Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water

by Julie Ann Walker

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"Walker blends the tender romance of a reassuring touch with lusty sex scenes, and her dialogue is spot-on. Readers will be panting for the next in the series."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review

In a world on the brink
There's more than one kind of treasure and more than one secret at the bottom of the sea

Only two things could make former Navy SEAL Leo Anderson return to the world of weapons and warfare. First, a capsule of chemical weapons lost on the ocean floor, and second, a plea for assistance from the one woman he can't seem to forget—CIA Agent Olivia Mortier.

Now, working together to race against the clock and a deadly terrorist faction, Leo and Olivia must find the missing capsule, all the while battling the intense desire burning between them. If they can survive, can their growing attraction become more than just a momentary flare?

The Deep Six Series:
Hell or High Water (Book 1)
Devil and the Deep (Book 2)

Praise for Full Throttle:
"Quick witted and action packed." —RT Book Reviews, 4 stars
"Heart-pounding...Walker has outdone herself." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Amazing...took me on the ride of my life." —The Book Whisperer
"A wonderful, intense story with fabulous romantic tension." —Tome Tender

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492608905
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 07/07/2015
Series: The Deep Six , #1
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 151,108
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of wickedly sexy romantic suspense novels, including the acclaimed Black Knights Inc. series. A former high school math teacher, Julie Ann lives in Chicago with her husband. Visit her at julieannwalker.com.

Mackenzie Cartwright was born in New York City to two artist parents and traveled the world at a young age. While in Italy, she discovered the joys of pasta and wine and has been a lifelong practitioner of the art of cooking. Mackenzie lives with her husband and their Siberian husky in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Present day

10:52 p.m....

"And the Santa Cristina and her brave crew and captain were sucked down into Davy Jones's locker, lost to the world. That is...until now..."

Leo "the Lion" Anderson, known to his friends as LT-a nod to his former Naval rank-let his last words hang in the air before glancing around at the four faces illuminated by the flickering beach bonfire. Rapt expressions stared back at him. He fought the grin curving his lips.

Bingo, bango, bongo. His listeners had fallen under a spell as deep and fathomless as the great oceans themselves. It happened anytime he recounted the legend of the Santa Cristina. Not that he could blame his audience. The story of the ghost galleon, the holy grail of sunken Spanish shipwrecks, had fascinated him ever since he'd been old enough to understand the tale while bouncing on his father's knee. And that lifelong fascination might account for why he was now determined to do what so many before him-his dearly departed father included-had been unable to do. Namely, locate and excavate the mother lode of the grand ol' ship.

Of course, he reckoned the romance and mystery of discovering her waterlogged remains were only part of the reason he'd spent the last two months and a huge portion of his savings-as well as huge portions of the savings of the others-refurbishing his father's decrepit, leaking salvage boat. The rest of the story as to why he was here now? Why they were all here now? Well, that didn't bear dwelling on.

At least not on a night like tonight. When a million glittering stars and a big half-moon reflected off the dark, rippling waters of the lagoon on the southeast side of the private speck of jungle, mangrove forest, and sand in the Florida Keys. When the sea air was soft and warm, caressing his skin and hair with gentle, salt-tinged fingers. When there was so much...life to enjoy.

That had been his vow-their vow-had it not? To grab life by the balls and really live it? To suck the marrow from its proverbial bones?

His eyes were automatically drawn to the skin on the inside of his left forearm where scrolling, tattooed lettering read For RL. He ran a thumb over the pitch-black ink.

This one's for you, you stubborn sonofagun, he pledged, flipping open the lid on the cooler sunk deep into the sand beside his lawn chair. Grabbing a bottle of Budweiser and twisting off the cap, he let his gaze run down the long dock to where his uncle's catamaran was moored. The clips on the sailboat's rigging lines clinked rhythmically against its metal mast, adding to the harmony of softly shushing waves, quietly crackling fire, and the high-pitched peesy, peesy, peesy call of a nearby black-and-white warbler.

Then he turned his eyes to the open ocean past the underwater reef surrounding the side of Wayfarer Island, where his father's old salvage ship bobbed lazily with the tide. Up and down. Side to side. Her newly painted hull and refurbished anchor chain gleamed dully in the moonlight. Her name, Wayfarer-I, was clearly visible thanks to the new, bright-white lettering.

He dragged in a deep breath, the smell of burning driftwood and suntan lotion tunneled up his nose, and he did his best to appreciate the calmness of the evening and the comforting thought that the vessel looked, if not necessarily sexy, then at least seaworthy. Which is a hell of an improvement.

Hot damn, he was proud of all the work he and his men had done on her, and-

His men...

He reminded himself for the one hundred zillionth time that he wasn't supposed to think of them that way. Not anymore. Not since those five crazy-assed SEALs waved their farewells to the Navy in order to join him on his quest for high-seas adventure and the discovery of untold riches. Not since they were now, officially, civilians.

"But why you guys?" The blond who was parked beneath Spiro "Romeo" Delgado's arm yanked Leo from his thoughts. "What makes you different from all those who've already tried and failed to find her?"

"Besides the obvious you mean, mamacita?" Romeo winked, leaning back in his lawn chair to spread his arms wide. His grin caused his teeth to flash white against his neatly trimmed goatee, and Leo watched the blond sit forward in her plastic deck chair to take in the wonder that was Romeo Delgado. After a good, long gander, she giggled and snuggled back against Romeo's side.

