Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Legacy of Copper Creek - R. C. Ryan (Forever - Aug 2015)

Series: Cowboys of Copper Creek (Book 3)

When Love Walks Through the Door . . .

Like all MacKenzie men, Whit respects three things: hard work, his family, and the wild beauty of the Montana land he calls home. The solitude of the high country is a welcome respite to a loner like Whit. So when a powerful spring snowstorm hits as he's tending the herd, Whit heads to one of the family's isolated cabins. The cold winds don't trouble him. The gorgeous mystery woman waiting inside does.

All Cara Walton wanted was a chance to clear her head. And the forgotten cabin on the outskirts of the MacKenzie ranch seemed like the perfect place to do just that-until Whit arrives. The rugged cowboy quickly melts Cara's defenses and she's powerless to resist his strong arms or his tender touch. She desperately wants to trust him, but there's so much Whit doesn't know, so much she hasn't told him. She lost everything once-can she find the courage to risk her heart again?

Good book. It opens with Whit needing to get away from his big, boisterous family and be alone for a while. He is still trying to deal with the pain of his father's murder. With a blizzard bearing down, he finished feeding the cattle and heads to one of the family's range cabins. The last thing he expects is to find a beautiful blond already there. Cara has had a rough life, and the latest disasters are just icing on the cake. A good job and promising relationship implode when the man turns out to be overly controlling, and breaking up with him also leads to the loss of her job. To top it all off, she stumbles upon a well-dressed man with "evil eyes" threatening an old man. The evil-eyed man chases her, and she barely escapes, but gets lost and runs out of gas. Stumbling onto the deserted but well-stocked cabin is a life saver.

I loved the meeting between Whit and Cara. He bursts into the cabin, accompanied by snow and wind, and scares Cara half to death. She threatens him (with a broom handle in the back) as he makes his own threats about the intruder on his family's property. But with the blizzard trapping them together, they have to make the best of the situation. I loved the banter between "Goldilocks" and "Cowboy". Whit is intrigued by Cara and finds his protective side coming out the more he is around her. When the storm is over, he invites her back to the ranch.

I really enjoyed the development of their relationship. Whit has been the brother determined to stay single. In the previous books, he is the one who teases his brothers about their lovesick demeanors. It isn't long before he is just as crazy about Cara. He sees the way her ex-boyfriend has destroyed her confidence in herself and can't stop himself from showing her what a strong and capable woman she is. Cara is wary of getting involved with Whit. Thanks to the previous relationship and her trouble with "evil eyes" she has a hard time trusting her judgment. All the while there is an intense attraction simmering between the two of them. It comes to a full boil the day that Cara's innate empathy reaches out to comfort Whit over his father's death. Their relationship continues to build as Cara becomes an integral part of the ranch. But she continues to be wary of becoming too comfortable, always looking over her shoulder for the trouble that she feels is still pursuing her. When that trouble succeeds in finding her, both she and Whit realize that life can be short and trying to protect themselves from hurt also keeps them from fully experiencing life. But there are still some vulnerabilities to overcome, as Cara receives a surprise offer and Whit puts his own feelings on hold not wanting to stand in her way. I loved their big moment at the end as Cara, especially, puts her heart on the line.  Truly a romantic and heartwarming scene.

The suspense of the story was really good also. Continuing from the first book is the question of who murdered Bear MacKenzie and why. Cara still doesn't know who "evil eyes" is, and becomes more afraid when she hears of the old rancher's murder. She also has to deal with the continuing threats from her ex-boyfriend. Lastly, there is also the creepy feeling that Lance, the family lawyer, is up to something. The final confrontation is intense and scary. I really wasn't sure how some of the events were going to turn out. I loved how Cara kept a cool head through it all. I also loved how the family came together to deal with the threat, and also believed in her.

