"Joan Swan writes riveting twists and turns like no one else!"--New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Tyler
For seven years, Halina Beloi has been in hiding. But she's never forgotten Mitch Foster, the long, lean man she had to leave behind. Until, that is, Mitch shows up with a list of questions and a 9mm in his hand.
All Mitch knows is that Halina broke his heart and disappeared. But new information has surfaced implicating her as a player in the deadliest game of Mitch's life. This time, he's not letting go without answers. Now terror, danger and heat will fuse them together or shatter the future. . .
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By Joan Swan
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Joan Swan
All rights reserved.
Heather Raiden sat on the floor of her darkened home on Lake Washington in Seattle and stared at the midnight blackness through her night-vision goggles. The man she'd been watching for two nights remained huddled in the compact speedboat he'd rented under the name Dane Zimerelli.
He'd dropped anchor in the perfect location to view Heather's living room, kitchen, and bedroom, all on the lake side of the property.
"I hope he's freezing his balls off out there."
At her elbow, Dexter picked up on the bitterness in her voice and whined. Lowering the binoculars, she ran her hand along the shepherd's silky-soft fur. His brows darted with his gaze, making him look truly worried. He was an incredibly sensitive animal, frighteningly intelligent. And her very best friend.
"Don't look at me like that. I can't just sit here and do nothing."
She reconsidered her options. Cops would brush her off. A private investigator would take time. Ignoring Zimerelli had potentially lethal consequences. And she'd spent seven long years preventing those lethal consequences.
Heather hurried through the darkness to her bedroom with Dex's nails clicking behind her on the hardwood. When she stepped through the door, he pushed past her, jumped on the bed, and lay in that alert pose, head up and watching every move.
"Everything I've done will be wasted if I don't act now. All my sacrifices ..."
She stopped and closed her eyes, absorbing the weight of loss that always came with the thought. So many sacrifices. But only one she regretted.
Only one that haunted her.
Already dressed in black, Heather slipped on dark, lightweight running shoes and tightened the laces. In the bathroom, she wrapped her long hair into a bun. Her mind and body immediately slipped back into the training she'd gained. Training she had, admittedly, hoped never to use. Training that was still just training because she'd never utilized it in real life. But she'd also known deep down she'd need it some day.
Resigned, focused, she headed for the door leading to the garage and pulled her slim black jacket from the peg. She slipped it on, crouched in front of Dex standing faithfully at her feet, and hugged him tight.
"Ya lyublyu tebya," she whispered, her throat closing tight around each Russian word, a reminder of the past she'd fought so hard to leave behind. "I love you so much, sweet boy," she repeated in English with more emphasis, because once just didn't feel like enough.
With a kiss to his muzzle, she stood, met his eyes, and firmed her voice when she commanded him to protect the property. "Zashchita."
In the garage, Heather located her black canvas duffel at the base of the stairs. Adrenaline fizzed through her blood. The duffel's zipper ripped the silence and tension pulled at her skin. She clenched a penlight between her teeth, pulled the Heckler & Koch .45 semiauto from the bag, and checked the remaining contents—lock hacker, silencer, extra ammo, rags, bleach-laden wipes, latex gloves.
As she turned the key in the engine of her BMW, Heather experienced fear, resignation, the dark thrill of power. And anger over having to use such drastic and brutal measures to take back control over her life.
"Maybe there's more of my family in me than I thought."
She backed from the garage with the sick realization sticking to her like tar.
Heather left her sleepy Laurelhurst neighborhood for the streets bordering the University of Washington, still dotted with cars and pedestrians. Fear drummed its fingers on the back of her neck. What-ifs teased her mind into tangles. Her neighbors would take care of Dex if anything happened to her. She'd set up charitable trusts to receive her assets.
Heather located the stalker's rental and parked a block down and turned the car off. But as she waited, she realized that having her death in order didn't help her face the possibility.
Another deep shiver wracked his body, and Mitch Foster clenched his teeth around a growl. "My dick's turning into an icicle."
He lowered the night-vision binoculars and reached for the thermos of coffee, but it was empty. He chucked the container at the floor of the boat, glaring at the darkened house. "Screw this."
