A- #BookReview: The Hero She Craves by Anna Hackett

A- #BookReview: The Hero She Craves by Anna HackettThe Hero She Craves by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance
Series: Unbroken Heroes #3
Pages: 248
Published by Anna Hackett on June 13, 2024
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

The last thing he expects on his ship is the off-limits woman he can’t stop thinking about—his best friend’s daughter.
After a tough military career as a Navy SEAL, and a member of a covert Ghost Ops team, Lorenzo “Ren” Santoro now calls a research ship home. The ocean, very few people, and solitude…it’s all he needs.
Then as a favor to his best friend, he agrees to take a research team to sea to test a top-secret Navy project. He’s shocked to discover his best friend’s daughter is one of the scientists. The beautiful Halle Bradshaw who Ren once kissed, who ignites a powerful craving inside him. She’s too young, too innocent, and too off-limits.
When strange things start happening to Halle, Ren suspects she’s in danger…and he’ll do anything to keep her safe.
Marine biologist Halle loves the ocean, her work…and Ren Santoro. Being aboard his ship, she finally has the chance to show the stubborn man how good they could be together.
But someone is targeting the highly classified project she’s working on. One she can’t let fall into enemy hands.
The only person she can trust is Ren. Forced to abandon their ship, they will face the danger of the sea and the wilds of a jungle-covered island, all while being hunted by a relentless enemy.
Ren and Halle will no longer be able to hide from their white-hot desire or their demons. She’s determined to convince him to take a chance on love…but first, they have to survive.

My Review: 

Some tropes are classics for a reason, and The Hero She Craves wonderfully illustrates every single one of those reasons for one of my absolute faves.

There’s a bit of an age gap between former Navy SEAL Lorenzo “Ren” Santoro and Halle Bradshaw. And so there should be, as Halle’s dad is Ren’s mentor AND best friend. Tom Bradshaw saved Ren’s life when a young, tough, and let’s face it, dumb Ren tried to steal the older man’s car.

Instead of turning him in, Tom Bradshaw turned Ren’s life around, which means that Ren was around to watch Halle turn from a sulky, grieving teen after the loss of her mom in an automobile accident, to a beautiful woman that he knows he should keep his hands off of.

At her 20th birthday party, he didn’t. It’s been three years and neither of them has ever been able to forget that one, searing kiss. The one that marked both of their hearts – even if Ren is too caught up in guilt – and the damn ‘bro code’ to admit it – while Halle is just a bit too innocent to go out and get her man.

But those  three years later, Halle’s tired of waiting for Ren to quit avoiding her and the tension simmering between them. She’s a marine biologist, he’s the second-in-command of the research ship her team has contracted with for their latest round of experiments with a highly experimental – and sought after – submersible.

She thinks she’ll have all the time in the world to pin him down. He thinks he only has to avoid spending too much time with his greatest temptation for four days and then he can go back to avoiding the inevitable.

The forces that want to steal the submersible – a device that is even more revolutionary than Ren and his captain were originally told – have put Halle in their crosshairs as the weak link in the device’s security.

But Halle’s not weak at all – not with Ren to protect her from the very, very bad guys. Especially when he finally gets hit with the clue by four that the last thing he ever needs to protect her from is himself.

Escape Rating A-: Three books in, I have to say that I’ve enjoyed the first two books in the Unbroken Heroes series, The Hero She Needs and The Hero She Wants, but this is the first one where I’ve got to admit that this time around I fell hard for the cover, too.

That being said, the story in this entry in the series combines something that has been a feature in the whole series so far with one of my favorite romance tropes.

Not a single one of the heroines in the Unbroken Heroes series has been any kind of damsel. It’s true that they’ve each experienced more than their fair share of distress, but they’ve each participated 100% in their own rescues – often by rescuing themselves first. Halle doesn’t quite have that opportunity, but she keeps up with Ren through every step and stroke and kick of their dangerous escape, doing her part to make it deadly for the other guys and not for them.

No matter how kickass Halle turns out to be – and she does – the tension that lies at the heart of Ren’s bad case of “I’m not worthy” revolves around two very real problems. Ren is her dad’s best friend – and her dad is not going to be happy that someone at least a decade older than his daughter can’t keep his hands off of her. And there’s that decade or so itself. I adore an age gap romance because the problems involved are very real – and they are here as well.

It’s not that Halle isn’t an adult and doesn’t know her own mind or heart, it’s that they are at different points in their lives, have different-sized trains of emotional baggage behind them, and will need to reconcile those differences to have a decent chance at a future.

Of course, first they have to deal with the villains chasing them, otherwise they won’t have a future to worry about. And it’s that realization that gets Ren to finally acknowledge what’s been between them for so long.

I had a terrific time with this latest entry in the Unbroken Heroes series, and I have plenty to look forward to. The author’s next book will be a wrap-up novella in her Sentinel Security series, Stone. I’ve already read it and it was a terrific finale for that series! After that, it’ll be back to New Orleans for the Fury Brothers, which I’m very much looking forward to because I always enjoy books set in that fantastic city!

A- #BookReview: People in Glass Houses by Jayne Castle

A- #BookReview: People in Glass Houses by Jayne CastlePeople in Glass Houses (Ghost Hunters, #16) by Jayne Castle
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: action adventure romance, futuristic, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, science fiction romance
Series: Harmony #16
Pages: 313
Published by Berkley on May 7, 2024
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.orgBetter World Books
Goodreads

Dive into the alien world of Harmony in this new novel by New York Times bestselling author Jayne Castle.
His name is Joshua Knight. Once a respected explorer, the press now calls him the Tarnished Knight. He took the fall for a disaster in the Underworld that destroyed his career. The devastating event occurred in the newly discovered sector known as Glass House—a maze of crystal that is rumored to conceal powerful Alien antiquities. The rest of the Hollister Expedition team disappeared and are presumed dead.
Whatever happened down in the tunnels scrambled Josh’s psychic senses and his memories, but he’s determined to uncover the truth. Labeled delusional and paranoid, he retreats to an abandoned mansion in the desert, a house filled with mirrors. Now a recluse, Josh spends his days trying to discover the secrets in the looking glasses that cover the walls. He knows he is running out of time.
Talented, ambitious crystal artist Molly Griffin is shocked to learn that the Tarnished Knight has been located. She drops everything and heads for the mansion to find Josh, confident she can help him regain control of his shattered senses. She has no choice—he is the key to finding her sister, Leona, a member of the vanished expedition team. Josh reluctantly allows her to stay one night but there are two rules: she must not go down into the basement, and she must not uncover the mirrors that have been draped.
But her only hope for finding her sister is to break the rules…

My Review:

We all know the way that phrase ends, don’t we? “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” It’s a somewhat more potentially kinetic way of talking about the “pot calling the kettle black.” Or putting it yet another way, people who have the same faults should resist poking at each other along the same fault lines.