One of the best parts of this series in the MacKenzie family itself. They are close, loving and supportive. Ash and Griff were featured in books one and two, with their own demons dealt with, and HEAs achieved. I loved the grandfather, Maddock or "Mad" as he's called. He has quite a sense of humor and a great way of delivering advice to the younger members of the family. The mother of the family, Willow, is still grieving the loss of her husband but has the strength necessary to carry on with the ranch. She is warm and loving and has a heart big enough to encompass everyone she comes in contact with. I especially loved the way that she pulled Cara into the heart of the family. There was also a nice little romance developing between her and Brady, the ranch foreman. Ash and Brenna, and Griff and Juliet and her two boys, all had their parts in supporting Whit and bringing Cara into the family. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Scottish Duke - Karen Ranney (Avon - Dec 2016)

Series: Duke Trilogy (Book 1)

Though raised as a gentleman’s daughter, Lorna Gordon is obliged to take a position as an upstairs maid at Blackhall Castle when her father dies. Alex Russell, the Duke of Kinross, is the most tempting man she’s ever seen -- and completely unattainable -- until, at a fancy dress ball, Lorna disguises herself as Marie Antoinette and pursues an illicit tryst…with scandalous consequences.

Months after his mysterious seductress disappears, Alex encounters her again. Far from the schemer the distrustful duke assumed her to be, Lorna is fiercely independent and resourceful. She’s the one woman capable of piercing his defenses. But when danger threatens Lorna, Alex must prove himself not just the lover of her fantasies, but the man who will fight to protect her.

Good book with an unusual plotline. Lorna is the daughter of a gentleman who has fallen on hard times since her father's death. She takes a position of a maid at Blackhall Castle where she becomes intrigued by the Duke. She takes advantage of a costumed ball to dress up and meet him, and maybe have a chance to dance with him. Alex is in a rotten mood the night of the ball. He has just suffered a professional disappointment and is well on the way to drowning his sorrows when he spots Lorna. There's something about her that immediately draws him to her.

Neither one expects the desire that hits them, and they are helpless to resist the passion that overtakes them. But Alex has been burned by passion before and his ability to trust women severely damaged. He accuses Lorna of using her innocence to trap him. She flees, but not before telling him exactly what she thinks of him. Alex is unable to forget her, and spends a fair amount of time looking for her, never noticing that she lives under his roof. However, their encounter has consequences, and when Lorna discovers she's pregnant, she leaves Blackhall, determined to raise her child on her own.

Lorna is very stubborn and independent. Her life after leaving Blackhall is not easy, especially as she is not married. I loved her friend and fellow maid, Nan, who worries about Lorna's safety. I loved how she took matters into her own hands and ratted out Lorna to Alex's mother. The scene between Alex and his mom was hilarious, as she takes him to task. He doesn't want to believe what he's told but eventually, goes to see Lorna. It doesn't go well for him, and I loved how Lorna stood up to him, his attitude, and his accusations. But she is also guilty of a bit too much pride and doesn't want to admit she needs help. That becomes especially obvious when she runs afoul of the more puritanical townspeople. Alex arrives just in time to save her from danger.

I loved the development of their relationship. Alex's fascination with her has not abated, and it has him rather freaked out. He moves her into a cottage on the estate grounds to take care of her. He can't stay away from her and finds himself spending more and more time with her. He's intrigued by the way her mind works, her independence, and the talent he sees in her artwork. He discovers that he likes spending time with her and wants to share so much of his life and thoughts with her. What disturbs him the most is that the emotions he had walled off since his late wife's betrayal and death are starting to resurface. Lorna also finds that her feelings for him are changing. Before she had been infatuated, but what she feels now is deeper and stronger. When Alex's mother convinces them both that they should marry for the sake of the child, they agree.

I got a bit frustrated with Alex here because as soon as the wedding was over (just in the nick of time), he runs away. He can't handle the torrent of emotions that he's experiencing and leaves to bury himself in his work. This leaves Lorna to deal with her new circumstances without his support. I loved that she had his mom and her maid thoroughly on her side. She spends the next several weeks settling in, and I loved the changing and maturing that she experienced. I completely enjoyed that Alex was miserable. He redeemed himself a little with his reaction to what his gossipy valet told him. The surprise arrival of his uncle was an additional motivator.

