The last thing Krista Curry expected to find in a soccer stadium was a time bomb. When she alerts explosives expert Cash Dixon, she becomes a local hero. But the attention could expose her real nameand the infamous past she fought to escape. Cash promises Krista protection from the bomber's retaliation. Yet she hesitates to trust him as she sees his suspicion about her grow with every question she dodges. She can't expect Cash to continue to safeguard her unless she tells him the truth. Now Cash must decide if she's an innocent woman or guilty accomplice. But the clock is ticking downand the real bomber is still on the loose
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The word hung in the soggy air.
Krista Curry could feel it. Taste it. Smell it.
She hunched forward, hiding her face and holding her breath, waiting for someone in the crowd to recognize her. To shout out the horrific title she'd been branded with after her husband, Toby, was murdered four years ago.
She shifted on the hard stadium chair. Risked a quick glance around Providence Park's open-air stadium. Rain flooded from dusky skies, the seats glistening, the players soaked as they slogged over a field shadowed with whis-pery swatches of fog.
"Watch the net." Her grandfather's shout mingled with the crowd's cheers for the Portland Timbers. His cheeks were rosy from the cold, the pure joy of the sport widening his smile that was often marred from battling cancer.
Krista's heart creased with concern for him. She didn't know if he'd beat stage three cancer or how many more joyful days he'd have. She'd do anything for him. Including risking recognition and someone calling her out in public so he could attend the soccer match.
Oh, Opa. Her precious Opa.
She loved everything about him, including his insistence that she use the informal German name for grandfather. He was the one man she could count on. The man who'd helped her survive the loss of her mother. Who'd stood by her when her father had gone to prison for murder. Who'd believed in her when she'd been accused of killing Toby.
She couldn't lose him to cancer. She just couldn't.
"Did you see that save, Liebchen?" he asked excitedly, using his pet name that meant sweetheart. He placed a hand on her knee. She jumped, immediately regretting her startled response when concern wiped away his joy.
He eyed her for a long, uncomfortable moment. "What is going on in that mind that has you wound as tight as a spring?"
"Nothing that's worth taking you away from your game."
He watched her for another second before turning back to the match. The Timbers scored a goal. He whooped loudly. He suddenly clutched his neck and coughed, cleared his throat and coughed harder. He gasped for air, his chest heaving with the effort.
She grabbed his water only to discover she'd kicked the cup over. She swirled the container, grateful to find a small amount of liquid still in the bottom. He quickly gulped it down, then cleared his throat hard.
"Better?" she asked.
He sighed out a long breath. "Better."
She took the cup. "If I go fill this, will you be okay by yourself?"
"I am not one of the preschoolers in your class, you know." His feisty attitude returned, along with his fierce sense of independence. The same independence she'd fought since she'd come back to Portland weeks ago to care for him. The chemo treatments left him more helpless than he'd admit, and he continued to make decisions that weren't always in his best interest. Coming to the match was a perfect example. Now he needed water to stay hydrated and silence his cough.
"I'll be right back." She slipped around his feet and avoided making eye contact with anyone. She put one foot in front of the other on the slick concrete. Down the stairs.
Quickly toward the Mezzanine Terrace. Praying for anonymity.
Feeling eyes on her, she raised her head. Inch by inch, she scanned the area ahead. A uniformed deputy leaned against the railing, his focus on her.
No. Oh, no. Did he recognize her? Did he know about Toby's murderabout the accusations? That even though the police had never brought formal charges, she hadn't been fully cleared?
Or maybe he'd simply noticed her jumpy behavior and suspected she was up to something. The last thing she needed or wanted was for a cop to start questioning her.
He caught her studying him and smiled. A sizzling, I'mall-that kind of smile. A clear look of interest burned in his eyes. He didn't know who she was. This was a simple case of a man interested in a woman. In her. It was there in his eyes. There in his body turned toward her. Anticipation saturated his expression and he didn't try to hide it. Her heart gave a kick. Warning bells followed, telling her to look away, but she couldn't manage it.
She suddenly realized she was staring and dropped her gaze to the walkway to take the last few steps without falling.
She heard him chuckle before he said, "Evening, ma'am."
