Dagger is no ordinary high school student from Miami Beach. He is an agent for D.U.S.T., an organization that fights supernatural evildoers. The enemies are ghouls, fairies, and other horrifying creatures, some of which are gruesome the way they’ll take a chunk out of an opponent…literally. There are issues with Dagger’s brother and mother—which adds an emotional dimension to an otherwise fast-paced adventure tale—but he must push forward to save the world. Another wonderful layer is the steamy, dreamy romance. All these aspects fit in nicely together as Dagger and his crew fight the Dark Reich. I adored the mishmash of genres. High tech meets sci-fi meets the supernatural meets espionage…I can keep going, because there was always something new and different. I can’t recall reading any other book quite like this. I loved all the gadgets, organization lingo, and helicopter rides as Dagger traveled the globe for his assignments. Also, my jaw actually dropped reading the end chapters—that's how intense this novel is. I hope there’s a book 2 in the works.
The D.U.S.T. Ops: Mission 1
When Ultimate Evil engulfs the entire world, only Dagger can pierce the Darkness—even if the Apocalypse falls on a school night!
Dagger Beaumont is a High School senior who’s been recruited by D.U.S.T.—a covert governmental organization dedicated to battling supernatural terrorism all over the globe.
However, Dagger’s unresolved conflict over his missing brother could be his undoing, as he races around the world battling the Dark Reich, a diabolical organization on a quest to possess an ancient artifact and unleash a mystical plague to enslave humanity. If that weren't treacherous enough, Dagger must juggle his life as a secret agent with his social life, where he faces romantic rivalry for the guy of his dreams, a mysterious and handsome new student at his haunted boarding school.
But in a high-stakes world where nothing is as it seems, and death lurks in every shadow, love rides shotgun with survival!
14+ due to adult situations and sexuality
I pulled the sheet down Reinaldo’s naked right hip, trying hard not to peek at what lay beyond. Why did he have to be so damn hot? Hey, I was a typical seventeen year-old guy, raging hormones and all that jazz. With one big difference.
I had orders to terminate.
Reinaldo lay sprawled beside me on the king-sized bed in our Parisian hotel suite, looking like the statue of David in a centerfold spread: jet-black curly hair, Roman nose, angular jaw, the chiseled body of a college gymnast. His biceps bulged, as did his pecs, which were lightly coated with hair that tapered into a trail leading down ridges of sculpted abs, past his pelvis, before disappearing into the tent under the sheets. As far as what was hidden, let’s just say all that rigorous exercise hadn’t stunted his growth.
He was the first guy to tell me he loved me. And now he’d be the first guy I had to kill. The quintessential love-hate relationship. If there’s one thing I’d learned ever since my brother Phillipe’s supernatural disappearance, it was that love had no business in the world of occult espionage.
Opening your heart was akin to opening your wrists.
I shifted closer, my face inches from his pelvis. Moving in, I smelled the freshly laundered linen, mixed with Reinaldo’s own musky athletic scent. I blinked my eyes three times, activating the infrared contact lenses I’d slipped on earlier, while Reinaldo’d slipped out of his clothes, after drinking the potion I’d slipped in his wine. Talk about a slippery slope.
He didn’t look quite as sexy bathed in a green glow, more like Michelangelo’s boy with a serious case of gangrene. But the only part of Reinaldo’s body that truly mattered was the part no longer hidden by the sheet. The part that throbbed underneath the gaze of my infrared lenses.
It was there, on his inner right thigh. The birthmark. My intel had been correct.
It was so tiny I might not have ever seen it, even if we’d done the deed.
What was it? Right?—no, left to zoom in. I blinked my left eye a few times enlarging the image. It was a symbol. A dragon inside a pyramid, its base parallel to another pyramid base facing the opposite direction and encasing some type of demon. Both of these were housed within a larger triangle.
I squinted, flexing my brows. Snap! Snap! Snap! The photographic evidence of the mark uploaded via the lenses’ transmitter. These shades rocked. I’d have to give props to Felanie—if I made it out of this.
I glanced back up at Reinaldo’s face. He looked so peaceful lying there, completely unaware he’d been duped. For a split second I almost felt sorry for him. Keywords split and almost. He’d more than duped me by pretending to be my boyfriend, until I’d found out he was a member of a sorcerist cell. Even so, the concept of terminating him sounded clinical and abstract when discussed in a cold, sterile briefing room, especially when I’d prepared months in advance, both physically and mentally, convincing myself it was for the greater good. With the target warm and curled up against me like a helpless pup, termination seemed more like murder. Orders be damned. Better to drug him and see if I could find it first before going down that road.
I maneuvered my body across his sleeping form. When our skin touched, I broke out into goose flesh.
Reinaldo stirred slightly.
I held my breath, tensing every muscle.
Then he stretched a sculpted bicep over his head, not a care in the world.
My heart down-shifted.
I reached over the side of the bed, past the ornately carved nightstand, and carefully rummaged through the pile of clothes Prince Charming had deposited on the lush, wine-colored rug. One black V-neck T-shirt with no pockets, the better to show off his massive chest. Skin-tight jeans that hugged his thick thighs and narrow waist contained nothing but empty pockets. A pair of size twelve flip-flops. Not much else.
I’d already performed a sweep of the room. He had to have it on him.
Wait a minute. The big silver belt buckle. Trendy. A good place for hiding a top-secret micro-chip embedded with an encryption key … stylish. I snatched it up, the metal feeling cold, even in my icy hands.
