Review: Mission: Her Justice by Anna Hackett

Review: Mission: Her Justice by Anna HackettMission: Her Justice (Team 52 #8) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, romantic suspense
Series: Team 52 #8
Pages: 229
Published by Anna Hackett on November 29, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

When a dangerous redhead invades his office and his base, and warns that his team is in danger, Director Jonah Grayson doesn’t know if she’s friend or foe.

Former elite Army aviator Jonah Grayson was forced to give up flying, but now serves as director of the covert black ops team, Team 52. He takes care of the brass in Washington D.C. to ensure his team can do their job: keeping the world safe from dangerous, ancient artifacts. But when he’s confronted by a tough, skilled, mysterious redhead with a warning that his team is being targeted, he’ll do whatever it takes in order to find out who she is and what she wants.

Evan Fletcher’s life has imploded. She’s on the run, been labeled a rogue and traitor, and she knows a very bad, powerful man has Team 52 in his sights. He’s after a deadly artifact and wants the team out of his way...but Evan plans to stop him. She’ll use all of her particular skill set to bring him down, clear her name, and protect Team 52…and that includes the team’s handsome, oh-so-tempting director.

Surrounded by danger at every turn, Evan and Jonah are drawn to each in ways they can’t explain. To keep Team 52 safe, stop the enemy, and find justice for Evan, they will put everything on the line. But when you’re under fire, trust is hard, and falling in love is even harder.

My Review:

The Team 52 series has always had a Stargate vibe for me, between its location right next door to the infamous Area 51, and it’s mission to protect and study powerful ancient artifacts, also very much like Stargate.

In this final entry in the series, there’s even the equivalent of an Asgard head-grabber, and just like in Stargate, the head it grabs is that of the leader of the team. In this case Jonah Grayson, the leader of Team 52.

Evan Fletcher’s solution to the problem was a lot quicker, considerably more visceral, and much more permanent than anything the TV show ever came up with.

But Evan has way more skin in the game – even if she’s not quite ready admit it to herself. Because in a contest between a priceless repository of knowledge and the life of the man she has hesitantly and so-very-reluctantly come to love – there’s absolutely no contest at all.

Only a fight for survival and love that Evan is determined to win – no matter what abyss she has to drag Jonah Grayson back from or how much he kicks and screams along the way.

Escape Rating B+: Mission: Her Justice is the wrap up for the entire 8-book series, and it’s difficult to talk about this one without referring to the others.

This one feels like the payoff for the whole series, meaning that it only sorta/kinda stands alone. Except for the first book and this last one, the series can otherwise be read in any order, but the first book, Mission: Her Protection, sets the stage for the whole thing and this one puts as much emphasis on wrapping up the series as it does on the individual romance.

The Team 52 series is more action/adventure romance, like Treasure Hunter Security and Norcross, than it is like any of the author’s science fiction romance series. So, in spite of my reference to Stargate, this isn’t SF in the way that Hell Squad or Eon Warriors are. (Although if you watched Stargate really, really hoping that Sam would get together with either Jack or Daniel or both, you’ll love Team 52.)

But Team 52 is just as good, and just as much sexy adventurous fun, as Hell Squad and Eon Warriors,  just not quite in the same vein. Although plenty of veins get sliced open or shot through. There’s a lot of danger in this romantic mix.

What makes the romance in this entry in the series particularly explosive is that Jonah and Evan are both beyond leery of loving or trusting anyone outside an extremely tight circle. Both have been betrayed by teammates in the services to which they gave allegiance, and both have learned the hard way that anyone can be a traitor – and that their own instincts can be their worst enemies when it comes to figuring out who.

What makes the romance hard-won in this story is that the pain in both of their pasts results from teammate betrayals and not romantic betrayals. They’re not just afraid to fall in love, they’re afraid to believe that anyone might be on their side for any reason whatsoever.

That’s a hard chasm to jump, which makes it all that much more rewarding when they finally do.

I will admit, however, that I found Evan’s particular betrayer to be a bit too much of a generic douchecanoe. Brennan read as merely “bwahaha” evil rather than a believable villain.

But we’re not supposed to like Brennan, so finding him both unlikeable AND unbelievable didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story all that much. I always love the romance in this author’s series that feature the team leader, and Mission: Her Justice was no exception to that rule. I loved Evan as the heroine. And I especially enjoyed that her mom even managed to get her own HEA to sweeten the entire deal.

Team 52 has been a winner from beginning to end – and it definitely went out on a high note. I hope that we get glimpses of this crew in the author’s later series(es) just so that we can see how well their HEAs turned out!

