View our feature on Virna DePaul’s Chosen by Blood.
Five years after the Second Civil War ends, humans and otherborn- humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA-still struggle for peace. To ensure the continued rights of both, the FBI forms a Para-Ops team with a unique set of skills.
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About the Author
Virna DePaul was an English major in college and—despite a passion for Shakespeare, Broadway musicals, and romance novels—somehow ended up with a law degree. For ten years she was a criminal prosecutor for the California Attorney General’s Office. Now, she’s thrilled to be writing stories about complex individuals (fully human or not) who are willing to overcome incredible odds for love.
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TWO YEARS LATER
Kyle Mahone, director of the FBI's Special Ops Tactical Division, quietly hung up his phone instead of slamming it down the way he wanted to. He'd expected Dex Hunt to be suspicious of the Bureau's job offer. What Other wouldn't be? The rest had certainly proceeded with caution, asking one question after another.
The werebeast, however, had done something the others hadn't.
He'd laughed his ass off.
Swiveling in his chair, Mahone looked out his window, clenching his fists until his knuckles were white. He'd gotten where he was by being smart, working hard, and maintaining his cool. But something about the werebeast's taunting had hit home.
Infuriating. Smart-assed. Cocky SOB. The epithets didn't come close to describing Hunt. Still, he was the best marksman in the nation, human or Other. He was also skilled in the martial art of Karakai, a combination of Karate and crazy-ass gymnastics the Others had come up with. That made Hunt lethal from a distance and in close quarters. Add the fact he could shift into something that would make Freddy Krueger look cuddly and Hunt would be invaluable to the success of Team Red, the FBI's first special ops team to recruit both humans and Others. In addition to Hunt, Mahone had already offered spots to a human, a human psychic, a mage, and last but not least, a wraith.
Wraith, as in ghost. The dearly departed.
A no-longer-living, d-e-a-d person who swore like a trucker, adored ABBA, wore four-inch stilettos, and unlike the other handful of wraiths that were known to exist, refused to take a real name. Instead, she'd sworn to answer only to "Wraith" until she discovered her true identity. Her surly attitude wasn't ideal, but she was a survivor to the extreme—incapable of being killed by any known methods. She also happened to be an expert in ammunitions and explosives.
Twenty years ago, Mahone would have checked himself into an insane asylum before admitting he believed in any of the Others, let alone a wraith. Now the future of the world seemed to rest in their hands.
Wearily, Mahone rubbed his hands over his face. According to the crazy dream he'd had two weeks ago, the fate of the world, or rather the fate of its inhabitants, actually rested more in his hands than anyone else's—on his ability to choose the right combination of six individuals, humans and Otherborn, to serve on a new type of special ops team—a Para-Ops team.
Talk about pressure.
If it had been up to him, a Para-Ops team would have been formed years before, as soon as the President and all the Otherborn leaders had signed the Humanity Treaty. Instead, the U.S. government had left things up to local law enforcement agencies, which, while usually well intentioned, were simply unable to deal with the lingering prejudice and suspicion that naturally followed half a decade of civil war. Another five years had passed since peace was declared, yet the nation and its citizens were still recovering. Some days, Mahone doubted they'd ever find peace again. For that to occur, he knew the United States people needed help—a team dedicated to ensuring the rights of humans and Others alike, both domestically and internationally.
The dream had obviously been a manifestation of his growing unease and frustration with the President's unwillingness to step up to the plate. But in the end, the dream had also given Mahone the cajones to force the President's hand. Either give him the green light to form the FBI's first Para-Ops team comprised of humans and Others, or accept Mahone's resignation.
Now he had no one to blame but himself if the team turned out to be a disaster. Unfortunately, the call with Hunt wasn't exactly promising and he still had one more offer to make—the position of team leader to a dharmire. And not just any dharmire, but Knox Devereaux, the son of a vampire Queen and an infamous French revolutionist human, Jacques Devereaux.
This morning, Mahone had e-mailed Knox, his message concise: Teleport to headquarters as soon as possible. Nora will buzz you in.
Knox's reply had been even more concise. Three. For Knox, that was code for, "I'll be there at three o'clock, you bastard, just long enough to make you squirm."
Mahone checked the clock. Less than an hour away. Which meant Mahone needed to focus. It would be foolish to face Knox while he was still distracted by crazy dreams or a smartass were. Once again, he replayed the conversation with Hunt, trying to determine the point that annoyance had shifted into more.