Leo rolled his eyes. Romeo's swarthy, Hispanic looks and his six-percent-body-fat physique made even the most prim-and-proper lady's panties drop fast enough to bust the floorboards. And this gal? Well, this gal might be prim and proper in her everyday life-hell, for all Leo knew she could be the leading expert on high etiquette at an all-girls school-but today, ever since Romeo picked her and her cute friend up in Schooner Wharf Bar on Key West with the eye-rolling line of "Wanna come see my private island?" she'd been playing the part of a good-time girl out having a little fun-in-the-sun fling. And it was the fling part that might-scratch that, rewind-did account for the lazy, self-satisfied smile spread across Romeo's face.

"I'm serious, though." Tracy or Stacy or Lacy, or whatever her name was-Leo had sort of tuned out on the introductions-wrinkled her sunburned nose. "How do you even know where to look?"

"Because of this." Leo lifted the silver piece of eight, a seventeenth-century Spanish dollar, from where it hung around his neck on a long, platinum chain. "My father discovered it ten years ago off the coast of the Marquesas Keys."

Tracy/Stacy/Lacy's furrowed brow telegraphed her skepticism. "One coin? I thought the Gulf and the Caribbean were littered with old doubloons."

"It wasn't just one piece of eight my father found." Leo winked. "It was a big, black conglomerate of ten pieces of eight, as well as-"

"Conglomerate?" asked the brunette with the Cupid's-bow lips. Tracy/Stacy/Lacy's friend had given Leo all the right signals the minute Romeo pulled the catamaran up to Wayfarer Island's creaky old dock and unloaded their guests. It'd been instant sloe-eyed looks and shy, encouraging smiles.

Okay, and confession time. Because for a fleeting moment when she-Sophie or Sophia? Holy Christ, Leo was seriously sucking with names tonight-sidled up next to him, he'd been tempted to take her up on all the things her nonverbal communications offered. Then an image of black hair, sapphire eyes, and a subtly crooked front tooth blazed through his brain. And just like that, the brunette lost her appeal.

Which is a good thing, he reminded himself. You're gettin' too old to bang the Betties Romeo drags home from the bar.

Enter Dalton "Doc" Simmons and his nearly six and a half feet of homespun, Midwestern charm. He'd been quick to insert himself between Leo and Sophie/Sophia. And now her gaze lingered on Doc's face when he said in that low, scratchy Kiefer Sutherland voice of his, "Unlike gold, which retains its luster after years on the bottom of the ocean, silver coins are affected by the seawater. They get fused together by corrosion or other maritime accretions. When that happens, it's called a conglomerate. They have to be electronically cleaned to remove the surface debris and come out looking like this." Grabbing the silver chain around his neck, Doc pulled a piece of eight from inside his T-shirt. It was identical to the one Leo wore.

"And like this," Romeo parroted, twirling the coin on the chain around his neck like a Two-Buck Chuck stripper whirling a boa.

Their first day on the island, Leo had gifted each of his men-damnit!...his friends-with one of the coins, telling them their matching tattoos were symbols of their shared past and their matching pieces of eight were symbols of their shared future.

Leo tipped the neck of his beer toward Doc. "Maritime accretions, huh? You sound like an honest-to-God salvor, my friend."

Doc smirked, which was as close to a smile as the dude ever really got. If Leo hadn't seen Doc rip into a steak on occasion, he wouldn't have been all that convinced the guy had teeth.

"But even a conglomerate of coins wouldn't be enough to guarantee the ship's location," Leo added, turning back to the blond. "My father also found a handful of bronze deck cannons. All of which were on the Santa Cristina's manifest. So she's down there...somewhere." He just had to find her. All his friends were counting on that windfall for various reasons, and if he didn't-

"But, like you said, your dad tried to find this Christy boat for"-Leo winced. Okay, so the woman seemed sweet. But the only thing worse than mangling the name of the legendary vessel was referring to it as a boat-"like twenty-some-odd years, right?"

"And Mel Fisher searched for the Atocha for sixteen years before finally findin' her." He referred to the most famous treasure hunter and treasure galleon of all time. Well, most famous of all time until he and the guys made the history books, right? Right. "In shallow water, like that around the Florida Keys, the shiftin' sands are moved by wind and tide. They change the seabed daily, not to mention after nearly four centuries. But with a little hard work and perseverance, you better believe the impossible becomes possible. We're hot on her trail." Her convoluted, invisible, nonexistent trail. Shit.

Doc slow-winked at the woman by way of agreement, twirling the toothpick that perpetually stuck out of his mouth in a circle with his tongue. It must have dazzled poor Sophie/Sophia, because she sucked in a breath before batting her pretty lashes and sidling her lawn chair closer to him. Throwing an arm around her shoulders, Doc turned to wiggle his eyebrows at Leo. Just like the others, Doc was never one to pass up an opportunity to feed Leo a heaping helping of shit. Par for the course considering Leo was...fuck a duck...used to be their commanding officer, a prime target for all their ass-hattery.

