting the bad guys requires getting down in the muck. He’s done too much and seen too much to ever inflict his nightmares on a woman. Especially a gorgeous, smart archaeologist who ignites his blood like no one else. Axel focuses on his work with the covert, black ops Team 52. He’ll work alongside Dr. Natalie Blackwell as they safeguard pieces of ancient technology, but he’ll never let himself touch her.
Then everything changes when Nat calls for help. Her archaeology conference in Greece has gone horribly wrong…
Dr. Natalie Blackwell loves her work with Team 52. A lonely childhood and an indifferent family have taught her to be independent. She’s been attracted to Axel for a long time, but refuses to be another notch on his very notched bedpost. But when she finds herself in terrible danger, being hunted by something terrifying, all she wants around her are Axel’s muscled arms. She is in the fight for her life, and she’s praying her team—and the man she can’t resist—can find her in time.
I keep expecting Team 52 to discover a Stargate, or maybe just a DHD (Dial Home Device), but neither of those are dangerous in and of themselves – although a box of staff weapons or zats certainly would be. Or they could turn up the Tesseract from the MCU – that would certainly make a big mess – as we already know.
In spite of that reference to the MCU, I still say that the Team 52 series has a big Stargate vibe to me. It’s the whole idea that there is just MORE to the world than history teaches us, that civilizations have risen and fallen more time than we were ever aware of, and that those that fell left behind dangers and wonders that we are just not ready for.
And that it’s all science-based rather than magic based, even though Clarke’s Law applies. You know, the one about “any sufficiently advanced technology” being indistinguishable from magic. The humans who lived at the time of some of these great but fallen civilizations saw their advanced tech as magic, and enshrined it in myth and legend. But it was science – perhaps science gone very, very far amuck, but still science.
Take, for example, the virus that disrupts Team 52 archaeologist Nat Blackwell’s scientific conference in Athens. A pot is broken, a fellow archaeologist touches something that he really, really, really shouldn’t, and suddenly there’s a MINOTAUR in the room goring bystanders with his horns and scooping up women to make up his expected tribute.
Seven women, just like the myth says. One of whom is Nat. A Nat who fully expects her Team to come and get her. Whether she can survive long enough for rescue is a much bigger question. The team is in Las Vegas. Athens – or wherever the Minotaur has taken his captives – is very far away.
When rescue arrives, it brings a whole host of other problems with it. The initial Minotaur transformation may have been an accident, but now that the possibility is known, there are plenty of, let’s call them basty-assed-nastards, who want to see it weaponized – and sold to the highest bidder.
Nat and Team 52 find themselves exchanging weapons fire with mercenaries from The Hannibal Syndicate in order to prevent those mercs from capturing the Minotaur for study, experimentation and weaponization by whoever will pay them the most.
Nat wants to save the Minotaur, to see if there’s a chance of turning the monster back into the scientist she used to know.
After all, Nat has a thing for saving monsters. Or at least saving men who see themselves that way. Whether they want to be saved – or not.
Escape Rating B+: I had a lot of fun with this entry in the Team 52 series. The books in this series (start with Mission: Her Protection) have generally been a good reading time, something that we all need these days. They do a great job of providing the same kind of escape as something like Stargate, where the exploration of those “brave new worlds” has been brought home to Earth.
This one in particular lived up to my earlier references to both Stargate and the MCU, as the sideways dive into myth and legend has parallels in both worlds, AND Nat, the heroine of this particular entry in the series, shares a name with Natalya Romanov, the MCU’s Black Widow. While Nat Blackwell isn’t badass in the same way at Nat Romanov, I think they have plenty in common, and would have LOTS to talk about, including the stubbornness of their respective teams.
Like all of the books in this series, the adventure of battling the evil mercs and capturing, stealing or re-stealing the dangerous, mythological macguffin is interwoven with a romance between at least one member of Team 52 and someone who is either part of their world or is introduced to it – usually in either a hail of bullets, or by being taken prisoner or hostage by something slightly supernatural.
The romance between Nat and Axel Diaz manages to combine a whole bunch of those elements, as Axel is also a member of Team 52, and Nat is not only a member but manages to get taken hostage – or at least threatened with it – multiple times by both the Minotaur AND the mercenaries.
Nat and Axel have always had seriously explosive chemistry between them, a chemistry that both have denied – for different reasons. Actually, for a bit of the same reason, too. Admittedly Axel has been a bit of a manwhore, and nobody needs to get involved in that kind of drama where they work. But both of them have a bad case of the “I’m not worthy” syndrome. Axel because his former military service had him doing very bad things to people who may or may not have been bad themselves, and Nat because her parents treated her as an obligation or a showpiece instead of a child.
While this is not my favorite romantic trope, it was certainly done well in this particular instance – especially from Nat’s side. Her parents were definitely “pieces of work”. Most people would end up with the same kind of emotional baggage in that situation. In the end, Nat and Axel do an excellent job of making each other strong in their broken places – and of realizing that they make each other better.
So an exciting adventure, a romance that overcomes the odds, another monster down, another merc band out and a good time had by all. A fun action-adventure romance all the way around.
The series feels like it’s winding down. This author has a tendency to have the head honcho find their HEA as the closing of the series. Based on events at the end of this one, it looks like Team 52’s director, Jonah Grayson, is heading for a fall sometime later this year. I’m sure a good ass-kicking and romantic time will be had by all!