There are great changes once he arrives back at Blackhall. I loved seeing Alex become enchanted by his son. There are several really sweet moments between the two of them as Alex's emotions continue to reassert themselves. He and Lorna grow closer as he begins to accept the way she makes him feel, though he still refuses to put it into words. I also liked that Lorna lets him know that disappearing again isn't an option.

But there is someone at Blackhall who isn't happy about Lorna's place there. Someone destroys her supply of herbs and so on, and later tries to poison her. Alex is determined to discover who it is. There are several possibilities. Could it be Thomas, angry that he is no longer Alex's heir? Maybe Matthew, Alex's valet, who has made no secret of his disdain for the maid turned duchess? Or could it be Mary, sister of Alex's late wife, who was hoping to snag Alex for her own? Things get very intense when the baby disappears, and they must find him before it's too late. The final confrontation was the catalyst that opened Alex's eyes at last.

The secondary characters were all very well done. Thomas was an interesting character that kept me guessing as to his real intentions. I love to see him get a story of his own. I loved Alex's mom, Louise. She was a such a warm-hearted woman, and her immediate acceptance of Lorna was great. I also liked the way that she had of straightening Alex out. Mary was a straight up bitch of the first order. She was selfish, mean-spirited, and ultimately quite vicious. Definitely a character I loved to hate. Lorna's friend and fellow maid Nan was wonderful. She was a good balance to Lorna at the beginning, trying to keep Lorna out of trouble. She also proved herself to be a true friend when she overrode Lorna's wishes and informed the duchess of Lorna's pregnancy.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Christmas on Crimson Mountain - Michelle Major (HSE #2520 - Dec 2016)

Series: Crimson Colorado (Book 7)


Peace and quiet -- that's all Connor Pierce wanted from the rented cabin on Crimson Mountain. Yet the caretaker turned out to be lovely April Sanders -- a total distraction. As were the two little girls she was caring for. Connor's plan to forget his painful past soon detoured into giving the ladies a Christmas to remember.

Being named guardian of two motherless girls has upended April's world. Add to the mix a mysterious, brooding writer claiming he wanted to be left alone while going out of his way to bring a little joy to the girls, and she has quite the quandary. April had counted herself out of a happy ending. But maybe Santa still had a few surprises up his merry old sleeve…

Fantastic story of loss, love, and healing. Connor, April, Shay, and Ranie have all been beaten down by life. Connor, who suffers from writer's block ever since the tragic deaths of his wife and son, has come to Crimson Mountain for the peace and quiet he feels he needs to finish his book. April is the caretaker of the cabin where he is staying and is tasked with providing his meals and whatever else he needs. She has also recently lost a good friend to cancer and is caring for that friend's two little girls. Twelve-year-old Ranie and five-year-old Shay are dealing with the loss of their mother and the uncertainty of their future.

The pain is evident from the beginning. April is on her way to her cabin with the girls. A breast cancer survivor herself, she is reeling from the loss of her friend and her fear of caring for the two girls. How can she commit to raising them when she can't be sure she won't get sick again? Both girls are suffering from the loss of their mother, though little Shay seems to be handling it well. Ranie, on the other hand, is snarky and sullen and determined to be as contrary as possible. When they arrive on the mountain, April discovers that Connor has gotten there first. To say that he isn't happy when he sees the girls is putting it mildly. Connor comes across as a veritable Scrooge, wanting the girls gone, and only reluctantly agreeing to their staying if they stay quiet and don't disturb him.

I hurt for Connor. He had lost his wife and young son in a car accident several years earlier. He blames himself for their deaths and has shut himself off from the world because of it. Just hearing Shay's laughter brings all that pain to the surface and he lashes out at April because of it. I loved that April stood up to him and forced him to see that he was unreasonable.

I ached for April, too. She comes across as having her life all put together. She's organized, friendly, warm and caring. She has made a place for herself in Crimson, and yet she holds a part of herself away from everyone. Her past has shown her that it hurts to care too much. The one person who should have stood by her, her husband, instead walked away in the middle of her treatment, unable to deal with her disease and its consequences. She's afraid that if she gets sick again, the next person to walk away will destroy her.

