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  • Sexy, suspenseful and emotional romance!

    Under the Surface is an apt title for this suspenseful, dramatic, and sexy romance seething with emotional undercurrents. Eve is in a spot of trouble. Her bar, her pride and joy, borders on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. It's a place with, as the title suggests, lots of eye candy. Eve struggled long and hard to make this dream a reality, and when she's approached by an old friend from her neighbourhood, Lyle, to use her club as a money drop for his illegal drug trade, she plays along. In reality she wants the streets cleaned up and goes to the cops on the side. Her old friend Lieutenant Ian Hawthorn wants her to string Lyle along and get the goods on him so that they can bust him and his higher ups too. Unbeknownst to Eve though, he puts one of his trusted men undercover in her bar. Matt plays the role of Chad, a bartender looking for a new gig. He and Eve have instant chemistry when he applies for the job, and having just fired one of her bartenders for a parking lot hookup (no employee/patron interactions allowed), Chad quiet confidence nets him the job. Matt takes his undercover role seriously, but it's not long before it all blows up, his identity revealed just as 'Chad' and Eve are becoming more than friends. Eve has no choice but to continue working with him, the operation more important than her personal feelings. Falling for Chad was easy but he isn't real. And for Matt, there's no choice but to play the role he's been given, even if it means the one woman who might have loved him could slip through his fingers. I really like how Matt is portrayed in this story, in particular his struggles with his attraction to Eve. As bartender Chad, he has the job of getting close to Eve, of protecting her without her knowledge. That he's insanely attracted to her is a hindrance to doing his job, but one he can't help. When Eve makes it clear that she's more than willing to have an affair with him, the knowledge that it's Chad she's propositioning, and not the real him fills him with a sort of despair. Eve is the woman he would want in his life if things were different. But he knows that once she finds out that he was lying to her from the beginning, she'll want nothing to do with him. To that end he desperately tries to keep their physical interactions from going too far, even as he knows that Eve will seek someone else out if he doesn't put out (a thought that drives him crazy, to think that she'd turn to another man because his conscience is making him turn her down). Torn between duty and desire, the decision is wrenched from him when his identity is revealed unexpectedly and the stakes in their game with Lyle turn deadly. Eve is a strong, attractive, competent businesswoman. She has a lot on her mind. Her relationship with her religious parents is sometimes strained as they disapprove of her bar. Being approached by Lyle her childhood friend to launder drug money for her puts her in a difficult position. He could make it easy for her to gain the property she wants to expand to, with the extra money from him as payment smoothing the way for her. But she's more interested in getting rid of men like him. She has to walk a fine line of pretending to be thinking about Lyle's offer without giving away that she's already gone to the cops about his proposition. Freeing herself from the stress for a few hours is what she wants, and she wants to do it in bed with Chad. When the circumstances change, and his real identity is revealed, she is angry and hurt. They had built up a level of trust, and that trust is gone. Yet, as Matt continues to protect her, she discovers that there were facets of their relationship that were real. He shared some of his real life with her even knowing he shouldn't while undercover. It's not long before their close proximity leads to more, as Matt is free to be himself and show Eve the depth of his attraction to her. Now that she knows who he really is, he doesn't have to hide anything anymore. As expected the intimate scenes are super sexy and full of emotion. The second half of the story ramps up the tension as Lyle puts pressure on Eve to make a decision. Matt continues his undercover work at the bar, playing Eve's new boytoy to the public, forcing Lyle's hand. There is lots of action in this second half, and it becomes a real nail biter as it nears it's exciting conclusion. There are several secondary characters of note, including Eve's business partner Natalie, Lieutenant Hawthorn, Matt's female partner Jill , teammate McCormick (who appears to be getting the next story in the series), Matt's brother Luke and Eve's brother Caleb. Matt has definitely found himself a place on my book boyfriends shelf, right up there with Hunter. Under the Surface is a taut, exciting, sexy romance and is definitely worth the read.

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