Hostile Groundby L.A. Witt
Enemy territory is a dangerous place to fall in love.
After the deaths of three undercover cops investigating a drug ring in a seedy strip club in Seattle, Detective Mahir Hussain has been sent to finish the job. He joins the club's security team in the hopes of finding enough evidence to bust the operation before the men in charge find a reason to put him in… See more details below
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Enemy territory is a dangerous place to fall in love.
After the deaths of three undercover cops investigating a drug ring in a seedy strip club in Seattle, Detective Mahir Hussain has been sent to finish the job. He joins the club's security team in the hopes of finding enough evidence to bust the operation before the men in charge find a reason to put him in a shallow grave.
To protect the strippers, only gay men can work the club. Ridley, the cold and intimidating head of security, knows exactly how to test potential new hires--including Mahir. From the minute they meet, Mahir and Ridley engage in a dangerous dance of sex and mind games. Mahir needs to find his evidence before Ridley figures out he's a cop--and before they both grow too close to betray one another.
As the game goes on, Mahir burrows deeper into the operation, where he learns there's much more happening than meets the eye . . . and why every cop who made it this far has been silenced with a bullet.
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Intense! That ought to describe this one in a nut shell. A police officer goes deep undercover to bust a criminal organization that has already capped three undercover cops before him. Oh yeah, from page one I was riveted and I never lost that feeling until I hit the last page. The story opens when Detective Mahir Hussein takes on a solo mission to infiltrate a strip club ostensibly to be one of the all gay security staff the owner insists upon so guys don't hit on the working girls. He will hopefully earn some trust and be let deeper in so that he can get the evidence necessary to bust the huge drug empire. His first hurdle is the cold-eyed killer, Ridley, who is the head of security and his new boss. Ridley has his ways of weeding out cops and playing with a guy's mind that leaves Mahir reeling, but somehow he gets through Ridley's tests and works his way deeper in. Mahir finds that to succeed; he has to become the role, Sayed, and not just play at it. Sayed is attracted to Ridley and vice versa it seems. The two have a dangerous fascination for each other and carry on in secret because they'll be killed if its discovered that they're fooling around together. Mahir can't believe that he is literally in bed with a killer. And what's more unnerving is that he likes it- he likes something about Ridley. On the home front, Mahir's nephew shows up on his doorstep because Mahir's brother won't accept that his son is gay. Kinza is scared and hurting and insecure. He needs Mahir's support, but Mahir can do little more than let the kid crash at his house since he has to stay at his persona, Sayed's crash pad across the Sound in Seattle. Kinza is a typical teenager in that he is snotty about Mahir not being there, but he also is curious what work Mahir is doing that keeps him away. It's not long before Mahir's personal life and his work life come together in one big volatile situation that brings things to a crisis. I don't think it's a stretch that the story has more than a nodding acquaintance with the psychological thriller stories. This is told all from Mahir's perspective and the reader is kept right there with him as he experiences the intense introduction to Ridley and each trap that Ridley sets for Mahir to vet him out. This book grabs more than the emotions. I was viscerally engaged. Mahir walked the knife's edge the whole time. Each scene with the enigmatic Ridley just sizzled and snapped. Again, it is all from Mahir's perspective so it is only Ridley's actions and words that are known and he is terrifying to Mahir. There are moments when Mahir gets glimpses of humanity in Ridley's eyes, but Ridley can switch that off in a heartbeat. All that to say, plot and characters are fantastic. I was pleased by the cutaway scenes with Mahir's family situation because they were nice breaks from the intensity of his undercover role. I was fascinated by the dynamic of not only Mahir being a gay cop, but being Arab and Muslim too. I enjoyed the character of Kinza. He is a typical teen in ways and it had me smiling to recognize that, but he has the added burden of not having family support. Mahir can relate because it was the same for him. I really don't want to say much more, not because I don't have a lot to say, but because I don't want to say something that will spoil someone's reading experience. To bring it all together, I was pulled into this story so far that I'm not sure I breathed at times. Amazingly strong plot and characters. I can't recommend this enough to those who enjoy grittier m/m romantic suspense. My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Two of my favorite authors, Witt and Voinov. What could be better. Full of suspense, very intense but backed up a good love story.