As it turns out, this particular story is also a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” – although Joshua Knight and Molly Griffin want to be much more than friends the moment they meet, in spite of both of them living in the glass house of having extremely high levels of paranormal talent that they keep under wraps.

Because too much power can be extremely dangerous – especially when all the power is encased in the fragile mind of a human. Any human.

Although at the moment they meet, both Joshua and Molly do happen to be rather fragile humans – particularly in the context of the not-totally-explored and still all too frequently dangerous lost Terran colony on Harmony. A planet where high-resonating crystal artifacts left on the planet by aliens have caused, raised and enhanced the psychic powers of the humans who have occupied the planet for more than two centuries.

Joshua Knight is considered to be psi-burned. He was a talented guide and navigator to Harmony’s fascinating but treacherous underworld, and he lost ALL the members of his last expedition.

An expedition that included Molly Griffin’s sister Leona. Molly needs Joshua to lead her to where he lost her sister. Joshua needs Molly to help him regain his lost memories of where he lost the expedition in order to have even a chance at making that happen.

Lucky for them, their talents dovetail in a harmony that neither of them ever expected. But not lucky at all for the mastermind who set Joshua up to take the fall and did not reckon, at all, on the dogged persistence of the Griffin sisters.

And not that the villain doesn’t have a plan B to take care of all of those new, pesky, loose ends that Molly and Joshua have managed to unravel in the crystal palaces hidden under Harmony.

Escape Rating A-: Once upon a time, a historical romance author writing under the name of Amanda Quick introduced an organization of physically adept practitioners and mad scientists into her Victorian Era set romances – and the Arcane Society was born. In one of her other personas, Jayne Ann Krentz, the author carried the Arcane Society in the 20th and 21st centuries. Under a third name, Jayne Castle, she created the lost Terran colony world of Harmony and eventually admitted that the original colonists included a considerable number of members of, you guessed it, the Arcane Society.

It’s been over two centuries since Harmony was cut off from Earth. The population has evolved to include paranormal talents, many of which have become specialized in response to the resonating crystal artifacts that aliens left behind on their new home world. Their society has also evolved into the close-knitted, family oriented, relatively stable structure that we see in this series.

The population also still throws out the occasional mad scientist.

Which is part of Molly and Leona Griffin’s background, although it’s not really part of this story – except in the trust issues that background left in both women – although the next book in the series will be going there – and I’m seriously looking forward to it.

But in the meantime, this book is focused in Harmony’s present, and follows directly after the events of Guild Boss while putting brand new characters in the literal hot seat – along with another of Harmony’s adorable, scene-stealing predators, Newton the intrepid dust bunny.

As is often the case in the entire extended Arcane Society/Harmony series, there’s both a crime to solve and a talented person to save from what seems like the brink of madness. Molly’s sister is missing, the search has been called off. Molly is determined to pursue the only lead she has left, the supposedly burned out has-been navigator, Joshua Knight.

Joshua is the one who needs saving – he’s pretty sure he’s going mad, and the crazy house he’s squatting in is helping to finish the job that the mess of that lost expedition merely started. Joshua and Molly are each other’s last chance, so they grab onto that chance – and each other – with both hands.

That they manage to find the lost expedition – as wonderful as that is – opens up an entirely new can of worms so that the chief worm can finally get squashed. Only to open the way for yet another and even more dangerous worm – or perhaps that should be wyrm – to emerge from the shadows.

The romance between Molly and Joshua is as hot as the energy they both channel, but the way that their mutual needs and insecurities keep bumping up against one another keeps the relationship from feeling like insta-love. They also have a lot more in common than just their tangling insecurities, leaving the reader to believe that they really do have a good chance at an HEA even after the adrenaline of this case evens out.

To make a long story – or review – short; Harmony is a fascinating world, the paranormal powers keep everything and everyone involved tuned up to the max, the dust bunnies are both adorable and deadly, the romances are scorching, and the tension of whatever wrong needs to be righted or case that needs to be solved has been keeping this reader on the edge of her seat from the very first and this entry in the series continues that happy trend. Visit Harmony and settle in for a long, highly charged, utterly captivating binge-read.

And, also very much to the good, the way that the resolution of this adventure hints so tantalizingly at the next gives this fan of the series a lot of high-rez hope for the next – which doesn’t appear to be coming nearly soon enough!

#BookReview: Fury Brothers: Burn by Anna Hackett

#BookReview: Fury Brothers: Burn by Anna HackettBurn (Fury Brothers #3) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Fury Brothers #3
Pages: 274
Published by Anna Hackett on March 13, 2024
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

I have one goal—arrest billionaire businessman Kavner Fury.
I’m dedicated to my job as a Treasury agent, and taking down crooked financial criminals. Just like the one who destroyed my family.
Kavner Fury is wealthy, powerful, and ambitious, a combination I know too well. He’s New Orleans’ favorite billionaire. Sure, he’s also handsome, charming, with a hard body no man who sits behind a desk should have, but I have no plans to let that distract me.
He’s my enemy, my nemesis…and pure temptation. I won’t let our scorching attraction derail my investigation. But as my money laundering case leads me into dangerous territory, I find myself under attack.
Injured and betrayed, I’m shocked that there is only one man I can turn to. One man who can keep me safe.
Now I’m working with Kavner, side by side, and I uncover a protective man who’s taking a blow-torch to my icy defenses. I get to see the real man beneath the gorgeous exterior, and I’m having trouble keeping my hands off him.
Suddenly, the only man I trust is my enemy, and we’re both caught up in a fiery attraction that could leave us both burned.

My Review:

Treasury Agent London Coleman investigates white collar crimes. She’s back in her hometown of New Orleans on the trail of someone laundering money for the cartels by buying expensive works of art with dirty money, shipping that art out of the U.S. to sell, and returning the ‘cleaned’ money to the cartel to do more of whatever terrible things they do with their money – which is mostly drugs.