Yes, he'd laughed at Mahone's offer, but the werebeast's laughter had barely died down before he'd gone for Mahone's throat. "A team to help both humans and Others, huh? Tell me, Mahone, how many Others do you call friend? How many do you drink a beer with when you're watching a game?"
Mahone's answer had been in his silence, just as Hunt had obviously expected. Even so, he'd persisted, giving Hunt both the parameters of the team's purpose, as well as a brief description of its first mission. When he was done, Hunt hadn't been laughing, but he hadn't jumped to accept Mahone's invitation, either.
No, he'd said he'd think about it.
Mahone snorted and shook his head.
Think about it. As if they weren't discussing one of the most elite teams in the world. As if riding a motorcycle to nowhere and back was half as important as things like justice or survival, or hell, even revenge.
But it was all bullshit.
Hunt didn't just want revenge, he craved it. What Mahone had proposed would give it to him in spades, complete with a "get out of jail free" card.
The werebeast could think about it all he wanted; in the end, he'd accept just as the others would.
Feeling marginally more settled, Mahone flipped Hunt's file shut and secured it. He swiped his hands over his face. When a spark of memory hit him, however, he froze.
How many Others do you call friend?
The question, virtually identical to the one posed by Hunt, drifted through his mind in a decidedly more feminine voice. Mahone frowned as he connected the voice to his dream.
How many Others do you call friend? The question played over and over, until he finally managed to form an image of the creature that had asked it of him in the dream. A creature he instinctively cringed away from remembering.
But he couldn't help remembering it, either.
Closing his eyes, he recalled how, in his dream, he'd dozed off at his desk. The sky had been dark. The building deserted. Then he'd been blinded by a flash of light and the sudden appearance of a creature at the light's center. A creature he'd never seen before nor ever wanted to see again.
She had hair that was comprised of colors both familiar and unfamiliar, floating around her in undulating waves, each strand a living, breathing entity.
A face that, instead of eyes, a nose, and a mouth, had hollow, cavernous sockets, bottomless and dark, terrifying and hypnotic, yet so beautiful it had made his own life force try to push itself out of his body to get to her.
A body that, underneath her diaphanous, flowing gown was neither female nor male, but both and so much more than he could understand.
After that first shocked look, he'd turned away from her and that's when she'd asked him, "How many Others do you call friend?" When he'd answered, "None," too scared even to think of lying, she'd told him her intentions and lamented the failure of an ancient prophesy. She'd listened when he'd told her about his idea for Team Red. And then she'd told him to form the team, explaining in shocking detail what would happen if the team failed to serve its purpose. If Mahone failed to deliver what he promised.
When he'd asked her who she was—what she was—she'd merely said "a divinity." In other words, she was a goddess. And a pissed-off one at that.
Thank his God it had been a dream.
Mahone opened his eyes, disgusted at the feel of sweat trickling down his temple. With a shaky hand, he grabbed a glass of water and chugged it down. Then he heard a voice, no longer in his memory but as if the speaker was standing directly beside him.
It wasn't a dream, Mahone. Thanking your God won't make it so.
You have one year to prove the team can do what you said.
One year and not a second more.
Whirling around to scan his empty office, Mahone dropped his glass and the traces of water within it poured out, staining the remaining files on his desk.
He knew instantly he'd been kidding himself. He hadn't dreamed the creature's visit any more than he'd dreamed the War. Instead, the living nightmare that had become his life was merely intensifying.
Falling back in his chair, he stared blankly at the water pooled on his desk, then slowly cleaned up the mess, stacking his files with precision before straightening his tie and smoothing out his jacket.
Minutes later, two raps on his door made him jump and curse. He knew immediately who was standing outside. He took a deep breath. Then another. The last thing he wanted was more drama, but he simply called, "Enter."
Simultaneously, he prayed, hoping that even though it hadn't been his God who'd visited him two weeks ago, and even though he hadn't prayed to Him in a very long time, God was still there and willing to hear him.
Special Agent Felicia Locke knew the minute she saw the willowy dharmire that there was going to be trouble.