His lazy, Southern drawl took her by surprise, bringing her eyes back up. She caught a quick look at his name tagDeputy Cash Dixonbefore the heat of a blush crept up her face.
"You look a bit flustered," he went on. "Anything I can help you with?"
Ugh! He knew why she was flustered. He was teasing her.
She held up the empty cup and stepped past him. Another chuckle followed her into the concourse, but she tuned him out and retrieved the water. On the return trip, she felt his focus on her again but refused to let him bait her into looking his way and hurried up the stairs. As she neared her row, the man seated to her left got up and moved into the aisle, leaving his backpack behind.
"Your pack," she called out and pointed at it, but he didn't look up.
She stepped in front of him to get his attention.
His head jerked up, his steely-gray eyes dark with anger meeting hers. He shoved his hands into his sweatshirt pocket, then blinked in surprise.
"Sorry to bother you," she said, trying not to wilt under his continued study. "But you left your backpack."
His eyes lingered for long, tense moments before he brushed by her and jogged down the stairs.
"So much for trying to be a good citizen," she mumbled and stepped past Opa. "Did you see that guy who just left?"
Opa shook his head, but kept his attention on the game. "He blocked my view for a few seconds, but I didn't actually look at him. Why?"
"He left his backpack. When I told him about it, he got mad."
"Odd," Opa said absently, his focus still pinned on the field.
Krista handed the water to Opa and looked at the pack a few seats away. That unsettled feeling returned.
Stop it, Krista. What did she think was in the pack, a bomb?
Ha! The guy was rude, maybe a bit creepy, but that didn't make him some lunatic leaving a bomb behind. He'd likely had too much to drink, needed to use the restroom and would be right back. That's why he didn't take her concern seriously.
She ignored the fact that there weren't any empty cups by his seat and forced her attention on to the game. Not that she knew anything about football, as Opa called it, other than it involved a ball with two nets and Opa loved it. She tried to get into the game, but the backpack kept nagging at her, and she continued to check her watch. The man had been gone for fifteen minutes. Far too long for a trip to the bathroom or snack bar when long lines weren't likely due to tonight's low attendance.
Her gaze slid back to the pack.
Should she check it out? With all the craziness going on in the world today, could she afford not to check it out?
She glanced down the stairs to confirm the guy wasn't returning, then slid over to the pack. Once a vivid blue, it was now worn and dingy gray. She checked for the owner one last time, then pulled the zipper and spread it open.
A cell phone lay on a stack of red blocks. Next to it, large neon-green numbers on a timer counted down from twenty-seven minutes fifty seconds. It was strapped to the bricks resembling modeling clay with wires leading to the stack.
Timer. Bricks. Wires.
"Bo" she started to shout, then realized what yelling "bomb" would do to nearby spectators.
A bomb! It's really a bomb. What should she do?
She and Opa didn't have cell phones, so she couldn't call 911. So then what?
Think, Krista, think.
The numerals kept flashing their countdowntaunting her.
Twenty-five minutes ten seconds. Nine. Eight. Panic crawled up her spine.
No, no, no!
Why had she waited so long to look? How should she handle this?
Deputy Cash Dixon, the name barreled into her brain. She had to alert him.
She started to rise. Caught sight of Opa. In his fragile state, if she took him with her, it would take a long time to climb down the stairs. Precious minutes would be wasted before the bomb squad could be notified. She had no choice. She'd have to leave him sitting in his seat.
Here. Near a bomb.
She couldn't do that to her Opa.
You have to or all of these people could die. Go! Now!
She'd bring the deputy up here, leave this situation in his hands and guide Opa to the exit. She had enough time. If she hurried.
Her stomach threatening to revolt, she gently closed the flaps on the pack from prying eyes and jumped to her feet.
"I'll be right back, Opa." She forced the words over a lump in her throat.
"Okay." He didn't look up.
"I love you." She hoped it wouldn't be the last time she ever said these words to him.
His perceptive gaze met hers. "What's wrong, Liebchen?"
"Nothing." She offered him a wobbly smile, then jogged down the stairs to discover Cash Dixon now leaned against the restaurant wall, that casual pose still in place. Her confidence in him evaporated.