I loved the development of their relationship. April's innate kindness and compassion have her wanting to help Connor see that withdrawing from the world is not the way to honor his family. I loved seeing her and the girls slowly draw him out of his shell. It isn't easy on him, and his occasional panic attacks are believable and understandable, as the emotions he has buried for so long begin to reappear. There is also an unexpected attraction that flares between them. Connor is a bit freaked out by the depth of his need for April, as he still considers himself too broken, but he accepts April's declaration of "it's right for right now." In spite of his feeling broken, there's a tremendous amount of sensitivity in him. I loved how he showed April that she is beautiful even with the outward scars of her disease. Over the next few days and their stolen moments together, the feelings for each other deepen, but neither is ready to believe in a future.

Part of their growing relationship is the way they work together to make Christmas special for Shay and Ranie. Connor's initial antagonism is breached by the adorable Shay, who refuses to let his grumpiness keep her down. He is also drawn to the sulky Ranie, whose grief is so like his own. The two of them bond over an ice skating lesson. Connor fights it at first, but both girls wiggle under his defenses. I love his gentleness with Shay and his way of teasing Ranie. April is awed by his ability to help them and saddened by his refusal to believe that he can love again. April fights her own fears regarding the girls. She knows their mother wanted her to raise them, but she thinks that she is unfit to do so. She has come to love them and isn't looking forward to giving them to their aunt. As Connor and April accuse each other of being unwilling to risk their hearts again, a crisis with Shay causes a ceasefire. I loved that April finally saw the truth of her feelings for both Connor and the girls and that she embraced what needed to be done. I ached for both her and Connor as his fears sent him running. I loved his return and seeing him finally open his heart completely. The little bit with the pinecone figure was especially sweet. The epilogue was a wonderful opportunity to see how much life had changed for all four of them.

*copy received in exchange for honest review

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Fair Princess - Vanessa Kelly (Zebra - Sept 2016)

Series: Improper Princesses (Book 1)

Despite being the illegitimate daughter of a prince, Gillian Dryden is happily ignorant of all social graces. After growing up wild in Italy, Gillian has been ordered home to England to find a suitable husband. And Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper, distractingly handsome Duke of Leverton, has agreed to help transform her from a willful tomboy to a blushing debutante.

Powerful and sophisticated, Charles can make or break reputations with a well-placed word. But his new protégée, with her habit of hunting bandits and punching earls, is a walking scandal. The ton is aghast . . . but Charles is thoroughly intrigued. Tasked with taking the hoyden in hand, he longs to take her in his arms instead. Can such an outrageous attraction possibly lead to a fairytale ending?

Fun book. Gillian is the illegitimate daughter of one of the princes. She was raised in Sicily by her mother and stepfather on the fringes of society. After participating in a dangerous bout of revenge that puts her life at risk, her mother and grandmother decide it's time to go home to England and find her a husband. Before they can do that, they need to find a way to smooth her rough edges. Enter Charles, Duke of Leverton and paragon of virtue. Much to his dismay, he is enlisted to provide the transformation.

I liked Gillian. She has dealt with the scornful attitudes of others all her life. Outwardly she doesn't care what they say about her, but she is very protective of her mother. It hurts and angers Gillian to see the effect the gossip has on her. She is outspoken and blunt, but never intentionally mean. She is a bit naïve in her belief that her actions in Sicily won't have long term repercussions and that she can eventually return there. She is stubborn, certain that her way of doing things is the best way for her. She can be sweet and charming when she wants to be. She also has a definite idea of what is right or wrong and feels that it is up to her to fix those things that are wrong. This can and does get her into trouble.

I liked Charles, too. At the beginning, he comes across as quite stuffy and rigid, but it doesn't take long for that to go away. His issues with his father and a love affair gone wrong have turned him into a man with the reputation of always doing the right thing. He's also well known for his unshakeable composure under any circumstances. Gillian's grandmother uses that reputation and family connection to recruit him to provide the polish that Gillian needs.