Halina Dubrovsky had turned out the lights over half an hour ago and he couldn't see shit. Her boyfriend, some dude named Dex, hadn't shown up for two days. Didn't matter. Even if the guy did appear, Mitch had enough information on Halina's daily activities now to confront her without running into him.
When Mitch cornered her, she wasn't going to have anywhere to turn. Anywhere to run.
Not this time.
He started the motor and crawled toward shore, holding his speed down for silence and warmth. Huddled behind the windshield, he pulled his phone from his pocket and hit the speed dial for Kai Ryder.
"What's new?" Kai answered.
"Genital hypothermia," Mitch said. "My nuts are buddying up with my kidneys."
"You have two? Balls, I mean. I thought you were down at least one."
"Shut the fuck up. How are Lys and Brady?" he asked, hating himself for missing the birth of his first nephew.
"Great. You'd never know Alyssa had a baby last week, and Brady and I are totally bonding."
"I hate you." He was only half joking.
Kai laughed, the asshole. "Was it worth it?"
"No." His teeth were starting to chatter. "No sign of the boyfriend. No friends. No activities. She rows in the morning, works all day, goes to the gym, runs with her dog."
And she played with her dog. And cuddled with her dog. And freaking slept with her dog. She was so damned sweet to that animal it made his teeth grind. And that was just one of the behaviors he found incongruent with what he'd learned of her over the last few days.
"Mmm," Kai hummed. "Bet she's got a killer bod."
"Ryder," he warned.
He didn't need any reminders. He'd been watching her for two days and she wasn't particularly discreet when it came to changing clothes. But then, under normal conditions, she wouldn't need to be. From the street, her home was virtually nondescript, the only entries the front door and one curtained window. Lakeside, the house was nearly all glass, but its orientation and landscaping created a seclusion Mitch could only get around with a boat specifically positioned on the lake and a pair of binoculars.
He hit a dense patch of fog and another tremor gripped him bone deep. "Shit. I thought I knew fog, but this place is colder than San Francisco. What intel did you get? I'm going to confront her in the morning before she goes to work."
"She's a secretive little thing," Kai said.
"No shit," Mitch muttered.
"From what I've found, she's not using her real name for anything. She's completely dropped it. The alias Heather Raiden goes back seven years, and I still think her using your middle name for her last name is ... odd. Kinda creepy, actually. I mean, it's almost like there's a message there or something."
Mitch got that feeling, too, though he kept vacillating over the possible meaning. "Like, 'Fuck you, Foster. You're too stupid to find me even when I'm using your name?' That kind of message?"
But even as he said the words, he didn't believe them. Not at gut level. When she'd walked out on him, she hadn't been cruel. She'd been ... withdrawn. She'd been ... resolute. Keeping her husband a secret from Mitch—yes, that had been cruel. But when she'd admitted it, when she'd broken off her relationship with Mitch to go back to the husband, she hadn't done it in a careless or vicious way.
Even now, seven years later, his gut told him that if the man hadn't been there with her, silently standing sentinel when she'd confessed and broken it off, she wouldn't have been able to do it. Wouldn't have been able to resist his pleas for an explanation. For a chance to talk to her—in private.
God, he'd been such a fool for her. And remembering still both hurt and angered him.
Kai made an indecisive sound in his throat. "I don't get that."
Hope percolated to the surface. "You're picking up emotions from her?"
Kai was only one of seven firefighters exposed to radioactive chemicals in a military warehouse fire six years before. The way the chemicals had warped their DNA gave each member of the team paranormal abilities. Kai was empathic, but generally only picked up on emotions from those close by or those endangering the team. And at the moment, Kai was eight hundred miles away.
"No," Kai said, but he didn't sound convincing. "I think this is more intuition."
"Screw intuition." If Mitch clenched his teeth any harder, they'd crack. "Either use your powers or get me hard intel. I don't want to hear any shit in between."
"Damn, you're irritable. You're bringing me down, dude."
"Ice cubes generally aren't warm and fuzzy." Neither were men tracking down exes for explanations about conspiracies ruining their lives. He pulled into the slip designated for the rented boat and tied off. "And what the hell's up with your new attitude, Ryder? Did you get yourself a new lay or did you just finally get that stick out of your ass?"