She'd chosen the bar because it was as far from Pennsylvania Avenue and the J. Edgar Hoover Building as one could get and still be in Washington, D.C. With its spray-painted façade, dim lights, and ramshackle assortment of tables and chairs, the Black Hole was also light-years away from what a typical federal agent would consider reputable, let alone palatable. In its favor was the fact it served the best brandy in the state, strong and undiluted. That and some privacy was all Felicia wanted. She'd just locked her car and was walking toward the bar's back entrance when a dharmire, who couldn't have been more than sixteen years old, stumbled around the corner of the building and into view.
Felicia immediately recognized the female as half-Other; although she had a vampire's silver hair and black eyes, her skin was sun-toasted, just a shade lighter than a graham cracker. She clung to the arm of a stocky man with no neck, squinty eyes, and slicked-back hair. The man pushed her against the side of the building and covered her slim body with his own.
Felicia's prediction of trouble formed not because the man was ugly, but because he was unkempt and, considering the foul things he was saying, obviously uncouth.
She'd never met a vamp who'd willingly suffer the company of someone so appallingly unrefined. It would be like asking one to wear jeans or, God forbid, drive a beat-up old truck down a public highway. As a rule, vamps didn't do casual or tacky.
Even so, she tried telling herself that maybe the girl just looked young. There was no accounting for poor taste, after all. But the closer she got, the more apparent it became that the dharmire was under the influence. Her silver pupils were dilated and glassy, and she appeared to cling to the man out of necessity rather than affection.
The man shifted to the side just as Felicia walked within ten feet of them. She saw the fine gold chain and pendant around the dharmire's neck—a smaller, more feminine version of the one Knox wore and an exact replica of the one Noella had worn all her life. The same pendant Felicia's best friend had been wearing on the day she'd died, a gaping hole in her chest where her heart had once been.
Felicia came to an abrupt stop and blinked her eyes several times to make sure she wasn't imagining it. But no, it was real and it was a real bitch of a sign. Noella had died exactly one year ago today and it couldn't be coincidence that, before Felicia even had a chance to get rip-roaring drunk while avoiding Knox at the same time, a female appeared who was from Noella's clan—Knox's clan—and in obvious need of help.
Thoughts of Knox assailed her. Had Kyle Mahone gotten in touch with him? She'd been fully briefed on the Bureau's plan to add a new team to the FBI's elite, super-SWAT group referred to as the HRT, Hope Restored Team. She knew that team was the crucial step toward stabilizing relations between humans and the Otherborn races they'd once fought. And despite her preference to stay as separated from Knox as possible, she knew he was the right choice to lead it. Most civilians craved peace now, but it was a constant, often bloody battle given the insurgents, humans and Others alike, that resisted.
On the other hand, Felicia thought, still staring at the man and the dharmire… There would always be individuals who just naturally preyed on those weaker than themselves.
Okay, okay. Message received.
No rest for the wicked.
Despite how shaken Mahone still felt, he didn't flinch when Special Agent Leonard Walker threw open his door and stalked into his office. Instead, he leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms over his chest, and waited calmly for the explosion.
He didn't have long to wait.
Even so, compared to an ethereal creature with the power to enter his mind and, oh yeah, the apparent ability to destroy the earth, Walker was hardly a threat.
The man planted himself in front of Mahone's desk, thrusting his face forward as if to compensate for his lack of height. "This is some kind of joke, right?"
It was obviously a hypothetical question. No sooner had Walker asked it than he thumped his fist on Mahone's desk.
"Ten years ago we were hunting these fuckers down, and now we're supposed to fight next to them?"
"Not too long ago," Mahone reminded him, "I wouldn't have been able to sit at the front of the bus with you, Walker. Now you answer to me. Times change."
Walker narrowed his eyes, making Mahone stiffen. Most of the time, Walker was an okay agent; what he excelled at was training exceptional ones. Walker had all the right moves, but only in theory. When it came to applying them in the field, where subtlety or quick thinking was required, Walker became set in his ways. He trained with all the special ops teams, but he wasn't going to train Team Red.
"Don't give me that ACLU, politically correct, we're-allequal bullshit, Mahone. Regardless of the color of our skin, you and me, we share the same DNA." Walker jerked his thumb toward the office window. "These—these freaks are—are…"
Mahone cocked a brow, amused at the blustery man's red-faced loss for words but equally pissed at his lack of restraint. He allowed a hint of steel to edge his voice. "Don't let the fact that we graduated the Academy together make you forget your rank, Walker. Stay civil. And shut my door. Now."