The descriptions and tone of this novel are so vivid that you not only picture it all, but feel like you’re right there. The combination of police undercover work with familial obligations creates a breathtaking and solidly captivating novel that you won’t be able to put down. Religion, duty, and self-worth all make an appearance throughout. The authors meld suspense with mayhem while showing how romance can crop up at any time. They tell a tale that I found myself fully invested in. I always needed to know what would happen next and how it would end, but I never actually wanted the tale to end. The multifaceted character development throughout allows readers to really get to know the characters. These authors make sure you are introduced to them both inside and outside of their work place. Seeing the fine line that the main characters walk, morally, religiously, and ethically, draws you closer to them. I found myself rooting for them, and at the same time, wanting to get to know them better. The antagonists in this novel really highlight both the plight of the main characters as well as commenting on the current state of society, the tings many of us try to ignore. I’m normally not a fan of multi-author works, but these two work together so seamlessly that you can’t help but get caught up in the breathlessness of it all. This novel is definitely a must read for those who enjoy the genre. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
Ever since I read Dark Soul by Aleksandr Voinov I became enthralled by that author's clever crafting of the sexy antihero. In this latest collaboration with Ms. Witt we see many of the same elements which all combined make for yet another compelling read that keeps you on the edge of your seat amidst a sea of grey trying to determine who's on the side of good. This is a gritty world where danger is just a breath away which results in numerous frantic and sexually-charged interludes between the two lead characters, Ridley and Saeed/Mahir. Saeed/Mahir is left a bit bruised and disillusioned after his time in the military. Looking to do some real good he's sent deep undercover into an operation of drugs and prostitution that's already resulted in the deaths of other cops. To get to the heart of the organization he has to earn the trust of right-hand man Ridley which leads to one intense encounter after another. Though Ridley seems like a cold-hearted bastard Saeed sees something else when he looks at him which leads to a crisis of conscious as he starts sleeping with the enemy. As he gets closer to the truth the twists and turns become more erratic as enemies become friends and danger hits close to home. Through it all Saeed/Mahir has to balance his fake life with the emotional upheaval brought on by his nephew who's dealing with coming out in a very religious family. The authors incorporated all these facets beautifully, allowing them to intermingle in a very believable way that added to the story's pulse-pounding action. I admired Saeed/Mahir for doing what must be done to bring the bad guy to justice even when it goes against his beliefs. He's a lonely man comfortable in his skin who longs for more in life. He finally finds the one man who he can see being with forever in a most unexpected place, but their happiness may end before it begins as the bad guys come knocking with guns blazing as he gets closer to bringing down the bad guy. Ridley is a cold-hearted man whose eyes reveal only what he wants you to see. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty when ordered to do so, but occasionally another side slips through. He feels an immediate and sizzling connection to Saeed/Mahir and against his better judgement starts an intense sexual relationship that is at times reckless but increasingly emotional. This relationship leads to the truth about Ridley coming to light which changes his and Saeed/Mahir's future, complicating things and yet giving each of them unspoken support for their individual goals. I was immediately drawn to Ridley despite his scary exterior, maybe because of it truthfully. He exudes confidence and strength which made for a powerful aphrodisiac. The suspense in this book is cleverly crafted with multiple layers to keep you constantly on the edge of your seat. Danger abounds which kept me quickly turning the pages trying to keep up with my pounding heart and with worry for its likable characters who were constantly in jeopardy. The sexual interludes were HOT with off-the-charts intensity when it came to moments of power play that left me parched. This story sucked me in right from the start with its intense emotions, steamy romance, and compelling main couple and I'm once again shown why these authors are my favorites in the m/m genre.