Zone of Action
by Cathy Skendrovich
Date Published: 7/27/2020
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Former terror cell expert Audrey Jenkins has seen enough death and destruction to last a lifetime. When she uncovers her ex, Brett, a higher-ranking officer in her unit, selling military secrets, she turns him in and returns to the simpler life she has embraced since leaving the army.
CID Special Agent Cam Harris is a career military man with a strong sense of duty. When a military prisoner who once saved his life in Afghanistan escapes while in his custody, he requests the assignment to track him down.
Cam’s manhunt leads him to Audrey’s door. His prisoner—her ex—will resurface here, he’s sure of it. The feisty woman wants nothing to do with hunting down her ex, but when a terror cell she’s all-too-familiar with launches a deadly attack on army intelligence soldiers and officers, she knows it’s Brett.
Helping Cam is the right thing to do. But the attraction burning between them may be the mistake that gets her and Cam killed…
When Cam was confident he wouldn’t land face first on the floor, he rose slowly, wiggled his hands at his back. Audrey had pulled the zip ties tight. Good. If they were tight, he could break them easier. He spared another few seconds on Audrey and the night they’d had, how amazing she’d been. How perfect she was. And how screwed she’d be, unless he quit mooning over her and got his ass in gear.
He bent at the waist, wobbled, steadied, then held his breath before raising his bound hands behind him as far as they could extend before bringing them down on to his ass while pulling his fists apart. The tie snapped in two. His wrists stung momentarily.
He checked his face wound. His fingers came away sticky with blood. He’d been out long enough for it to coagulate. A shotgun butt to the head. Not a bullet hole, at least. It was a wonder he could still think from all the pummeling his skull had gotten recently.
He hobbled over to the desk, pulled out a pair of scissors, and cut the tie at his feet before investigating the smoke. The striped kitchen rug and the corner of the wood island were on fire. The cause was a poor man’s grenade, a Molotov cocktail. Just as he reached for the couch blanket to smother the flames, they jumped from the rug to the cabinet that housed the gas stove. Time to go.
He grabbed his clothes from the floor, stepping into them while swaying on first one foot, and then the other. He jammed his bare feet into his shoes, pocketing the socks for when he was out of harm’s way. The flames were dancing up the kitchen walls now, the smoke billowing, clogging his nostrils as the fire gained strength. He looked around the front room. Brett had snagged his M17, but there was no time to search Zack’s cabin for the weapon Cam was sure the paranoid bastard had hidden.
Feeling stronger by the second, which was probably the adrenaline talking, he ran to the front door, snatching one of Zack’s caps hanging on the wall hooks. Just as he twisted the knob, there was a whoosh from the kitchen as the flames gathered strength from all the wood cabinetry. He crossed the threshold to fresh air, could have sworn he heard a faint shout over the rush of burning wood. He paused on the porch, cocked his head, ignoring the heat at his back.
He thought he heard the sound again. Ice cubes of fear trickled through his body. It wasn’t possible. He’d been left to die in the burning cabin, while Brett dragged Audrey with him as his get-out-of-jail-free card. Hadn’t he? Unless…he hadn’t.
Zone of Action is a fast-paced romantic suspense story with two protagonists who aren’t at all sure they’re ready for the “romance” part of things–the “suspense” portion probably wouldn’t have been their first choice either, especially since it’s coming their way thanks to her ex-boyfriend and his former team member and friend, but it’s come for them anyway 😉
Overall I enjoyed the story–the terrorist plot was fairly intense, and I loved that Audrey was not only able to hold her own in the action, but that Cam was 100% on board for her to have an active role in everything that was going on. She’d already left the military by the time the story begins, but Cam still depended on her for her (former) area of expertise, and his confidence in her was spot on. Their romance was a but rushed from start to finish, but it wasn’t wholly unrealistic; they were a couple that it was easy to root for when all was said and done.
The book had the feel of an action movie (with a whole lot less sexism than they usually have, though!)–heavy on the fun, a bit lighter on the realism–and was exactly what I needed this week to keep me entertained. This was my first from author Cathy Skendrovich, but definitely not my last!
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the Author:
Cathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went to college, her writing took the form of term papers, written on typewriters instead of computer keyboards.
Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school. Along the way, she married her husband of thirty-six years, and had two sons. Now an empty nester, she and her husband have embarked on their own adventure, moving to Idaho to live overlooking a pond.
Romantic suspense has always been her favorite genre to read and write, though she has dabbled in historical romance. Creating an unpredictable storyline is her goal, and she hopes she has done so in her current and previous books. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed closely by The Pirate’s Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, and Undercover with the Nanny. Zone of Action is her fifth book, and her first military suspense. For research, she asks her son in Army Intelligence for up to the minute information. Lately, he’s stopped taking her calls.