"Someone sounds jealous," Kai said, singing the last word. "I know where you can find a good stick ..."
"Got that covered, thanks."
"Ah, good point. Back to said stick—her job at the university deals with vaccine research. She's evidently making headway in this new wave of DNA vaccines. She's well respected in the field. Travels, lectures, publishes in trade journals."
"How nice for her, but hardly scintillating." Although that remnant of her altruistic personality was just another annoying paradox. "Move on."
"She's low, low profile. No scandals. No legal disputes. No community work. No charity work. No family. No deep personal ties that I can find at all. I think Keira's abilities went askew here. I can't find anyone named Dex or Dexter in her life at all."
Keira O'Shay, another firefighter in the team, was clairaudient and had been trying to pick up thoughts from Halina by using a photograph Mitch had dug up from their time together.
He jumped to the dock and rain tapped his face as he jogged toward his rental. He couldn't understand why it wasn't snowing. It was sure as hell cold enough. He unlocked the car with a press of a button on the key fob and slid in.
"The more I need all your so-called powers, the more limits pop up," Mitch complained. "Talk about annoying."
"Dude, she's not working with an ideal candidate. Why don't you call me back when you warm up."
Mitch cranked the heater and revved the engine. "Tell me about her finances. Her house is small, but in a prime location. Comparable properties run well over a million bucks. She's driving a nearly new, fifty-thousand-dollar BMW."
"Don't bite my head off, okay?" Kai said, irritation deepening his voice with warning, "—but I don't know. She makes a little over a hundred grand a year at U of W. She rarely gets more than her expenses paid when she lectures. And we haven't been able to find any strange influx of cash. So, unless she's drug running on the side—"
"Or got a big payoff seven years ago ..." Mitch muttered. That probability twisted the hot knife that had already plunged to the center of his body. As if she hadn't betrayed him enough in their relationship, the discovery of Halina's involvement in this conspiracy was beyond any sick plot he'd witnessed in his criminal law practice.
"Jessica has been combing through Schaeffer's financials," Kai said, referencing another team member. "She hasn't found evidence of a payoff."
"Yet." The car's heater melted the chill from the interior, but not from Mitch's soul. Halina's immersion in this conspiracy meant everyone who mattered to him was living in fear because of something that had involved him. "She will. I have no doubt."
"And I thought I was jaded," Kai said.
"So, basically, you've got nothing I can use."
"You're so welcome for giving up my week and researching this chick fifteen hours a day, dude. Though, I have to admit, the pictures were worth it. Where do you find these women? One is hotter than the next. This one, though ... she may be my favorite. She's got a really exotic look—"
"I'm tempted not to tell you what Ransom discovered about her trainer," Kai said, "and let her kick your ass tomorrow morning."
Mitch braked hard before turning out of the parking lot. He idled there, his mind suddenly consumed by this flash of information.
"Ransom" was Luke Ransom, another team member and former firefighter who now worked as an ATF agent.
"What kind of pictures?" Mitch asked. "And what trainer? Why do you save all the good stuff for when I'm ready to hang up on you?"
"Just a few photos, really. Considering how long and deep I had to look to find them, I'd bet she doesn't even know they're on the Internet. A couple are from her lectures. A couple are of her with the U of W rowing team. She's given clinics there in the past.
"Luke says her trainer is a retired marine Special Forces guy with a company called Precision Tactical. He teaches everything from hand-to-hand combat to marksmanship. Gives classes out of Halina's gym. Runs clinics around the country for both military and civilian groups. Has a dojo in the back of his storefront where he sells the highest tech weapons and surveillance equipment between San Francisco and Seattle."
Mitch's brow fell. This was the strangest information of all.
"That's ... weird. Halina was so antiviolence she wouldn't let me kill a bug in the house."
"Hello," Kai said, his voice dripping sarcasm. "No one on the team but me had even held a gun before Schaeffer came into their lives. Now look at them—everyone but Seth is a near expert in every weapon from handguns to hand grenades, and even Seth carries when he feels the need. Schaeffer has a way of turning people violent."
That was very true. And Mitch didn't like the way this information was shaping up. He'd walked into this planned confrontation on solid ground: Halina was a traitor. And even while 80 percent of the information still pointed in that direction, he was getting undercurrents of something amiss.