Could he handle this? This man who seemed to excel in flirting? Was he just a pretty face, or was he cool and calm under pressure? Steady? Trustworthy?
Because he needed to be. Desperately needed to be, if he was going to stop this bomb from exploding and bringing the building down around them.
* * *
Could Cash sink any lower on the boredom scale? He didn't usually go in for security duty, but his buddy's wife was having a baby and his buddy needed someone to cover at the last minute. Ninety minutes into the job, he was regretting his decision to help.
He glanced at his solid titanium watch he'd worn on countless Delta Force missions.
Now that was an exciting job.
There was nothing more thrilling than serving on the army's elite tier-one Special Ops team. Fast-roping down to free a hostage. Night jumps and rock climbs to raid insurgent groups in Afghanistan. Diving into dark, murky waters.
Man, he missed it. Missed it all. The team. The camaraderie. Working with guys who really got him. His life hadn't been the same since a friendly bomb had gone astray, taking out his whole team. Why he'd survived, he had no idea, even after eighteen months.
Stop, he warned himself. Standing here brooding wouldn't help him figure it out. He needed to keep busy.
He searched the crowd, looking for someone whose chops he could bust. He spotted the woman who'd brushed past him a few minutes ago to retrieve a cup of water charging down the steps.
Good. Just the distraction he was looking for. A particularly beautiful one at that. He loved the way she'd blushed when he'd flirted with her. Wasn't often these days that he ran into a woman exhibiting such innocence.
She hit the landing and ran toward him, skidding to a stop in front of him. Eyes the color of his army dress blues were dark with worry, sending a curl of apprehension into his gut.
"I need your help." She panted to catch her breath. "There's a " She paused to look around, then drew him away from a man standing nearby.
She leaned close to Cash's ear. He caught a faint whiff of vanilla and another appealing spice he couldn't identify.
"There's a bomb," she whispered, her breath warm on his skin.
He pulled back. "Don't even kid about that, ma'am."
"I'm not kidding." Full lips drew down in a scowl as her gaze continued to dart around. "What's your name, ma'am?"
"Well, Krista, why don't you tell me what you saw?" It was very unlikely she'd actually seen a bomb, but whatever she'd witnessed had clearly upset her and he needed to take it seriously.
"It's by my seat," she said. "A guy got up and left his backpack. There's a cell phone inside with a timer attached to a bunch of red bricks. It's counting down. It had twenty-five minutes on it. Now it must be closer to twenty." She grabbed his arm in a viselike grip. "Please, we can't waste any time."
Something in her desperate plea made him believe her enough to agree to check out the so-called device. "Show me."
She led him toward the aisle and gestured at the upper section. "See the older man seated in the second row from the top? That's my grandfather. The backpack is six seats to his left. By that big girder."
He looked at the upper section, saw a gray-haired man sitting at the aisle, intent on the game.
"Wait. That woman." Krista wiggled her finger at a stick-thin woman climbing over a seat. "Looks like she's spotted the backpack. She's going to open it just like I did. She might Oh, no."
He saw the woman, but he couldn't see the backpack. Krista grabbed his arm again. "We need to get up there before she does something stupid."
The woman fumbled around at her feet. She looked up, her gaze wild and unfocused.
"Bomb!" she screamed and charged for the aisle. "There's a bomb in that backpack. Only fifteen minutes on the timer. Run! Everybody run!" She catapulted over the old man's legs, nearly lost her balance but recovered to run down the steps, waving her arms and inciting the crowd. "Bomb! There's a bomb! Go!"
People fled toward the exits in a stampede. Cash had to restore order before they trampled each other. At least attendance was down due to the rain, and he had a chance of calming them down.
"C'mon, people!" He held up his hands. "This is someone's bad idea of a joke, but just to be safe, let's clear the area in an orderly fashion."
"It's no jokeI saw it," the woman shouted, her eyes so terrified Cash figured she wasn't making it up, but the device could still be a dummy left to cause a riot.
"I've got to get to Opa!" Krista darted toward the steps.
Cash ran after her and jerked her into an empty aisle moments before the fleeing mob reached them. "You can't go up there. They'll trample you."