Yeah, yeah, Leo thought, quietly chuckling. So, I pulled the Roger Murtaugh, I'm-gettin'-too-old-for-this-shit bit. And you think I screwed up royally when I turned down what she was offerin'? So, go ahead. Rub it in, you big corn-fed douche-canoe.

"Why do you need to find that old treasure anyway?" the blond asked. "You have a private island." She motioned with her beer toward the rippling waters of the lagoon, tipsily splashing suds into the fire and making it hiss. "Aren't you r-" She hiccuped, then covered her mouth with her fingers, giggling. "Rich?" she finished.

"Ha! Hardly." Leo rested his sweating beer bottle against the fabric of his swim trunks. Here in the Keys, shorts and swim trunks were interchangeable-unlike his possible bed partners, apparently.

Come on, now! Why can't you get Olivia Mortier out of your head?

And that was the question of the hour, wasn't it? Or more like the question of the last frickin' eighteen months. Ever since that assignment in Syria...

"But if you're not rich," the blond insisted, "then how can you"-hiccup-"afford to own this place?"

No joke, Romeo had better double-time her up to the house and into his bed. One or two more brewskies and she'd be too many sheets to the wind for what the self-styled lothario had in mind for her. Romeo may be a horndog extraordinaire, with more notches on his bedpost than Leo had sorties on his SEAL résumé, but like all the guys, Romeo was nothing if not honorable. If Tracy/Stacy/Lacy was too incapacitated, Romeo would do no more than tuck her under the covers with a chaste kiss on the forehead. And as their SEAL Team motto stated: Where's the fun in that?

On cue, Romeo turned to Leo, snapping his fingers, a worried frown pulling his black eyebrows into a V. Leo hid a smile as he reopened the cooler and dug around inside until he found a bottle of water. He tossed it over the fire, and Romeo caught it one-handed. Then Mr. Slam-dunk-ovich made quick work of exchanging the blond's beer with the H2O. "Try this, m'ija," he crooned, really laying his accent on thick before leaning over to whisper something no doubt highly suggestive into her ear.

The blond giggled, obediently twisting the cap off the water bottle to take a deep slug.

"We don't own the island, darlin'," a deep voice called from up the beach. Leo turned to see his uncle coming toward them. The man was dressed in his usual uniform of baggy cargo shorts and an eye-bleeding hula shirt. His thick mop of Hemingway hair and matching beard glowed in the light of the moon, contrasting sharply with skin that had been tanned to leather by the endless subtropical sun.

Bran Pallidino, Leo's best friend and BUD/S-Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training-swim partner, had once described Leo's uncle as "one part crusty sea dog and two parts slack-ass hippie." Leo figured that pretty much summed up the ol' coot in one succinct sentence. "My great-great-I've-forgotten-how-many-greats-grandfather leased the island for one hundred and fifty years from Ulysses S. Grant."

"President Grant?" the brunette squeaked, coughing on beer.

"The one and only," Uncle John said, plunking himself into an empty plastic deck chair, stretching his bare feet toward the fire, and lifting a tumbler-filled with Salty Dog, John's standard grapefruit, vodka, and salted-rim cocktail-to his lips. Ice clinked against the side of the glass when he took a healthy swig. "You may not know this, Tracy," he said-Tracy. Leo snapped imaginary fingers and endeavored to commit the name to memory-"but ol' Ulysses smoked 'bout ten cigars a day. And my great-great"-Uncle John made a rolling motion with his hand-"however-many-greats-grandpappy happened to be the premier cigar-maker of the time. In exchange for a lifetime supply of high-quality Cubans, Great-Grandpappy secured the rights to make a vacation home for himself and his descendants on this here little bit of paradise for a century and a half." Uncle John's familiar Louisiana drawl-the same one Leo shared, though to a lesser extent-drifted lazily on the warm breeze.

The Anderson brothers, Uncle John and Leo's father, James, originally hailed from the Crescent City. Like their father before them, they'd trained to be shrimp-boat captains in the Gulf. But a chance discovery during a simple afternoon dive off the coast of Geiger Key had changed everything. They'd found a small Spanish gunboat equipped with all manner of archeological riches, from muskets to daggers to swords, and the treasure-hunting bug had bitten them hard. The following year, when Leo was just five years old, the brothers moved to the Keys to use their vast knowledge of the sea to search for sunken riches instead of plump, pink shrimp.

Unfortunately, they never found another haul that could compete with that of the gunboat. Uncle John gave up the endeavor after a decade, settling in to run one of Key West's many bars until his retirement six months ago. But Leo's father had continued with the salvage business, splitting his time between jobs and hunting for the Santa Cristina until he suffered a heart attack during a dive. Leo took solace in knowing his old man had died as he'd lived, wrapped in the arms of the sea.

"Ulysses S. Grant? So that had to have been, what? Sometime in the eighteen seventies?" the brunette asked.

"You know your presidents, Sophie." Uncle John winked, taking another draw on his cocktail.

Sophie, Sophie, Sophie. Leo really should have paid more attention to the introductions. I mean, seriously? What was his problem? If a woman's name wasn't Olivia Mortier, it just went in one ear and out the other? For shit's sake!

"I teach history at the Girls' Academy of the Holy Saints High School in Tuscaloosa." She hooked a thumb toward her friend. "Tracy teaches home ec."

Leo nearly spewed his beer. It wasn't high etiquette, but it was damn close.

