New Delta Star field agent Bridget Jamison is obsessed with capturing Simon Perez, the elusive terrorist responsible for her ex-fiancé's death. When the Delta Star director hands the case over to Condor, a mesmerizing ghost agent who has the power to make her weak in the knees with one intense look, Bridget agrees to be Condor's partner so that she's not dropped from the case and her chance for justice.
Now they're on a mission to infiltrate a dangerous criminal organization and capture Perez. It's up to Condor to keep this beautiful, determined agent out of harm's way, and to keep their explosive passion contained long enough not to risk their cover...and their lives.
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Bound to Serve
A Dangerous Liaisons Novel
By Julie Castle, Stephen Morgan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Julie Castle
All rights reserved.
Bridget Jamison's heart raced as she ran from the computer lab to Bran Frost's office inside Delta Star headquarters. Maybe this would be the end of her quest. Increased agency chatter said that international terrorist Simon Perez was on the move. All her instincts as a new field agent told her something was going to break soon, and, for her ex-fiancé's sake, she hungered to be in on the kill. Even though in the end he'd been a lying, cheating bastard, she owed him that much after getting him killed.
She skidded to a halt in the director's anteroom and breathlessly waited for Thelma, his personal assistant, to buzz her in. She gave herself a once over and —
She'd been too busy demonstrating the prototype of her new 3-D system to notice how messy she was getting. Hastily, she smoothed her damp palms over her drab, shapeless but wrinkled business suit, so she wouldn't be reprimanded for wasting time in the lab. Why couldn't the director see that the agency would be stronger, smarter, and more effective if the departments combined talents?
She looked down at her boxy suit and sighed. She purposely chose clothing that concealed her too curvy figure, not wanting her sexuality to detract from anyone's perception of her efficiency. Not that anyone was asking. Lately, her love life was as out of reach as Perez. Sometimes almost close enough to touch, but never actually in hand.
At any rate, cocky, immature agents who thought they were God's gift to women pissed her off. James may have cheated on her, but at least he hadn't acted like he was the hottest thing in pants. His modesty had all been an act of course, but she hadn't learned that until she'd lost him in a bombing. She wouldn't make the mistake of risking her heart, much less her career, again.
It helped that she'd become a workaholic and never met anyone outside Delta Star. Fraternization was frowned upon, if not downright banned in the secret government agency, and she liked it that way. It kept her from getting her heart broken. It also kept her sexless, but her previous lovers, even her ex, had let her know she wasn't missing much. Her body hungered for what it had never known, but that need heightened her senses, made her sharper, and helped her play secret agent when she sometimes felt like a fraud, a nerd in an agent's clothing.
She realized Thelma was looking at her and frowning, her gaze cautious. No friendly chitchat this morning. Did Thelma know something about what was waiting for Bridget inside that room? Had the director called her up here with bad news?
Shit ... I really am screwed.
"He's waiting," Thelma said, then pressed one of the buttons on her desk. The director's door swung silently open on well-oiled hinges.
Bridget swallowed the lump in her throat and walked inside, her head held high, to take her medicine.
Director Frost, seated on his throne-like leather desk chair behind his huge antique mahogany desk, motioned her toward a chair as he talked on the phone. She sank into the chair and listened to Frost's crisp, icy tone as he berated some agent who had fouled up. The director's chilly last name fit him to a tee. His prematurely white hair belonged on an older man, but it somehow fit him and, coupled with his ice-blue eyes, gave him an air of authority.
She sat up straighter and tensed at the edgy vibes he was giving off. But there was something else setting off her internal early warning system. The nerd in her stayed cool, while the brand spanking new field agent part of her went on red alert. She was being watched, scrutinized by more than the standard security devices. There were eyes on her. She could feel it —
All her nerve endings tingling, she turned around ... and froze when she saw who was waiting inside Frost's inner chamber. The director had left the door to his war room open, maybe on purpose, and a certain ghost agent sat inside, tucked deep enough back that he'd been out of her sight line when she'd entered the room. Her gaze collided with a hostile dark one, and all her carefully suppressed hormones went haywire.
His code name beat like a drum in her mind as her eyes locked with the disreputable ghost agent's compelling brown ones. Lounged in an armchair in the corner, he watched her closely, visually tracking her like the legendary predator he was.
Stories abounded about the cold as ice agent. Nothing touched him. Certainly no woman on staff, even though plenty had tried. Hell, after the disaster with James, she'd kind of tried to follow his non-fraternization example. His thick dark hair curled over the collar of his black leather motorcycle jacket, and his square jaw was covered with stubble. He looked like he'd just come off the road. And to be honest, he probably had. Ghosts didn't put down roots. Ever.
