Amory is tired of undercover work and determined to move her life into a different direction. She agrees to do one more job, only this one seems like a catastrophe from the beginning. Jack Davis is her target’s brother and he could easily blow her cover – since Jack was part of Amory’s first operation and she was responsible for sending him to jail. But this job is worth the risk, but Amory doesn’t realise that her heart might be on the line too. I really enjoyed this character-driven mystery. Amory is an interesting and quite complex character, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and watching her try to juggle all the various balls in her operation. This story had a bit of a feel of a spy-like thriller to me, Amory needing to keep a whole bunch of people, actions, reactions and counter-reactions all moving along smoothly while simultaneously trying to guess what would happen next and how best to achieve her mission. This alone meant the story was complex and rich – and to my mind made the plot interesting enough it retained my attention throughout the story. Add in the complexity of Jack turning up and being the estranged brother of the key player to Amory’s plan and that just added a delicious extra layer to this story as a whole. I loved that the romance sub-plot was subtle. I truly feel the mystery – and complex mission – was front and centre, but having Jack around, and the memories he invoked in Amory just added that lovely simmering romantic tension that had me eagerly turning the pages, waiting to see how their reconnection (and hopefully their starting a romance up again properly as adults this time) would unfold. I was delighted to not be left disappointed. While not overly explicit, I did enjoy the steamy sex scenes which I found to be full of love and tension. Amory and Jack have chemistry in abundance – they both have their own reasons for thinking their relationship will go nowhere, but neither are able to resist the lure of love they feel for the other. I was a little concerned that Amory’s deception to Jack for her work would either become a clichéd or over the top. I felt the author did an excellent job handling Jack finding out the truth. While he was understandably angry and felt betrayed I thought the pacing and level of drama attached to his sorting through his emotions and thoughts was handled really well. It wasn’t drawn out but neither skimmed over, and I was particularly pleased with how Amory acknowledged her part in Jack’s pain – but how she refused to take responsibility for his choices and actions. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this story, finding the plot complex and substantial and the characters vibrant, realistic and engrossing. The author has woven together a fantastic story with some sizzling chemistry and a lovely romantic sub-plot. A great read and one I shall absolutely enjoy again a number of times in the future. originally posted at long and short reviews
Jackson Halland has spent ten years running from a mistake that cost him everything, including Amory Jackson, the woman he loved. With his gut wrenching response to her reappearance, he realizes that if she will forgive him, then maybe, just maybe, he can forgive himself.
After ten years of working undercover, Amory agrees to one final mission. Vowing to get justice for the woman she promised, and failed to protect, nothing will stand in her way, not the prolific criminal she’s determined to bring down and certainly not coming face to face with the man she fell in love with on her very first undercover assignment. Even if he has no idea who she really is, or the part she played in his past.
Amory was so engrossed in her thoughts she didn’t hear the approaching sound of bare feet, padding on the smooth wooden floor, until a deep groan broke through them and she looked up to see Jackson. His mussed, dark blond hair was shot through with strands of gold in the overhead lighting.
The man was incredibly made. His arms stretching up and behind his head caused the bottom of his t-shirt to lift a few teasing inches, revealing a tantalizing glimpse of a tanned, rock-hard stomach. They weren’t the sculpted lines that came from the gym, but powerful, solid muscles. A fine trail of hair led the way to the top of his loose navy shorts. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, her gaze was transfixed.
His legs were long and thick, every muscle rippling as he moved down the stairs into the hallway. A rush of heat shot through her body, setting every nerve alight. Her stomach rolled as she absorbed the sight while a little lower everything tightened and tingled. She’d hoped that her memory had been flawed, tinted by the rose-colored lenses of what she had long since accepted was her first love. That clearly wasn’t the case. Rather than letting himself go he had become more impressive. The slenderness of youth had filled out, living up to the promise of overwhelming masculinity.
His lean muscles had broadened, and whilst the softness of youth had faded from his features, it had left a strong profile in its wake. Jackson had grown up all man. She gulped, heat flooding her.
The good feeling from her run was replaced by a more base desire to touch every inch of his perfect body. To pull it hard against her own and feel those muscular planes mold against her. She unconsciously licked her lips as she watched him.
As she met his eyes, the feeling of heat evaporated, replaced by a harsh chill of dread that sank through to her toes. His emotions were playing across his face and it was clear that, despite her DCI’s reassurances, Jackson had joined the dots and figured out who she was. The recognition clearly shocked him as his whole body jolted abruptly to a stop.
Unable to move, she stared helplessly as he began to walk toward her, his face a mix of unreadable emotions. As he reached out, her body began to respond to the heat that rolled off of him. The scent of his skin washed over her, but she moved back defensively. It was a tactical mistake, giving away that she knew who he was, that she had known all along.
“Amory?” he whispered, hope shining oddly through that one word.
Almost imperceptibly shaking her head, all her professionalism flew out the window, and with her heart sinking she managed a stuttered whisper, “N-n-no… No, you’re wrong. I’m Olivia.”
No amount of training was going to get her through this. Despite her only half-admitted hope that he’d see who she really was, Amory knew too much was at stake for this to happen, but it had. Now she had to endure the awful consequences of him recognizing her, the hatred that would follow this moment.