Enemy Lover

( 44 )

Overview

When you have no alternative, then you call in L.O.S.T. Because with the Last Option Special Team, it’s do or die. . . .

It’s Jax Cassidy’s first mission for L.O.S.T.—one that will give the former cop who went rogue a chance to prove herself. Her assignment: gain the trust of assassin Marcus Cross . . . eliminate him . . . then take down Marcus’s mentor, Joseph Lazarus, a man with a bold eye on the White House. But the woman who’s known by her team for being a femme fatale ...

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Enemy Lover

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Overview

When you have no alternative, then you call in L.O.S.T. Because with the Last Option Special Team, it’s do or die. . . .

It’s Jax Cassidy’s first mission for L.O.S.T.—one that will give the former cop who went rogue a chance to prove herself. Her assignment: gain the trust of assassin Marcus Cross . . . eliminate him . . . then take down Marcus’s mentor, Joseph Lazarus, a man with a bold eye on the White House. But the woman who’s known by her team for being a femme fatale succumbs to passion, only to discover Cross’s deadly secret. He’s a vampire, and Joseph Lazarus is his creator.

Left for dead by his platoon in the violent hills of Afghanistan, Special Ops sniper Marcus Cross was given a second chance at life. His newly heightened skills make him the perfect killing machine, and as Lazarus’s right-hand man, he’s quickly rising to the top of his dark empire, purging enemies with speed and precision. Only when dangerous beauty Jax Cassidy is sent to bring him in does he begin to question Lazarus’s motives and his own actions. But when Jax’s life is threatened by the one thing that can destroy them both, Marcus must make a bitter choice—her death or his.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439109823
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.86 (w) x 4.42 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Karin Harlow spins dark tales of suspense, love, and things that go bump in the night. Drawing from her life as a cop’s wife, her stories resonate with authority and reality. When Karin isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling the California coastline with her husband and one or more of her four children, or getting together in far off places with her writing buddies.

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Read an Excerpt

ONE

January
Baltimore City Courthouse
Sally port prisoner transfer section

Irony was one fickle, messed-up bitch, Angela thought. A year and a half ago she was the fair-haired darling of Charm City. Baltimore’s hottest get-the-hell-out-of-my-way-I’m-going-to-the-top cop. Today, in the icy rain that bit at her skin like shotgun spray, two female deputies escorted her, hobbled and cuffed, clad in prison orange, from her courthouse holding cell into the sally port.

The anger she’d kept tamped down since her assault, subsequent arrest, and trial—even when that asshole prosecutor had twisted the facts and her sergeant had trashed her on the witness stand—finally erupted. Yeah, she’d made it too damn easy for them. It was a given there was no honor among the criminals she’d spent most of her adult life putting behind bars. You never trusted them. Never turned your back and never gave them an opportunity to do you. Never had she thought her squad would betray her in such a vicious, public way as they had. If you couldn’t trust your partner, who the hell could you trust?

How the hell had she let this happen? She hadn’t let this happen. Her squad had sold her out. And what had happened afterward? She clenched her jaw, grinding her teeth. She was only human, and, in the end, justice had been served. The price? Her freedom.

Involuntarily, she jerked against the hands grasping her biceps and shivered as a harsh jag of frigid air slapped her in the face. She was going away for life with no chance of parole for at least two decades. Mild hysteria began to seep into her pores. Soon, it would sink deeper into her muscles, then her bones and her organs, before it ate her up. Her chest rose and fell in quick, harsh puffs. She felt like she was walking a gangplank, the shark-infested waters below swirling, churning—waiting.