What was it like to be with a man like that? Just for one night. Hell, for one hour. He'd take what he wanted and then he'd leave her, and she wouldn't be hurt, because that was his nature. No commitments. No expectations. No attachments.
Her gaze swept up his long, powerful legs and stopped at the distinct bulge at his crotch —
Never gonna happen, Bridget.
Blushing, she tore her gaze off his impressive package in time to see his hunky mouth kick into a slow grin that said, Who's your daddy? His hot chocolate-brown eyes seemed to strip bare her defenses. She felt more naked than if she were actually nude. A little sample of why he was so freaking good at his job.
Her whole body sizzled in response. Not for you, honey, the rational part of her mind screamed. Get a grip. He's not even remotely on your menu. The few times they'd crossed paths, she'd had the same fierce primal reaction, but she hadn't been stupid enough to get this close, within striking distance. Dino the sexy dinosaur. The girls in the computer lab had conferred that title on him because he was woefully old school and extremely doable — even if he kept himself off-limits.
And now? The way he was looking at her? She knew his type. He was used to being in charge. Getting what he wanted. If he thought he was going to subdue her with a look, he had another thing coming.
She scowled back at him, and her lips tingled when she stared at his sensual mouth. The corners of his mouth curled into a slow smile. So he liked her refusing to bend to him. But she could see it in his eyes. For him, her refusal was a challenge.
Which reminded her how strange it was for him to be here in the first place.
Something was very wrong. Frost didn't have visitors in his office unless it was business-related. Condor swooped in when other agents failed. It all added up to one career-shattering explanation: they were kicking her back to IT for insubordination.
Damn it all, she hadn't failed on the last case. Only used her better judgment. And despite her team leader reprimanding her for disobeying his orders, utilizing her latest app had been what made the bust successful. And without any bloodshed. Frost wouldn't take away her case for that, would he? Not this one. Not when she was so close to catching her ex's killer. She bit her lip. Frost did run a tight ship.
Shit, the only case still open on her desk was James's case — the Perez case. It'd been open for three years. But if he was taking her off the case, why not tell her in private? Why bring in Condor now?
Her spine went rigid at the very idea. No damned way would she give it up! She was too close to closure to kiss it good-bye. And she so badly needed to bring down the terrorist responsible for the carnage. She'd never let go of her guilt for pushing her ex away and into the situation that had led to his death. But if she could catch his killer? Then that might start to make up for what she'd done.
Assuming she could get past Frost and Condor.
* * *
Ross Longtree, code named Condor, leaned back in his chair. A flash of heat hit him hard as he watched the feisty, buttoned-up redhead react to his presence. Oh, yeah, her reputation as a ballbuster was true. He could read it in her defiant green eyes. He shifted in his chair, uncomfortable and annoyed with the way she made him feel. She shouldn't be able to make him feel anything at all.
You're ice, damn it, fucking act like it.
He was very good at keeping people at arm's length. It was what kept him safe, and more, what made him the lone wolf able to protect people from the shadows. But his skills seemed to vanish when he looked at her — and she looked right back. The godawful suit she wore did nothing to hide the curves underneath. And that fire in her eyes. Most women crumbled beneath his touch, eager to be dominated and consumed. But Bridget? If she wanted him to subdue her, she'd make him fight for it. The thought set every nerve in his body on fire.
She's not for you, stupid, and you sure as hell don't deserve her.
His hand closed over the antique gold band in his pocket anyway, and he fingered the emblem of his dominance.
Frost wanted to take Bridget off this case, but what if Condor put his slave bracelet on her? Claimed her, carried her off, and took her on this mission as his submissive? Just the thought was enough to jump-start him into a too-stupid-to-survive-this-mission hard-on. The discomfort brought him back to earth fast. Sex was always simulated on missions — especially his missions — for a reason. He wasn't about to get fooled by Mission Magic, a term he'd coined when a good friend died all because he and his partner got distracted. Hell, he lectured new agents on the subject, and there was no way he would be stupid enough to fall for it himself.
No, delightful as the thought of taming her was, keeping her was not an option. Besides, a buttoned up kitten like her would probably freak before he taught her how to let down her hair and purr. He would be going after Simon Perez all right, but with a junior agent of Frost's choosing, playing his submissive. A sweet and obedient window dressing that would allow him to get on with the job and nail the son of a bitch.