Mitch joined light traffic on the main street, still alive with college students. "She hasn't gone to the store since I've been following her. But she's at the gym every day. What kind of classes does he teach there?"
"Krav Maga," Kai said. "Luke says her instructor is an expert. Learned the techniques directly from Israeli Defense Forces during his time in the military."
Mitch's mind flipped back to his last sighting of Halina in a sports bra and shorts before she'd disappeared into the bathroom, then emerged in a silk slip of nothing before turning off the light for the night. The memory of all those sleek lines, the hint of ab and arm muscles created by subtle shadow, the fullness of her breasts against that dark silk ...
At a stoplight, he squeezed his eyes shut and shook the image from his head. Yes, she definitely had the toned body of someone training hard. But the radical nature of Krav Maga, an aggressive self-defense technique focused on brutal counterattacks and utilizing a myriad of fighting techniques from street-grappling to judo was extreme, to say the least.
"Ryder, are you just screwing with me again?"
"No, dude, what I'm telling you the woman Dubrovsky was before is very different from the one we're collecting information on now. This shit isn't adding up. Which is why I think I'm getting these bizarre vibes."
"Vibes." Mitch rubbed tired eyes. "Really? You can't give me something better than vibes?"
"She has two weapons registered in Heather's name."
Mitch swerved to the side of the road and stopped. He couldn't drive with all this shit flying. "What?"
"Twenty-first-century update," Kai said. "Chicks shoot guns. Even chicks who aren't freaking snipers like Keira. And, I have to say, it really turns me on."
"TMI. I don't want to know what twisted shit turns you on, Ryder." Mitch's fingers had gone white around the steering wheel. "And Halina wasn't any chick. I had one nine millimeter seven years ago and she hated that thing. When she found out I owned a gun, she got really weird for, like, days. Kept breaking dates with me. Refused to sleep with me until the damn thing was locked in a safe in the closet. She bought the freaking gun safe for me. Wouldn't look at the gun, let alone touch it."
Excerpted from Shatter by Joan Swan. Copyright © 2014 Joan Swan. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Good but not as good as the other books in the series. I loved Mitch but Halina was disappointing at times, with her obsession to run rather than to trust Mitch. Also, not as much action as in previous books and the little that happened was quite predictable. Let 's hope the next one improves.
Reviewed by Jen Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book I’ve been reading this series since book one and I’ve been anxiously waiting Mitch’s story. I was so glad to hear that with Shatter we’re finally getting it. This is book four of the Phoenix Rising series and it will definitely read better if you’ve read the previous installments. As a quick summary, years earlier there was an explosion at a chemical warehouse and the firefighters called in were exposed to the chemicals stored there… and well, they developed some interesting new abilities. As the series as evolved, the team of firefighters are trying to figure out what happened and who is responsible… and if there’s a cure. So now we’re at book four and they’re one step closer to solving the mystery of the chemicals. And when they’re introduced to Halina, they’re even closer. And seeing as Halina and Mitch have a history… wow! I actually really liked Halina. She’s a strong woman, but has been on the run for years since she’s afraid for her life. She’s a super smart woman, who had worked for the government, but got in over her head and things that she knows has put her in danger. And when Mitch shows up on her doorstep, things just go haywire. Halina is just cool. She’s got this awesome guard dog, she has self defense skills and she has a huge heart and she just doesn’t want to hurt anyone. She’s gone to great lengths and deprived herself of love and really any attachments due to something that happened in the past. It was awesome to watch her come to terms and then move past the past. Mitch on the other hand is a little overbearing. I mean, he’s been that way since book one. But I thought that perhaps he’d mellow a little when it was time for his story. But it’s almost like he got worse. This is a reunion story and like most of its kind within the romance genre, it’s not going to go smoothly. There are a lot of trust issues to overcome and questions to be answered. Mitch tends to be a bit of a hard ass since he wants those answers and wants them now, but Halina is digging her heels in and refuses to give him what he wants. They butt heads, sparks fly… well, it’s a romance, you know how it’s going to end. The over-arcing plot for this series is advanced greatly during this story and more twists and turns are thrown the reader’s way. I can’t wait to see where this is going to go.