I loved the development of their relationship. Gillian challenged Charles and his composure from the very beginning. He is horrified by her outspokenness and lack of feminine accomplishments. He is used to people doing what he says and is confounded by Gillian's resistance to his instructions. I loved seeing them butt heads as he tried to bend her to his will and she refused to give in. As much as she fights him, Gillian admits to herself that she may have met her match in stubbornness. The more time they spend together, the more they are drawn to each other, which confuses them both. Gillian is not the type of woman he had seen himself with as a wife, but her honesty, character, and liveliness grow on him. In spite of her frequent success in irritating him, Gillian finds that his opinion of her matters more than she thought it would. When a public confrontation with a gentleman at a ball results in some very bad gossip, Charles whisks Gillian into the country while the furor has a chance to die down. Away from the stresses of the Season, Charles and Gillian can relax a little and get to know each other and begin to understand what makes each other tick. As Charles learned more of Gillian's background his admiration for her resilience grew. As the attraction between them grew, so did their feelings for each other. I loved Charles's confusion as all his beliefs in what he wanted in a wife went out the window, but he's still trying to protect his heart. Gillian worries about her feelings for Charles because she can't believe that a woman with her background would be an acceptable match for him and fully expects to get her heart broken. I loved when they gave in to their attraction. Gillian surprises him once again in a scene that is sweet, hot and romantic and Charles comes through in an awesome way when she shares a big fear with him. There are still some fireworks to come as Gillian and Charles try to work out their future. An encounter with smugglers brings some clarity to them both as they realize what is truly important. I loved his big moment at the end when he told her how he felt.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

One Night with a SEAL - Tawny Weber, Beth Andrews (HB #943 - June 2017)

Series: Uniformly Hot (Book 71)

All Out by Tawny Weber

Navy SEAL Zane Bennett can't walk away from a challenge. He's determined to win a bet with his brother -- until he collides with the luscious Vivian Harris. Their attraction is immediate and searingly hot, but Zane can't bring himself to bow out of the bet. Now the game is really on…and Zane is embroiled in a wicked matchup he can't resist!

Good story. The book opens with Zane getting ready to head home for his ten-year high school reunion. He's doing some last minute training and pondering the fact that he works best when he's competing with someone else. He admits he doesn't like to lose, though losing to a fellow SEAL is bearable. One of his greatest competitors has always been his twin brother, Xander, who is also a SEAL working on the east coast.

Once back in his home town and hanging out with Xander and their high school buddies, talk turns to old times. Zane and Xander both have reputations for engaging in outrageous dares. One of their friends challenges them to win a date with Quinn Oswald, their high school princess, for the reunion dance. Zane can't turn down a challenge, even though he suspects that his brother has more interest in the lady than he does. Zane gets distracted from his goal when he meets Vivian. The attraction between them is immediate and explosive. Though he doesn't know it at first, Vivian is the little sister of one of his friends and has had a crush on him for years. Vivian has been working in the family bakery but has dreams of branching out on her own with her naughty treats. She gets no support for her dreams from her family and is hesitant to step outside her comfort zone and commit fully to those dreams.

Zane and Vivian settle into a hot and heavy fling that they don't expect anything to come of other than a few days of fun. Both are surprised to discover that they have more than just chemistry in common. Zane is a bit freaked out by the way that he suddenly realizes that what he feels for Vivian means more than winning a silly dare. Vivian wonders if her feelings for Zane will give her the courage she needs to take the chance of a lifetime. And what will happen when Vivian finds out about the challenge? I loved the scene between Vivian and her brother when he found her and Zane together. I also liked seeing Vivian stand up to Zane about the challenge and what she did about it. The scene at the reunion dance was pretty awesome.

All In by Beth Andrews

Of the Bad Boy Bennett twins, Navy SEAL Xander is always the gentleman. That is until he's challenged to go against his brother for a date with Quinn Oswald -- the girl Xander's wanted since high school! It takes only one kiss for Quinn and Xander's deliciously sexy chemistry to explode. But how much is Xander willing to gamble…before he goes all in?