Anyway, he had already studied the Perez file as well as Bridget's personal one. After that, he'd hacked deep into confidential records to find out everything about her. If he was going to go along with her removal from such a personal case, he wanted to know who she was.
He knew all about her special link to the case — her secret engagement to reckless young agent James Clayton. And he'd discovered that her old man was the former director. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, that connection gave her an advantage in the agency. After the disaster that had ended with her boyfriend vaporized, strings had been pulled. She'd been suspended when she'd defended her ex at the top of her lungs, and her father had put out the story that she'd been fired to keep her off Perez's radar. Thank god for that or the bogeys that had taken out Clayton might have made a move on her.
Six months later, she was reinstated under an alias and allowed to transfer to the field agent ranks. A fact that had been hidden from everyone but a few, and even Condor only knew because he hacked into the confidential records. Brilliant but headstrong, Agent Bridget Jamison rapidly climbed the ranks after she made the move from computer analyst to field agent. She had some bumps along the road — more thanks to how willful she was. But she earned her place in the field, and now she was about to get her pet case ripped out of her hands.
She sure as hell wouldn't take this lying down.
He was always called in to do the dirty work. It was one reason he was a pariah at Delta Star. Agents tended to be territorial; they also didn't like admitting that they fucked up. Ordinarily, he didn't care how they felt about him, but something about the woman — now openly glaring at him — brought out his protective instincts.
Frost brought me here for this?
He would do his job, but he suddenly wished he was back on vacation, finishing the roof on his newest project, The Seadrift Inn. He only hoped a hurricane wouldn't hit the Keys in the meantime.
The fierce glare in Bridget's eyes let him know what kind of fight this would be. Good. If he had to take this from her, he wanted her to fight. Let her show him — let her show Frost — what this means to her. Let her turn that fire on Condor.
The corners of her lips turned down, and her nostrils flared. Yeah, she knew why she was here. And she knew why Condor was here. Or at least suspected it.
He was dimly aware of Frost hanging up the phone. The director's speculative, icy gaze lingered on the two of them. The man was a born manipulator, but every man had his tell. Frost's eyebrows raised ever so slightly as he looked at Condor and Bridget.
Holy shit, Frost was getting a kick out of them squaring off. The man had brought him here intending for this conflict to happen.
"Agent Jamison," Director Frost said. "You came here to do a job. Now do it."
* * *
Bridget tore her incensed gaze off Condor and spun to look at the director. His irritated tone told her he'd been trying to get her attention while she'd been glaring at Condor. Embarrassed to be caught staring, she felt her cheeks flame, but she held her head high. She took a calming breath, nodded serenely, and folded her damp hands in her lap. Condor's presence wouldn't distract her.
"Yes, sir," she said.
Frost eased back in his chair and played with one of his desk toys. He swung a small ball that smacked into another and started a never-ending lulling pendulum motion. "As I was saying, you're to be commended, Agent Jamison. Your tech squad has managed to ferret out a discernable pattern for Simon Perez."
Her stiff shoulders softened with relief while she listened to the mesmerizing click, click, click of the swaying balls. All her worrying about losing her case had been for nothing. She winced inside at how she'd glared at Condor, but she could apologize later.
"Thank you, sir. It's wonderful news." Lord, there was so much to do: put her team together, combine field and lab agents, work up a plan of attack. There'd be time to celebrate after she brought down Perez.
She even flashed Condor a friendly smile, which was met with his enigmatic gaze. He didn't have friends, at least not around here. She told herself again that ghosts didn't put down roots. That wasn't their function, and they certainly didn't smile back at junior agents. Well, you couldn't win them all.
Filled with new purpose, she turned back to Frost. "Give me his location, sir, and I'll put together my team."
The director's puckered brow, coupled with the stiff set of his broad shoulders, broke through her elation. He was cutting her. She read it in his unyielding gaze, and her heart sank all over again.
Frost eyed her closely and reached out to stop the swinging toy. "I'm reassigning this to Condor and Agent Harrison. You can fill him in before he goes."
The breath left her lungs on a gasp and made her a little light-headed. Her reassignment was the reason for Condor's infuriating presence after all.
She slanted a glare his way and watched his hard mouth kick up in a half smile.
Now he smiles. Great!
The bastard had expected her hostile reaction, and he was getting off on it. No, she cried inside, incensed, and struggling not to show it.
An outburst would only harden Frost's resolve. She'd learned that from bitter past experience. No, if she wanted any chance of holding on to this case, she would need to treat this room as if it was a field assignment. Remain cool. Exploit her enemy's weaknesses.