Hmmmm. I’ve either having preemptive withdrawals or some major denial going on. Just finished reading Shatter and I feel shattered. For the last few years, Mitch has been a part of the group, but yet also apart from the group. The Phoenix Rising series initially focused on a Hazmat team; firefighters that were injured in a huge hazmat explosion. Mitch is the twin brother of the first heroine in the series, Alyssa. He has no special skills or abilities other than being a great big arrogant pain in the butt that has the connections to keep his new family secure and safe. He is always great for comic relief and a complete trouble maker. He is a known womanizer and a brilliant attorney and in his own way the backbone of this whole group. Halina was introduced to us towards the end of book three, Rush. From the moment Mitch sees her face, you knew that his story was going to be a wild ride. Mitch was always the calm, collective one in the group; keeping his head straight and on track. One look of Halina and his world begins to crumble around him and Shatter is his story. He never thought he would see her again, but he has found her and he is going to make her explain how she is involved in the circumstances that are continually putting his family in danger and why she lied to him. Their interactions are heated and passionate. But they also hold a hopelessness that grabs you deep in your soul. As you watch his discovery of why she left him, you hurt for him and also share in his joy. It’s simply divine. Ms. Swan wrote an amazing tale that may or may not have wrapped up this series. I honestly have no idea if it is the ending or not and that bugs me. Even though the plot behind what happened to the group is answered and justice is served, I am left wanting more. Seth was totally dropped. He was on a mission that ended abruptly with no mention of him and then there is Kai. Kai is a man with a mysterious aura and has many issues that are just under the surface. Does his story get told? Even though these potentially great characters seem to have been forgotten; from the first book to this last book it has been an amazing and wondrous read. Ms. Swan has fashioned an amazing world filled with characters that are very engaging and real with a plot that is intricate and yet simple to follow. My only problem is the few unanswered questions, but all in all this is one top notch series that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Well written with heart, passion and soul.
Joan never seems to miss in her Phoenix Rising series and this time it was a bulls-eye! Mitch Foster’s life has been turned upside down and backwards ever since he first started investigating the strange goings on in which Senator Gil Schaeffer is involved. Seven years ago, when the woman he loved, Halina Dubrovsky, showed up with a husband and then left him, he had no idea that she was tied to Schaeffer and the experiments that left the team of firefighters who had become his family with unusual abilities. Now, as the truth begins to unravel from learning that her name is actually Halina Beloi, and that she was never married to the fact she was also exposed to the same chemical that gave his friends their powers. His past, his love for her, and his need to keep her in his life comes to the forefront and all he knows now is he needs her and the truth. Halina Beloi’s life has been about protecting those she loved, including Mitch Foster, the man she never stopped loving and is still doing all she can to protect by staying as far away from him as possible. When Mitch finds her, everything begins to unravel and she’s back in the crosshairs of whomever Schaeffer sends after her. She holds the proof needed to take Schaeffer down and expose the work that DARPA had been doing for over seven years. SHATTER by Joan Swan is everything I expected it to be and more. It is filled with intrigue, action, romance, second chances, and danger. Mitch has always been one of my favorite characters and he didn’t disappoint as the sarcastic, somewhat arrogant, smartass guy that I first fell for after meeting him in FEVER. Halina is a cross between the sweetest of angels and River Tam from FIREFLY. She’s soft, sweet, emotional, and very much in love with Mitch yet as dangerous as any human weapon can be. She’s tough yet compassionate and caring. She’s all I would want and need to complete Mitch’s life, and Joan gives her to Mitch and us, in SHATTER. As always, we are treated to the various team members of the Phoenix team and never tire of their bickering, their supportive natures, and their skills. Quaid and Cash, who joined the team in the last book, RUSH, play large roles in SHATTER and couldn’t be more welcome and Kai, who I hope gets his HEA someday, is still the delightful smartass that we all adore. I highly recommend SHATTER, book four in the Phoenix Rising series by Joan Swan. If you love action, intrigue, and a wonderful second chance romance combined with suspense, danger, and angst-filled moments that will keep you turning the pages, SHATTER by Joan Swan is for you. ***purchased this one for my own private reading but sharing my honest and unscripted review with you
I love this series! There are so many layers to it! Mitch has been one of my favorite characters from his very first appearance. He is such a smart-aleck, yet so sweet! I think Halina was a great match for him! I love how much crap she gives him too!! She is definitely spunky!! I can't wait to see what awaits us next in this series!! I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have now read every book listed here on B&N for Joan Swan and I loved this one the best. I loved Mitche's story. He has been my favorite character by far and I loved the action in this one. Mitch's wit and cunning remarks in the past stories have been able to make me laugh out loud and I have had very few authers able to do that for me. I cant wait until Swan gives me more. I look forward to seeing more in the future.