Sweet and spicy second chance story. Xander is the quieter one of the twins. He just rolls his eyes at the latest challenge from his high school buddies, until the subject of the challenge becomes Quinn. All through high school he had crushed on her but had never tried to pursue her. The thought of losing her to his brother is unbearable and provides the kick in the pants he needs to go after her. Quinn has come back to town after her divorce to get her life back together. Her marriage had done a number on her confidence and her ability to trust.

I loved the start of their relationship. Xander is quite the gentleman and insists on escorting Quinn home after her shift at the bar. He's a bit awkward about it and sticks his foot in his mouth a couple of times, but eventually, convinces her to let him. Quinn really wants to refuse. She is intensely attracted to him but doesn't want to be. The sparks are flying between them, but Xander's scruples won't let him follow through when he senses that she isn't really ready. I loved seeing him show up the next day with a bolt for her door and a plant to teach her self-defense.

I enjoyed the development of the relationship as the attraction between them takes off and is enhanced by the way that they spend time getting to know each other. I especially liked Xander's opinion of her ex and the way that he was determined to show her how strong she is. Quinn realizes that she is falling for him and that against her common sense she has come to trust him. Xander is surprised by the way that he is looking past the reunion and staying in touch with Quinn. When she finds out about the challenge, she is hurt and furious at what she sees as his betrayal. Their confrontation exposes some deep vulnerabilities that both need to face. I loved Quinn's big moment at the reunion and seeing her take a chance on her happiness.

In both stories, I really liked the relationship between Zane and Xander. They are competitive with each other and have typical sibling interactions. But they are also always there for each other. I liked how Zane sensed that Xander was more interested in Quinn than was conveyed to their buddies. I also loved the scene where they were wrestling with each other and then their nephews, before Xander said something really stupid to their sisters. It made me laugh to see two big strong SEALs running scared from her.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Soldier's Seduction - Jane Godman (HRS #1954 - July 2017)

Series: Sons of Stillwater (Book 2)

From the front lines to unexpected romance -- and danger -- in small-town Wyoming

After a war zone bomb nearly destroyed Bryce Delaney, he's worked hard to hide his scars. Back in his Wyoming hometown, he can pretend the nightmares don't exist. But when a secretive, beautiful new woman in town disappears, Bryce's protective instincts put him on the front lines again.

Wanted for murder and on the run under an alias, former A-list actress Steffi Grantham can't return to her life until she clears her name. It's her boss, Bryce, to the rescue, but desire ties them together, and she's forced to make a choice that could cost them both. Trusting the wrong man once before almost stole her freedom. Now it might take her life.

Good book. Bryce has returned from the war a changed man. He still goes to work each day and does his job, but he's haunted by the things that happened. When one of his new employees blows off another meeting, he's had enough. Steffi has challenged him from day one, but it's that odd connection that has been helping him get through each day. When he arrives at her home to fire her, he discovers her weak and sick instead of purposely defying him. His inner protector is stirred, and he stays to take care of her and is there when someone attempts to kidnap her.

Steffi is more than just Bryce's newest driver. She is a famous Hollywood actress who is wanted for questioning in a murder investigation and is hiding out in Wyoming while she tries to figure out how to clear her name. She is wary of trusting anyone, least of all her boss. But she can't deny that he was there for her when she needed him most.

This book was a good mix of action and romance from the beginning. There is a definite connection between Bryce and Steffi, an attraction that simmers beneath the antagonism. When Bryce finds her and cares for her while she's sick, she has an unexpected feeling of safety with him. There's also something about her that won't let Bryce walk away from helping her. Things get very intense, very fast, when Steffi and Bryce are attacked and kidnapped. Steffi has discovered a connection between the murder she is wanted for and the murder of her parents. The man responsible desperately wants to get his hands on her.

It was an intense time as Bryce and Steffi play cat and mouse with the murderer. A brief encounter as they are captured reveals what the man wants before they can make their escape. Their attempts to find the proof they need have them barely one step ahead of the bad guy in several heart-stopping close encounters. Each new piece of information strengthens their knowledge of what they have to do. The final confrontation is beautifully planned and executed with the help of Bryce's brothers, though there are a couple of unexpected twists.