"Ah." Uncle John nodded sagely. "Well, that explains it. And you're right. It was in the eighteen seventies."

"So then"-Sophie's lips pulled down into a frown-"you're kicked out in, what? Five? Ten years?"

"Eh." Uncle John shrugged. "We can't really get kicked out because it was never really ours to begin with. Besides, this crew will have found the Santa Cristina by then." John had moved out to Wayfarer Island under the auspices of "helping" Leo search for the ship. But really Leo suspected the old codger was just bored with retirement and looking to take part in one last hoorah. "And," he continued, "they'll have enough money to buy whatever house or island they want. Am I right, or am I right?"

"Hooyah!" Doc and Romeo whooped in unison, lifting their beers in salute.

Leo didn't join in. He wasn't a superstitious man by nature, but the ghost galleon brought out the avoid-the-black-cat, throw-salt-over-my-shoulder in him, and he didn't want to jinx their chances of finding the wreck by treating it like it was a foregone conclusion. He also didn't like to think that in a few short years he and his uncle would lose the lease on the island that had seen generations of Andersons for spring breaks and summer vacations, for Fourth of July weekends and the occasional Christmas getaway. It wasn't until Leo arrived with his merry band of Navy SEALs that anyone had attempted to live on the island permanently; it was just too isolated.

"And speaking of the crew..." Uncle John said. Crew. Leo rolled the term around in his head and figured right. I reckon that's a label I can work with. "The other half of 'em just called on the satellite phone."

Because when Leo said isolated, he meant isolated. The nearest cell tower was almost fifty nautical miles away. Which begged the question: What the ever-lovin' hell had Tracy and Sophie been thinking to let Romeo sail them out here? They were damned lucky Romeo was a stand-up guy and not some ax murderer. Had Leo felt more obliging, he'd have given the women a well-deserved lecture about the ill-advisedness of hopping onto a catamaran for a four-hour sail with a dusky-skinned gentleman sporting a too-precisely trimmed goatee. But right now, he had more important things to discuss.

"What'd they say?" he asked his uncle, referring to his three friends who'd spent a week across the pond in Seville, Spain.

"They said they finished photocopyin' and digitizin' the images of the documents in the Spanish Archives yesterday afternoon and sent all the data to What's-his-name, that historian you've been talkin' to online."

Online via the Internet connection Leo had established using the satellite he mounted to the top of the house. Because while he and the guys might've been fine to forgo cellular signals, there would have been serious mental and emotional fallout had Mason "Monet" McCarthy not been able to watch his beloved Red Sox play on their lone laptop or Ray "Wolf" Roanhorse not been able to Skype with his bazillion loving relatives back in Oklahoma. And the satellite was one more reason Leo's savings account and the savings accounts of the others were barely in the black.

God, we need a salvage gig. A big one. Because they only had enough funds left to fuel the search for the Santa Cristina for two, maybe three more weeks. And that wasn't going to be enough.

Of course, before they could start advertising their services, they needed to actually incorporate their fledgling business. Which meant paperwork and opening accounts and coming up with a name for their company. Leo was not happy with Romeo's suggestion that they should call themselves Seas the Day Salvage. I mean, he enjoyed a play on words as much as the next guy, but, come on now, that was just bad.

Pushing his cash problems and the long list of things he still needed to accomplish aside, Leo got back to the point at hand. The historian he'd been emailing.

"Like I've told you twenty times before, the guy's name is Alex Merriweather," he scolded his uncle, not pointing out that John had no trouble remembering the names of Sophie and Tracy, two women he'd just met-the lecherous old fart. "And he assures me that if there's anything new to discover in those documents, he's the man who'll find it."

Treasure hunters die old and broke. It was a saying Leo sure as shit didn't want to see come true for him and the guys, which meant he was exploring every possible avenue he could. Including hiring an overpriced historian to go through all the old documents that pertained to the hurricane of 1624 and the fate of the Spanish fleet.

"Hmmph." His uncle made a face. "I doubt some library nerd is goin' to be able to tell you anything more than-"

"So what else did they say?" Leo interrupted, not willing to engage in that argument. Again. "After receivin' the digitized copies, did Alex gave 'em any indication that-"

"Hold on there, Leo, my boy." Uncle John raised the hand not wrapped around his cocktail glass. "Don't let your mind go runnin' around like a gnat in a hurricane. First of all, they didn't go into any detail with me. Second of all, I don't think they've got any details. The sorry sonsofbitches have been stuck on a transatlantic flight all day long. They just landed in Key West a little while ago. They're goin' to rack out there for the night and head here first thing tomorrow mornin'. You'll have to hold your questions until then."

Leo sat back in his chair, frustrated by the delay but comforting himself with another long pull on his beer.

"I need to run to the little girls' room," Tracy suddenly announced. "Want to"-hiccup-"come with me, Sophie?"

After a quick look at Doc, Sophie pushed up from her lawn chair. "Of course," she said, giving the back legs of her Daisy-Duke-style jean shorts a quick tug. It didn't do a damn thing to cover the lower curve of her ass cheeks peeking from beneath the frayed denim.

"I'll show you the way." Romeo bolted up from his chair. The guy knew an opportunity to move things along when he saw one. "You coming, vato?" he asked Doc, one black brow raised meaningfully.

