This one really is a “must read”!
Title: Behind The Mask (Associates, #4)
Author: Carolyn Crane
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Category: Romantic Suspense
TO SAVE HER PROSTITUTE TWIN SISTER SHE HAS TO SWITCH PLACES WITH HER…
When her estranged sister is won in a card game by a brutal drug cartel, Zelda knows what she has to do: take her place. Save her. Focus on infiltrating the shadowy group–and try not to think about why she left the spying game years ago. She’s slept with dangerous criminals before; she can do it again.
Hugo Martinez is one of South America’s most lethal and wanted men, a legendary mercenary living on a windswept mountain. Even at the height of the war he wasn’t in the habit of taking women captive, but the American whore has seen his face. And he and the orphan boy need a cook. He shouldn’t want this woman, but there’s something so unusual about her…
Meanwhile, Zelda finds herself falling for her captor…but is he the killer she’s been hunting all these years?
Wow…wow…WOW. My first book by Carolyn Crane, but definitely not my last!
Behind the Mask didn’t pull me in right away–it took a little bit to really get a feel for the characters and what was going on–but once it took off I felt like it was all I could do to just hold on for the ride! It was gritty and raw and intense, and oh my gosh once I got to know Zelda and Hugo and Paolo (aka “the boy”), I absolutely loved them and didn’t want the book to end.
Except that things were really intense there in the last 15% or so, and I couldn’t bear to stop reading until everyone was out of danger! It was a real catch-22 situation–keep reading and finish the book, or slow it down and prolong everyone’s agony…(and I do mean agony–there’s torture involved, and it made me cringe and wince and gah! Such fabulous writing!)
I took one for the team. Though really, at that point the pages were practically turning themselves; I don’t know that I could have stopped them.
Both Zelda and Hugo (and Paolo, too, really–poor kid) were damaged characters in so many ways. Zelda and Hugo have actual physical scars that are just unreal, but the wounds that have been dealt to their psyche are even worse. Perhaps Hugo’s is the most heartbreaking, since he doesn’t even realize how damaged he is inside until Zelda makes him see it. (That he never realizes that Paolo is still young enough on the inside to want to play? Broke. My. Heart.)
The three of them together? Love. So much!
Behind the Mask is the fourth book in the series, but it worked fine as a standalone. Zelda, co-founder of the Associates, is on her own for most of the book, far removed from her team. A warning, though–you’ll probably find the pace, action, and characters here just as compelling as I did and end up adding books 1-3 to your TBR before you’re even halfway done with this one!
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
I am a RITA-winning author of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and other tales of love and adventure (and erotic & dark romance as NYT bestselling author Annika Martin). My books have been published by Random House and Samhain, and I also go the indie route. I work a straight job as a marketing writer, I love to read in bed and run, I’m passionate about helping animals, and I make my home in Minnesota with my husband and two cats.