London is happy to be back home, not just because she gets to spend time with her sister Lexxie, but because she honestly loves the city that made her who she is. Literally as London looks like the Creole descendant that she is, while the genetic gumbo that made her and Lexxie gave them completely different skin tones as well as looks.

As this third entry in the Fury Brothers series opens, the person of interest, both in her case and personally – even though she’s not ready to admit the second part even to herself – is billionaire businessman Kavner Fury.

His name has come up more than a few times in her investigation. She thinks it’s because he’s dirty and she hasn’t found the evidence yet. In reality, it’s because Kavner’s rich, he likes art, and he especially likes donating art to museums and galleries where kids just like the ones he and his brothers used to be have the opportunity to view beautiful things in just a little bit of peace and safety to help them hold on and survive until they can live their own dreams.

Just as he and his brothers did when they were all in the foster system and all too frequently at the mercy of neglectful, abusive or just plain violent caregivers.

London may not be willing to admit it, at least not yet, but keeping Kavner in her sights does put her in the places where whoever is hiding in the shadows is doing their dirty business. And he’s much too easy on the eyes, and too smooth in his business dealings, not to raise a few red flags.

That those red flags have more to do with her past than anything Kav has actually done is another secret that London is doing her damndest to keep to herself and out of her investigation. Something that proves utterly impossible when the cartel starts gunning for her, directly and literally – and Kav is the only one standing at her side and watching her back.

Escape Rating B+: Burn is a quick, hot read that is a whole lot of fun – for both parts of the category ‘romantic suspense’ into which this book and its series most definitely fit.

Like the first two books, Fury and Keep, this one is told in alternating first-person viewpoints, meaning that first we see inside London’s head and then we get Kavner’s take on what happens next.

Her head is a bit of a hot mess. The case has been long, drawn out, and utterly frustrating. The powers-that-be are hammering her boss hard. London has more than a bit of tunnel vision, seeing Kavner as a stand in for the fraudster who suckered her own father in and ruined the family’s life. She’s fixated on him being in this scheme up to his neck, when really it’s that she’s in the River DeNial up to hers.

Kavner isn’t worried about London’s investigation because he knows there’s nothing to find. He may hide the darker details of his origin story in the foster system before he and his brothers met, he may have taken on a much more polished veneer than he’d prefer because it’s good for business, but his money was legally earned, all his businesses are completely legit as well as profitable, and he really does give back a tremendous amount of money and effort to the city he loves.

And he has all the money he needs to get himself out of any ‘manufactured’ trouble. That’s what money and the lawyers it can buy are for, after all.

Which means that while London is focussing on Kavner as a suspect, Kav is keeping his sights on London as a woman – in ways that make him think, not just sexy thoughts, but also romantic and protective ones. The kind of thoughts he’s been avoiding all of his adult life, too busy being focused on buying and creating financial security for himself and his brothers, and their whole extended family.

What made this story work well for this reader is the way that London and Kav worked against some familiar tropes. He does not have a case of the ‘I’m not worthy’s’ that happen entirely too often. He’s just been too busy to think about settling down. London is definitely in distress, but she’s no damsel. She stands her ground and maintains her own boundaries even in the face of Kav’s protectiveness. She doesn’t get rescued by Kav and his brothers – she gets assistance in her own rescue.

There’s a whole lot of push-pull between these two workaholics and it’s fun – and filled with sexytimes – to see them work towards each other and their happy ever after. Often in spite of themselves. Making Burn the kind of read that will make any reader burn up the pages in one sitting.

There are two Fury Brothers left, Reath and Beau. Currently neither of them are even thinking about looking for an HEA of their own but that’s about to change. Their stories are coming in the fall, in Take (probably Reath’s story) and Claim. In the meantime, I have Knightqueen, the climactic final book in the author’s science fiction romance Oronis Knights series to look forward to. And I most definitely AM!

A- #BookReview: The Hero She Wants by Anna Hackett

A- #BookReview: The Hero She Wants by Anna HackettThe Hero She Wants (Unbroken Heroes) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Unbroken Heroes #2
Pages: 220
Published by Anna Hackett on January 25, 2024
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

The last thing he wants is to trek into the jungle to save the President’s daughter.
Shepherd “Shep” Barlow left the military behind. All he wants is to stay on his Colorado mountain—alone, with no interruptions, and no people. He especially likes to avoid people.
Then his former commander arrives, asking him to risk his life on a deadly mission to Central America. A mission to rescue the archeologist daughter of the President of the United States.
Once a member of a covert Ghost Ops team, Shep has the skills to get in quietly and rescue Ms. Sinclair. And as much as he wishes otherwise, he can’t leave an innocent woman in danger.
Hayden Sinclair loves her work. It keeps her far away from the liars, cheats, and phonies in Washington D.C. But when she’s abducted from her archeological dig in Nicaragua, she’s plunged into a life-or-death situation. Her captors plan to use her as a bargaining chip, and Hayden knows she has to escape.
What she never expected was to collide with the world’s biggest, grumpiest rescuer.
On the run in the jungle with six and a half feet of rugged, muscular, scowling man, she finds Shep rude and annoying. But as her captors ruthlessly hunt them, she also discovers a man who’ll risk his own life to protect hers.
Neither of them are looking for love, especially when they have to fight to survive…besides, there could never be a happy ending for the daughter of the President and a grumpy, battle-scarred soldier, could there?

My Review:

Archaeologists make the best protagonists – because there are just SO MANY WAYS they can get into trouble. Just ask Indiana Jones – or better yet, his father, Professor Henry Jones.

That rule certainly applies to this author’s work, as her very first heroine, in her very first book, At Star’s End, was an archaeologist among the star-scattered human diaspora. It’s a theme that has cropped up again and again, not just with the entire Treasure Hunter Security series (distant ancestors of the crew in that first book, but, also in this latest work with Dr. Hayden Sinclair, expert in pre-Columbian Central American history.

An archaeologist who also happens to be the daughter of the sitting President of the United States.

Hayden was determined to go on this dig, and determined to do it as a working archaeologist and not as a visiting dignitary or show pony or whatever. This is her job, and she’s determined to do it well and more importantly without a whole squad of Secret Service agents guarding her every step.

No matter how much, as it turns out, she might need them. Or, at least her teammates and fellow archaeologists do. Or did.

After all, the kidnappers plan on keeping her alive so that she can be auctioned off to the highest bidder looking for leverage on the U.S. President. The rest of her colleagues are merely…collateral damage.