I enjoyed the development of Bryce and Steffi's relationship. The attraction is strong and pulls hard at them both, though each has reason to resist. Bryce's war related issues have him avoiding any kind of emotional entanglements. He limits himself to brief no-strings affairs, cutting ties when anyone seems to get too close. For Steffi, witnessing the deaths of her parents, then Greg has reduced her already limited ability to trust to nothing. I liked how the situations they found themselves in drew them closer together and encouraged them to share their fears. I especially liked Bryce's patience as Steffi learned that she could believe in him. Bryce's willingness to finally share what happened to him went a long way to getting him to see the possibility of a future with Steffi. The scene in the hospital, post confrontation, was romantic with just enough amusement to make it perfect. I liked the ending, and how, though love was declared quickly, they still took the time to get to know each other better. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Risky Engagement - Merline Lovelace (SRS #1613 - June 2010)

Series: Code Name: Danger (Book 15)

Secret Service Agent: Rafe Blackstone

Codename: Wolf

Mission: Prevent breaches in U.S. government security by any means necessary. Bring down Sebastian Cordell, international thief suspected of selling top-secret technology to the highest bidder.

Method: Zero in on target in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico -- and persuade sexy, brilliant medical researcher Dr. Nina Grant to help secure his undercover her fiancé.

Obstacle: It's too easy to be "engaged" to Nina. Despite the dangerous circumstances of their alliance, the peril excites her. The intrigue is powerful -- the attraction sizzling between them, unstoppable. In the end he must choose: keep Nina safe by walking out of her life, or be her only protector...forever.

Good entry in the Code Name: Danger series. Rafe is on the trail of an international thief with some stolen information when he encounters Dr. Nina Grant. Nina is on a forced vacation after her staff threatened to mutiny if she didn't take some time off. She meets Sebastian Cordell when her car breaks down, and Rafe is quick to use that chance meeting for his own purposes.

The book starts with a tension filled scene and the intensity never really lets up throughout the entire book. We are dropped right in the middle of the op, as Rafe and company are watching Cordell. He is suspicious of Nina's arrival on the scene even after it appears to check out as innocent. Thanks to who she is and what she does, he feels that she would be the perfect accomplice to help him get closer to Cordell.

I liked the initial meeting between Rafe and Nina. There are sparks between them from the beginning, and Nina briefly contemplates the idea of a vacation fling. That is until Rafe blackmails her into helping him with his mission. Though it makes her angry, it doesn't do much to reduce the attraction. Once she hears the reasons that Rafe needs her help, she is all-in for doing whatever she can, including having Rafe pose as her former fiancé.

I enjoyed the development of their relationship. Rafe is a loner who has avoided ties and entanglements throughout his career. He is attracted to Nina more than any other woman he's known. He knows he should keep it professional, but his body and heart have other ideas. When the need arises to make their relationship look even more genuine, he has no trouble doing so. He is surprised by the depth of the protectiveness he feels for her, and the way his mind and heart tell him he wants to keep her in his life. Nina is drawn to the strong and sexy Rafe, but wary also. She recently ended her engagement when she discovered her fiancé stealing proprietary information from her computer. She's not sure how much to trust Rafe or her growing feelings for him. But the intensity of their situation and the danger they are in makes them realize just what they have. It was pretty sweet to see the tough guy have a little trouble expressing his feelings at the end, but he did manage quite nicely.

The suspense of the story was good. Rafe needed to find Cordell and stop him before he could sell the information to the highest bidder. Cordell is smart and slippery which is why he hasn't yet been caught. His interest in Nina was because of her business and what he could do with it. Rafe's determination to succeed caused him to go a little overboard in his methods of recruiting Nina, but she eventually understood why he did it. I was impressed with the way that Nina handled herself throughout the whole thing. Though she started out unwillingly, by the end, she was quite coolheaded. The danger to Nina increased as the sale time grew closer. The final confrontation was very intense. I loved that it was Nina who figured out where the disc was and saved the day.