It's nice to be back home and back in the groove. I'm a bit intimidated by the HUGE pile - actually there's four boxes - holding my To Be Read Pile. Too many choices. Since I've talked about my top favorite writers many times, I thought I'd give you a clue who my top five are: 1) Suzanne Brockmann, 2)Sherrilyn Kenyon, 3) Nalini Singh, 4) JD Robb, 5) Lora Leigh. Auto buys on all of these. Leave me a comment and tell me who your top five are. Two books this week. Slowed a bit in my reading as I started a new project. (Also, please note I changed from my number ratings to a letter grade instead. Gives me more flexibility).
As the illegitimate son of Diego Fuentes, Ian Richards faces danger at every turn. Neither his father nor his fellow Navy SEALs knows which side he's fighting for—or against. Which is exactly how the game must be played…until Agent Porter enters the picture.
Kira Porter, undercover agent for the Department of Homeland Security, shadows Ian on his journey. She thinks she can see the real man beneath Ian's bad-boy exterior…but the ever-elusive Ian keeps her guessing at every turn. Is his goal to protect the Fuentes cartel from French terrorists? Or to do his father in for good? The only thing Kira does know is that her attraction to Ian is a time-bomb waiting to explode. With time running out on the Fuentes mission, she and Ian are drawn ever close to the edge of desire—and even closer into the line of fire…
This book gets a C. I really, really wanted to give it a B. But I had to power through it, so I can't even say it deserved a C+. In other words, I had to make myself keep reading. I'm not really into Dom erotica in the first place, but I could really have tolerated that except for one thing. Kira had a flimsy excuse for keeping her true mission from Ian. Towards the end of the book, when 99% of the secrets had been revealed and she was still holding her mission secret to protect Ian's soul, I was getting aggravated. Then when she finally confesses, Ian says he knew all along -- no shock, no recriminations, nothing. The whole thing fell flat for me. And their future together wrapped up in about two paragraphs after all the angst of the story. So while the bad guy was a surprise and it was a relief when Ian reunited with this Navy SEAL team, the rest of the story aggravated more than entertained. Lora Leigh is one of my top five authors, but this one left me frustrated and unsatisfied. Not enough so that I won't buy her next book, just not thrilled enough with it to pull it down and read it again. Probably. Sometimes I get sucked into revisiting a series as a whole, after I've purchased them all. I'll sit down and read them back to back to get continuity. That would probably be the only time I would revisit this story.
Vinh Murphy - ex-Marine and onetime operative for the elite security firm Troubleshooters Incorporated - has been MIA ever since his wife, Angelina, was caught in a crossfire and killed during what should have been a routine bodyguard assignment. Overcome with grief, Murphy blames the neo-Nazi group known as the Freedom Network for her death. Now, years later, Freedom Network leader Tim Ebersole has been murdered - and the FBI suspects Murphy may have pulled the trigger. To prevent further bloodshed, Murphy's friends at Troubleshooters scramble to find him and convince him to surrender peacefully.
Murphy himself can't be sure what he did or didn't do during the years he spent mourning and lost in an alcohol-induced fog. He does know he occasionally sought solace from Hannah Whitfield, a former police officer and the very friend who'd introduced him to his beloved late wife.
But Hannah, still grappling with the deafness that resulted from an injury sustained while on duty, was fighting her own battles. For years Hannah had feelings for Murphy, and one painful night their suffering brought them together in a way neither expected - and both regretted.
Murphy is ready to rejoin the living. As always, he finds himself knocking on Hannah's door, and as always, his longtime friend welcomes him back into her home. Yet even as Murphy slowly rebuilds his splintered life, he continues to fight his growing feelings for Hannah.
Then he learns of Ebersole's murder and comes to believe that the Freedom Network has targeted him - and Hannah - to avenge their leader's death to violence. Now Murphy must face the terrifying prospect of losing another woman he loves.
As the Troubleshooters desperately search for him, Murphy races toward a deadly confrontation with the Freedom Network and ultimate choice: surrender his life in hopes that Hannah will be spared, or risk everything to salvage whatever future they may have together.
Suzanne Brockmann - in case you're keeping track -- is my number one favorite author. I have followed her since her early Silhouette Intimate Moments. I have read all of her books at least five times (except for the last couple, haven't had time). In the last few, though, I've missed the intensity of the Sam/Alyssa arc. So I approached this book with my fingers crossed and hope in my heart. I wasn't disappointed.
This book is described by her publisher: "Suspense doesn't burn any brighter and desire doesn't run any deeper than when Suzanne Brockmann takes the helm, opens the throttle, and takes readers along for a breathless ride as she breaks the thrill barrier - again and again. With Into the Fire, Brockmann lights the fuse on her most explosive story yet."
While I'm not sure this competes with those Sam/Alyssa books, it's darn close. Lots of threads to this, which makes it a bit choppy at first, but then I got invested in the story and couldn't put it down. Revisiting Vinh's wife's death and the ramifications it had for the entire team was brilliant and emotional. Watching Vinh and Hannah feel their way to each other, overcome obstacle after obstacle, and finally connect formed the backbone for the story. Adding the difficulties between Tess and Nash, favorites from a previous book, added a heart wrenching twist. And when Brockmann kills Nash, I cried - waiting, hoping for the twist. Got it, too! No. I'm not going to tell you. And I loved the Izzy and Eden arc. It's what kept the pages turning for me. I missed my entire writing schedule for one day and had to double up on the next day to compensate. I even said, 'I shouldn't pick this up because I won't put it down until I finish 400+ pages.' I started it anyway - as my love of her books and my A-1 Navy SEAL slut status were not to be denied. This one gets an A+ and will be read . . . again and again and again. Thanks Suz!
Just as a note: This is why I haven't started Sherrilyn Kenyon's Archeron. It's 728 page temptation which I'm afraid will seriously derail my writing schedule. I'm saving it as a reward for a manuscript finished!