Licking his lips, Walker searched Mahone's face, then quietly shut the door.
"Freaks or not," Mahone said a moment later, "the Others we've selected are half-human and they have special skills that no amount of training can duplicate."
"Our men are the best—"
"No question about that. But being fully human means they have limitations. The Others aren't aliens that just landed on Earth a decade ago. They're citizens. They live among us openly now. Hell, some of their ancestors roamed Earth before we did." He laughed at the irony. "We just didn't know it."
" 'Cause they didn't want us to know. 'Cause they needed victims—"
"Victims like Manson's? Ng's? Dahmer's?" Mahone snorted. "Find me a species that hasn't been tainted by bad blood and I'll hand in my resignation right now."
"I'm not going to let you do this."
Mahone's brows lifted at the blatant threat in Walker's voice. Mouthy was one thing. Insubordinate something altogether different. "You might want to reconsider how you—" Mahone began, his voice low.
A commanding knock on the door interrupted him.
Walker spun around as Mahone got slowly to his feet.
Knox Devereaux was early.
Mahone couldn't say how he knew the half-vampire/half-human was standing outside. He just did. Mahone refused to attribute his racing pulse to fear, but it pissed him off anyway.
Mahone had known Knox for over ten years. The dharmire wasn't as overtly hostile as Hunt, but in some ways, his calm, formal mannerisms were twice as unsettling. Probably because anyone with an ounce of intuition could sense the passion boiling just beneath his controlled façade. Mahone had picked Devereaux to lead Team Red because his strategic skill, leadership ability, and calm under pressure couldn't be beat. Yet he knew there was so much more to the vamp. Mahone had seen for himself how dangerous the dharmire could be when his control gave way to blood lust, or straight-out lust—always for one particular woman.
Several more knocks shook the door.
Mahone's gaze found Walker's. "Team Red's a done deal," he snapped, hoping the decision wouldn't turn out to be the biggest mistake of his life. "And if you threaten me again, you'll wonder if we share the same DNA, after all." In a louder voice, he called, "Enter."
The door opened and Knox Devereaux stepped inside. He was, as always, impeccably dressed. Tall and grim-faced, his dark pants, expensive black duster jacket, and polished boots made him look like a GQ outlaw.
Yes, indeed, Mahone thought. The times had changed.
The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness no longer applied just to humans.
Wraiths had the right to vote. A court had just ruled that a mage's right to practice magic was akin to one's right to worship. And vamps, both full vampires and dharmires alike, couldn't be denied health coverage based on "malnourishment" being a preexisting condition.
The Others were demanding their due and making their presence known.
Soon, they'd be protecting some of the same individuals they'd fought just years before.
God bless the U.S. of A.
And just to be safe, the Goddess Essenia bless them all.
He'd done his best. By assembling Team Red, he'd either save the world or damn it. If Team Red failed, they wouldn't know the full ramifications of doing so.
Mahone, on the other hand, would take the knowledge straight to Hell.
Maybe, just maybe, Knox Devereaux could help make sure that didn't happen.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book needed a better editor. There were quite a few typos, and grammar errors. Mostly it needed someone to find a way to fix the confusing beginning. The whole book was set up poorly. Actually I think the story would have been better without the already established, overly complicated lead relationship. The book opens up two years prior to the story's main timeline and thrusts the readers into the middle of Knox's, his wife's, and Felicia's weird relationship. I found this disorienting because the threesome has a long history better suited for a book of it's own, and while I get that DePaul is trying to set up the love interest we aren't getting much of anything about the actual book. It comes off messy and forced. It would have been better to scrap the whole thing and change the relationship structure or at least not make it so rigid. Another problem with the story is how unlikeable Knox is. It seems like DePaul took her vampire straight out of a carpathian novel by Feehan, but the writing was way more crass. Throughout the book he was mostly concerned with only what he wanted completely disregarding Felicia's wishes. There was no building of a romantic relationship. No getting to know one another. No foundation for their professed feelings. It was nothing but lust in the guise of love. Most of all I am surprised that Chosen by Blood was so graphic. I'm no prude but most writer's try to find interesting ways to describe sexual content. Not DePaul, she was not creative at all in her descriptions. She was so glaringly blunt and to the point with her writing, that it just didn't fit well, like a puzzle piece jabbed into the wrong slot. And there was a lot of naughty scenes. It seemed like there was something steamy going down in every chapter. This book could be re-shelved in the erotica section instead of paranormal romance. Normally I like this kind of thing but I just don't think it was done very well. I think the Para-Ops concept is a great and an original idea, but I think the book didn't focus on that idea enough. The supporting characters were awesome and under utilized. DePaul had an interesting take on the undead, mages, and half borns. Plus her world building is lacking. She spent way too much time creating a vampire society that came off aloof and pretentious. Along with an overly complicated one dimensional relationship and then used sex to cover up her short comings. Chosen by Blood could have been a killer book with the potential for an equally amazing series. But DePaul is stalled by the tired and stale romantic standards of barbaric bloodsucker stereotypes. Choosing to highlight her stories weaknesses instead of developing it's strengths and originality. I think she could benefit by focusing on the missions, moving her minor characters into equally major roles, and putting as much effort into her post-apocalyptic world building as her sexual content.