Review: Mission: Her Shield by Anna Hackett

Review: Mission: Her Shield by Anna HackettMission: Her Shield (Team 52 #7) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance
Series: Team 52 #7
Pages: 202
Published by Anna Hackett on April 19th 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

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.

My Review:

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!

Review: Mission: Her Freedom by Anna Hackett

Review: Mission: Her Freedom by Anna HackettMission: Her Freedom (Team 52 #6) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, romantic suspense
Series: Team 52 #6
Pages: 220
Published by Anna Hackett on November 24, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

A badass combat medic will do anything to save her friend and teammate, but on the run from some very bad guys, she starts to look at her tattooed tech geek friend in a very different way…

Former Naval Intelligence officer Brooks Jameson might have lots of muscles and ink, but he’s a proud geek. He loves computers and his job—taking care of all things tech for his covert, black ops team of badasses—Team 52. But when he finds himself snatched off a Las Vegas street and in the hands of some very bad people who are after a powerful, dangerous artifact, he knows he’s in a fight for survival. Then his teammate Callie Kimura—gorgeous and way-out-of-his-league—strides through the door to rescue him…

Callie’s childhood and career in the Air Force taught her to never risk loving anyone, because losing them leaves you bleeding. She has everything she needs as the medic for Team 52, and when Brooks gets abducted, she’ll do anything to get her friend back. But when they end up on the run together, Callie starts to see the hunky geek in a very different light.

As Callie and Brooks battle to stop a deadly artifact being used in an evil plan, they ignite a scorching desire that shocks them both. But some scars—and the demons that made them—run deep, and Brooks knows he’ll need all his intelligence, patience, and love to convince the beautiful combat medic to let her heart be free.

My Review:

This is a very different take on whether the ends justify the means than yesterday’s book. Although there are other similarities.

Both are in the romantic suspense/action adventure vein, so in both stories the romance is fast and adrenaline fueled from the very beginning.

But Brooks Jameson and Callie Kimura’s romance, while it happens fast and furious, doesn’t come out of complete left field. Well, it does to them, but not to the reader. Because these two people know each other, maybe not intimately as the story opens, but certainly well, as both are members of the elite covert black ops Team 52.

So this is a friends-into-lovers story, and very much so. Team 52 is a very tight-knit group of mostly former elite military operatives and by this point in the series its clear that they’ve been working together very successfully for quite a while.

It’s just that Brooks and Callie have rather different roles in the team, roles that mean that they don’t interact as much as Shaw and Claudia do in Hell Squad, for example. Brooks and Callie are not both operatives at the pointy end of the Team 52 spear.

Instead, Brooks is their tech guru and Callie is the team medic. She goes out with the team while Brooks stays back at the bunker and coordinates the ops. Not that he’s not just as ripped as the rest of the guys, but he’s not really trained to take down baddies with a gun – only with a keyboard.

So when Brooks gets kidnapped, Callie is the one who rides to his rescue. When they both end up captured, they each discover new and interesting facets of a person that they thought they knew and already liked. Being forced to depend on each other and only each other changes their relationship in ways that neither expected – and neither is completely sure is a good idea.

But the case that Team 52, and especially Brooks, have been dragged into is one that they can’t ignore – since it keeps reaching out to get them. Whether Brooks and Callie will have a chance to explore the spark between them has to take second place to a crazy woman with an artifact that can draw not just sparks, but thunder and lightning out of the sky on command.

Lightning that she’s aiming straight at Team 52.

Escape Rating B: There were parts of this one that I really liked, and parts that didn’t work quite as well. Overall, I had a good reading time. I just have quibbles. I often have quibbles.

I love a good friends-into-lovers romance, and Mission: Her Freedom is definitely that. (I can’t figure out how this has anything to do with Callie’s freedom exactly but then I generally find the titles in this particular series a bit cheesy.)

I think that where this one drove me a bit batty was in the early stages. That some baddies go after Brooks so that he can hack into his own security to retrieve an artifact makes sense. The baddies in this series are usually very bad so this is a very plausible opening. That the team needs to rescue him because there are just so damn many of them also works.

But when Callie manages to locate where Brooks is being kept, she goes in alone to rescue him. If she’s as good an operative as the Team usually is, that shouldn’t happen unless there’s an imminent threat to Brooks’ life – which there isn’t. All she does is spook the baddies into taking them both away to someplace that the team doesn’t have a bead on – making the rescue take longer and giving those baddies something to threaten Brooks with – and vice versa. She made the situation more dangerous by going in half-arsed and should have been dressed down for it – but wasn’t.

So this one went off the rails for me a bit at that point even though everything that came after worked really well. Your reading mileage may vary.