Angela expelled a long breath into the cold air and watched it curl, then disappear when another harsh blast of air caught it, immediately turning it into nothingness. She refused to become nothing. She was tough. She could handle prison, even though she wasn’t going to get the preferential treatment she had received in the Women’s Detention Center here in the city. She was a trained professional. It was the damn cell, that eight-by-eight space that caused her more concern than a shank-carrying inmate who wanted some fresh meat for the night. Ange hated small spaces. As a little girl, her cousin had locked her in an old refrigerator in the abandoned field behind her house. She’d panicked, her screams for help unheard. She’d woken up in the arms of a policeman. He’d smiled and told her she was going to be OK. She’d known then what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Now she was going to prison and probably never coming out. She was glad her mother had died before Angela had been sentenced. Her dad? Long gone. He didn’t matter. How could he, when she and her mom had never mattered to him?

Angela balked, the muscles in her arms and neck tightening. The guards yanked her along, and this time she offered no resistance, not even when she heard a bus engine roar to life. Inhaling the cold air deeply into the warmth of her lungs, she exhaled it slowly, refusing to watch it disappear without a trace.

She blinked against the shards of rain, wanting, despite the foul weather, to stand in it rather then step on that bus. The bus to Jessup. The bus to the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. The bus to hell.

Angela shook her head, forcing herself not to focus on what was ahead of her. But as one thought hijacked another, she came full circle, thinking what a cluster fuck her life had become. And there wasn’t a damn thing she could do to change it. Not now. Not ever.

“Giacomelli, I hope you have some friends over at Jessup. If you don’t, make some fast,” Deputy Alvarez said as she steered Angela toward the bus. “Those girls in Jessup are gonna want a piece of you the minute they find out you’re in the house.”

Angela’s head snapped back and she looked Alvarez straight in the eye, nearly tripping in the short shackles. Alvarez tightened her grip, as did the other guard. “They’ll have to get to me first,” Angela said. And she knew they would. Eventually.

“I can’t believe I’m hauling you off for murder one, Giacomelli,” Alvarez rambled. “I thought you were a lot smarter than that.”

“Yeah, well, walk a mile in my shoes.”

Alvarez shook her head and tsked tsked like Angela was some kid who’d gotten caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

“Fuck you, Alvarez.”

Smyth, the other guard, grunted and tightened her grip on Angela’s arm. “You think that mouth of yours is going to keep the boogeyman away?” Smyth shook her head. Pity radiated from her deep hazel eyes. “I’m scared for you, Giacomelli.”

“Don’t waste the energy, Smyth.” Angela threw her shoulders back, commanding herself to show no fear. Where she was going, the predators fed on fear. When word got out who she was and what she’d done, she’d be an instant target. And even though she’d be housed away from the general populace, they could still get to her. And she’d be ready.

She’d get no help from her ex-colleagues. Not after all the dirt that had come out during the trial. They were funny that way. Back in the day, when cops had been allowed to be cops and not PC pansies, the blue shield had protected its own even at a cost to the rank and file. Now? Every prick in the department walked the PC line. The thugs ruled the streets and the cops were screwed, with their hands tied behind their backs.

Just as she’d been totally screwed by that pimp, human trafficker, and all-around piece of shit, Carlos Montes. And her backup? Nowhere to be found. They should have been there, but they hadn’t been. When she’d gone after her sergeant and her partner for answers, they’d had none. And then the shit had really hit the fan. There was no love lost between ex-cop, now convicted felon Angela Giacomelli and BCPD.

Angela let out a long, pensive breath as a sudden wave of guilt, laced with self-directed anger, washed over her. Not for what she’d done. Not because she’d made it easy for them to send her to prison for the rest of her life. But that in the end, she had let down her mom, the only person who had loved her unconditionally. It was her only regret in life.

“C’mon,” Alvarez grumbled, yanking her along. Angela ignored her, keeping her steps deliberately slow, almost casual. She’d get on the damn bus when she got there: in her time. The guard leveled her black eyes on Angela and paused in her step, causing the other guard to yank her forward as if she’d been a rope in a tug-of-war. “You’re not my only prisoner, and just because you used to wear a uniform doesn’t give you special treatment.”

“Where’s the love, Juanita?”

“I got no love for felons.”

Angela smirked. “Yeah? What if that slimeball Montes sold your little girl to the highest bidder?”

