A guest review by Tj
Summary Review: A suspenseful spy thriller, heart-tugging romance and interesting character study all rolled up into a neat package.
The Blurb: Tanner Mackay and Niall Sutherland were once far more than just fellow intelligence agents. But then a mission went horribly wrong and everything fell apart, sending Tanner into hiding and splitting the team and their affair wide apart.
Now an unknown traitor is threatening the team, and their ex-boss is determined to reunite them before it’s too late. She finds Tanner in a run-down trailer park, bringing with her a most unwelcome refugee in need of temporary sanctuary: Niall, the man he thought he’d never have to face again. The man he’s sure feels exactly the same in return.
Trapped in a situation that’s both claustrophobic and highly dangerous, Tanner and Niall will have to revisit their past and reconsider their perceptions, their loyalties—and their desires—in order to survive, let alone forge a future together.
The Review: Tanner MacKay was not happy to see his boss Judith, along with members of her team and most of all Niall Sutherland at the front door of his trailer, his sanctuary, his hideout. He had been away from the project team for months now, ever since that fateful day when he and Niall hit rock bottom, with nothing left to say, and no salvaging their relationship. But despite his misgivings, Tanner’s feelings would have to take a back seat to providing a safe haven for Niall while the threat to the team is identified and neutralized.
The story is told in Tanner’s first person POV, through a series of alternating current day and flashback scenes. As suspenseful as the present day action is, learning about Tanner and Niall’s past, through the flashbacks, adds layers to their characters that makes the reader care about what happens to them. This could have been written as two novels, one about how they meet and the second with this mission’s story line, but learning the whole story concurrently works very well, probably better than had the stories been split apart.
What starts out as seemingly a straight forward spy story, morphs into so much more as Tanner and Niall are forced to cohabit, and their past alarmingly rushes back at them. They fight their attraction, while also fighting the threat to their lives and the lives of their teammates. I must say that Clare seems to really understand how men think. In one of Tanner’s flashbacks the morning after they first sleep together, after only knowing each other for 3 hours, Tanner and Niall have a brief conversation about what happened, to which Tanner replies:
“It’s the same for me. It happened, it was magnificent. I want some more. End of soul baring for today, okay?”
YES, YES, YES!! That’s how men would talk. So believable, so real, not beating the subject to death. Now that’s not to say that Tanner isn’t a man who likes to talk a bit – okay maybe a lot, especially when compared to Niall, but he still thinks and acts like a real man.
Let’s talk about BM’s, no not those BM’s, Big Misunderstandings! We all hate them, right? Well, let this talented author show you how it’s done right. Instead of a cliche, Clare weaves a fascinating web of how a relationship can fall apart over misunderstandings and miscommunications, or perhaps it’s a lack of communication. Tanner realizes he’s being illogical, making assumptions about Niall and turning a blind eye to their issues, but his reasoning makes sense:
“He‘d nearly been killed. I reminded myself of that many times a day and tried to bite my tongue… Perhaps I thought that when he was physically okay again, things would settle back down. Perhaps I was a fool. Basically, we were a time bomb, fuse set and ready to blow. Niall would have empathized with my analogy.”
You have to love these guys. Instead of being annoyed by their estrangement, we care about them, about the working out of their issues.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t compliment the wonderful prose used throughout the book, such as:
“The pain zigzagged across my chest like cheese wire though cheddar”
How imaginatively descriptive. And… Ouch! I could feel that pain. And how about this sequence:
“The only things that touched were our mouths. Hesitantly, like bashful new lovers. Lips dry with caution, yet damp with need. Lips that knew each other’s intimately, yet had forgotten the pure pleasure of the touch. It was like the taste of darkness and fear and ecstasy, all combining together with the wash of heartache and lust.”
Beautiful, just like the rest of the love scenes. And don’t despair – there be sex and it be hot!
What more can I say? This was an amazing heart pounding thriller, that once I started, I had to read through as much as I could to see what would happen. On that basis alone, it was a great book, but it is so much more. It’s also a heart wrenching love story about misunderstandings and learning how to love someone that would have also been a fantastic book on it’s own merits. Now combine the two and you get this suspenseful thriller with interesting characters and a wonderful love story to boot. Why are you still reading this review? Go now and get this book!