"Be there in a sec," Doc said. The three of them still seated around the fire watched, heads tilted, as Romeo herded the women across the sand toward the house. What? They were all healthy, red-blooded, heterosexual males, and the sight of long, tan legs and sweet, heart-shaped derrieres was not something to be missed.

"Hey, LT," Doc said, taking the toothpick from his mouth, "if you've changed your mind about Sophie, I'll gladly hara-kiri myself."

"You'll what?" Leo turned away from the view.

"You know," Doc snickered. "I'll fall on my sword so she can, uh, fall on yours."

Maybe he really was getting too old, or maybe he just had other things on his mind-not Olivia, not Olivia...okay, probably Olivia-but Leo just couldn't force himself to feel any enthusiasm about the prospect of another meaningless one-night stand. "Thanks for the offer, even as distasteful as you just made it sound." He grimaced. "But believe me when I say she's all yours if you can get her."

"Don't you worry." Doc winked, pushing up from his seat, throwing the toothpick into the fire, and turning toward the rambling old house. "I'll get her."

Yes, sir, Leo figured Doc probably would. After all, a woman had once told him that Doc was the spitting image of some big French actor. And though Leo hadn't the first clue who she was talking about, he figured from her dreamy expression that the comparison was meant to be a compliment. "Me and Uncle John will hang out here. Give you all some time to do your wooin'."

"If that's the case, you may be here all night," Doc boasted. "My wooing has been known to last-"

"Yeah, yeah." Leo waved him off. "Get lost, will you? I'm tired of lookin' at your smug face." And sure enough, Doc's expression became even more...well...smug. Leo grinned because he knew just what to say to get rid of it. "Besides, you stay here too much longer and you may give Romeo time to convince dear, sweet Sophie that a little two-for-the-price-of-one action could be lots of fun."

Doc's grin melted away as he called Romeo a foul name beneath his breath. But to Leo's surprise, Doc didn't hightail it up to house. Instead he angled his head, his eyes searching Leo's face over the glow of the fire.

"Well?" Leo asked. "What are you waitin' for?"

"It, uh..." Doc lifted a hand to scratch his head.

"What's up, bro?" And, yes. More than his men, or his friends, or even his crew, the five guys who'd hitched their wagons to his mule were his brothers. In every way that counted.

"You know, the, uh, the way I see it," Doc said haltingly, "part of our pledge included no more pussyfooting around when it comes to going after the things we really want." Leo watched Doc unconsciously rub the tattoo on the inside of his left forearm. "And it's been obvious since day one that you want Olivia Mortier."

Damn. Just hearing her name spoken aloud made the hairs along the back of Leo's neck stand up.

"So, why don't you send her an email, huh? See if she'll take some time off from The Company to come down here for a little visit." And now that smug smirk was back on Doc's face. "Maybe after she's wobbled your knob a time or two, you'll stop mooning around like a lovesick teenager."

Sonofa-Sometimes it sucked ass living in such close quarters with a group of men trained and tested in the fine art of observation. "Wobble my knob? What are you? Thirteen?"

"Avoiding the question?"

Damnit. "For the record," Leo growled. "I don't want her to wobble my knob, as you so eloquently put it." A voice inside his head warned him his nose would be growing Pinocchio-style any minute now.

All right. So, if he was totally honest, he would have liked to see where things with Olivia were headed. He would have liked to know if all those not-so-subtle flirty looks and that one ball-tightening kiss could have turned into something more-knob wobbling included. Unfortunately, Fate had intervened in the form of the goatfuck of all goatfucks, which had precipitated his exit from the Navy and negated all chances that he'd ever again work in the same arena as one oh-so-tempting Olivia Mortier.

He was a civilian now. And civilians and CIA field agents weren't exactly known to find themselves in a position to mix it up. So even if he could convince her to take a vacation from missiles and mayhem, it's not like there was any real chance at a future for them. After all, the woman was all about the adrenaline high, and he was...well...retired.

