Review: Hacking Mr CEO by Anna Hackett

Review: Hacking Mr CEO by Anna HackettHacking Mr. CEO (Billionaire Heists #3) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Billionaire Heists #3
Pages: 292
Published by Anna Hackett on July 27th 2021
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & Noble

To save the only mother I’ve ever known, all I have to do is hack a tech billionaire.

My foster mother is sick. The woman who gave me a home, love, a life. I’ll do anything to find the money for her surgery, including using my skills as a hacker.

My name’s Remi, also known as Rogue Angel, and usually I work for a security company testing clients’ systems. But now a shadowy bad guy has tracked me down and given me an ultimatum.

I have to hack Rivera Tech—the biggest technology company in the world, owned by billionaire CEO, Maverick Rivera. If I do, I get paid and I can help my foster mother. If I don’t, my family is in danger.

Hacking Rivera is no walk in the park, and soon I find myself in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse with big, grumpy, and way-too-sexy Maverick. What I never, ever expected was for him to make me feel safe, or to threaten my closely-guarded heart, or to ignite every single part of me.

I can’t drag him into my mess.

But Maverick has other ideas, and he isn’t a man who takes no for an answer.

My Review:

In the very first of the Billionaire Heists series, Stealing from Mr. Rich, the first of the “Bachelor Billionaires”, as the New York City news media calls them, found himself falling for a woman who was in way over her head – and his – with some really evil dudes who were out to rob him blind, using her as their patsy.

In the second book, Blackmailing Mr. Bossman, the second bachelor falls for a woman who seems to be blackmailing him because her bestie is being blackmailed by people who are after his money. This one was just the right book at the right time for me, as everyone who seems to be lying turns out either not to be or doing it for the best of intentions.

In the first two stories, the romance happens because the women who find themselves in these messes begin with the very best of intentions, trying their damnedest to fix a situation that they may not have broken but that they feel responsible for patching up.

None of them are damsels in distress, wringing their hands and waiting for a man to sweep in and fix things for them. They’re out there trying to fix the mess for themselves when the man they have been forced to do wrong by decides that he’s not going to sit passively by while someone evil messes with both of them.

They are on the same side after all – even if they don’t start out that way.

In this final book in the series, white-hat hacker Remi Solano finds herself donning a black hat when she learns that her foster mom needs expensive experimental treatment to remove an otherwise inoperable brain tumor. Mama Alma has less than 6 months to live, and Remi and her siblings together couldn’t raise the kind of money if they had 6 years to do it in. So she markets her only skill on the dark web, hoping to make a score that will get Mama into that expensive treatment.

And she gets in way over her head. Because otherwise we wouldn’t have this marvelous story.

Someone wants her to hack into Rivera Tech and steal the files on something called the Calyx Project. She doesn’t know who they are, and she doesn’t know what the project is, but the job pays a cool million and that’s enough to take care of Mama.

Not that Remi actually wants to hack Rivera. She’s not exactly sure that she can, even as skilled as she is. Rivera Tech has the best security she’s ever seen, which only makes sense because Maverick Rivera is a genius programmer and computer designer in his own right. And it’s his company, the extremely handsome profits from which have made him the third of the “Billionaire Bachelors”.

Although, Remi has seen plenty of pictures of the man, and she’d be more than happy to hack one of his extremely well-tailored suits right off his sexy body. Not that she thinks she’ll ever have the chance – especially not if she manages to pull off this job.

And that’s where everything gets hairy. Or goes south. Or pear-shaped. Or all of the above.

Calyx is a super-secret government project. Whoever wants Remi to steal it is planning on committing treason – or planning on Remi committing treason on their behalf. Remi’s obviously a pawn in this game, a pawn that the contractor called “The Shadow” refuses to let go of when Remi and Mav join forces.

The chase is on. The Shadow wants them both dead. They’ve become loose ends in his failed attempt to hack Rivera by proxy, and he never leaves loose ends. They’re dodging bullets and hired badasses while they try to close in on the villain who is trying to close in on them.

Meanwhile, they’re closing in on each other, even if neither of them has any expectations that the other will stay once all the excitement is over – one way or another.