Juanita shook her head, refusing to answer. But Angela saw the fury spark in her dark eyes. Alvarez could act like a holy roller, but in the end, she’d do what she had to do, badge or not. Just like Angela had.

“Don’t tell me when he skipped away free as a bird you’d be OK with that.”

“God will be his ultimate judge.”

“God works too slow for me.”

“He might work slow, but His vengeance is mighty. You’ll have lots of time to read all about Him where you’re going.”

“Great, can’t wait,” Angela muttered as she was pushed toward the correctional officer standing like a brick wall in front of the open doors to the prison transport. She met his piercing eyes, staring back unwaveringly. She took exception to the calculating glare in his eyes. “You have something to say to me, Officer?” Angela challenged.

A slow half smile twisted his lips. He towered over her five-foot-five-inch frame. Not many men intimidated her, but this one? Maybe. Just a little. He was broad and muscular, and there was something primal about him that made her very aware she was a woman. He looked around to make sure no one of significance was watching and leaned a little toward her. “What if I do?” he taunted.

“Get me out of this hardware and I’ll teach you to keep that mouth of yours shut.”

“End it, Giacomelli,” Alvarez said, pushing her forward. Angela stumbled, the hobble giving her barely a six-inch step, and slammed into the wall of the guard’s chest. He grabbed her shoulders to steady her. She jerked out of his grasp and hissed.

“Don’t touch me!”

Doing the opposite, he spun her around and slammed her, face-first, against the side of the bus. Pressing his big body against her, his fist bore into the small of her back. Angela gritted her teeth and closed her eyes, suddenly feeling suffocated and weak at the knees. Since her assault, she could not stand to be touched by anyone, especially a man.

“You have no rights, prisoner,” he softly said against her ear. “I’m bigger and badder than you, so you decide now how you want this to go down.”

“Let. Go. Of. Me,” she ground out.

“Are you going to play nice?”

“Let go and find out.”

He chuckled, but damned if he didn’t back off, yanking her with him. He spun her back around. Angela caught the surprised look on Alvarez’s and Smyth’s faces. While an unruly prisoner was often at the mercy of the guards, this type of conduct was what lawsuits were made of. Yet they did nothing to stop the guard’s behavior. She glanced at them with a sneer, then looked up at the brute. “So you get off roughing up helpless women?”

He threw his head back and laughed in genuine humor. “There is nothing helpless about you.”

Angela eyed him angrily. She never could stand being the brunt of someone’s humor, however innocently intended. One of her many character flaws.

Alvarez handed him the file folder she had been carrying. “Inmate 24-417-9327, Giacomelli, Angela, Celeste. She’s all yours, Officer”—she squinted at his name tag and looked back up at him—“Brinks. You’re new.”

“I’m filling in for Horner.” He took the file and grabbed Angela by the arm, his fingers biting deep and hard, forbidding resistance.

“Prick,” she hissed and preceded him up the narrow steps she could barely climb, the shackle chain was so short. She glared at the driver sitting in his cage and took umbrage at the soft shove Officer Brinks gave her, pushing her to the back of the bus.

Great. Right next to his cage at the very back of the box.

Once she was seated and locked down, Brinks stalked back to the front of the bus, where he brought in another prisoner, locking her in before going for another. By the time he was done, six other women were up front, while Angela got the preferred seating in the back.

She looked up and squinted against the struggling ray of sun that filtered through the gray clouds. She lowered her gaze and looked out the window to the concrete sally port. She’d stood in it many times, watching shackled criminals file into this very bus like cattle. Animals being hauled off to the big house. Off to do time for their crime. Too many of them came back, only to repeat the process. No lesson learned.

She would never know if it would be the same for her. It didn’t matter that she’d be up for parole in twenty. Her gut told her: Once she stepped through the prison gate, she wasn’t coming out.