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Hell or High Water 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
Lost treasure, lying at the bottom of the ocean, and one determined crew, former SEALS, are ready to cash in on a dream of riches and gold and history. Will their plans come to pass or will is there something far more deadly awaiting them in Davey Jones’ locker? Personal gain or National Security, what will this former band of well-trained warriors decide? Leo Anderson is torn between a promise made to a dying comrade, duty to self and duty to country. One woman is the key to tipping the scales. Olivia is pure CIA tough, an agent on a mission to stop terrorists from recovering weapons grade uranium lost at sea. Is it worth her life? Like two ships who have passed in the night before, this time they are on a collision course for danger, from both the enemy and their hearts, but first they must survive… Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker sets a course for action, adventure, danger and romance on the high seas. Add some steam and some perfectly timed humor repeated over and over and I didn’t know if I was gripping my seat from the intrigue or to keep from rolling on the floor laughing! Great dialogue, intense emotions, rapidfire pacing and the salty smell of the ocean make this a completely entertaining escape from life on dry land. Have you ever been deep sea diving? Grab your airtanks, because Ms. Walker is taking us to the floor of the ocean in vivid detail. As the flagship tale in a new series, the tone has been set and it’s a good one as passions and truths are revealed and another strong heroine proves that no specialized combat training can stop a woman on a mission! I received an ARC edition of Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker from SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, just wow! Hell or High Water is a fantastic read! It's romantic suspense, my favorite, but it has everything any great fiction has. Julie Ann Walker has a gift for descriptive comparisons. Her characters are fully developed and true to life. Leo, The Lion, is the perfect hero, and Olivia is a refreshingly strong heroine, instead of the typical shrinking violet. And I really enjoyed the humor mixed in with the action and adverture. I actually laughed out loud while reading a few times. I had read some of her Black Knights series, which is also great, and I'm so glad I took a chance on this one. It's a great start to the Deep Six series. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and highly, highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great writing, refreshing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book. Fun characters and story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book rocked. Rusty's story of his death made me ball like a baby.
Anonymous 13 hours ago
Absolutely loved it...loved it...loved it!!! Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
AshleeT More than 1 year ago
An exciting high seas Adventure plagued with modern day misadventure. What was supposed to a simple mission, enlisting the help of a few ex-SEALs, turns into long, exciting, turbulent day at sea. As always, Julie Ann Walker manages to write in a way that keeps you engaged, makes the characters easy to relate to, mixes in just the right amount of adventure and romance, with the ability to carry over plots into subsequent books, which keeps you reaching for the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this!! Sexy former Navy SEALS turned treasure hunters (of the deep sea variety) - yes please! Enter Olivia Mortier, CIA agent and the woman former SEAL Leo Anderson shared a hot kiss with 18 months prior, a few canisters of a dangerous chemical weapon lost on the ocean floor, and a whole lot of deep sea danger - this book was non-stop action, nail-biting suspense, and super hot romance as well. Can't wait to read the next book in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed
blonde_betty More than 1 year ago
Hell or High Water begins a new series for Julie Ann Walker. In a similar vein to the BKI books, a group of six former SEALs has banded together to start something new. In this case, instead of being a black contractor, they have left that life completely behind and set out to find sunken treasure. Not surprisingly they are reeled back into government service before they get very far. A CIA sting operation gone wrong brings the one woman Leo Anderson can’t forget, Olivia Mortier, to his doorstep. Together they battle a CIA mole and Murphy’s Law as everything that can go wrong does. Leo and Olivia are fun to watch. Neither is willing to admit how much they want the other, but the sparks fly quickly and often. To make things even more fun, we get glimpses of book two as Bran and Maddie exchange movie references throughout. The treasure search is going to extend over the series, which brings a nice connecting element. As the team is only six men it was easy to get to know them a little bit. I loved, Leo and Olivia, but I can’t wait to see more of Bran and Maddie. If you love the BKI books, you will love this one.
I-am-a-book-addict More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Julie Ann Walker's BKI series, that being said, I will admit to being wary of a new series that is sort-of ~ but not quite a spin-off of that series. All wariness aside...I have read the first book in this new series, Hell or High Water, and I am in love with it! This gives you idea of where this series will lead us. "In a world on the brink…Six men. One sunken Spanish galleon. Millions in gold and silver coins lying on the ocean floor. And a past that refuses to let the guys of Deep Six Salvage forget the Navy SEAL motto: the only easy day was yesterday…" Book #1 in the Deep Six series, Hell or High Water is written very similarly to the BKI series. It has action, adventure, sexy Alpha dudes, and is written with a fun sense of humor that I just adore in Julie Ann Walker's writing. This book introduces us to some new characters, the sexy guys of "deep Six Salvage" who are all retired SEALS, with the main focus on Leo & Olivia's story and let me tell you the chemistry between these two is off the charts hot! The background story is fun and exciting, these guys are searching for a sunken treasure ship, but of course if it's found right away we won't have much of a series. If you are a fan of the BKI series or just a fan of fun, feisty, fabulous adventures. You will love this book!
JKRindy More than 1 year ago