5 years after the Civil War between humans and Otherborns, the FBI is scrambling to find the antidote for a vaccine that has resulted in the decline and death of the Vampire population. A team is put together - consisting of a mage, wraith, were, vamp, psychic, and a human - whose sole purpose is to find this antidote and bring it back to the U.S. The hero, Knox Deveraux, is the leader of his clan and the new FBI Para-Ops team, and the heroine, Felicia Locke, is an FBI agent and the "human" on the team. They've been in love for years, but due to circumstances beyond their control, and Knox's intense sense of responsibility for his clan, they have never acted on their feelings. Now they have to work together, facing danger and possible death, and the question is - will they finally turn to each other or will they let circumstances continue to keep them apart? Chosen by Blood is a fabulous debut novel by author Virna DePaul. It was one of those books that, once I started reading, I couldn't put it down until I'd finished it. It has all the elements of a fast-paced political thriller, with the added bonus of a very sexy paranormal romance. Ms. DePaul's obvious intelligence shines through in her writing, and everything flows in what seems to be an effortless way. Witty dialog, strong secondary characters, a well-built "world", incredibly sexy love scenes - you'll find all this and more in Chosen By Blood. The pacing is consistent and the story believable. Suspense, sexual tension, a no nonsense attitude in both the hero and heroine - this book is for the keeper shelf. I'm seriously looking forward to the next book in the series.
My Review: This book was seriously fabulous with an incredible group of characters. Humans and otherborn are still trying to figure out how to live in this world together after the otherborn have been outed and the resulting civil war has ended. As a result, the US government is developing a new Para-Ops team made up of 6 people. 1. At the lead is Knox Devereaux who is half vampire. The vampires are dying so he has a huge stake in this first mission for a vampire antidote. He has recognized Felicia as his soulmate for years, but she has never accepted that...mainly because she is married to one of her best friends and she would never be anything more than a mistress, although his wife has given them her blessing for such a union. 2. Caleb O'Flare is the team doc...he's a Shaman. He has the ability to heal and also has visions. He has the ability to read other people really well and tends to have insight into most the team members mentalities and issues. 3. Dex Hunt is a half werebeast. He comes off as a cocky, jerk who doesn't care for anyone, but that's really all an act. 4. Felicia Locke is the human FBI agent. She's in love with Knox, but refuses to act on it, because she knows that she will never win in a competition for Knox's loyalty between her and the vampire clan. 5. Wraith is a wraith. She has been dead for 10 years, and like all wraiths, she has no recollection of her life before she died. She feels pain whenever anyone touches her, so she lives a very solitary life and has built up barriers around her as a result. She is in-your-face brash and harsh and makes no apologies for that. 6. Lucy is a Mage. She's the quietest of the group, although she has the power to enchant people and hold them with her magic. Everything about this story was highly entertaining. I loved the mix of characters and how they all interact as they are learning to work together. None of them are necessarily easy to get along with, but they do manage to grow as a team and that absolutely was the best part of this book...watching this team to develop as a team. I also really enjoyed the romance between Felicia and Knox. There is a lot of history between them. Although they have never crossed that romantic line, it is always there between them anytime that they are together. It's an immediate reaction to each other and there is no ignoring it. There is a lot going on in the background of this story... The vampires' urgent need for a vaccine; The politics within the vampire realm and within the government; The team learning to trust and count on each other. There is a ton of action, suspense, underlying emotions, and romance. If the story had just relied upon the romance, I don't think that I would have liked it as much, but the whole team dynamic of the Para-Ops team made this book for me. It was just a really fabulous read!! I cannot wait to read the second book with Wraith and O'Flare's romance...the chemistry was sizzling between the two of them in this book!