She pushed back into the stiff, torn cushion. The panic that had seized her earlier began to snake up from her belly. She swallowed hard and took deep cleansing breaths. The bus smelled like piss and shit, and there was no air circulating. A short, harsh wave of nausea rolled through her. Her stomach tightened and a dry heave spasmed. Her back clenched in pain from the tightness and she tried to puke, but nothing, not even bile, came up. Closing her eyes, Angela hung her head between her knees, trying to get her bearings. She took a deep breath. The stench of the bus was too much.

She jerked up and fought another heave, but this time she did puke. She spit the yellow bile onto the floor next to a dried loogey. Turning her head, she wiped her mouth on the shoulder of her jumpsuit. Angela caught the contemptuous stare of one of the prisoners seated several rows ahead on her left. The woman spit, then grinned, showing off her four teeth. She made a smacking sound, then slurped, eyeing Angela up and down. “I haven’t had fresh meat like you in a long time.”

“I hope you like a little AIDS and a few cankers to go with it,” Angela said, staring down the Amazon.

Brinks coughed beside her where he was messing around with his equipment.

“Welcome to the club, sweet cheeks,” the woman said.

“Shut up and turn around, Wolinski,” Brinks bit off.

The woman shot him a glare and turned, but not before she blew Angela a kiss.

“Stay out of my business,” Angela said to the guard.

He looked up from stowing away the files on each prisoner in a metal box in his cage. His deep green eyes glittered in amusement. “You’re going to need a friend where you’re going. You might want to think twice about being nice to me.”

Angela scowled, warning him off. “I don’t play well with others. Leave me alone.”

He ignored her and walked toward the front of the bus.

Closing her eyes, Angela leaned her head back on the hard headrest and took in several deep breaths, trying to get a handle on herself. She was scared. There, she’d admitted it, scared shitless actually, and no one, not one single person, gave a damn about where she was headed.

She kept her eyes closed when the automatic-locking, heavy-gauge metal door closed around the driver. The hiss of the air release from the bus doors, followed by the heavy cling of it locking them all in, jarred her drawn nerves.

This was it.

No more jail. No more court. No more, nothing. She was going away. To Prison. Angela wondered if she’d survive.

Heavy footsteps thudded toward her. Officer Friendly. The whoosh of air his body disturbed as he walked past her into his own cage brushed across her cheeks. His clean, citrusy scent was welcome in the dank stink of the bus. She kept her eyes closed. The sound of the jump seat creaking with his weight sitting upon it, followed by the lock and load click of his shotgun, triggered another wave of nausea. Fuck.

“All secure,” he miked to the driver.

Over the bus radio, the driver said, “Transport fifty-two, 10-49 Jessup Women’s Facility with seven on board, starting mileage, 24,766.”

“10-4, T-fifty-two, starting 24,766 at 1517 hours,” Dispatch cleared.

The bus lurched forward and so did Angela’s life.

© 2010 Karin Tabke

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(17)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2011

    Fabulous book! It is the first in a 2part series...read this one first.

    This world is so close to reality, that you can almost believe there are really vampires and demons here with us!

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    Well balanced all around good read!

    Please see full review at: readersedyn(dot)blogspot(dot)com

    I just e-mailed an acquaintance that had asked me to let her know what I thought about Enemy Lover because it was my first Karin Harlow book. Ironically, the e-mail served well in helping me collect my thoughts about the book. *whispers* Acquaintance, you know who you are so if some of the comments in this review seem familiar, take care - you inadvertently aided me in creating this review. ?

    I really loved this book. I can honestly say that I looked forward to turning every single page, actually upset with myself at times for not reading faster. Once in a while my eyes would jump ahead a catch glimpses of what was coming up. Bad, I know, but I enjoyed it that much. There was something taking place on very nearly every page. Yes, yes, that is what generally happens in books. I am aware. But what I mean is that Harlow did not linger over any scene overmuch. She kept the story forward moving at all times with a fast-paced read that the reader has no choice but to jump into head first.