I love Ms. Walker’s writing style and the way she can weave words so you feel you are experiencing each scene along with the characters. The Deep Six series is about Six X-Seal Team members that made a commitment to one fallen Seal team member to get out of the military and live their lives fully. So, they pool their monies in order to find a sunken 1600 Spanish galleon with millions in gold and silver coins lying on the ocean floor. A Novella called "The Way of The Warrier, a collection of several authors in one book. Pick this book up for $.99 find out about this Seal team before they retired. In this Novella "Hot As Hell". We are introduced to the Six Seals but the novella focuses on the 7th member, Michael “Mad Dog” Wainwright. Mad Dog finds Harper Searcy who is a secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan This Seal Team was added as extra protection when rumors of possible terrorist attack surfaced. After they all left the Seals, Mad Dog and decided to run his family’s ship building business in Atlantic City, have babies and live his life to the fullest in honor of his promise to his fallen brother. The remaining Six members went to a private island off the coast of Key West to start their lives as Salvage hunters. The two main characters in Hell Or High Water are of Leo “the Lion” Anderson, Team Leader and CIA Agent Olivia Mortier. Leo and his team worked with Olivia for 3 months before the team left the Seals. Their mission was to root out the mold or molds, but that mission failed. Olivia and Leo had one hot passionate kiss and then Leo was out of the Navy faster than anticipated. Leo nor Olivia could forget that one HOT PASSIONATE Kiss. Maybe that is why Agent Mortier has decided she needs the teams to help her again. She traveled to the island to talk to them and explained that a terrorist had stolen a ship with bio chemical canisters and now they are on the ocean floor. The newly civilian team would be perfect because the mold/s would not know about this mission. For $500,000., that team needed in order to sustain while they hunted for the sunken treasures, they decided to take the Black Ops assignment. The chemistry and passion was still there for Leo and Olivia and somewhere along the way, they gave into it. Olivia knew that it could not turn into anything permanent because she had a secret and if Leo found out, he would not want her anyway.She felt it is her fault he that the fallen Seal team member was dead because of her. However, Leo wants more, but she will not allow that to happen. Along the way, we find out more about each team members, Leo’s crazy uncle, a crowing rooster and Meat the English Bull Dog that is spoiled by all of them. There is lots of action, suspense, nail biting, trying to figure out who the mold/s is before it is too late. And of course the HOT HOT Super Sexy scenes that Ms. Walker is famous for writing!!! You will not regret getting this wonderful Novel.
PJ16 More than 1 year ago
Loved the new series. The characters are great and can't wait for each of their books. I really enjoyed the back story that told how they all got there. Action, heat, humor all done beach style as only they can do. Can't wait for the next book. Lots of wonderful description of the location, boat and island.
sdeets More than 1 year ago
Leo can't get her out of his thoughts. Olivia needs him in more ways than one but carries the guilt for being responsible for the death of one of Leo's seal team. There's a lot of action, humor, tenderness and as usual, a bit of hotness between the characters. Good story line, easy to follow and you can see the layout for the stories to come. I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WolfFaerie17 More than 1 year ago
Leo "Lion" Anderson is a retired Navy SEAL turned Salvage Crew team leader along with the rest of his SEAL team. Leo can't seem to forget CIA Agent Olivia Mortier and their soul scorching kiss year and half later. Olivia Mortier thought she'd seen the last of Leo Anderson but now she's going to be asking him for a favor. Olivia's thoughts circle around her head whenever she thinks of Leo. Olivia has kept tabs on Leo's whereabouts and knows he's in need of money. Olivia waltzes over the sandy beach of Key West which leaves Leo speechless at the sight of her. Can Olivia go thru asking Leo for a favor? Will either Leo or Olivia admit their feelings? Your answers await you in Hell or High Water. What a smashing great beginning for this new series that is a spin-off from Black Knights Series! I'm so glad to be reading this series. I love the characters and the story! The story taught me much about deep sea diving and boats along with what could potentially could go wrong. The story is complex, compelling, intriguing, real, and a real page turner. This book hit the ground running from first page to the last page. The characters are real, flawed, honest, down to earth, fascinating, and complicated too. I look forward to more books in this exciting new series.
Pure_Jonel More than 1 year ago
What a rush! Walker launches her latest series with suspense, intrigue, action, and unbridled passion. The story comes to life through her vivid narrative, bringing you along for the ride. The intricate and unforgettable plot weaves together in such a manner that you can feel the action of the tale. At the same time, the danger and intrigue kept my heart pounding. I loved getting to know these characters in such an up-close and personal manner. The camaraderie between the characters really did it for me. These aren’t simply individuals thrown together by circumstances; they are friends who’ve been to hell and back together. The verbal and nonverbal communication between them highlighted just how close they are while also showing who they are as individuals. And let’s not forget the fantastic main characters that Walker introduces us to. They were the type of individuals that I could really root for. The chemistry between them was undeniable, and I couldn’t help but laugh at everything that came between them. This novel was fast paced, captivating and hauntingly suspenseful from beginning to end. Walker has definitely created a crew that will do this series proud. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
ReaderLoverKV More than 1 year ago
Excellent, Excellent Excellent read!!! I could not put the book down, Lol. Mrs. Walker's word building and strong alpha character driven men is totally awesome. I started this book late yesterday evening and read the entire thing until 3am! I did not want to go to sleep until I had finished every luscious page of Leo & Olivia's story! WOW! I mean just, WOW! Very informative, even to the minute detail in describing her former Navy Seals-Deep Six team, who upon retirement found 4 of the 6 (Wolf, Monet, Bran, Romeo, Doc, and Leo-The Lion Anderson) back in the waters again to help heart and country to save innocents all with a deep love story. Amazing! Non-stop action and witty, sarcastic dialogue from these wonderful men. I CANNOT WAIT for the continuation of this series, which if you have read her Black Knights, Inc story includes reference to those alpha men as well. I can't express the love I have for this book and the wonderful men that they are! Please hurry for the next book in this particular series as I anxiously await her next book in the Black Knights, Inc series!
In_My_Humble_OpinionDA More than 1 year ago
Action, adventure,danger, romance and a ton of fun. Julie Ann Walker has done it again in this spin off from her Black Knights Inc series.
BooksnKisses More than 1 year ago