One of the differences between the Treasure Hunter Security series that spawned Team 52 and Team 52 itself is that the THS baddies were all about the money. Not that there wasn’t plenty of crazy, but money was at the heart. After all, the love of money is the root of all evil and those evildoers had plenty of roots.

This particular entry in Team 52 isn’t about the money at all. It’s about the crazy, which goes back to my comment at the beginning about the ends justifying the means. There’s always an artifact on the loose at the center of a Team 52 story. In this case, the artifact is the wind jewel that can call storms – deadly storms.

It’s the reason – for really, really loose definitions of the word “reason” – that brings the crazy into this particular entry into the series. Because the person who is conjuring storms in the worst possible places is doing it to “cleanse” the world of what she thinks of as unworthy people – so that the rest can live in what she thinks of as utopia. But will undoubtedly be anything but.

She’s convinced that her “ends”, her goal of making the world a “better” place filled with only the “best” people, justifies her means, by which I mean mass murder on a global scale. It could be said that she means well, at least if one squints (a LOT) but she certainly doesn’t do well. Making this a much simpler question about ends and means than yesterday’s book.

She’s crazy, she has to be taken down – and the wind jewel locked away – and there’s no question about it being the right thing for Team 52 to get the job done!

Review: Mission: Her Safety by Anna Hackett

Review: Mission: Her Safety by Anna HackettMission: Her Safety (Team 52) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance
Series: Team 52 #5
Pages: 212
Published by Anna Hackett on May 20th 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

A sexy, grumpy black ops scientist will do anything to track down the mysterious woman who broke into his lab.

After Dr. Ty Sampson catches a mysterious female intruder in his home and lab, he’s obsessed with finding out who she is and what she wants. He’s a man who trusts very few people and hates anyone in his space. His role as Team 52’s lead scientist brings him into contact with a host of powerful, ancient artifacts, so he knows the woman must be after something dangerous and he refuses to let her succeed.

River Elliott-Hall is good at finding things and prides herself on always getting the job done. When a very valuable painting by a master is stolen from a famous museum, it is her job to get it back. The trail leads her to the bright lights of Las Vegas and she’s heard rumors of the covert, black ops Team 52. But as she investigates if they know anything about the painting, she finds herself drawn into a battle of wits with a big, bad-tempered, and far-too-handsome genius.

Life has taught River and Ty to guard their hearts, so as these two circle each other, they warily agree to work together. Because it soon becomes clear that the painting is more than just a painting, and someone with a dangerous plan is working behind the scenes. Fighting their intense chemistry, Ty and River—along with Team 52—will risk everything to save the day, and both find themselves battling the unfamiliar needs to claim, protect, and keep each other safe.

My Review:

I find the title of this entry in the Team 52 series particularly ironic, as River Elliott-Hall doesn’t really need anyone to make her safety their mission – and she’d be downright insulted at the thought.

Which makes her a perfect heroine for this – or any other – of Anna Hackett’s action adventure romance series, whether they are even slightly science fictional – or not. The Team 52 series is mostly one of the “or nots”, so if you like a romance where there’s plenty of action and adventure both between and outside of the sheets, Team 52 or the Treasure Hunter Security series that it spun off of, might be just the ticket.

Team 52 is based just next door to Area 51. And yes, that slight joke is intentional. Because Team 52 deals with just the sort of artifacts that Area 51 is supposed to be housing. Consider it hiding in plain sight. Or plausible deniability.

Just like some of the more “out of this world” artifacts that used to get found on Earth in the Stargate series, Team 52’s job is to protect most of us from unscrupulous people taking advantage of some really cool, and very powerful gizmos that have been hidden and/or buried on this planet for more millennia than we think this planet has actually had intelligent life.

This particular adventure starts out relatively down to earth – the earth as we know it. Until the mystery gets a whole lot bigger.

River Elliott-Hall is former MI6. She currently freelances as, let’s call it, a retrieval artist. She gets hired when something really big and important gets stolen – and the original owners are willing to pay some serious money to get it back.

She’s after a painting by Leonardo da Vinci titled Salvator Mundi, stolen from the Abu Dhabi Louvre. As an original by the Renaissance genius, it’s worth not a small but actually quite a large fortune.

As a map to the location of the elixir that gave da Vinci his genius, it is beyond price. And also well within the purview of Team 52.

When River rifles her way through the homes of all of the members of Team 52, she puts herself and her job squarely in their sights. The museum can have the picture, as long as Team 52 gets to put the elixir out of the reach of anyone who might want to use and/or abuse it.

Banding together to accomplish both of their aims puts River Elliott-Hall squarely in the arms of Team 52’s resident real genius, Ty Sampson. And in spite of neither of them believing in either love or trust, they can’t manage to stay away from each other.