Escape Rating A-: I think this was my favorite game in the whole series, making it end on a marvelous high note. I loved the hacking scenario, and the way that Remi and Mav just had a great time geeking out together.

The way the story ended, with Mav and Remi being chased by The Shadow through the entire Rivera Tech campus, read like it would make a great video game, which felt totally appropriate for a romantic suspense story featuring two geeks.

I have to say that the villain of this piece, The Shadow, was just a bit too over the top. He’s the only thing keeping this from being an A grade. I loved Remi and Mav, I enjoyed the hell out of watching them get together, and all the geekery was very much my jam. The Shadow, while extremely dangerous and deadly, had a persona that wouldn’t have been out of place in a B grade superhero movie.

Which, come to think of it, is also pretty geeky. Just not as cool as the rest of the story.

While I’m happy to see the Billionaire Bachelors all find their HEAs, I’m kind of sorry to see this series end. On my third hand, this does plenty of crossover with Norcross Security, which is clearly not done yet. After all, Vander Norcross, the boogeyman’s boogeyman as Remi called him, still has to find a woman he can’t run over. That’s going to be epic!

Review: Blackmailing Mr. Bossman by Anna Hackett

Review: Blackmailing Mr. Bossman by Anna HackettBlackmailing Mr. Bossman (Billionaire Heists #2) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Billionaire Heists #2
Pages: 292
Published by Anna Hackett on June 18, 2021
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon

To save my best friend’s husband, all I have to do is blackmail a billionaire.
My friend’s husband was abducted by a gang of white-collar criminals. These guys are bad, and they want her to spy on her boss—a man who owns half of New York. She’s falling apart and she needs my help.
My name’s Aspen. I’m a private investigator, and I’m usually doing surveillance on cheating spouses or insurance scammers, but now I’m going undercover.
I’m trading my jeans for skirts, and playing assistant at Kensington Group so I can get up close and personal with Liam Kensington—the owner of a multibillion-dollar construction and property empire.
Not to mention a tall, lean, golden-haired god with a sexy British accent.
The white-collar thieves have Liam in their sights and in return for my friend’s husband, they want me to blackmail a billionaire. Aw, hell.
But I didn’t count on how Liam would make me feel, or my crazy need to keep him safe, or our incendiary attraction.
Now I have to save a man’s life, catch some bad guys, and stop myself from falling in love with a billionaire who’s way out of my league.

My Review:

I was looking for something a bit lighter than yesterday’s book. You know, something with not quite so many deaths and dismemberments. Or at least not so many gruesome descriptions of the dismemberments. Fictional deaths, if they’re of the right people, aren’t so bad.

There are certainly more than a few people who need to die – or at least be removed from their ability to make trouble one way or another (and possibly from the gene pool), in the Billionaire Heists series. Not to mention, the billionaires are gorgeous, the women who manage to win their hearts have plenty of moxie and especially agency, and there’s always a happy ever after waiting in the wings.

After evil gets its just desserts, of course.

In the first book in this series, Stealing from Mr. Rich, the first of the “Billionaire Bachelors” found himself falling for a woman who set out to rob him blind. Not that Monroe O’Connor actually wanted to steal anything from Zane Roth, except possibly his heart. But Monroe was in over her head with some really evil dudes who had kidnapped her way-more-immature-than-he-thinks-he-is younger brother, and, well, needs must because the devil is certainly driving.

The situation in Blackmailing Mr. Bossman does have some familiar vibes from that first story, and not just because Zane and Liam Kensington, the titular Mr. Bossman, are besties. Or would be if billionaires would be caught dead using that term.

Like Monroe in that first story, Aspen Chandler has no desire of her own to blackmail Liam Kensington – not that he doesn’t spark plenty of other desires in Aspen and every other straight woman with a pulse in New York City.

Aspen is a licensed private investigator. She’s working on behalf of a client – one of her own best friends – who happens to work at Liam’s megacorp headquarters. Her friend’s husband has been kidnapped, and his “ransom” is delivering the blackmail material to Liam. A task that Aspen has taken over on her behalf in the hopes of finding a way to take down the bad guys behind this mess.