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 4 REVIEW: WOW!!! When Julie Ann wants to start a new series she does it in style. Hell or High Water is book one in the Deep Six series and we get to me Leo “The Lion” Anderson and his band of merry men. They are all ex-Navy SEALs. All trying to put a real life together after a promise to a fallen comrade. But of course things can’t so smoothly. Oh no.... smooth would be to easy. I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed learning about all the guys a little. Their backstory is heartbreaking and I will admit I shed a few tears. The adventure kept me turning the pages. The tension between Leo & Olivia was a perfect balance to tug and pull. It was also great to get a little cameo from one of Ms. Walker’s Black Knight Inc. characters :) I can’t wait to see what is next for this six guys. The future is looking pretty bright even if they have to go deep to find it. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley & SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
My_Peace More than 1 year ago
Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker is an entertaining, fast paced start to the Deep Six series. With a realistic, modern day plot full of action, adventure, and very real threats, Hell or High Water was an intriguing read. I liked the unique setting and adventure that Julie Ann Walker writes about in Hell or High Water...almost like a very modern pirates on the seas story. I loved the water and the mysteries that it contains, the treasures waiting to be found. She really made me interested to find out what would happen next! Olivia and Leo are strong main characters. Olivia is CIA, but lately she has found she wants more than just her job. It is her job that brings her back to Leo, with whom she has a brief past. He's never forgotten her, and no one can measure up to her. Circumstances forced them to part company though, and they've never reconnected until now. I could feel the connection and chemistry between them, and I liked that this is a couple who is reconnecting and have a past, however fleeting it was. I liked how Leo was. He was such an alpha, but he totally respects Olivia and what her job entails. They are both believable characters, although there are some aspects of Olivia's job that had me wondering about the CIA! The sea brings them together again, but the journey to the future is unknown and I couldn't wait to see how this would all work out. Olivia is conflicted, and Leo has his own goals in life too. I could easily picture them together! Julie Ann Walker introduces us to a lot of secondary characters in Hell or High Water, setting the stage for more stories in this series. I really liked them all, the relationship between them, and how they interacted. They are all essential to the story and the series. For an adventurous, action packed adventure on the sea with a powerful plot and just as powerful characters, I'd recommend Hell or High Water to any romantic suspense reader.
tigerlilly_liz More than 1 year ago
~ 3 Hell or High Water Stars ~ Hell or High Water is book one in Julie Ann Walker’s new Deep Six series. I have to say I LOVE her Black Knights Inc. series and was expecting something along this line. I was not disappointed per say, just not as into this first book as I hoped to be. Hell or High Water is told in multiple POV’s. We are given lots of pop culture references throughout. The plot was interesting with flushing out a CIA mole and retrieving chemical weapons. The prologue was confusing until I read the fist chapter, which explains that our retired Navy SEAL’s are now treasure hunters instead of working for the government. JAW does a good jump introducing us to our seven Hot and Sexy retired Navy SEAL’s. I enjoyed getting to see each of these men and learning why they choose not to reenlist, though the reason is a very sad and an emotional one. This story has some very strong emotions and lots of upheaval for our leads and secondary characters. The start of the story is kinda on the slow side for me and it really never picked up. We don’t get as much action/adventure as I am use too from JAW and what action we do get I was not as into.  I like Leo “The Lion” Anderson our team leader. He is loyal and even after retirement he still feels a responsibility towards his men. I liked that he differed to the others before making a decision and that he put others before himself. As for Olive, she is confident and has courage, but I still went back and forth on liking her or not. I think it had to do with her past and the emotional issues it caused her. Also I was bothered that Olive did not confess what happened in Syria, when it became obvious that this secret would come out. Our secondary characters especially Bran where amazing. Bran added some great humor, which kept the story going for me. I really enjoyed the times he interrupted Olive and Leo’s sexy time. The set up for Bran and Madison was great too and I can’t wait for his story. He really stood out in this one. Hell or High Water was an enjoyable read and a good start, but it did not wow me as her Black Knights Inc series. I will be picking up the next book in the Deep Six series.   *Disclaimer: Review copy provided by Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley with the sole purpose of an honest review. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.
JackieBCentralTexasJB More than 1 year ago
Read from June 07 to 09, 2015 Book Info Mass MARKET Paperback, 384 pages Expected publication: July 7th 2015 by Sourcebooks CASABLANCA ISBN 1492608904 (ISBN13: 9781492608905) edition language English series other editions (1) Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links Amazon B&N BOOK SYNOPSIS In a world on the brink… Six men. One sunken Spanish galleon. Millions in gold and silver coins lying on the ocean floor. And a past that refuses to let the guys of Deep Six Salvage forget the Navy SEAL motto: the only easy day was yesterday... There's more than one kind of treasure… The nation's security has always been CIA agent Olivia Mortier's top priority. But a mission-gone-wrong has begun to make her wonder if there's more to life than risking hers. And more than one secret at the bottom of the sea… Only two things could make Leo Anderson abandon his hunt for the legendary lost ship, La Santa Christina, and return to the world of weapons and warfare he swore to leave behind: a capsule of enriched uranium, lost on the ocean floor, and a plea for assistance from the one woman he can't seem to forget... My Thoughts The dynamics in this were interesting, part action adventure, part romantic suspense, part mystery and an eclectic cast of all around bold as brass characters who you will want to read more about in books to come. Flashing back in time for the beginning prologue setting up the future story was kind of disconcerting at first and than made sense the further into the book I read. Enjoyed the characters, the action scenes, the romance angle and the buildup to an ending that led to hope for a spectacular new beginning for not only Leo and Olivia but his 5 friends and business partners as well. Not the best first book in a new series but by no means the worst either. [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it