Not even under orders to “play it safe”.

Escape Rating B: I’m still finding the titles of this series to be more than a bit on the cheesy side for some reason. And I’m also starting to get a bit tired of the headless bod covers. Not that the bods aren’t bodacious and all that, but heads, please – as long as it’s not all the same head because that would be weird.

Irreverence aside, Mission: Her Safety was a fairly typical entry in the Team 52 series. By that I mean that the non-romantic action is non-stop, the romantic action is just a bit quick on the trigger, and that the macguffin they are chasing after is suitably dangerous and dangerously well-protected.

And that both the hero and the heroine have plenty of personal demons to exorcise before they can reach their own personal happy ever after – after the artifact and their enemies are suitably contained – one way or another.

(Pine boxes being a fine method of containment under the correct circumstances – the kind of circumstances that often occur during Team 52’s adventures.)

I liked Ty and River, and thought that in the end they made a great team, both professionally and romantically. It also worked really well that they had, let’s say not dissimilar family baggage to deal with – and that they initially weren’t dealing with it terribly well but in the same way.

One of the things that I liked very much was that the former partner and mentor that River was somewhat avenging was just that, a working partner and mentor without having ever been a romantic interest or a member of her birth family. Love takes many forms, and the need to find justice for a fallen loved one is not confined to those for whom we feel romantic love or to those who are part of our birth families.

In the end, I enjoyed Ty and River’s story, but it wasn’t a special entry in the series for me. My favorites are still Mission: Her Protection (book 1 in the series and highly recommended) and Mission: Her Defense (book 4).

Review: Mission: Her Defense by Anna Hackett

Review: Mission: Her Defense by Anna HackettMission: Her Defense (Team 52 #4) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, military romance
Series: Team 52 #4
Pages: 250
Published by Anna Hackett on February 12th 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's Website
Goodreads

One former special forces Marine. One tall, handsome police detective who pushes all her buttons. One dangerous investigation that forces them to work together.

Blair Mason is badass to the bone. She’s no stranger to loss and barely survived the mission that ended her military career. Now, as part of Team 52, she never shies away from a fight to ensure pieces of powerful ancient technology don’t fall into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, she’s often forced to “liaise” with the team’s contact at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police. The tall, hard-bodied detective ignites her temper quicker than any man she’s ever known…and after a terrible massacre, she’s horrified to find that she and MacKade are being ordered to work together.

Detective Luke MacKade was born a protector. He takes care of his family, and as a dedicated homicide detective, he protects his city. He is less thrilled with his job of cleaning up after Team 52 after they tear through Vegas on a mission. Blair is a woman who sets him off just by breathing, but even he can’t deny the powerful attraction he feels to her strength and skill. When several cursed samurai swords are stolen in a bloody attack, it is up to Luke and Blair to get them back…before more blood is shed.

But others are after the swords and their hidden powers. As Luke and Blair’s dangerous investigation intensifies, they face danger at every turn. Luke battles his intense need to protect the woman he’s falling for, a woman who neither wants or needs his protection. But as their desire burns white-hot, Luke will learn that the toughest defenses are the ones around Blair’s heart.

My Review:

It’s Valentine’s Day, which makes it a particularly appropriate day to post this review. Because a) it’s a romance and b) it’s by an author I absolutely love.

It would be perfect if it were my favorite genre by this author, science fiction romance, but c’est la vie. Like the song says, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

The Team 52 series is a cross between action adventure romance and military romance. Because the members of Team 52 are nearly all ex-military, and the ones that aren’t are ex-CIA or something even more secretive. That’s certainly true in the case of our heroine, Blair Mason.

And like all of the other former military members of Team 52, Blair is ex-military not because she wanted to be, but because her last (and very nearly final) mission left her with injuries that made her ineligible to continue to serve.

But the high-tech advances kept under as many wraps as possible at Area 52 (yes, it’s next door to the place you’re thinking of) gave her back her eye, and her sight, even better than before. It’s just that if you learn the details of either her last mission, her current status, or just how it was done, she’d probably have to kill you.

Unless one of her teammates gets there first.

The Team 52 series contains some of the earthbound elements of Stargate SG-1. Occasionally, although it’s starting to feel like not-so-occasionally, someone or something unearths powerful and dangerous technology leftover from surprisingly highly developed pre-Ice Age civilizations.

And that’s where Team 52 comes in. Because when these extremely dangerous devices come to light, there’s usually one or more villainous organizations who want to do very dark deeds with those devices.

So Team 52 swoops in to clean up the resulting mess.