But she has to go through with the blackmail in order to get all the goods on everyone involved. Or, at least she thinks she does. So she goes undercover at Kensington Group in order to get close to Liam and let the real blackmailers believe she’s on their side and under their thumb.

And that’s where everything starts to go very, very wrong – at least as far as Aspen’s ability to keep her work compartmentalized from her heart. It’s also where things start to go very, very right for the possibility that the P.I. and the billionaire might have a chance at an HEA.

They just have to survive a crazy mobster first. Make that two crazy mobsters, one in the here and now, and one reaching from beyond the grave with his hands full of diamonds.

Escape Rating A-: I have to admit that I’m not all that crazy about the cover of this book, and I kind of hate the title – but I really LOVED the story. So definitely don’t judge this book by anything you see on its cover except the author’s name. Because Anna Hackett delivers and this one is definitely no exception.

I’m really loving this Billionaire Heists series quite a lot after merely liking a couple of the Norcross Security series – although there was one book in that series (The Specialist) that I absolutely adored. For a good reading time call Anna.

The thing about this series in particular is that the women are all very, very good at taking care of themselves, thankyouverymuch. Neither Monroe nor Aspen ever needs to be rescued by their billionaires. It’s not just that they are in control of their own lives before their current problem landed in their laps, it’s that they are working the problem that has landed in their laps – and doing a damn good job at it.

Where Aspen doesn’t so much fall down on the job as change her plans for the job is that she can’t continue the undercover aspects of the mess once both hers and Liam’s emotions get involved. Once she stops pretending to be either a PR assistant or a blackmailer, their working relationship becomes fairly equal, and that’s something I always like to see in a romance, because relationships that are not equal don’t work in the long run.

The inequality in their relationship, and there certainly is quite a bit, can be set aside if they’re both willing to work at it, and that’s where the push-pull tension comes into play fairly realistically for a story that has a high quotient of real-world-type-fantasy mixed in. Liam is, after all, a multi-billionaire, as are his friends. Aspen works hard to support herself, her twin sisters and her mother. She’s doing okay most of the time, but Liam is in a whole other stratosphere.

Aspen’s certain that the gap can’t be bridged, while Liam is certain that it can. They’re the best thing that ever happened to each other, if they can just manage to hang on to what they’ve almost got.

The case that brings them together is a scream. Both in the sense that Liam, Aspen and the reader all want to scream at Liam’s douchebag father who is the real target of the blackmail. There aren’t words for how vile he is. The ransom is an even bigger scream, in the sense that it’s fascinating and historical and, in the end, plenty scary. It reaches all the way back to Prohibition and features a dilapidated warehouse, a notorious gangster and a too-well-hidden cache of priceless gems.

All in all, I had a terrifically good reading time with this one, and I can’t wait for the final book in this trilogy, when the last billionaire bachelor takes his fall in Hacking Mr. CEO, coming in late July to a kindle near you. Or rather definitely, to an iPad near me!

Review: Stealing from Mr. Rich by Anna Hackett

Review: Stealing from Mr. Rich by Anna HackettStealing from Mr. Rich (Billionaire Heists #1) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Billionaire Heists #1
Pages: 286
Published by Anna Hackett on May 21, 2021
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon

To save my brother, all I have to do is steal from a billionaire.
My brother is in trouble. Again. But this time he’s in debt to some really bad people, and I’ll do anything to save him. Even be blackmailed into cracking an unbreakable safe belonging to the most gorgeous man in New York. And one of the richest.
Steal from Zane Roth—King of Wall Street and one of the famous billionaire bachelors of New York—sure thing, piece of cake.
You see, some people can play the piano, but I can play safes. My father is a thief, safecracker extraordinaire, and a criminal. He also taught me everything he knows. I’ve spent my entire life trying not to be him. I own my own business, pay my taxes, and I don’t break the law. Ever.
Now I have to smash every one of my rules, break into a billionaire’s penthouse, and steal a million-dollar necklace.
What I never expected was to find myself face to face with Zane. Tall, dark, handsome, and oh-so-rich Zane. He’s also smart, and he knows I’m up to something.
And he’s vowed to find out.

My Review:

On the surface, the first meeting between billionaire Zane Roth and “Lady Locksmith” Monroe O’Connor reads like a slapstick version of a meet-hot-and-cute with more than a touch of the movie Maid in Manhattan.