Because Condor couldn't be allowed to steal her case, and Jennifer Harrison, a junior agent — a fluffy, Playboy Bunny wannabe — couldn't either. Whether Frost was doing this as a reprimand or because he really thought she couldn't handle going after Perez, Bridget didn't know, but she was damned well going to find out.
She turned back to Frost, her mind made up. "It's my beat. I stayed on this when everyone else thought he'd gotten away. I built the intel that put him in our sights now. Why are you doing this, sir?"
He arched an imperious brow. "Agent Jamison, I don't have to answer your impertinent question. But I will just this once," he said, adding gently, "given your deep personal attachment to this case."
Deep personal attachment! Oh, shit. She tensed at the words and his sympathetic tone. This was worse than she'd realized. How did the Director know about James? They'd kept their affair, as well as its demise, a secret from everyone in the agency by pretending to be just good friends. Of course, the fact that she'd gone off the deep end after he'd been killed was no secret. Her father's insistence that she transfer to the field agent ranks under an alias could be viewed as suspicious. It was on that basis that she'd pressed for more involvement in the case. But all anyone could have had — all anyone should have had — was at most the suspicion that there'd been more between her and James.
Excerpted from Bound to Serve by Julie Castle, Stephen Morgan. Copyright © 2016 Julie Castle. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is my first read in the Seven Year Itch Series and I am glad that I got a chance to read this one. I think that I had a different story line in mind for a seven year itch, but am so glad that it wasn't what I thought. This one was much better than what I thought it was going to be. Macy is a young woman that is working for a law firm and has just ended things with her husband of seven years. Things were just not working out for them and Macy decided to call it quits. All the while Macy has been working for Bennington Winthrop, he has had a crush on Macy but she was a one woman man and never acted on any of his advancements. When Ben finds out that Macy is free, he knows that he has to do everything in his power to make her see what she means to him. Macy has had fantasies about Ben for awhile and that is part of what made her realize that she was just content with her marriage and decided it was time for a change. When Macy and Ben make plans to see each other, Ben tends to push Macy's limits the first couple of times and then he sees how much she begins to effect him. Ben has not been very serious at all about women and usually has a ton lined up that don't worry about who else he is with. Macy is not sure how much of that kind of relationship she can stand or participate in. Ben slowly begins to see how much Macy means to him and how his feelings for her are a little different than his feelings for other women. He wants to show Macy that she can let go and let someone love her and take care of her for a change, but Macy is hesitant after she just got out of the marriage with her ex. Macy and Ben have chemistry from the very beginning and the romance between them is hot, so don't read this one in a public place or you might be turning red!! I think Jennifer Foor did a very good job with this one, especially since Macy was coming off of being in a marriage for seven years. Great quick read that you won't want to put down.
This definitely wasn't what I expected but that certainly doesn't mean I didn't find it an intriguing read. Packed with spy/thriller action is what I'd anticipated. What I hadn't anticipated is that most of the mission takes place on a specialist island holiday resort - one which caters for guests who wish to participate in BDSM type sexual activities, one where the partners/sex slaves are meant to go around naked all the time. Now I admit that had I read that in the synopsis I wouldn't have requested the book in the first place but I have to say I'd have missed out on a well written suspense with plenty of criminal action as well as steamy encounters. It is also laugh out loud funny at times as the leading lady, Bridget Jamison, is definitely not used to acting as a submissive and really finds it difficult to maintain the role. She gets into all sorts of bother because of this, especially with the 'manageress' of the resort and one particular male holiday maker! So, be prepared for very hot, Dom/Sub steamy encounters as part of an enthralling secret service, action packed, suspense and romance! Just to show how good it must be, I actually want to know what happens in the rest of the series asap please! Many thanks to Entangled for gifting me an ARC of this via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review and here it is: 4 stars. Bound to Serve is the very promising first book in a new romantic suspense series by what appears to be this author's first novel, and as first novels go, she's certainly off to a good start. For those expecting a typical romantic suspense novel, boy, are you in for a surprise. Bridget Jamison, was recently promoted to field agent at Delta Star, a black ops agency. Six years earlier, her fiance and fellow agent, James, was killed during an op that went bad and Bridget has been blaming herself for his death ever since. She's soon to be paired with Condor (Ross Longtree), also known at the agency as The Ghost, and sent on an assignment to catch the man who killed her fiance, Simon Perez, an international criminal who has been eluding capture for far too long. Intelligence reports indicate that Perez frequents an exclusive resort, and Bridget and Condor are to infiltrate the resort as a couple, but there's a catch. This is no ordinary resort--this is a BDSM resort for the rich, powerful and sexually kinky. Condor almost always works alone, he's into kink and will have no problem acting as a Dom, but Bridget hasn't a clue. She's a well-trained, spunky agent, and doesn't like taking orders, and so Condor has to train her to believably act as his submissive. This is not an easy task, since Bridget is out to prove herself a valuable asset to the agency, exact revenge for her finance's death, and she's no shrinking violet. Delta Star prohibits relationships between its agents, and the sex between agents on an op is all supposed to be simulated, or so Bridget thinks. This is the point at which I need to advise you that this novel is definitely written for the age 18+ reader. The sex between these two is definitely not simulated, and turn up your air conditioning, because as the story plays out in the hunt for Perez, the relationship between Bridget and Condor takes off like a five-alarm fire. Ms. Castle has written a sizzling hot, fast-paced and suspense-filled thriller of a romance novel, with interesting and well-portrayed characters. I especially liked the touches of humor and sass from Bridget and her inability to follow orders. If I had to choose one thing I'd change about this novel, it's that I would have liked a little more backstory on Condor, who was certainly sexy as all get-out and a very intriguing character. All in all, this is one impressive debut novel, and I'm eager to read the next novels in this series.
