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  • Fast moving romantic suspense

    Three and a half stars. Four stars for the plot but I've deducted half a point for obtrusive sex and half a point for an abrupt ending. I have read several books by Emmy Curtis but this is the first I have read in her Elite Ops series so I am unsure of whether there is any backstory to this in the preceding books. Casey Jacobs is a former Air Force pilot working in the private sector for a cutting edge tech firm, she was ecstatic when her firm, TechGen One (or TGO for short) agrees to sponsor this year's Red Flag training games in the desert, she thought she had won something great for her former colleagues in the military. But two pilots have gone missing and Casey suspects that the issues which caused them to crash were the same as bugs which had been reported in a new piece of TGO software - she is suspicious that somehow TGO has put its software onto military planes without permission but when she raises it with a colleague he warns her that previous TGO whistleblowers have conveniently 'committed suicide' and she shouldn't tell anyone about her suspicions. Torn between fear of what she may have unwittingly facilitated, fear for her own life and fear for the two lost pilots, she is persuaded to help some friends break the lockdown on Nellis Air Force Base to search for the missing pilots. Casey was due to go on a 'date' with Colonel Duke Cameron, head of Nellis Air Force Base. They have a history in Germany and Afghanistan, a mutual admiration from afar type of thing but now she is a civilian contractor on his base there are no rules against fraternisation. The only problem is his heart/ libido is in conflict with his head/ gut which think Casey may be hiding something about the missing pilots. When Duke sees Casey busting out of the base when it is on lockdown he gives chase on his motorbike only to see her attacked by guys in face masks in a car park. Before he knows it the two of them are on the run, not quite trusting each other and plastered all over the news as suspects in the disappearance of two Air Force pilots. This book is full of action right from the word go, the reader is thrust into the middle of the situation and in short succession there are thinly veiled death threats, a breakout from an Air Force base in lockdown, a fight and a getaway. Casey is afraid both for her life and the consequences of disclosing her suspicions thanks to a watertight NDA, she is also wary of getting Duke embroiled in whatever is going on. Duke is suspicious of Casey, has she sold out? Was she a honey trap? There's lots of tension and action - it's like a Bruce Willis film. Then it was like a switch got flipped and it was time for the sex portion of the book. Never mind that the sex scenes were gratuitous and frankly odd, why would two people on the run, who have only just escaped from another group of guys out to kill them stop around the next corner and decide to have sex on the car bonnet? I get exhibitionism but they didn't even consider that the car headlights coming towards them might be the bad guys, just an extra frisson of excitement. Also, at one point I found myself worrying that certain things they did in the throes of passion could cause infection - I'm sure I read that somewhere - which kind of spoilt the moment. The plot ground to a halt while Casey and Duke played weird sex games. I mean who does that? You are running for your life, with a short timeframe before the US Government signs a multi-million dollar contract with TGO, so of course you break off for shower sex at every opportunity, why wouldn't you? Then the plot got back thick and fast, there were more fights, more chases, drones, planes, secret bases, investigative reporters and then boom, all over. I really enjoyed the plot, far-fetched as it might be, it was fast-paced and exciting and plausible. The sex didn't really gel with the slow burn romance and diverted attention from the build up of tension and then the ending was too sudden. Overall, this felt like a slightly confused mash-up between military/ special ops romance, erotica and a category romance and needed more balancing of the different elements - I think if you can't categorise a book then its genre isn't clear enough. Overall, I would like to read the previous books in the series to see how they fir together and the backstory between Casey and Duke. Despite my issues with this book I would definitely read more books in this series. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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