But someone has to clean up their mess in a way that provides plausible explanations for the press and the public. It’s hard to completely cover up an entire ballroom full of dead bodies in the middle of a major city. A city like Las Vegas.

That’s where Detective Luke MacKade of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department comes in. It’s his job to make Team 52’s mess appear less messy to the powers that be and the noses that snoop. It’s not his only job, and it’s certainly not his favorite part of his job. He’s in the LVMPD for the “serve and protect” parts of the job and he’s convinced that all Team 52 does in come in and make his job harder without regard for the civilians who get caught in the crossfire.

His favorite part of the job seems to be riling up Blair Mason – even if he’s not willing to admit it.

But when one of their dangerous artifacts cuts a literal swath through his city, he gets an up close and person look at exactly what Team 52 does and why somebody has to do it.

And he finally manages to get close enough to Blair Mason to get an up close and personal view of the woman hiding under the prickly, badass exterior. And he wants to see a whole lot more.

Escape Rating A-: As far as this reader is concerned, the Team 52 series is back in fine form with this entry – even though I still think the titles are slightly cheesy.

I loved the first book (Mission: Her Protection), liked the second (Mission: Her Rescue) and thought the third (Mission: Her Security) was ok. This one is back to “love” on my list. I think because the focus is on Blair more than it is Luke.

What can I say, I like it when the heroine is every bit as badass, if not a bit more, than the hero. I also felt for her perspective of feeling like she needed to be all badass all the time in order to be respected by her teammates. And that the hero isn’t merely ok with that, but loves her and respects her for the badass she is and doesn’t need or want her to be anything else.

While her teammates respect her as she is, that she was socialized that way because the rest of the world doesn’t makes perfect sense.

One of the things that I love about this author’s work is the way that it so often ties into one or more of my other geekish interests. As I keep saying, this series, and the Treasure Hunter Security series it spun off of, have elements of Stargate.

The macguffin in this particular book are antique Japanese swords crafted by Muramasa, the rival of the legendary swordmaker Gorō Nyūdō Masamune. There are surviving Masamune swords in museums and private collections, but Muramasa appears to be more legendary than historical. I found this element of the story particularly fascinating because it tied in to my longstanding love for all things Final Fantasy X, where there is a sword Masamune named after the legendary but historical swordsmith and carried by the game’s resident badass.

I digress, but that’s what Team 52 does to me. It makes me digress into other geekish loves. Which is part of its charm, at least for me.

It’s awesome action-adventure/military romance, so if either of those are your jam, spread open the pages of this series!

Review: Mission: Her Security by Anna Hackett

Review: Mission: Her Security by Anna HackettMission: Her Security (Team 52 #3) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance
Series: Team 52 #3
Pages: 212
Published by Anna Hackett on November 11th 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
Goodreads

When sweet, smiling Kinsey is kidnapped by unknown forces, former SEAL and Team 52 operator Smith Creed will risk anything to get her back.

Kinsey Beck is used to life knocking her down. She escaped her past and came to Las Vegas for a new start. So what if she didn’t achieve her dream of being a showgirl, instead, she now has an awesome job as logistics manager for the covert, black ops Team 52. She loves all the team…especially big, gruff mountain man Smith, even if he isn’t interested in her the way she’d like. But when Kinsey is kidnapped, she finds alone and herself trapped in a deadly fight for survival…

Smith Creed is a loner who prefers his own company, his dog, and his mountain cabin. Working for Team 52 lets him use his unique skills to help ensure pieces of powerful ancient technology don’t fall into the wrong hands. It also brings him in close contact with a woman he knows isn’t for him—sweet, beautiful Kinsey. But when he learns she’s been snatched, her life hanging in the balance, he’ll tear the world apart to bring her home safely.

But rescuing Kinsey uncovers a deeper plot and a shadowy group out to destroy the world. Smith and Team 52 will be forced to make tough decisions—revolving around a dangerous, ancient artifact—and even when Kinsey is back in Smith’s arms, she still isn’t safe. With danger at every turn, Smith with sacrifice everything to ensure Kinsey’s security, but the greatest danger of all might be to Smith’s closed-off heart.

My Review:

I’ve always said that this series reminded me of Stargate. I had to laugh out loud when they headed to Denver, the home of the Cheyenne Mountain Base. There may not be a Stargate in the mountain, but as many artifacts as Team 52 has turned up so far, you never know!

This story begins when Team 52’s logistics expert, Kinsey Beck, is kidnapped from their in-town “Bunker” in Las Vegas. Her kidnapping sets off several chain reactions, reactions of all different kinds.