Hayden Sinclair, is tied up and held captive in the middle of a compound full of the men who just killed her team and her friends. She should be at her lowest ebb – and she kind of is. But that doesn’t stop her from rescuing herself.

Only to walk straight into the arms of the one-man rescue team that has been sent to take care of that job FOR her.

Shep Barlow may be just a bit behind on Hayden’s jailbreak, but he’s EXACTLY the man she needs to walk beside her every step of the way home. No matter what it takes. No matter what he has to give up.

Because he’s the hero she wants, and she’ll do anything and defy anyone to keep him. Even her own father. Even Shep himself.

Escape Rating A-: This whole, entire series so far gives me a giant earworm. Everytime I even think about either of the books in this series so far, I get the chorus of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” playing in my head. Or even better – or worse depending on persistence – the scene from Shrek II.

Although Hayden doesn’t actually NEED a hero. She’s already rescued herself. Not that she can’t use Shep’s help and survival skills, because she certainly can. But she’s no delicate flower and doesn’t need anyone who will treat her like one.

The title of this entry in the series says it all. Hayden doesn’t NEED a hero, but Shep Barlow is certainly the man she wants – precisely because he knows better than to treat her like she needs rescuing. Not even her father is able to figure that out.

What makes the story in this one such a compulsive page-turner is the way that Hayden and Shep jump together out of the frying pan and into yet another fire, over and over again, as her kidnappers do their damndest to close off all avenues of escape.

What makes the romance in this one sing and zing is that this is a romance of equals in spite of the heroine-in-jeopardy start, a romance that has to carry both partners’ heavy baggage until they finally figure out they can drop it all and hold onto each other for dear life. For the rest of their lives.

The Unbroken Heroes series has been terrific so far, beginning with The Hero She Needs and continuing with this second book, The Hero She Wants. The third book in the series, The Hero She Craves, is coming in June and I expect that terrific streak to continue. What I’m loving about this series so far is that, although the link in the series is through those heroes, it’s the heroines who stand up, take charge, and participate oh-so-actively in their own rescues.

There are no delicate flowers here, and that’s the way I like it. One of the other things I like is that this particular set of heroes has interesting friends in some very high and dangerous places, like Hayden’s father-the-president, and the stories have high stakes that extend beyond the mutual rescue and the heart stopping romance.

Which is reminding me quite a lot and very much of M.L. Buchman’s romantic suspense series(es), particularly his Miranda Chase series, where smart civilians find themselves walking the halls of power to find the loves of their lives and keep the country safe along the way. So if you’re looking for something to tide you over between Anna Hackett’s heroes, consider this a recommendation for M.L. Buchman’s books as excellent readalikes with lots to explore.

Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting for Anna Hackett’s next entry in her action/adventure romantic suspense Fury Brothers series, Burn, coming in March.

Review: The Hero She Needs by Anna Hackett

Review: The Hero She Needs by Anna HackettThe Hero She Needs (Unbroken Heroes Book 1) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Unbroken Heroes #1
Pages: 223
Published by Anna Hackett on December 7, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

The last thing he expects to catch in his river is a billionaire heiress.
Loner Boone Hendrix left the military with ghosts that haunt him. He lives with his dog Atlas on a farm in Vermont. Alone. Just the way he likes it. Until he rescues a half-drowned, beautiful brunette from his river.
Gemma Newhouse is the daughter of the richest man in America, and from the abrasions on her wrists and her drugged state, she’s on the run from someone dangerous. She’s nothing like Boone expected—sweet, smart, and likes baking—and she ignites a fierce need inside him.
Being a member of a covert Ghost Ops team taught him deadly skills, and he’ll use them all to keep her safe.
Gemma can’t remember the last twenty-four hours. All she knows is that someone abducted her. Someone dangerous. Her only goal is survival and she’s used to taking care of herself. She’s a constant disappointment to her driven, successful parents. She doesn’t want a brilliant career, all she wants is to bake and make people smile.
Finding herself in Boone’s strong arms wasn’t on her plan. Nor was his rugged face, hard body, and gold-brown eyes. She sees how much he’s cut himself off from life, how he believes he’s broken.
Thrust together, she realizes this quiet hero will do anything to protect her. Despite the danger around them, they can’t resist their growing attraction, but her captors are hunting her…
And Boone is the only thing standing in their way.

My Review:

When Gemma Newhouse runs away from her mysterious captors in the middle of densely forested nowhere, she doesn’t have time to hold out for a hero, she needs one right NOW. She doesn’t know there’s one just down the river – literally – so she does her damndest to get herself out of her kidnappers’ hands.

She doesn’t merely find one hero, she finds two. Or rather, one of those heroes pulls her out of the river that has been carrying her away from whoever grabbed her off the street in Los Angeles – just not as far or as fast as she would have liked.

If she were still conscious, that is.

But Atlas is a Very Good Boy, so he alerts his human that there’s something in the water that needs to be rescued. Which is exactly what Boone Hendrix does. Because that’s what he does – even if, or especially because – there was no one to rescue him when he needed it the most.

But, maybe that’s now after all, and maybe Gemma is that rescue. If he can just keep her alive long enough to deliver her to safety and figure out who is after her and why. While somehow managing to keep his hands off of her – even if that’s exactly where she wants them to be.

Unless, just maybe, she’s his rescue too.

Escape Rating A-: I always love it when the heroine rescues herself or is an active participant in her own rescue. Which is EXACTLY what Gemma Newhouse does. Everything that happens in this action adventure romance happens because first and most importantly, Gemma Newhouse put on her big girl panties and escaped from her captors.

She’s not a badass agent, she’s not a cop, she’s just a more-or-less ordinary woman that a bunch of asshole men believe is at their mercy for reasons she doesn’t even know yet. But as soon as she can get her feet under her after the drugs she was injected with even start to wear off – she’s off and running.

Boone – and Atlas – are her reward for taking care of her business. She just doesn’t know it yet.

The romance between Boone and Gemma is sweet and hot and funny, all at the same time. (Although a lot of that fun is that Gemma doesn’t want Atlas to witness any of the human’s ‘funny business’.)

Speaking of Atlas, he is a very good boy and is every bit as fine and good at the end of the story as he was at the beginning – if not a little better because he has two humans to spoil him instead of just one. So don’t worry about Atlas.