She tried to wrench free. "But my grandfather needs me. I can't leave him alone."
The last thing Cash wanted was for another person to lose their life on his watch so he tightened his hold while he reported the situation over his radio. He ordered the security team to cease use of their radios from this point forward.
He'd take no chance of the radio signal setting off the bomb if it was real. He'd make one more call to the team leader for the First Response Squadthe tactical team Cash served on. The six-person squad was created to deal with emergency situations just like this one and would be the first to respond. Once he notified them, he'd go radio silent, too.
"Let. Me. Go!" Krista's volume escalated with each word.
"Please." Her eyes darted around as if she might lose it any second. "I have to help him. I have to."
She jerked harder. Cash let go of his radio to catch her chin, forcing her to make eye contact. "Calm down, Krista. If you promise to stay right here, I'll take care of your gramps."
She stopped thrashing and eyed him suspiciously. "Really? You'll get him out of here?"
After I get a look at that bomb and, if it's legit, disarm it if I can. Thankfully, he was on duty tonight. His buddy Neil was a great guy, but he wasn't a bomb expert. Cash had years of experience disarming explosives in the military and another year as the FRS bomb tech.
He looked around for another officer to hand Krista off to but found no one. "I'll go, but you have to stay here. Right here on this spot. No moving at all. Promise?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is number 2 in the First Responders series and it was intense! The challenge was finding a stopping point at the end of each chapter. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys suspenseful story lines with romance and an exciting ending.
Explosive Alliance is the second book in the First Responders series. The book is full of action and suspense with some surprises in the ending! Cash, a former Delta Force commander, and Krista, the daughter of a murderer, both have to search for peace in their lives. Susan Sleeman has done an excellent job of making you feel the tensions of the First Response Squad as they search for a bomber. If you like suspense, you will love this book. I won this book in a giveaway on Soul Inspirationz. This is my honest review.
Krista is at the ball stadium spending some quality time with her grandpa. But when a man leaves a backpack in the stands and refuses to go back and get it, she investigates. It's a bomb. She rushes back to alert Officer Dixon, the officer she saw a few minutes earlier. What happens next is unbelievable. Break-ins, kidnapping, and more bombs are just a few of the things now intruding into Krista's life. Her previous experience tells her that she can't trust law enforcement. But Cash Dixon and his team seem to be the exception. The story definitely starts off with a bang (pun intended). And the suspense and drama don't let up. The relationship between Krista and her grandfather is sweet and balances out the tension in the rest of the plot. The characters are likable and give another glimpse into the family relationship the whole team has. I won't give any spoilers, but I like how the two different aspects of the investigation played together and ended out the story. I can't wait for the next book in the series. I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.
I just loved this book! From the first word, Murderer, the story just drew me in and I couldn't wait to find out what had happened in the past and what Krista and Cash would do next. It had plenty of danger and plot twists that kept me guessing. The story was well-paced, with enough action to keep the story moving while the characters also had a chance to develop and tell the stories of their pasts. Plot: Krista Curry and her Opa (grandfather) are attending a soccer game when Krista stumbles across a bomb. Fortunately for her and the rest of the crowd, First Response Squad bomb tech Cash Dixon is there and able to save the day. Unfortunately, Krista is the only one who can identify the bomber and now Cash and the FRS need to keep her safe. Despite the wariness of the rest of the FRS, Cash is drawn to Krista, who's clearly hiding something. In order to keep her safe, he needs to earn her trust and find out the whole story. Characters: I liked Krista immediately because of her close relationship with Opa. She clearly would do anything for him. Opa, AKA Otto, is such a fun character. He may not be a young man anymore, but he's still feisty and he wants the best for his granddaughter, which he might think means Cash Dixon. Part southern charm and part likeable hero, Cash may be my favorite member of the FRS. Recommendation: While Explosive Alliance is the second book in the First Responders series, it can be read as a stand-alone. This series reminds me of Dee Henderson's O'Malleys series because the members of the FRS all act like a family and they have similar and dangerous occupations. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's a fan of romantic suspense.