One is the chain reaction her kidnapping sets off in Smith Creed, one of the loners in Team 52. He’s interested in Kinsey, but as has been the case with the other heroes in this series, Smith believes that he’s too damaged to be good for Kinsey. Kinsey has more than few emotional scars of her own, and has assumed that her own interest in Smith is one-sided. Wondering whether or not you’re going to live another day has a way of focusing one’s priorities.

Although Smith tries to keep Kinsey at more than arm’s length, when the first snatch and grab turns into the second and eventually the third, he gives in to the inevitable – and Kinsey is more than willing to give in to him. She just doesn’t think it will last.

There are also some subterranean chain reactions, set off by the ancient artifact that Team 52 is forced to trade for Kinsey’s life. Someone seems to think that setting off earthquakes is the perfect way to get attention – and remake the world.

Of course Team 52, with more than a little help from Treasure Hunter Security, is going to stop the villains from carrying out their nefarious plans – once they manage to stop everyone from kidnapping Kinsey!

Escape Rating B-: My favorite scene was when Team 52 meets up with Treasure Hunter Security in the THS offices, and Darcy Ward (co-owner of THS and heroine of Undetected) tell them, “THS badasses meet the Team 52 badasses.” What a hoot!

However, I also found myself thinking that for all the prep that the badasses of Team 52 do for their missions, they did a really lousy job of taking care of the security for their logistics manager. So much of what happens to Kinsey in this story happens because she wasn’t prepared. Not that she didn’t do fairly well with the hand that she was dealt, but she gets kidnapped so damn often because she wasn’t nearly well trained enough for a situation that seemed inevitable.

Some evildoer was bound to figure out that Kinsey was the weak link in Team 52’s security sooner or later – and they really should have bet on sooner. After all, it’s what they do.

As with all of this author’s work, I found the story to be a lot of fun, but it also felt like the cheesy factor lived up to the title. I’ve always found the titles of this series to be particularly cheesy, and this entry lives up to the cheese.

First, Kinsey gets kidnapped way too often. One of the things I like about this author is that she usually doesn’t resort to the stereotypical “heroine in jeopardy” plot devices. This outing got way too close to falling into that trope trap.

That being said, I still had a good time with Mission: Her Security – even if poor Kinsey wasn’t very secure for a good chunk of the book. But then, that’s why it needed to be a mission!

I’m looking forward to Anna Hackett’s return to science fiction romance in Edge of Eon, coming in December. OMG that’s next month! YAY!

Review: Mission: Her Rescue by Anna Hackett

Review: Mission: Her Rescue by Anna HackettMission: Her Rescue (Team 52 #2) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, military romance, romantic suspense
Series: Team 52 #2
Pages: 220
Published by Anna Hackett on October 7th 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

When archeologist January’s plane is shot down over the Guatemalan jungle, she knows she’s being hunted for the invaluable Mayan artifacts she’s carrying. Only one man and his team can save her…the covert, black ops Team 52, and the distrusting former CIA operative who drives her crazy…

Dr. January James has a motto: live life to the fullest. A terrible incident in her past, where she lost both her mother and her innocence, taught her that. Now she spends her days on archeological digs doing the work she loves. When her team uncovers a pair of dangerous artifacts in an overgrown temple, she knows they need to be secured and safeguarded. But someone else knows about the artifacts…and will kill to get them.

Working for the CIA, Seth Lynch learned the hard way that people lie and will always stab you in the back. He has the scars to prove it. He lives for his work with Team 52—ensuring pieces of powerful ancient technology don’t fall into the wrong hands. When he learns that the feisty, independent archeologist who works his last nerve has died in a plane crash, he makes it his mission to discover who the hell is responsible.

Deep in the jungle, Seth rescues a very-much alive January and it is up to him to keep both her and the artifacts safe. Hunted from every side, their attraction is explosive and fiery, but with January’s life on the line, Seth must fight his own demons in order to rescue the woman he can no longer resist.

My Review:

In this followup to the first book in the series, Mission: Her Protection, the circumstances are just a bit different but the outcome ends up being very, very similar. Archaeologist January Jones already knows who and what Team 52 is and does – because they “appropriated” an artifact from one of her previous digs.

This time she’s on her way to Area 52 willingly, because she knows that whatever her team has found its every bit as much their bailiwick as it is hers. Meaning that while the two solid jade orbs are certainly a priceless archaeological treasure, there is also something uncanny about them. They may be the key to the power of the ancient and secretive Snake Kings, but that key is also trouble that Team 52 is better equipped to deal with than she is.

A conclusion that is proved beyond a shadow of a doubt when her plane back to civilization from the jungles of Guatemala is shot down in the middle of said jungle by a group intent on killing her and taking the orbs. January is rescued in the nick of time by Team 52, who are equally intent on saving both her and the orbs – particularly Team 52 agent Seth Lynch, who is more intent on January than those orbs.