OMG, great series. A must read. Should definitely read in order---Fever is nook one
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 4 REVIEW: Mitch, Mitch, Mitch. I think it is safe to say that we have all come to love Alyssa’s smart ass brother Mitch. He has definitely keep things fun and exciting over the course of the Phoenix Rising series. In Shatter Mitch finally meets his match. Well re-meets. Halina is a woman from the past, a past that Mitch wished that he could forget but never will. While Halina may hold the answers to helping the team with their future, she also is the only one that can help Mitch let go of the past. But working together not only makes Mitch realize that he is not over this woman. He realized that he never will be. And that makes the choices that need to be made just that much more difficult. I love the Phoenix Rising series. And Mitch’s book is just great. I love that Mitch is such a smart a$$. I loved that Halina gets the best of him a time or two. I mean really nothing says I love you like a gun in your face or getting your butt kicked by the girl you love right??? If you have enjoyed the first 4 books in the Phoenix Rising story you will love Mitch’s book!! If you have not started the series you really need to start with book one. This series follows a timeline and while you might be able to read Shatter. You would be a little lost with the references from the past. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley & Kensington Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
A brilliant installment to the Phoenix Rising series! I have been a fan of this series from the very beginning. In book 1, FEVER, we were introduced to Alyssa's twin brother. Helloooo, Mitch Foster! As the series grows, his fan base seems to grow as well. I mean, how can one read this series and not fall in love with this cocky, smart-mouthed, confident attorney with the playboy personality, and how the hell does he have all these connections!? Fans championed for his story, and now here it is. Joan Swan does not disappoint! SHATTER is fan-freaking brilliant!!! “This was classic Mitch—the Mitch she'd known all those years ago. He'd always seemed to own an endless well of patience and compassion and love inside him.” Shatter reveals a much more tender and vulnerable Mitch. The title for his book is so appropriate. It's been seven years since his heart had been shattered into a million pieces by Halina Beloi. Mitch finally catches up to her, and now he's demanding answers. Did he even truly know her at all? “Trouble—she was definitely trouble. Always had been in one way or another. Trouble for his body. Trouble for his mind. Trouble for his heart.” In the beginning I didn't know what to make of Halina. Yes, she's scientifically intelligent and can stand her ground well against threat, but why the heck did she leave Mitch in the dust years ago? Well, what is revealed is very insightful, and one thing is for sure...she never stopped thinking of him. “He was too close to his breaking point. No one pushed him like Halina did. No one.” The entire team is back in this book. Yay! Mitch struggles emotionally throughout this story. Is Halina worth the risk? Is she worth risking getting hurt again? I love how the team helps Mitch see things in a different perspective as he sorts out his feeling for Halina. They are truly an awesome, supportive group! Their banter is funny and how they work together as a cohesive team continues to be fascinating. “We are magic together, baby. Always have been.” It is no surprise to me that Shatter is full of action, nail-biting suspense, and steamy romance. Joan Swan writes all that so deliciously well. What did surprise me was how significant Shatter is to the series. Ms. Swan ties Mitch's story so beautifully to the series arc. Everything that happens blows my mind in such an amazing way! Although just enough back story is provided, I truly feel that to get a full understanding of the series and characters that this series is best read in order. I promise you that getting to Mitch's book is worth it! Even if you start with this book, at least you'll get a lovely dose of what this team is all about and perhaps consider picking up the previous books. Loved, loved, loved the ending to Shatter!!! Thank you, Joan Swan, for giving us a captivating and incredible story for Mitch! “Baby, you have to admit, us together—that was crazyamazing.” *A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.*