Unlike the movie, Monroe is only pretending to be a maid, while Zane is a bit too naked to be on his way out to walk anybody’s dog. (And I’m so tempted to keep this joke going, but it’s going to hit the gutter really fast. Sorry, not sorry)

Monroe is in Zane’s apartment to “case the joint” so that she can steal a priceless piece of jewelry as ransom for her not-as-mature-as-he-ought-to-be younger brother, who made the mistake of gambling with the Russian Mafia. Literally. Stupidly. And entirely too typically for Maguire O’Connor.

So Monroe is going to have to break into an unbreakable safe that’s hidden in the penthouse of one of the richest men in New York, break every vow she’s made to herself to stay on the straight and narrow and not follow in her daddy’s criminal footsteps in order to save Mags. Again. From his own idiocy.

But those moments of slippery slapstick on the floor of Zane’s penthouse shower are the most fun and the best sexytimes that either of them have had in weeks, months, possibly even years. Which means that even though Zane learns that Monroe shouldn’t be trusted, and even though Monroe knows that the only ending to their instant flirtation is either a pair of broken hearts or her brother’s broken body, she can’t resist trying to have the little bit of Zane that she thinks she can have.

Neither Zane nor Monroe figure out that they’re playing for even higher stakes than the Russian Mafia. And that they are both already all in.

Escape Rating B+: I enjoyed Stealing from Mr. Rich more than I expected after reading the blurb. That’s partly because there were parts of the description that reminded me a bit too much of the parts of the Norcross Security series that I had some trouble with. In that series, it seemed like the heroines were much too re-active and didn’t have nearly enough agency. There was often a creeptastic element in that series where the villains were sexual predators who intended to add the heroines to their “collections”, whether that was part of the initial evil plot or not.

One of the things I liked about Monroe and her story is that it was all strictly business from the villains’ point of view. Not that there weren’t some disgusting dudes along the way, but the big bads are strictly business. Mags owes them money, Monroe has a skill that they can use to get her to do their dirty work for them, and there’s nothing about their deal that expects Monroe to do any of her work for them on her back. So I enjoyed Monroe’s story – and Monroe’s first person perspective – all the more because she’s actively pursuing a solution to her problem that doesn’t require a rescue and she never loses her agency while she works – however reluctantly – to win her brother’s freedom.

Something else that happened in this story is wrapped around the way that books often remind me of, of course, other books. Like the way that The Specialist, my favorite book in the Norcross Security series, reminded me of Rock Hard, another big favorite.

So it’s not actually a surprise that another interesting thing I realized about this story has to do with my love of J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Whenever a romance features a billionaire, I kind of expect to see someone either very like Roarke or his direct opposite. Like him if it’s the hero, the opposite if it’s the villain.

I am not digressing, I swear.

Zane and Monroe are both Roarke, or Roarke if he’s split into two characters. Zane is the self-made billionaire who gives megabucks to charity, plays the part he has to play while keeping his real self separate, has created a circle of real friends to rely on, knows how to take care of himself in a fight – and is, of course, devilishly handsome.

Monroe is the child of a thief and a conman who has done her best to distance herself from her dad’s criminal ways, but has used the skills he taught her to create a business and make both a living and a difference. People keep trying to drag her back into the muck, but she keeps right on fighting to get out. And has also created a circle of real friends she can rely on – even if she has a difficult time trusting that other people will be there for her.

And all of that is also Roarke, so it’s inevitable that these two parts of a whole will find each other and be drawn together like iron filings to a magnet.

That both Zane and Monroe have SERIOUS trust issues – with good reason – both gives them a lot in common and pulls them apart on a regular basis. After all, they meet because she’s planning to rob him. That’s not exactly a scenario that builds trust.

Neither of them is all that good at relying on others – or on anyone at all outside a tiny, trusted circle. They shouldn’t reach out to each other – and they especially shouldn’t hold on to each other. That they do it anyway, in spite of all the voices on both the inside and the outside saying that they shouldn’t, is what gives this story its zing and its spark.

Although the naked slapstick start sure didn’t hurt – AT ALL!