There’s more than enough to worry about between Gemma and Boone. Gemma is a combination of poor-little-rich-girl and bird-in-a-gilded-cage, but again, she’s doing a damn good job of filling her own well of purpose and happiness and kicking the door off the gilded cage. (OTOH, if she’d kept the bodyguards her dad wanted her to have she probably wouldn’t be in her present fix. OTOH, that might just have resulted in a couple of dead bodyguards as the stakes in all this are pretty high.)

It’s also excellent and different that Gemma’s relationship with her wealthy parents is still a loving one even though that relationship has a bunch of sharp edges in it. They’re not terrible, she’s not a misbehaving fuck-up, it’s just that they are not remotely on the same wavelength and everyone gets a bit hurt by it. Except for her parents’ megabucks, that relationship feels grounded in the real, which made it more interesting and all the better to empathize with.

Boone is one of the author’s classic too-damaged-to-think-he’s-good-enough heroes. He used to be a member of Vander Norcross’ Ghost Ops team (Vander’s book is The Powerbroker), and those ops left plenty of scars that may never heal. So Boone’s got a bad case of the I’m-not-worthies when it comes to a relationship with Gemma, but he’s all in on saving her life and is absolutely the right man for that job.

So, soft and sweet but with a core of steel goes head to head with hard and brittle with a core of marshmallow. The sweet treat that gets baked in that fire means that a good time is had by all the characters and absolutely for the reader as well.

I had a great reading time with this first entry in the author’s Unbroken Heroes series, and I can’t wait to see what happens with her next hero early next year.

Review: Fury Brothers: Keep by Anna Hackett

Review: Fury Brothers: Keep by Anna HackettKeep: A Grumpy Single Dad Romance (Fury Brothers Book 2) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Fury Brothers #2
Pages: 250
Published by Anna Hackett on October 19, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

My boss is a tough, grumpy bounty hunter—and a hot single dad—and now he’s sworn to keep me safe, whether I like it or not.
My name’s Macy, and I always look on the bright side of things. Life’s too short not to. Super grump extraordinaire Colton Fury is the total opposite. Luckily for him, along with the muscled bod, tattoos, and rugged face, it works for him.
When I start getting creepy calls at the office and someone breaks into my house, it becomes clear I’m a target, and Coltsort of…loses his mind. He turns even bossier and more protective.
Now I’m living with him and his super cute daughter, and trying very hard to remember that I can’t let myself fall for him.Before long, there’s kissing, touching, and a whole lot more. Colt tells me—okay, more like growls at me—that he doesn’t do relationships. And I promise him no strings or complications.
Every day that passes, the complications are growing and I’m starting to realize I want them. All of them.
But soon, it’s not only me in danger, and it’s not only Colt who’ll risk it all to save the people he loves.
The Fury fierce, loyal, and live by their own codeFive men who grew up in foster care and became brothers by choice. They vow to always have each other’s no questions, no doubts, no hesitation. They protect their own…always.

My Review:

Colton Fury and Macy Underwood are each firmly of the opinion that they have their lives together all by themselves. Separately, that is.

Neither of them does relationships – at least romantic relationships. Macy’s certainly all in on her job as Colt’s office manager, wrangling the arrangements for his frequent trips to capture the latest escaped criminals while coercing him to deal with the resulting paperwork as often as needed.

Macy feels needed, the job pays well, and the problems she left behind in San Francisco are well back in her rearview mirror. Or at least she believes they are. And believes that big, tough successful bounty hunter Colt Fury – along with his equally fierce and protective brothers – take care of their own when anything goes wrong.

As evidenced by the way they all gathered around Dante Fury and HIS bartender turned love-of-his-life Mila when her past troubles came calling for her in the first book in the series, Fury.

Colt, on the other hand, doesn’t do relationships because the way he sees it his life is already full up. Not with romance, because he doesn’t think he deserves that, but with the loyalty of his brothers and the heartwarming and heartstopping love between Colt and his niece-turned-adopted-daughter, seven year old Daisy Fury. Making sure that Daisy has everything she needs is a full time job all by itself, and he thinks he can’t afford to split his heart’s focus to find a more adult kind of love.

When Macy starts receiving prank calls she assumes it’s nothing that needs anyone to handle it besides herself. Just like her free-spirited mother taught her.

At least until the pranks escalate to life-threatening accidents, and Colt Fury can’t stop himself from stepping in and taking over Macy’s security and a bit more of her life than either of them ever planned on. Not that they haven’t both had entirely too many seriously hot daydreams about all the delicious possibilities.

But Macy’s ex didn’t take no for an answer then, and doesn’t plan on taking one now that he’s chased her down to New Orleans. Unless the Fury Brothers take him down before its too late for both Macy AND Daisy.

Escape Rating B+: I liked Keep better than Fury because I was able to get inside Macy’s head in a way that I wasn’t Mila’s or even Dante’s. I also enjoyed Macy more as a character because she was getting on with her life and living her best one in spite of the EvilEx™ lurking behind her in San Francisco. She’s not focusing on him, she’s not constantly looking over her shoulder at him, she’s not even thinking much about him until he turns up like a bad penny and puts himself back in her life.

One of the fun things about this series so far is that the romances haven’t been insta-love. We enter the story at the point where the relationship turns so fast on its dime that it almost seems that way, but Colt and Macy have been working together for months when their story begins. They are already part of each other’s lives – and part of each other’s daydreams even if neither of them is willing to admit that.

Well, Macy is willing to admit to the occasional sexy daydream, but recognizes that it’s not a good idea to go there because they work together. Colt, on the other hand, has a bad case of “I’m not worthy” that he’s only able to start getting over when Macy needs him to protect her.

There’s also a bit of ‘Kidfic’ mixed in, as Colt is an excellent dad to Daisy, and part of the whole Fury Brothers brotherhood is wrapped around taking care of little Daisy Fury. When Macy goes all in on being another one of Daisy’s caregivers it gives the story a gooey center that just worked for me. (I’ve been reading a whole lot of 9-1-1 fanfic recently, in spite of having never watched the TV series, and a whole lot of that fandom is kidfics – which are awesome if the kid is awesome and Daisy so is!)

Of course Colt gets over his stupidity in thinking that he’s a) not good enough for Macy and b) gets to make that decision for her. Meanwhile, Macy, in spite of a bit of stupid decision making over a threat to Daisy, manages to rescue the little girl and sets up her own rescue quite handily in the process, proving to herself and the reader that she’s the perfect addition to the Fury Brothers’ family.