Bound to Serve is a story with an interesting plot - Condor, a ghost agent is tasked to bring down the bad guy Perez, by infiltrating his BDSM resort. As such, he needs a 'slave' to go with him, and Bridget convinces her boss to let her be the one, because Perez is responsible for the death of her ex. (They'd broken up because he'd cheated on her, but she still feels responsible for his death). The story blends action with some super sexy scenes as Condor and Bridget track the killer. Bridget fails miserably at being a slave to her 'master' - she's far too opinionated and defiant, but can't deny that pretending with him does turn her on. Having read several BDSM books, I found this one to be fairly stereotypical, lots of spanking scenes and other light bondage, but not always following the 'rules' of real BDSM relationships. (Perhaps it suffers from a bit of 50 Shades- itis?) It's an insta-love story too, both Condor and Bridget admitting they love each other while barely having spent any time together. There are some good twists and turns to the story though, and the action scenes are okay. Its got a happy for now ending, and gives the impression that there is more to tell in their story. Overall, an okay read with a sometimes eyebrow raising plot. 3 stars.
Ross Longtree, code name Condor. He’s Delta Star’s cleanup man, the one who succeeds at the spying jobs when others fail, when there’s trouble, the Iceman cometh. Delta Star is a secret government agency, and Bridget Jamison was recently promoted from computer analyst to field agent. Her fiancé, James Clayton, another agent was killed on the job, and Bridget holds herself responsible. Nobody knew they were having an affair, and even though he cheated on her, she needs to find the man who was responsible for James’ death: Simon Perez, an international terrorist. Bridget has been working the Perez case for three years, she thinks she might have located him, when she is called in the agency director’s office. She will have to work with Condor if she is to remain on the Perez case. She doesn’t want to share, but it’s that or she’s taken off the case. Bridget and Condor had crossed each other’s path briefly along the years, they’re both attracted to each other, but relationships are forbidden at the agency, so neither did anything about it. Bridget is a very assertive woman, Condor is a Dom, which will not be easy to deal with as they are to infiltrate Perez’s island compound as a Dom and his submissive. BOUND TO SERVE starts off really well, I loved the covert atmosphere, however the blurb never mentioned that this was a BDSM romantic suspense; had I known it was BDSM, I would not have opted to read it, as erotica and BDSM are pretty much coming out of my ears these days and I rather dislike so-called alphas, them being all too commonplace as well. Nevertheless, BOUND TO SERVE is a fast-paced read, well-written, the BDSM and suspense elements are dealt with competently, I was however extremely pleasantly surprised at the romance itself. I loved that Ms. Castle’s characters remained true to themselves throughout, the dynamics never changed: Bridget is definitely not a submissive-type of woman, Condor is absolutely a dominant male, and yet both are open-minded faced with the inevitable, that their attraction is real. I really enjoyed their relationship; obviously there were personality conflicts to begin with, but they were dealt with intelligently by the author. There were none of the issues I expected, and while I felt somewhat dejected at first that Condor was yet again another domineering male, he really grew on me; Bridget, I loved right from the start. The sex scenes are sizzling, respectful and at time, quite playful. So, if you like some spying games with your BDSM and a really nice romance, I do recommend BOUND TO SERVE. At least, you will know to expect BDSM! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.