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an advance reader edition of this book from Kensington Books and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review. This book was a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me. There was a lot of action and romance and to be honest I just LOVED the Hero, Mitch. After I started the book I noticed that Goodreads had it labeled as book #4 in the series. I have not read any other books in this series or by Joan Swan and had no trouble keeping up. That being said, I do think that the reader would benefit from reading the series in order. There were quite a few characters that were most likely introduced in previous books. Knowing the full back story of the supporting characters would have added more depth to this story. I also believe that there is an overall story arc through the series. Since this was the series conclusion a lot was explained but there were a few points in the book that I wish I had read the previous novels. As with most things, it is better to start at the beginning but this book can be thoroughly enjoyed on its own. Halina has been in hiding for the past 7 years and has assumed a new identity. She left Mitch 7 years ago saying that she was going to try to work things out with her husband. Mitch was crushed and has spent the past 7 years going out with woman after woman. Halina sees Mitch running surveillance on her and confronts him. There is an altercation that ends with Halina and Mitch running together from a bigger enemy. Mitch and Halina still have the same chemistry as before but are both guarded with each other. Mitch does not want to be hurt again and Halina feels that the only way to keep Mitch safe is to stay away from him. The couple connects with Mitch's friends to work together to bring down Schaeffer and Abernathy. In the end, they are able to work out their issues and have their happily ever after. This book brought together the right balance of action, romance, and steamy sex with just a hint of a paranormal element. There was even a perfectly written sidekick for Halina - Dex, the most awesome dog ever. I thought that Mitch was a very well written character and the author was able to make the reader feel everything he was feeling. I did not feel quite the same with Halina. Mitch was definitely the star of this show. I would recommend this book to anyone who like an exciting romantic suspense. If you can start with book #1, it would probably even be that much better. I will definitely look for the other books in this series and by this author, Joan Swan.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 ¿¿ Growing up without parents in Russia, Halina Beloi was placed in the care of an abusive uncle, where she managed to survive by learning to adapt until she could stand on her own. She eventually lands work as a scientist for the Department of Defense where she becomes involved in research that causes her to question her superior. From that moment on, her life and the life of her lover are put on the line and Halina sees no other option than to disappear, completely. Until seven years later, she is suddenly face to face with the man whose heart she broke. For all these years, Mitch Foster had harboured a hot resentment for Halina, for the way she just up and left him, rendering what they had shared meaningless. But his ongoing investigation in the department that Halina had worked for has finally caught up with her, albeit under a different name. Seven long years and all he has is questions, and he is not about to let her go without some answers this time. People's lives are at stake and the man responsible has to be brought down once and for all. Mitch knows Halina is holding back secrets, just like she must have when they were still together, but she seems so vulnerable and defeated, he has a hard time understanding her motivations. His body seems to recognize her without hesitation and responds as eager as it always had to her proximity. It is proving virtually impossible to keep his distance, but his head and his heart cannot take another blow from the woman he had planned to spend the rest of his life with. Being with Mitch again was both heaven and hell for Halina. She would like nothing better than to nestle in his arms and tell him all, but to do so would put him in more danger than he was already in. She would do anything to protect him and his family, despite what he thinks of her. But when it becomes clear that her manipulations and lies are not doing anything to deflect the danger any longer, Halina had to make the choice to come clean, or forever lose the man who owns her heart. That is, if they survive...... ****** Twisting intrigue, a hint of paranormal, a solid lick of heat and a whole lot of action!!!! I have to admit, the first few pages of the book, I was afraid I would not be able to get the backstory together, not having read all the previous books in the series. But I shouldn't have worried, the story came together just fine and I read it in one sitting!! Delicious! I'm such a sucker for a good action/romance combo! It's the double thrill that does it for me, and add to that some steamy sex, which is one of Joan's specialties, and I'm sold. Halina is a bit of a broken soul, even before she meets Mitch the first time around, she has been deeply damaged by her childhood. More deeply than perhaps is visible at that time. Her upbringing has taught her to respond to threats in a certain way out of self-preservation, and that has become so instinctual, that it is a hard habit to kick, even when around people who wouldn't harm you. Self-reliance is the only thing she knows and trusts and she has invested a lot of time and effort into ensuring she is at her best at all time. Letting someone close, or leaning on someone