FBI Para-Ops Special Agent Felicia Locke and hybrid dhampire Otherworld clan leader Knox Devereaux are attracted to each other. However, though they know they should be bonded mates, they have no future together. His species is in peril of extinction due to the stealing of an anti-vamp vaccine antidote that would enable the vamps to eat human blood as before, and besides he must wed a vampire to promulgate the species. She refuses to settle on being his mistress. Knox struggles between saving his clan and his heart. As they, accompanied by four Otherworld agents, try to retrieve the stolen antidote that would keep his species from starving to death, he tries to persuade Felicia to become his lover. Felicia struggles between her desire and her heart as just saying no is so difficult. From the opening gala at the Vamp Dome in Portland, Oregon romantic urban fantasy readers will feel the heat is on between the lead pair and that torridness never abates while the sextet is on their mission, bickering all the way. Fast-paced with terrific twists as betrayal is the prime norm. Although the ending leaves too many issues dangling for future visits to the DePaul world, readers will relish the adventures of the sensational six struggles to save a species bickering all the way. Harriet Klausner
Well written. I found it hard to put this book down to give it a rest. I know there are a lot of vamp and shape shifter books out there and sometimes I get bored. I loved the storyline and colorful characters. I am definitely going to read the sequuel to this book. Thought the author spun an imaginative and exciting story. Worth a read!
This is a great start to a new series. I love the worlds where the human and paranormal beings or in this book the Otherborn live amongst each other knowingly. Humans living among the Otherborn adds another tension to the book that allows for plenty of conflict from multiple places and just good reading material. I enjoyed all the characters. I am looking forward to the future book in this series. I loved the concept of the FBI putting together the Para-Ops team consisting of various Otherborn beings and humans for the better good of the world. The combination of all of these elements allows for action, fighting, conspiracy, and turmoil on many fronts. Once you take into consideration that there are sexy vamps, weres and humans about to add to the romance of the book this is an all-around great book. Felicia and Knox have a very complicated history. Vampires and humans have very different beliefs and live very different lives, this just adds to the tension and conflict between these two characters. The readers know from the beginning of the book that they are very much in love with each other, although some of the why’s is left unanswered. (That brought down the rating a little for me) For them to be together happily they will both have to sacrifice some of their beliefs and personal wants. Once Felicia finally caves to her and Knox’s desire for one another they heat up the pages. Between the steamy sex and the action and fighting the pages move rather quickly from one to the next. I was left with a couple of unanswered questions. I am going to believe that they will be answered in the following books, as this is an ongoing series. The ending did feel just a tiny bit rushed to me. Some of the who are involved pieces seemed a little predictable. Although at the end the readers are given a glimpse of the big evil, the Quorum and some of what their motives are. The readers are also given the knowledge that someone who is close to our main characters is involved with the Quorum. I do hope he is trying to learn more about them and not a part of them. I, along with everyone else will have to wait for the next book to find out the details.
What's not to love? Packed with government conspiracies and romance this book opens the series very well.
I liked the mix of romance with the action. There was a lot of action considering they are a special ops team made of "Others". You have a Mage (Lucy), werebeast (Hunt), Wraith, dharmire (Knox), a human with psychic abilities (O'Flare), and Felicia who is just a FBI agent. They didn't all get along and there is sexual tension buzzing all over the place which of course made for good reading. I liked all the team members and how much they played a role in the first book. The author did such a great job developing the secondary characters that I actually fell in love with Wraith and O'Flare. I liked them even more than the main characters. The chemistry that the two of them have and their personalities really drew me in. So I was extremely happy to see that the next installment in the story is Wraith's and O'Flair's. The story line kept at a constant pace and there really wasn't a lot of down time in the book. Between the team working out their differences to come together as a team and actually pulling off missions, the only real downtime was when the romance part comes into play. And ironically for me, I geared more to the team building than I did the romance and I am a huge romance fan.