Seth and January have tangled before – on that previous occasion when Team 52 tried to take her artifacts first and talk second. January clipped him upside the head with a metal pipe in the process and no one has let him forget it. Not that he could forget. Something about January gets right under his skin and pisses him off every time they meet.

They dislike each other with an intensity that is clearly hiding a lot of other things that neither of them is ready or willing to feel. But sharing a near-death experience does have a way of stripping the inhibitions – especially when those are inhibitions that a person really, really needs to let go of.

In spite of the flare of heat that rises between them, they are coming from very opposite perspectives. January’s response to tragedy is to live life to the fullest, and feel things to the utmost. Seth’s response has been to emotionally cut himself off from trusting other people – and that includes January. That especially includes January.

A mistake that nearly costs both of them everything.

Escape Rating B+: I still find the titles of this series to be endlessly cheesy – however the stories are anything but. Unless one considers the cheese to be well-toasted over a very hot flame – because there’s plenty of heat between the hero and heroine.

At least so far, this is not a series where you need to read from the beginning. I enjoyed Mission: Her Protection a lot, it’s a terrific action-adventure romance – as is Mission: Her Rescue – but the stories don’t build on one another very much. There’s more of an introduction to the team and its work in the first book but not so much that a new reader can’t pick it up from context in this one.

Team 52 is also a spinoff of the author’s previous action-adventure romance series, Treasure Hunter Security. But again, prior knowledge of that series isn’t required for this one. There are a couple of mentions of people from THS, but they are minor mentions. It was enough to give a fan reader like myself a smile of recognition, but not knowing wouldn’t take anything away from enjoying this book.

The two things outside of THS that the Team 52 series reminds me of are Stargate and M.L. Buchman’s military romances, particularly his Night Stalkers series. Team 52, both the way that it seeks out previously hidden advanced tech and the way that its base operates – as well as where it operates – seem very similar to the Earth-bound parts of Stargate Command. There’s just no gate. Stargate also had a warehouse in Area 51 – right next door to the Team 52 operation and warehouse in Area 52.

The romances remind me of the Night Stalkers series quite a bit. Seth Lynch in particular is very similar to Colonel Michael Gibson in Bring On the Dusk. Both of them are secret operatives and both have serious trust issues. But the whole Night Stalkers series are military romance where the heroes and the heroines are equals in every single way, and that is the feeling that is also captured in Team 52. No damsels ever get rescued – they rescue themselves and sometimes they rescue the hero as well, and not just in the emotional sense.

One of the other ways that Team 52 resembles military romance as well as action-adventure is that all of the protagonists, both male and female are scarred in one way or another. Sometimes emotionally, sometimes physically, sometimes both. These are all people who have been seriously carved up by life, whether because they live life on the edge or because their previous experience has pushed them that way. A big part of each story is the way that they make each other strong in their broken places.

That they often end up fused together by the heat they make together is icing on a very delicious cake!

Review: Mission: Her Protection by Anna Hackett

Review: Mission: Her Protection by Anna HackettMission: Her Protection (Team 52 #1) by Anna Hackett by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: ebook
Genres: action adventure romance
Series: Team 52 #1
Pages: 226
Published by Anna Hackett on August 14th, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

When Rowan’s Arctic research team pulls a strange object out of the ice in Northern Canada, things start to go wrong…very, very wrong. Rescued by a covert, black ops team, she finds herself in the powerful arms of a man with scary gold eyes. A man who vows to do everything and anything to protect her…

Dr. Rowan Schafer has learned it’s best to do things herself and not depend on anyone else. Her cold, academic parents taught her that lesson. She loves the challenge of running a research base, until the day her scientists discover the object in a retreating glacier. Under attack, Rowan finds herself fighting to survive…until the mysterious Team 52 arrives.

Former special forces Marine Lachlan Hunter’s military career ended in blood and screams, until he was recruited to lead a special team. A team tasked with a top-secret mission—to secure and safeguard pieces of powerful ancient technology. Married to his job, he’s done too much and seen too much to risk inflicting his demons on a woman. But when his team arrives in the Arctic, he uncovers both an unexplained artifact, and a young girl from his past, now all grown up. A woman who ignites emotions inside him like never before.

But as Team 52 heads back to their base in Nevada, other hostile forces are after the artifact. Rowan finds herself under attack, and as the bullets fly, Lachlan vows to protect her at all costs. But in the face of danger like they’ve never seen before, will it be enough to keep her alive.