    What I really appreciated was the balance within the book. As much as I hate to admit this, sometimes reading a lot of erotica-type books kind of wears a person down. I do not always want to read about attraction, passion flared, and the inevitable sexual conquest wrapped up in a pretty little love story. *GASP* Did I just say that? Yes, the steamy sex is nice, but the story does not have to revolve around the sex to be good and suck the reader in. Trust me, I'm on the lookout for the lightning that is about to strike me down!

    Anyway, Harlow builds a world with various other worlds that is very easy to believe in. Government funded secret op forces that take out national threats. Yeah, I can get on board with that. There is the world as we know it and then there is Marcus's world and Jax's world. Each has its own rules and regulations and each perceives the other as a threat. Not to mention each is acting for the greater good. But which side is the good side is the question that has to be answered. And of course, through it all, the world as we know it hasn't the slightest inkling that any of these organizations exist.

    Also liked was the fact that I could identify with Jax. Not from the perspective of having ever suffered a crime so heinous, but understanding her reactions, motivations, and drive to continue on after the nightmare she experienced. When the heroine is tough and strong, she has to embrace characteristics much like Jax to be believable. I think that a lot of us in our daily lives operate similarly to Jax. Definitely not on her level, but in the following way: She may not have been perfect, but she did the best she could with what she had with the best intentions - a feat I think many of us try to emulate within various aspects of our lives. Bottom line, I thoroughly enjoyed Enemy Lover and my time spent with the L.O.S.T. I can't wait to continue the journey with Enemy Mine, Karin's latest L.O.S.T. installment. You can also find Karin writing as Karin Tabke.

    (paperback won in contest online courtesy Pocket After Dark)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    This is a great book. I could not put it down. The way she keeps you on your toes makes it a quick read. I LOVE Cross!!

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  • Posted August 17, 2011

    Siren's Song Reviews

    When a cop does what is right in her heart and forsakes the vows she's sworn to, justice will be served and every action has it's consequences--even for those pure of heart. Jax Cassidy is reborn under the guidance of LOST a covert operation above the law and not always within it. Suits her just fine.

    Marcus Cross is a soldier turned vamp with not much left to his soul until the fiesty double agent renders him sprung. Destined to greatness by the power in his blood, she pushes him to be anything other than sheep and take back what's his. Family, power, and love.

    Quick Review: I've held off reading this because of the militant take on the book, but I was so pleasantly surprised. Ms. Harlow created a larger than life cast that made me grin with their determination and resilience. I hated to put the book down!

    Jax is a woman that rises above an assault in much the same way most women would--or at least I like to think we're all stronger than we think--and proves her nuts to the world by becoming a deadly special ops tactical machine. She's lethal and she knows it. By giving her some flaws and some kick ass vamp blood borrowed from Cross, she's a weapon of mass destruction.

    Cross is oh so yummy and a man we can all fall in love with. He's not arrogant--which I love--but he does know his limits and their aren't many. I love that he didn't fight his feelings for Jax, but harvested them into a love that knows no eternity.

    Very well written, smooth and fast. I loved every minute. Oh, and did I mention there is some gore? My absolute fave!

    5 Stars and definitely ready for the next book! Need to download that puppy tonight. :)

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Devoured every word!

    Review by Jen: I loved this book. I devoured every word and my first thought when finishing was "when is the next book in this series coming out?" (I happened to look today, Enemy Mine will be released August 30!). From reading the back cover, I wasn't sure exactly what I was getting myself into. Is this a paranormal, or a romantic suspense? Well, it's definitely both, with more emphasis on the suspense... the paranormal part just seems secondary, although crucial.

    I found myself intrigued by the "mercenary" group Karin created with L.O.S.T. and those members who have found their way to working for them. The political undertones mixed with this highly secretive group for hire lends itself to so many stories. And when you add in a paranormal twist, your options are just limitless. I can't wait to see where Karin takes the staff of L.O.S.T in future books.