One final comment. This series so far has books with VERY long subtitles. The subtitle for Dante’s book, “a fake dating workplace romance” was only true for a little while. Not that it wasn’t a workplace romance, but the fake part of their fake dating didn’t last very long at all.

Very much on the other hand, Colt is a grumpy dad from the very first page of his story until the last. Grumpy is part of Colt’s core personality. That grumpiness hides a heart of marshmallow when it comes to his family, but he’s a grump through and through. That gets to a place of being considerably happier in his grumpiness over the course of this story adds just that extra bit of sweetness – albeit still covered in a crusty – but delicious – exterior. (Come to think of it, Colt is a bit like a s’more – or at least Macy certainly thinks so!)

Ending this entry in the series on a high note, at least for this reader, it looks like business mogul Kavner Fury will be going head to head with Treasury Agent Coleman in the next book in the Fury Brothers series, sometime next year. I always love it when the heroine is able to kick ass and take names alongside the heroes, so I can’t wait to see Coleman do her level best to take Kav down – one way or another!

Review: Fury Brothers: Fury by Anna Hackett

Review: Fury Brothers: Fury by Anna HackettFury: A Fake Dating Workplace Romance (Fury Brothers Book 1) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Fury Brothers #1
Pages: 286
Published by Anna Hackett on September 3, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

I’m not looking for a hero, and definitely not a fake relationship with my new boss, nightclub owner Dante Fury—over six feet of dark, hot, and dangerous.
But he isn’t taking no for an answer.
The plan was to run, live under the radar, survive. My life’s been destroyed by some very bad people and everything I know is gone—career, friends, family. I thought I could hide as a bartender at New Orleans’ hottest new club, Ember.
I can’t trust anyone, but after I’m attacked, Dante is determined to play protector by claiming me as his. No one would dare touch the woman of one of the Fury brothers. Suddenly, I’m living at his place, and he’s touching me, kissing me, taking care of me…
Dante makes it very hard to remember this relationship isn’t real. He makes my heart race, but he’s way out of my league, and he’s protecting his own broken pieces.
Nothing this fake should feel this right.
The bad guys won’t give up, but I’m starting to think the biggest danger to me is Dante Fury.
The Fury fierce, loyal, and live by their own code. Five men who grew up in foster care and became brothers by choice. They vow to always have each other’s backs; no questions, no doubts, no hesitation. They protect their own…always.

My Review:

In spite of the subtitle, the ‘fake dating’ between Mila Clifton and Dante Fury doesn’t last very long at all because there is nothing fake about their attraction to each other even before they attempt to ‘fake date’.

The only people they are really ‘faking’ are each other, as Mila is on the run from some very bad people who have left a trail of dead bodies behind her in their pursuit of a woman who worked too hard and heard too much on one dark night she wishes she could get back.

Dante Fury doesn’t seem to believe in love – or at least doesn’t believe that it’s for him and his four brothers, men who survived foster care by sticking together and protecting themselves from anyone and everything.

Now the Fury Brothers protect their corner of New Orleans from anyone who thinks they can bring bad shit onto their turf. Cleaning up ALL of NOLA is WAY beyond even the Fury Brothers’ capacity, but keeping their own territory secure is right up their alley.

At first Dante does his level best to convince himself that he’s only looking after Mila because she’s ‘one of his’, a bartender who works at his nightclub, Ember. But he’s only fooling himself and it doesn’t take him long to realize it.

Mila, on the other hand, has seen every person she’s turned to while she’s been on the run get murdered, one after another. She trusts herself, and fears for anyone that her pursuers might believe she’s gotten close to. So she doesn’t.

Not until Dante Fury wraps his protection around her and refuses to let go – or to let her slink off into the night. No matter who or what stands in his way. Not even Mila herself.

Escape Rating B: It’s no secret that this author’s science fiction romances are my favorites, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get a lot of reading pleasure out of her contemporary, action-adventure romances, sometimes in spite of myself.

Fury is one of those ‘in spite of myself’ kinds of reads. Which means that any negatives I bring up are a ‘me’ thing and quite possibly not a ‘you’ thing.

Except maybe this first one. Fury is told in alternating first-person perspectives that switch between Mila Clifton and Dante Fury – which makes sense because at the beginning they aren’t on the same page with each other. Come to think of it, at the beginning they aren’t even on the same page as themselves!

But I didn’t really feel like I was in either of their heads, so the ‘I’ voice didn’t quite work for me. It’s also not the author’s usual style and I wasn’t expecting it. I DO like first-person narratives, even dual or dueling ones, as you’ll see in my review of Prophet later this week, but I couldn’t get into either Mila’s or Dante’s heads in spite of being, well, in their heads.

I do have to say, and this is completely a me thing, that being in Mila’s head was particularly uncomfortable because of the ‘heroine in jeopardy reacting by running’ trope isn’t one of my favorites, although I was grateful that this time it didn’t go all the way into the trope by having Mila on the run from a stalker or an abusive ex. Still, it makes for a reactive rather than a proactive heroine, and that’s just not my jam.

Which means I liked the whole thing a LOT better once Mila started standing up for herself and standing her ground. Especially because she was totally, completely and utterly in the right – it just took the Fury Brothers standing with her to get her to take back her life and I was absolutely there for that part.

Two things I do love about this series so far are the setting AND the vibe between the Fury Brothers. I always love a story set in New Orleans, and even the glimpse we get of the city in this first outing has me itching for more.

And the Fury Brothers themselves are fascinating, both in their origin story and in the way they’ve pulled together and pulled themselves up in spite of their rough starts in life. The whole concept of them creating a solidly bound family of choice and the way they maintain it and even add to it is fantastic, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of them.

Which means I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Keep, which is looking like it will be Colt Fury’s story about raising his niece while running away from the paperwork involved in his own business – along with the determined woman who will hunt him down and make him take care of ALL his business – including, most definitely, herself.