Another action packed story from the Love Inspired Suspense line of books. I'm liking this line more and more each month, these stories are full of crime solving heroes and heroines, faith and love. This story brings the action on from the first page, nothing to bring up the tense mood like a countdown with a bomb. And the intense feeling stays throughout the story, with so twists in the plot, surprises coming up, the tale moves at a fast pace. There is not only the fear from the bomber, Krista is hiding some major secrets from her past, and the danger of the media outing her past is constantly present in Krista's mind, bring the old nightmares into the present. While hunting for the truth, the bomber, and keeping Krista and Otto safe, Cash is also faced with his past, the sorrow, pain and failures of it. In the midst of all the chaos, the search for peace, balance, and trust in God is so real, and well set into the story. This gripping tale is full of life and energy, crime scene after crime scene creating more confusion and tension. The relationship forming between Krista and Cash is delicate and sweet temptation for Cash, who is trying to stay professional, despite his feelings for Krista. This series of the First Responders is one that I will keep an eye on in the future ~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Susan is a wonderful author. I have read all her books and I have loved them all. This was a unique fresh story. It kept me on my toes and I read this book in one day. Any book you pick up by Susan you will love.
Explosive Alliance is part of the First Responder series and opens with a bang. Krista finds a bomb while at a soccer game with her grandfather. She tells one of the security people at the game not knowing that Cash is an explosives expert. She becomes a local hero which puts her in danger from the bomber and from her past life. Cash tries to protector her while realizing she is hiding something. His team considers her a possible suspect until she is cleared. The author creates a unique background for Krista that I found unusual but also refreshing. The book is packed with interesting and entertaining secondary characters. You will love her grandfather; he is such a cutie and full of spunk. Cash’s First Responder team members are also interesting and each bring a special talent to the situation and story. I had not read the other books in the first responder series. I felt Explosive Alliance stands on its own. However it will make you want to read the other books after meeting the other First Responder team members. You can see my full review at More Than a Review dot com where I rate the level of sex, violence, language and drug/alcohol use in books.
4 STARS Good suspense, mystery, Christian with a touch of romance. I like that there are a few strong female characters. Has some twists I was not expecting but liked. The message to trust God to help you through the tough times. Krista Curry does not trust police but she goes to them to try and stop a bomber and save lives. She is a widow who is going by a different name. She teaches preschool. Otto is her grandfather and is fighting cancer. He is enjoying being at a game. Cash Dixon is working the game for a friend. He just happens to be a explosive expert. He is bored and notices Krista and flirts with her. When Krista sees someone walk away from his backpack and she tries to let him know he forgot it. He does not come back for it so she opens it and sees a bomb. She wants to yell but knows panicking the crowd is dangerous she remembers the Cash the cop not far away and goes gets him help. Krista knows they will blame her and if they find out that the police think she murdered her husband Tobi. The setting was Portland Oregon area. I like reading Susan Sleeman's books. They keep it exciting, clean and fast paced. I was given this ebook by Net Galley and Harlequin. In return I agreed to give honest review of Explosive Alliance.
Whoa! What a ride! I loved Susan Sleeman's book Explosive Alliance! Krista Curry portrays a very believable damsel in distress. I love the relatable relationship between Krista and her grandfather, Otto. Like putting a puzzle together, the reader begins to learn bits of Krista's shady past. Krista finds a backpack with a bomb in it at a baseball game. She then finds the dashingly handsome, Cash Dixon to help her with this slight problem! Cash is an explosives expert with trust issues. He immediately feels a unexplainable connection to Krista and Otto and vows to provide personal protection for them. I loved how the story was fast paced, a real page turner. I also liked how identifiable both main characters' struggles with turning their everyday lives over to God was displayed. Will the two work together or will the person after Krista find her first?
