Title: Friendly Fire
Author: Cari Z.
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 17, 2016
Page Count: 252
Reviewed by: Renée
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Elliot McKenzie is the king of reinvention. Five years after losing his job and his lover and almost going to prison, his self-help program, Charmed Life, is more successful than he’d ever dreamed. He thinks he’s put his sordid past firmly behind him, until he starts receiving cryptic threats . . . and realizes it might not be as over as he’d hoped.
Security expert Lennox West has been lost since a deadly skirmish in Afghanistan led to his forced retirement from the Army. His PTSD makes helping his ex raise their daughter a challenge. When his ex’s sister asks him to set her boss up with a security system, Lennox isn’t expecting anyone like Elliot McKenzie—a man who captures his attention and makes him feel relaxed for the first time since leaving the service.
But Elliott is dangerously stubborn. Even as the threats against him escalate, he refuses to involve the police, and Lennox fears that stubbornness could kill him. A battle of wills ensues that brings them closer to each other than either man expected. But if the threats turn real, they might not live long enough to get their future together.
It’s no secret that I’m a Cari Z. fan. So when I saw that she had a full length contemporary story coming out, I jumped all over that. She normally writes fantasy and the occasional post-apocalyptic gem. For those who haven’t had a glimpse of the awesome contemporary style of this author, please let me point you to Making It Work.
Friendly Fire was a good, entertaining read. We have two MCs with less than stellar pasts, if we go by their self-judgments. Elliot is a former lawyer, now life coach for the reformed, who is being stalked. Lennox is a former Army Ranger who works for a security company. The story is told from dual POV, which is always a win for me.
There is immediate chemistry when Lennox is doing a home installation of a security system for Elliot, but then there’s immediate escalation of danger from Elliot’s stalker. This necessitates Lennox to intervene, causing the men to go from zero to sixty in the getting-to-know-you phase. They are thrust together through the circumstances of Elliot’s life, while the feelings between them continue to grow.
I adore this author’s style of writing, and I was never bored. Not for a second of this very long story. I could actually feel Cari’s enthusiasm of the whole whodunit aspect of the book. And the secondary characters were really fun, especially Lennox’s daughter and Elliot’s assistant.
Unfortunately, for my own preferences, what I didn’t feel was the intensity of the relationship. It took a backseat to the mystery plot. As well as everything was written, and even with dual POVs, I was left wondering how these men truly felt about each other. I could feel their attraction and their connection, don’t get me wrong. But a tentative HFN was all I really got out of them because the relationship wasn’t at the forefront of the story, which is my preference. Even the sweet epilogue, which was adorable, didn’t give me my three little words.
I still give a solid 4 stars to this one because it was very well written, and I truly enjoyed the story overall. The mystery was engaging, and it was fun to read about. The smexy times – very hawt indeed, Cari Z. Kudos on that too!