Review: Hex by Anna Hackett

Review: Hex by Anna HackettHex by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Sentinel Security #6
Pages: 256
Published by Anna Hackett on June 13, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

She’s the genius hacker known as Hex.
He’s a ghost—the deep-cover spy known only as Shade.
They generate a dangerous level of white-hot sparks, but he needs her help on a deadly mission.
Jet “Hex” Adler loves being a goddess of all thing tech. She provides her team at Sentinel Security with intel and comms, and she’s good at it. No, brilliant. Sure, sometimes it’s hard to be stuck in the office while her guys are in the field, but computers, tech, and drones are her thing. If only she had the same luck with men.
And that does not include a certain hot, cocky, annoying spy.
Cain aka Shade is dedicated to his country. He does the hard, dangerous work so others don’t have to. He came from nothing, he’s alone, unattached. A man like him has nothing to lose. For Cain, life is always about the mission. It can never be about a certain small, smart, feisty hacker.
But now he needs Jet for an important assignment to stop high-tech drone schematics falling into enemy hands.
Of course, Jet will do anything to help save the world…okay, not the entire world, but a lot of innocent lives. Even if it means going undercover with the man who knows how to push every one of her buttons. But as they work together, dodging danger and bad guys, their scorching attraction explodes…and Cain will realize that for the first time in his life, someone is more important to him than his mission.

My Review:

This last book in the Sentinel Security series has been teased – as has its heroine Jet “Hex” Adler – from the earliest days in the series when she, and we, were introduced to CIA undercover operative Shade, as he gave the occasional assist to his former CIA colleagues Killian “Steel” Hawke and Devyn “Hellfire” Hayden on their way to their HEA in Steel.

When her story opens, Hex is the only member of the Sentinel Security team who hasn’t found somebody to love. She’s been burned more than once by too many men who only seem to be interested in her for the ways they can change her, with Brandon the douche having been the worst of the lot.

Brandon left her psyche with a few scars, and left Hex with the uncompromised desire to find someone who will love her exactly as she is, smarts, sass, petite cuteness and everything else in her sometimes contradictory package.

She doesn’t think Cain Cavanaugh, AKA Shade, could possibly be that man. Which doesn’t explain why, in spite of his dark codename, he lights up her hormones every time they cross paths or even just exchange annoying texts.

But there’s a job to do, as there always is for Sentinel Security. And for once in her career, both with the CIA and now with Sentinel Security, Hex is going to be the one going undercover instead of staying safe and managing all the tech that keeps the rest of her team and found family as safe as she can make them.

She’s off to an international tech conference to exchange a stolen data chip for a high-level sting on the evil broker who plans to sell it to the highest – and equally evil – villain. With Shade as her partner keeping her safe from everyone who is out to get her – especially himself.

A job at which he is both not exactly successful and utterly unsuccessful at the same time. But that’s OK because Hex is perfectly capable of rescuing herself from the bad guys – and doesn’t feel any need whatsoever to protect herself from Shade.

Escape Rating A-: The previous book in this series, Excalibur, just wasn’t the tropes I was looking for, for reasons that I don’t need to get into here.

Very much, and very happily, on my other hand, Hex turned out to be EXACTLY what I was hoping for, with its badass hacker heroine who rescues herself, and the even more badass man who is certain that he’s got too much blood on his hands from too many dark places to be remotely worthy of her.

Of course, he’s right and wrong at the same time. He might not quite be worthy of her, and possibly no one is – I really loved Hex – but he is a worthy man and he’s what she wants and he should definitely know better than to stand in her way. It was terrific watching him figure that out – finally – so they could both take a chance on love. Just like the rest of the members of the Sentinel Security team have done through the course of the series.

Now that Killian Hawke (Steel) and his handpicked team have finally found their HEAs, the action shifts to the Fury Brothers in the author’s next action-adventure romance series, coming in September.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to her next science fiction romance (always my personal faves), Knighthunter, book 2 of the Oronis Knights series, coming OMG NEXT MONTH! Squee!

Review: Sentinel Security: Steel by Anna Hackett

Review: Sentinel Security: Steel by Anna HackettSteel (Sentinel Security #4) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Sentinel Security #4
Pages: 272
Published by Anna Hackett on January 26, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

His skills and ruthlessness made him a legend.

The dark, dangerous former spy.

Now the operative turned billionaire known as Steel collides with fiery agent Hellfire when they discover they’re both on the kill list of a deadly assassin.

CIA agent Devyn “Hellfire” Hayden came from nothing and made herself into one of the CIA’s best deep-cover agents. She’s dedicated to her country. She’s always on the move. She’s a loner. Just the way she likes it. Letting people close is a weakness and she’ll never be weak again.

But when she finds herself under attack by an assassin targeting the world’s best intelligence agents, it sends her straight into the path of the only man who tempts her. The dark, lethal Killian “Steel” Hawke.

Killian Hawke rose through the ranks of the CIA, and knows his name is whispered in fear by his enemies. But when his sister needed him, he left and started Sentinel Security. He protects all those he considers his: his sister, his friends, his employees, and his clients.

But there is one stubborn redhead he also wants to claim.

As Devyn and Killian work together to unmask the assassin hunting them, they are forced to confront their white-hot attraction and their violent need to protect each other. Killian is tired of dancing around what he feels for her. Now that she’s in danger, he’ll do whatever it takes to make her safe, claim her heart, and possess her soul.

My Review:

Lovers of the Sentinel Security series have been teased with the inevitability of this story from the very beginning of the series, every bit as much as Killian “Steel” Hawke and Devyn “Hellfire” Hayden have been teasing each other from the first time they met. Back in the day when they were both among the CIA’s best agents.

But when they first laid eyes on each other, Hellfire was an agent on the rise, and Steel was all too aware that he was on the edge of burnout and that his days with the agency were numbered. He didn’t need the temptation, and she couldn’t afford the distraction. Or the other way around. Or both.

Definitely both.

So he turned away and went on his way, out of the CIA and into building his own top-flight, high-end, security business, Sentinel Security. While she continued her rise through the ranks of the CIA to become the best of the best – just as he once was. And still very much is, just in a slightly different and frequently adjacent sphere.

Every time they’ve run into each other – occasionally just about literally – since the Sentinel Security series began, they’ve drawn the kind of sparks off of each other that were bound to lead to one hell of a fire.

If they can just get out of their own ways. As long as they can get themselves out of the sights of an assassin who only thinks he can claim to be the best by taking down the best.

He thinks he can prove he’s in their league. Hellfire and Steel are about to show him just how much he’s not.

Escape Rating A-: First and foremost, I adore this author and her work and am always thrilled to have a new story in whichever series she happens to be working on.

Second, I always love the romance that features the leader of whatever group that series happens to be featuring, so I’ve been waiting for Killian’s story since the series began. (I’m just grateful I didn’t have to bite my nails through quite as many stories as in some of her previous series.)