A Brilliant Standout in Romantic Suspense!! When Krista Curry reports a potential bomb in a stadium to Deputy Cash Dixon, a tenuous relationship is formed that sparks, brightens, fizzles, and indecisively blows hot and cold. Susan Sleeman, in her second book of the First Responders series, shows how difficult life can be when the obvious is believed to be true at face value. Fear has a way of forcing one to keep secrets and Krista's secrets of her past make it hard to trust or be trusted in a relationship, as Cash finds out. Another relationship detonator that affects Krista highly is fear. Can Krista trust God to keep her safe, and that he knows what is happening in her world,and He cares? As for Cash, he has difficulty disentangling himself from his own sense of guilt and allowing God to have control. As Cash, often tense, states to Opa:"I'm on edge most of the time." Fires back Opa,"Ah, see that is where you are going wrong, son. Living a trouble-free life is impossible. Do not waste time or effort striving for that. It is finding peace in the trouble that you should strive for." Good advice for us all, whether we need Christ, or just need to be closer. At first, I didn't like that the other First Responders, one in particular, seems so against Krista. However, the more I examine it, the more like real life that seems to be. One moment the character seems friendly, the next out for blood. Some people you honestly don't know where they lie... You can't get any more true to life than that!! Palpable tension, nearly indisputable evidence against Krista, doubts of the rest of the First Responders, and the terrifying,surprise twist at the end all combine to make this a a very bright standout among Christian romantic suspense!! I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I loved Explosive Alliance by Susan Sleeman. This is the second book in her First Responders series and each one gets better and better. I love getting to know Ms. Sleeman’s families and this series is just as amazing as her other books. She starts off with action from the start, and I love the twists and turns she puts in each one of her books, things that throw the reader off from thinking they have the mystery solved. And each book is different so there is no “formula” to learn. It’s just pure fun reading enjoyment. This book was timely for me as well because the underlying theme was peace in the midst of the storms in life. Krista definitely had many storms in life she was dealing with. I’m dealing with a few storms myself and it was nice to be able to relate on that level while reading as well as just being entertained. Peace - it’s ours if we ask for it and if we choose to accept it. God won’t automatically give it to us - we need to seek it. And this book was a great reminder about that. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. I love getting to know these awesome people, I love getting to know a little more about their jobs and how first responders work. I love being able to continue on with Skylar in the background while learning more about the rest of the team. I love seeing how a healthy “family” works - there are problems and issues but at the end of the day, they have each other’s back and there is a underlying love between them that is unparalleled. The world needs more of this type of “family.” Great action, great writing, great adventure, great mystery/suspense. Amazing series. You will be glad you picked it up! Start with the first book, Silent Night Standoff - not because you would be lost in this one if you started with Explosive Alliance. It’s like a great cup of coffee - you will savor Explosive Alliance either way. But if you begin with Silent Night Standoff - it will enrich an already amazing experience.
This is another heart pounding suspense novel by Susan Sleeman! I absolutely love the amount of detail that is given about both of the main characters, Krista Curry and Cash Dixon. I felt a connection to each of them as well as an understanding for their individual pasts and why they kept them secret. Even while I was completely captivated by these two people I also was drawn in by the development of the secondary characters surrounding them, Krista's grandfather and Cash's FRS team. I know that we will see these characters again in the future books in this series and I am looking forward to learning even more about these wonderful characters. The plot for this story is absolutely fantastic. From the moment that Krista finds the bomb at the soccer stadium the suspense builds. There are brief periods when there is no actual danger to allow everyone (characters and readers alike) to catch their breath and relax some. As the story progresses we come to find that Krista’s grandfather, Opa or Otto, is the strong Christian in this novel. His faith is unshaken by what is going on and at time he is able to speak words of wisdom to both Krista and Cash. He is encouraging them to trust God with what is going on as well as with their pasts. I love reading stories with this faith-based focus. Even with this present in the story it never feels preachy or like religion is being forced on anyone. I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.
Packed with action and plenty of mystery, Explosive Alliance was tough to put down. I had to force myself to close the book and turn off the light so I was well-rested for work the day after I started this book. What is it that immediately draws one person to another? The chemistry between Krista and Cash is almost immediate despite both of their claims they aren’t interested in a romantic relationship (this is before they start spending time together). While there is a lot is going on—the bomber, Krista’s secret, Cash’s secret, the FRS team investigating the bombing—the heart of the story lies with the two main characters making peace with their pasts. Krista gets upset when she believes Cash is keeping something from her even though she’s keeping her own secret from him. But that’s human nature, right? If you haven’t already read it, get to know the team in Silent Night Standoff (book 1 of the series).