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New Release Review! MEMENTO MORI by Lexi Blake (Masters and Mercenaries: The Forgotten #1)

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Six men with no memories of the past

One leader with no hope for the future

A man without a past

Jax woke up in a lab, his memories erased, and his mind reprogrammed to serve a mad woman’s will. After being liberated from his prison, he pledged himself to the only thing he truly knows—his team. Six men who lost everything they were. They must make certain no one else gets their hands on the drugs that stole their lives, all while hiding from every intelligence organization on the planet. The trail has led him to an unforgiving mountainside and a beautiful wilderness expert who may be his only hope of finding the truth.

A woman with a bright future

River Lee knows her way around the Colorado wilderness. She’s finally found a home in a place called Bliss after years lost in darkness. The nature guide prefers to show her clients the beauty found in the land, but she also knows the secrets the mountains hold. When she meets Jax, something about the troubled man calls to her. She agrees to lead him to the site of an abandoned government facility hidden deep in the forest. She never dreamed she was stepping into the middle of a battlefield.

A love that could heal a broken soul

Spending time with River, Jax discovers a peace he’s never known. Their passion unlocks a side of himself he didn’t even know he was missing. When an old enemy makes his first move, Jax and River find themselves fighting for their lives. But when his past is revealed, will River be caught in the crosshairs of a global conspiracy?

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Excerpt:

“This place is beautiful,” he said when she hesitated.

She nodded but didn’t move from her seat. “I love it here. I went to college in Denver, but I always missed this place. When I was younger, my dad had a house in Creede. He started the business there, but when he could, he moved us out of town. My dad was a loner, I suppose. Creede has a population of four hundred and Dad thought that was way too many people.”

“I know the feeling. I lived in London for a while. That was definitely too many people.” He kept his tone even. It was odd. Now that he was here, that hunger he always felt was tempered by her fear. He’d thought he would take anything offered to him, but he couldn’t having met her. If the blonde had offered herself up, he would have turned her down. Over the two hours they’d sat in the booth, eating fried food and drinking beer, he’d figured something out. Some people were more special than others. River was special. He should be more cynical. He could hear Damon Knight telling him to be cautious, but he couldn’t make himself do it. Perhaps it was the fact that he didn’t have a long well of history to draw from and to teach him that this was likely a mistake.

It didn’t feel like a mistake.

“Wow. I’ve never been farther than Kansas City.” She still wasn’t moving and her voice had taken on a tremulous tone.

His heart constricted, and it was surprisingly easy to not listen to his dick. His dick was pleading with him to get aggressive. His dick was trying to convince him that if he could get inside her, she would accept him.

Yeah, he wasn’t going to listen to his dick.

“If you’ve changed your mind, I can call my brother to pick me up. I have a phone and so does he. His number is programmed in. I don’t want to scare you. I had a good time talking to you tonight. It was one of the nicest nights I’ve had in a long time.” Ever. It was the best night ever. It was the first night he felt normal, though he wasn’t exactly sure what that word meant. Comfortable was a better one. That tight feeling in his chest had eased as he’d sat in the booth with River and Tucker and Heather.

Although he’d hated lying to her.

She finally turned, looking at him. Her eyes shone in the moonlight. “You mean that, don’t you?”

He wanted to touch her. He’d had to force his hands not to move toward her all night long. The most he’d allowed himself was to have their hips and shoulders touch as they’d sat next to each other. He’d decided it had been a good thing he’d sat next to her because he was fairly certain he had a case of Big Tag’s crazy eyes, and she would have seen them had he sat across from her.

“I do mean it. Please don’t get me wrong. I want you. I would like nothing more in the world than to take you into that cabin, lay you out, and make a feast of you. I want to kiss you and when I say that I don’t merely mean your lips. I want to put my mouth all over your body. But more than I want that, I want you to like me.” It was important somehow. He wouldn’t see her after tonight, but he couldn’t stand the idea that she was afraid of him.

Everyone was afraid of him. Everyone he knew was waiting for his powder keg to blow, but he’d sworn to himself earlier in the evening that it wouldn’t blow around her. He would protect her even if it was only for one night.

Teaser graphic beauty and beast

Review:

Phew–Ms. Blake starts off her new Masters & Mercenaries spin-off with a bang!

Jax–not his real name–doesn’t remember several decades of his own life. He was “born” in a sadistic lab not that long ago and pitted against his “brothers” in order to survive. But now their evil “Mother” is dead, and the “Lost Boys” are out in the world (sort of…) and looking to figure out what they can of their pasts and how they can improve the future going forward.

Oh, and avoiding law enforcement. Because apparently they robbed banks and the like in their old-new lives.

River (her actual name) is still reeling from the death of her father and the betrayal of the man she thought was her husband. The money Jax’s group offers her company to guide them into the wilderness could end up saving her–or could lead her further into ruin.

I know that all makes this book sound heavy and serious, and for a lot of it, it is–there’s real danger and guys with guns with questionable agendas and people who aren’t saying who they really are or why they’re really there–but at the same time there’s some really great relationships here (Jax and River, River and Heather, Jax and his “brothers”) and some truly LOL moments.

For example: Jax and the other guys haven’t been out in the world as regular people (that they remember, anyway) and so their therapist has been doing her best to prepare them for dealing with outsiders, and especially for Jax, this means how to treat women. Consent was clearly a huge part of their conversation, as is evident when he and River first get together. His frequent mention of the concept and attempts to make sure they’re on the same page with things is both endearing and humorous. But my favorite examples of the importance of consent to Jax actually show up in a dive bar. When a strange woman grabs his butt, his response is

“I did not give you consent to touch my bottom, ma’am.”

OMG, I nearly spit out my drink. But then it was followed up with Tucker’s

“Jax did not give consent to have his a$$ cupped. He’s saving that for River. My a$$, on the other hand, is perfectly single and available for cuppings.”

Drinking water while reading. It’s just not safe anymore. The danger is real.

So if you like your romantic suspense with almost as much humor as danger and plenty of fun, quirky characters–not to mention swoony romance–then this is the book for you!

Though you should be able to start with this one–there are some M&M characters here (and as it’s set outside Bliss, CO, some A Night in Bliss ones too), you don’t have to have read those books in order to enjoy the world she’s thrust you into with this one. Not everything with the series overarching plot is resolved in the end, though, so going forward you’re definitely going to want to read these books in order to understand who and what it is the “Lost Boys” are fighting here.

I can’t wait to find out more!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

About the author:

Lexi Blake author photoNY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.

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