Third, while I was always intending to read Steel this week I had one book absolutely disappointingly fail, so I was both thrilled and grateful to pick up Steel and dive right in. I knew I would enjoy it, but it turned out to be the perfect book at the perfect time.

Just as Killian Hawke turned out to be, not the perfect man but the perfect man for Hayden. Someone she could trust to have her back in a firefight, who would pull her up when she needed it instead of beating her down when she was already there. Someone who loved her and appreciated her for the kickass woman she was instead of trying to make her be less than in any way, shape or form.

Because she’s perfect for him just as she is. If she was anything less or anything different, she wouldn’t be the woman, the person he needed at his side.

But it isn’t ever going to be easy – and neither is this operation. Someone has a list of the top agents for every spy agency around the world and is planning to assassinate the “Top Ten” on the list. A list that Hellfire and Steel are both on.

The assassin has already eliminated two of their colleagues, had a go at a third, and now they are next. Which means that they are following the trail of their would-be assassin while he’s trying to pull them into his trap. The stakes are the highest, the tension is off the charts and the pages are turning as fast as the reader can flip them.

It’s a race to the finish; either his – or theirs. But together they can conquer anything. Even each other’s doubts, fears and demons. It’s a wild ride from beginning to end. Yet another terrific action adventure romance from an equally terrific author.

As always, I’m already looking forward to her next book, Knightmaster, the first in the Oronis Knights series. I’m always up for good science fiction romance and I know that’s just what I’ll get in March. And Sentinel Security will be back in April, and I’m sure it will be another pulse-pounding romantic adventure!

Review: Sentinel Security: Striker by Anna Hackett

Review: Sentinel Security: Striker by Anna HackettStriker (Sentinel Security #3) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Sentinel Security #3
Pages: 276
Published by Anna Hackett on December 17, 2022
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

He's a hot British billionaire.
The rich, muscled, former special forces soldier.
He's a temptation she doesn't want and can't afford, but now she's working undercover in his company to catch a rogue arms dealer.
Former MI6 agent Hadley "Striker" Lockwood found a new life in New York working for Sentinel Security. Her work fills a tired, jaded hole inside her. Life is just how she likes it, and she definitely has no desire for a man to mess that up.
When her next assignment sends her back to London to hunt a dangerous arms dealer, she finds herself not only face to face with a darkly tempting billionaire, but going undercover as his newest employee.
Bennett Knightley left the SAS with dark scars scratched on his soul and a determination to help in different ways. His successful company Secura makes high-tech gear for soldiers around the world, but now it's under attack. Shipments are going missing, and his people are being targeted.
Enter Hadley-intelligent, stubborn, beautiful, and with walls a mile thick. Bennett's never been tempted to mix business and pleasure, but with Hadley in the office he's torn between their mission and claiming the maddening woman for himself.As Hadley and Bennett close in on their enemy, they fight hard against their overwhelming attraction. She's been burned before but the hot billionaire is getting under her skin. With Hadley, Bennett feels parts of himself coming back to life-now he has to not only convince her to trust him, but convince himself he deserves her.

My Review:

Once a member of Britain’s elite SAS (Special Air Service (the UK’s equivalent – more of less – of the US SEAL Teams), when Bennett Knightley retired from service he took his skills and determination from the front lines and created a highly profitable, high-tech company that specialized in the business of making the best protective equipment on the market for the military and the people who support them who are fighting the same good fight that he once did.

It’s also his way of exorcising his own demons. In honor of the friends he couldn’t protect in the past, because there was never enough good equipment to go around, he’s providing the best protection he can in the present and the future and making sure it goes where it will do the most good.

But someone has Bennett’s company in their sights, diverting his shipments and corrupting his people, putting that same protective gear in the hands of the very forces that Bennett is desperate to protect people from.

And swaying the court of public opinion to make it seem like Bennett is just another money-hungry capitalist selling out to the highest bidder no matter how dirty their money might be.

That’s where Sentinel Security, in the person of Hadley Lockwood, codename Striker, comes into the picture. And into Bennett’s company Secura, working undercover as a communications executive so she can see where the place has been infiltrated and hopefully get a lead on who has a serious desire to hang Bennett out to dry in as many ways as possible.

They’re supposed to work together. And they do. Entirely too well and not just in the office. But Hadley refuses to trust any man with her heart, while Bennett is still paying penance for all the people that he could not save.

All the while, there’s clearly someone out there who thinks Bennett hasn’t paid nearly enough. In spite of the threat, neither Hadley nor Bennett can resist reaching out for a present neither of them ever expected – even though they both know that any future is far from guaranteed.

Escape Rating A-: The two types of this author’s stories that I like best, whether they are science fiction romances like her Galactic Kings series or action adventure romances like Sentinel Security. The first, and the one I always await eagerly, is the romance that features the leader of whatever group the series is following. In the case of Sentinel Security that’s Killian “Steel” Hawke and his book is up NEXT! YAY!

But the other type, and one that manages to happen more than once in each series – after all, when it comes to leaders there can usually be only one – are the romances where the female half of the impending duo is every single bit the elite operator that the male half is – if not a bit more so as in The Medic.

Those elite operators who are so deliciously often the hero of her romances are just so kickass and badass that any woman who tangles romantically with them who is not just as badass in her own right sometimes gets a bit damselfied. Not because she really is, but because in comparison she really does need protection and a lot of it for whatever fix she’s stuck in.

Sentinel Security agent, formerly of MI6, Hadley “Striker” Lockwood does not need protection. She’s an expert either in providing that protection or in making sure that the villains wish they had a whole lot more of it than they actually do.

So Hadley doesn’t need Bennett to protect her from danger just as he doesn’t need Hadley to protect him. But they each are more than capable of watching each other’s backs in the middle of an operation as well as stealing each other’s hearts in their all too brief downtime.

Which makes Striker just the kind of romance of equals that I always enjoy. In this story, they’re both equally capable of taking down the villains. And they are both equally wary of putting their hearts on the line.

So if you love the kind of romance where everyone kicks ass, takes names and puts down the villains on their way to a well-earned happy ever after, Striker is a winner.

And I’m utterly thrilled that the head badass at Sentinel Security, Killian Hawke, is going to be forced to acknowledge that he’s met his match in every possible way in Steel, coming in January. That’s next month. YAY!