I examined the buckle, a very butch affair, complete with some type of horned steer. At first I’d thought Reinaldo’d been going for a metrosexual country western look. But the horns reminded me of the ones on that birthmark nestled against his loins.
My fingers explored the buckle’s surface, my thumbs pressing against every ridge. Nada. I’d have to improvise. Following my instincts, I pricked my thumb on the prong. A small trickle of blood bubbled forth. Kind of unconventional for espionage, I know, but it’s not like I worked for the CIA. As a matter of fact, I doubted even the CIA knew about us, that’s how high we were on the secret ladder. The Department of Unexplained Supernatural Terrorism. DUST. Saving the unsuspecting world from the criminal forces of the supernatural and the occult, one phenomenon at a time.
I smeared the blood on the buckle’s surface, hoping the “offering” would activate the trigger point. Voila! The surface snapped open, revealing the microchip lying in the buckle’s womb. It amazed me the clout virgin blood carried in the occult world. Yes, technically, I was still a virgin, though hardly the poster boy for innocence at the moment.
I sat up, carefully removed the dime sized-chip, and slipped it into the hidden slot in the waistband of my tighty-whities. Then I replaced the buckle’s face and dropped the pants back into the pile, just as the light came on. Two powerful arms encircled me from behind.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review: First let me say how much I admire this author and his "No holds barred"approach to diversity. I really love books with Lgbtqiap themes especially when the author identifies as such. I can't count how many books I've put down this year because I felt as though it was a poor attempt at a Queer main character, something that happens often when I choose a book coming from a cis-white woman who has no idea what it's like being a gay teenage boy and only wishes to profit from it. Dagger is not the former. It is an amazing story crafted from the author's experience on being a gay male(no coming out story, no point of focus to the story) and if it couldn't get any better than that, he's a uber cool, kick ass spy that works for a private sector that even the CIA has no idea about. Can you say f*ck yea? There are tons of things I totally loved about this book and if i could spend all day talking about it if you let me but here are some things that just really stuck out to me: 1.The diversity! Dagger himself was gay and I wasn't completely sure if he was Latino but I totally cannoned him Latino. Both his friends were Latino so it only felt natural picturing him that way too. Maybe it's because I'm Latina as well, but I love reading Latino/a/x characters in Speculative fiction. 2. The Twists Oh the twists! There was a twist I honestly didn't see coming and my mouth stayed dropped for several pages trying to pull myself together. Why did you do this to me, Steven? Why???? Lol. I am forever dedicated to Dos Santos's plans to take over the YA Speculative fiction Realm, one story at a time because he is just that dope! I can't believe it's taken me this long to read any of his books.I totally have The Culling on my bookshelf and that book needs to get read like now! 3. The World Building The world Steven set up reminded me a little of that secret force of B613 in Shondaland's Scandal, with a little Kim Possible, The Famous Jett Jackson and Supa Ninjas all in one neat little package. If any of these shows mean anything to you, you will totally get what i mean. Dagger works for D.U.S.T, a super secret governmental operation that handles missions in the "Supernatural". At first I wasn't sure I was going to completely get Dagger because this was the first book I ever picked up with a heavy Espionage theme. But you don't have to "get" spies to "get" Dagger. It's really just about a regular teenager who goes through what we all went through at one point. he just happens to be a fly ass spy on the low and is pretty damn good at what he does. 4. Dagger How can I say what I loved about this book without mentioning how much I loved Dagger. He was nothing short of hilarious and his voice is genuinely real that I totally pictured my cousin(who's also a queer male) in this character. Dagger is really snarky and sarcastic, two combinations I totally love in a character and the way he describes the objects of his affection? It's like he stole the words right out of my mouth,lol. 5. The Cover Can i say how much I love this cover? This is why I cannoned him Latino because the guy unapologetically looks Latino....That is all. What I didn't connect to as much: This book was almost perfect minus one detail I wouldn't have even commented on years ago when feminism wasn't a huge part of my life. The use of the word b*tch. Dagger said the word a lot and I don't necessarily think he said it with bad intentions as B*tch has been a word reclaimed by many and doesn't always carry around a stigma the way it used to when people say it now. For example, I grew up in an urban neighborhood so calling someone your b*tch can mean friend depending on the context, I'd be a liar if I didn't occasionally use it in that context but I still cringed with how many times he said it. It was a natural part of his speech and like I mentioned before, I don't think he said it ill-intentioned or to be oppressive, but I still took of a very small 1/4 point for it. But please don't let that stop you, This book overall was a very quick read for me and I read slow like molasses. I think I finished it in less than 4 days, Hands down, the fastest book I read all year. Trust me fellow book bloggers, you will not be disappointed!
There is a DAGGER in my heart. It looks like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER has teamed up with ALEX RIDER in this totally epic, action packed, sexy, suspenseful, very clever, kick ass story that dives into one hell of a mission and has a number of hilarious gay jokes. If anyone is looking for a diverse YA novel with Urban Fantasies and consorts with the LGBTQ, this is what you are looking for. I am crossing my fingers that The D.U.S.T Ops is never going to be finish with Dagger Beaumont!!!
After reading Steven Dos Santos's TORCHKEEPER books, THE CULLING AND THE SOWING, I have to say I was happy to see that DAGGER also has the same high action and drama that I enjoyed in his previous novels. For high speed thrills and non-stop action, this book is sure to please. I highly recommend!
When I was in high school, I had three fantasies...to be a secret agent...to battle supernational monsters and to get to choose from among let's say three hot guys. Finally, some fiction that gives me all my fantasies in one place! This clever, funny, action-packed novel is a wild ride that everyone with a sense of adventure and a taste for romance will love.