RISK OF EXPOSURE
by Emmy Curtis
Book #6 – Alpha Ops Series
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
He is a trained professional—but nothing can prepare him for the hottest mission of his life. Assigned to protect his boss’s daughter, British former SAS operative Malone Garrett breaks the first rule of covert surveillance—don’t make contact. And especially don’t take your mark out to dinner, then agree to a rooftop quickie. But now that Mal has Abby in his arms, he has no intention of ever letting her go.
Abby Baston told herself it was a hit and quit, a one-nighter with a hot, handsome stranger whose hands were trained to take action. Working undercover for the CIA, she can’t risk anything more. But when an international crisis ignites, Abby must make a call: trust Mal with her secret—and her heart—and partner up, or lose everything in a split second . . .
Five minutes into her short drive home, she passed another old beater Škoda with its hood up. She slowed down. It was pointing the opposite way, so it wasn’t like she could really offer him a ride. She was about to pass it, when she caught sight of the man, or more specifically, his jacket. It was bright red and emblazoned with MEDCIN SAND FRONTIERS. She pulled over. She wasn’t going to strand a fellow aid worker in the countryside at night.
“Ca va?” she asked.
“Eh. I’ve been better,” he replied in a deep voice with a distinct English accent.
“And you’re not French,” she said, slamming her door and striding over to him.
“Not even a little bit.” He straightened and blew out a sigh as he held his hand out to her. “Malone Garrett. Thanks for stopping.”
She shook his hand and looked into the engine. “Anything I can help with?”
He cocked his head and looked down at her.
A jolt of awareness flashed through her as he met her eyes. He was all man. Firm jaw, really blue eyes, way over six feet, and built to match. His jean-clad legs were long and clearly muscled. She suddenly wanted to see what was under his jacket and shirt…Her long-dormant libido kick-started in her stomach, sending unwelcome messages through her body. Jesus, girl. Get a grip.
“Are you good with cars?” he asked, a hint of a smile behind his words.
I can hot-wire them, siphon fuel from them, disable them, make them explode, and change a fan belt. But aside from that, not really.
“I’m good at giving stranded motorists rides back into town,” she said, as if she was admitting she knew nothing about cars.
“In which case, I’d be grateful to take advantage of that skill, if you don’t mind,” he said, closing the hood. He got back into his car, turned off the headlights, and grabbed a messenger bag from the backseat.
She got in her car and watched him in her rearview mirror. His accent did strange things to her. Maybe it was just speaking to someone who actually spoke English as a first language. Maybe it was something different. Holy hell. Did God send him because she’d been determined to meet someone? Or at least touch someone?
He opened the door and peered in. “Are you sure? I promise I’m not an ax murderer.” He smiled disarmingly, and for a second she considered that that was precisely what an ax murderer would say. She shrugged to herself. Anything to relieve the boredom of her life.
“Sure. Maybe you should be asking if I’m the ax murderer?”
A frown flickered across his face for a second and she laughed. “I’m not, I promise.”
He got in and put his seat belt on. “Isn’t that exactly what an ax murderer would say, though?”
She laughed again. “You’re the one who brought up ax murderers. Maybe I kill with a spork. Maybe you’re making me feel inferior with all your talk about axes.” She pulled onto the road and headed toward the flickering lights of the town about thirteen miles away.
“Then let’s drop the subject. Although, clearly, axes are superior in that line of business.”
She sniffed. “You haven’t seen what I can do with a spork.”
He laughed, a low belly laugh. “So perhaps I can take you out to dinner, to thank you for your assistance this evening. That way, I can see firsthand how proficient you are with cutlery.”
I mean, I kinda had a clue that I would, given that Mal’s snarky irreverence was one of my favorite parts of book five ( Compromised ) but even I couldn’t have predicted the glorious banter that makes up their relationship.
Playboy’s eyebrows rose. “Sir?”
Fuck it. “Sure. Okay.” He turned to Playboy. “Firstly, don’t call me ‘sir’. I was never an officer. You can use my call sign, ‘Merchant’. Secondly-”
“Merchant is your call sign?” Abby asked with a grin.
“Really? You have Playboy and freaking Havoc here and you’re questioning my call sign?”
“Ma’am,” Havoc said. “I suspect his full sign is ‘Merchant of Death’. Am I right, sir?”
“You don’t know him like I do. It’s probably Merchant of Venice,” Abby said.
“Don’t make me hurt you,” Mal replied, trying hard not to laugh.
“As if you could. We both know, for sure, that I can take you,” she said, hands on her hips.
“Unless you lose your weapon to me, that is.”
“Um, guys? I don’t want to interrupt whatever this is, but–No, in fact, I do want to interrupt. Athens.” Playboy looked pointedly at Mal.
Seriously. Great. Freaking. Banter.
Not to mention the sex, the suspense, the danger–really, just a winner all around. I’ve only read three in the series so far and enjoyed them all, but this one blew the other two away.
Because Mal + Abby = Awesomesauce
Or really, Mal on his own = awesomesauce (his sit reps to his boss made me laugh every time) and Abby on her own isn’t too bad either. But put them together? Magic.
Risk of Exposure would work just fine as a standalone if you haven’t read any of the others in the series yet–really, nothing that happened in prior books makes much of an impact in this one, except that Mal’s been a pain in the butt towards his coworkers and superiors (which you can figure out after about five seconds) and he ruminates once or twice about how inconvenient it is when one’s teammates fall in love right in front of you.
And then he, of course, proceeds to fall in love. Karma, buddy. 🙂
I am so ready for book seven! Though I suspect it will take a while, which gives me plenty of time to catch up on the rest of the series.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Emmy Curtis is an editor and a romance writer. An ex-pat Brit, she quells her homesickness with Cadbury Flakes and Fray Bentos pies. She’s lived in London, Paris and New York, and has settled for the time being, in North Carolina. When not writing, Emmy loves to travel with her military husband and take long walks with their Lab. All things considered, her life is chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny. And if you get that reference…well, she already considers you kin.
The Alpha Ops Series:
(while books in this series are loosely connected, all function as standalones)
Dangerous Territory– Book 1- novella –only 99 cents!
Over the Line– Book 2
Pushing the Limit– Book 3
Blowback– Book 4
Compromised– Book 5