    But, back to Enemy Lover. Jax is a complex character and she is well developed over the course of the novel. You care about her and ache for her to achieve justice in the end. While I didn't find Marcus quite as interesting, I did want to see him receive peace (and a happy ending). And the chemistry between the two... well, I'm shocked that my book didn't burst into flames.

    After skimming the book to refresh my memory (other than remembering so clearly that I enjoyed it), I'm finding myself wanting to re-read... which is about the highest praise I can give a book as I rarely want to do it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2011

    The author's name is a pseudonym for Karin Tabke

    If you enjoy her previous books, you'll like this one.

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  • Posted October 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not bad, good as a gift

    Enemy Lover by Karin Harlow was a good escape novel. It isn't among the greatest, but I still enjoyed it. The background of the leading lady, Jax Cassidy is intense. She is a solid character, but other than her past, she has very little complexity. Still, VERY original plot. I would give this book as a gift to a friend.

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  • Posted June 4, 2010

    Loved it!

    Good start to a new series by a new author. Love the chemistry between Jax and Marcus. Both had trust issues but the pull for their attraction for eachother was stronger. Can't wait for her second book to come out I believe she said that it is called "Lost Souls" not sure though. I would definitely recommend this book.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I did not put it down until The End

    From the moment I picked up this book I did not put it down until I reached the last page. I fell in love with Jax and Marcus from the second they appeared on the page. Karin Harlow has an awesome debut novel here and I can't wait to read more of Harlow's stuff and about the L.O.S.T. team. They are every woman's midnight fantasy.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    Raw and primal!

    Enemy Lover grabbed me from the first page and didn't let go until the last with its gritty characters and fast-moving plot. Jax Cassidy, a former cop betrayed by her squad members and ex-fiance, is saved from a life in jail by the head of L.O.S.T. (Last Option Special Team). It's Jax's last option, and the L.O.S.T. team is after an enemy that has infiltrated the highest echelon of the U.S. government. Marcus Cross is the key, and Jax's orders are to seduce him, then eliminate him. But she finds out Marcus is more than a match for her. In fact, he's more than human.

    Marcus Cross was abandoned as a baby by his society mother. Years later, his platoon left him for dead in Afghanistan. Like Jax, he's given a second chance at life - as a vampire. His creator sends him on killing missions to further his cause, but Marcus finds a primal connection to Jax that's stronger than the ties to his creator. Stronger than anything he's felt before in his life.

    As I read this, I kept thinking WOW! WOW! WOW! Harlow takes vamps to new levels, controlling members of the government and the military. And Jax and Marc are raw, with every nerve exposed. They've been defeated, betrayed and broken, then super-glued back together, coming out stronger and harder, the pieces that don't fit their new identities left behind. Enemy Lover is heart-pumping, lump-in-the-throat exciting and kept me whipping through the pages way into the morning hours.

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  • Posted May 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    exhilarating romantic suspense thriller

    Human trafficker Carlos Montes raped and brutalized Baltimore police officer Angela Giacomelli while she was on a sting; no cop back-up from the department as expected helped her. Raging she kills the man who walked. As she heads for prison convicted of murder one, Angela knows she would kill her attacker again if she had too even knowing the consequences of her retaliation.

    On the way to prison, the bus is attacked and Angela is liberated. She joins L.O.S.T undercover operatives like Jax Cassidy. Her assignment is to kill assassin Marcus Cross and then take out his mentor Joseph Lazarus. Marcus was left for dead by his military unit in Afghanistan; his loyalty is to his savior Joseph; an ambitious person targeting domination of the White House. Joseph soon places Marcus on a crash Hobson's choice between his love for Jax (and hers for him) and his unswerving loyalty to his paragon.

    This is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller that is fun to read as the action never slows down for a nanosecond. The raging kick-butt heroine and the raging kick-butt hero share in common being left behind by their comrades in arms and trusting almost no one since. Readers will enjoy Karin Harlow's Last Option Special Team tale.

    Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2011

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