Kyle Hawthorne once believed his future would be a job in the private sector—a simple, normal life. Fate had other plans and he wound up in the military. Some newly discovered talents caught the eye of the CIA, and in no time he was working with a covert team. He found himself in a relationship with fellow operative, Julia—until she turned out to be the enemy. When her betrayal was uncovered, things got bloody and Kyle returned home broken, searching for a chance to walk the road not taken.
MaeBe Vaughan has never been interested in normal. Her happy place is a dark corner of the Internet, where she disrupts all the bad guys. She has a great circle of friends and a full life. She doesn’t need a man. Until Kyle Hawthorne walked into her life. He’s all wrong for her. Surly. Damaged. His uncle is her boss. But she couldn’t help getting close to him. When his past threatened her safety, Kyle walked out without saying good-bye.
Kyle will do anything to keep MaeBe safe. He faked his death, hid in the middle of nowhere, and watched over her from afar. But when Julia resurfaces, he knows that to protect MaeBe, he’ll have to get close. So close that if they manage to survive, he will never let her go.
“If you love that woman, get on your damn knees and beg her forgiveness because you were wrong. People in love discuss their problems. Dumbasses fake their deaths.”
–the character development of Kyle Hawthorne, in three simple sentences
Starting a spinoff series on book 5 when regular readers have been watching the MCs dance around each other for ages? Not ideal–a lot of the early drama in this one didn’t hit the same since I didn’t know much about Kyle and MaeBe’s history. For a good portion of the beginning I felt a little out of sync. I’ve only read a handful of the Masters & Mercenaries (and a good chunk of the ones I have are 1001 Dark Nights novellas, so fairly standalone), so I tended to get a bit lost when other series characters showed up–which they do a lot. This *did* work as a standalone–you just have to get used to being a little vague on the who’s who of it, which doesn’t detract from the story but does cause you to miss out on some inside jokes. Once this book’s action (finally) gets started, though? Hang on and enjoy the ride!
I’m not going to lie, that last 25% or so of this book had me gripped. Once Kyle got over himself and really started trusting MaeBe and their coworkers, everyone working together to defeat Julia, it was hard to put it down. Their HEA was sweet and richly earned. The next spinoff is heavily teased at the end, and I *fully* intend to start it (Masters & Mercenaries: New Recruits) from the beginning!
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.