My Review:

Team 52 is a loose spinoff from Treasure Hunter Security. Very loose. It’s also a bit of a science fiction in-joke. Team 52 is based at Groom Lake, right next door to the infamous Area 51 where all of the alien invasion artifacts are supposed to be stored. Team 52 is hiding in plain sight while everyone thinks all the good stuff is next door – when it really, really isn’t.

While we’ve certainly met Lachlan Hunter and his team before, their introduction in Unmapped didn’t tell us, or the THS operatives, very much. One thing that seems to be certain is that Team 52 operates under U.S. governmental aegis – not that THAT is necessarily reassuring these days.

But they seem to be the good guys. For certain definitions of “good”, and definitely not all of them are “guys”.

They are all ex-military. Or ex-CIA. Certainly ex-Special Ops of one stripe or another. And they are all damaged. Every single one of them seems to have been wounded enough in the line of duty that they were forced to retire – and none of them was ready for that step. Team 52 is their way of continuing the good fight, against forces that the regular military, even the units they mustered out of, isn’t quite ready, willing, or able to deal with.

While THS is strictly action-adventure romance, Team 52 sits much closer to the crossroads between action-adventure and science fiction. At least science fiction of the lab based variety, as well as more than a hint of the old Chariots of the Gods scenario thrown in.

There are no space ships, and no aliens. At least not so far. But this is a version of our world where advanced human, or human-ish, civilizations pre-dated the last ice age, when their people, their cultures and their technology were wiped out and buried by the encroaching glaciers.

Global warming is bringing all of their stuff back to the surface. All too much of it would make handy-dandy high-tech weaponry – especially in the hands of certain nefarious people and organizations. Team 52’s mission is to secure all this dangerous technology and keep it out of the hands of organizations that want to reverse engineer it for the, let’s call it, “greater bad”, as well as for lots of filthy lucre.

As people who have been through a hell of a lot of the worst of war, the members of Team 52 also seem to be more or less emotionally scarred, if not downright broken. And that’s where our romance kicks off. Lachlan Hunter sees himself as damaged goods, incapable of forming an emotional tie to anyone except his team, and unwilling to risk any relationship where he might find himself becoming his abusive father.

But the “Mayday” call from Dr. Rowan Schafer’s Arctic research base brings him face-to-face with the little girl who was once his light in the darkness, just as he was hers. That was back when she was 10 and he was 13. Now they are both all grown up, and both afraid of letting themselves care for anyone else – because both of them have much too much experience of love going wrong, one way or another.

It’s already too late. They are already inside each other’s hearts – and always have been. The just have to stop pushing each other away. Because someone really is out to get Rowan, and only Lachlan and his Team can keep her safe. And only Rowan can make him whole.

Escape Rating A-: This series opener is a hell of a lot of fun. It reminded me a lot of Stargate SG-1, even without the gate. One of the threads of the Stargate universe, just as in Team 52, was the idea that advanced human civilizations existed on Earth prior to the last ice age, and that remnants of that ancient tech is occasionally discovered in our present. Rowan’s Arctic research station and the artifact her team find there conjured up images of the Antarctic base on Stargate where the second gate is found. Some of the operations of the Team 52 base had a similar feel to the way that Stargate Command operated. Just no gate.

Team 52 is, as I said, a loose spinoff of Treasure Hunter Security. You do not have to have read any of THS to enjoy Team 52, but that series is a lot of fun and highly recommended. If you like the flavor of action adventure mixed with treasure hunting in Team 52, you’ll love THS.

There is, as there always is in this author’s work, a terrific romance riding on the action adventure story. Lachlan and Rowan make an interesting couple, and not just because both of them have unusual names.

Their story is an offbeat use of the friends into lovers trope. They were childhood friends at a dark time in both their lives. They gave each other a ray of hope at a time when neither of them had one. While Lachlan’s story is tragic, Rowan’s is heartbreaking in its familiarity. She had parents, successful parents, who only ever saw her as a reflection of their own importance and their own careers. They both made sure she had all the material things, but never seem to have loved her or cared about her as herself because their careers were just so much more important than anything she wanted or needed or even her near-death in the Arctic.

The interaction between them is fun to watch because they begin this story already inside each other’s skins. These are two people who are both good at pushing other people away, but they begin already too close for that to happen.

As the introduction to the series, a part of this story revolves around the team, how its set up, how it works and how its members work together. Rowan makes an excellent foil for this process as she worms her way from protectee to team member. As she adapts, we learn how the whole thing works.

And Lachlan learns that he can’t live without her – and that making the attempt isn’t living.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series, Mission: Her Rescue. While I find the titles for the Team 52 series a bit cheesy, the stories are fantastic!