does not come natural, but she craves it with Mitch. Mitch has been blessed with the closeness of family and friends and knows how to enjoy it. He had been sure at one time Halina was his future, and was still coming to terms with the fact he had been so mistaken. He is used to protecting and taking care of others, even in his work he is not afraid to take on Goliath if it means righting a wrong. Trying to make sense of his own conflicted feelings around Halina is not easy, when half of him despises her for what he thinks she is part of, and the other half is as drawn to her as seven years ago. The description of her protagonists' internal struggles and their adjustments to ever-changing situations is very insightful and illustrates a solid growth of character. Joan Swan also has written an intricate piece of conspiracy that gives me goosebumps. Very clever!! Though I'm not usually a huge fan of the paranormal, I love it in this setting. A taste within the parameters of a straight story enhances it so much. It doesn't overwhelm, but is 'credible' in this instance. I'm almost a believer now! ¿An imaginative, chilling and provocative quest for truth.¿ **ARC provided in return for an honest review.**
Shatter by Joan Swan is the 4th book in her wonderful Phoenix Rising series. I have read and reviewed every book in this series from the start, and have loved every moment of this fantastic ride. I have been a big fan of Joan Swan from the first book, and Phoenix Rising has become one of my favorite series; as it is so well written; and each book has been filled with action, excitement, suspense, super team of friends, awesome couples, and steamy sexual chemistry between them. Our hero in Shatter has been one that we have been waiting for from the start. Mitch is one of our awesome and hot heroes, even though he has not been one of the men/women who developed unique powers due to a chemical explosion years before. It is Mitch, who is Alyssa’s (heroine of the 1st book) brother, who had the powerful connections & money to help protect and fight the evil enemies from DARPA. We knew Shatter would be Mitch’s story, as we learned at the end of Rush, about his long lost love, Halina. We meet Halina early, as she has built herself a new identity, after she left Mitch, 7 years before. Halina, being a scientist, worked for Schaeffer, our villain, who is behind the threats against our heroes. When Mitch comes face to face with Halina, his anger is evident, and Halina is shocked that he found her. Mitch wants the truth about why she left him, and her involvement with Schaeffer; the explosion that affected the members of the Firehouse, who now all have unique powers. Halina tries to escape Mitch a number of times, as she knows that once she is discovered, the enemy will kill him, to get what they want from her. She has never stopped loving Mitch, and spent these years watching him from afar; staying away just to protect him. Mitch finds some truths, which angers him even more, as he doesn’t understand or trust Halina, but he knows that he still loves her. Once they get to the compound where everyone is staying together, the story becomes even more exciting, with the team learning more about Halina, her powers, as she too was exposed to the chemicals; and her research for Schaeffer that may have some answers. The action is non stop, and it was just great to see all of our heroes together again, joining hands to fight a common enemy. I loved loved Dex, Halina’s well trained guard dog, who becomes part of the team. Most of all, I loved the romance between Mitch and Halina, even though Mitch was a bit rough with her early on, not knowing that Halina was trying to save him. You knew they both belonged together, as their chemistry was off the wall. I do not want to give spoilers, since this is an early review. Shatter is a wonderful addition to Joan Swan’s Phoenix Rising series. Each of the books in this series have been suspenseful, explosive non stop action, exciting, and tense; with the added element of Joan’s wonderful blend of steamy sex for each couple. If you want to read a book that has everything; excellent writing, romance, suspense, steamy sex, then look no further then Shatter. But start with Fever, the beginning of this fantastic series. Though there are some characters that can have their story told, Joan does tie up some loose ends, and Shatter could be the finale of this series, but I hope somehow we get to see more of these wonderful characters. If you have not read this series, what are you waiting for? When it comes to romance, suspense, with hot sexy couples, Joan Swan is one of the best.
Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite Shatter is the latest steamy, romantic novel by Joan Swan. It introduces the reader to Halina, a woman who goes by many names and has a seemingly mysterious background. Then we meet Mitch, a government agent who goes through women like cows go through a field of fresh grass. Mitch appears to be stalking Halina and we learn they have a shared past which is steamy and riddled with psychological issues. When the two are forced to work together in order to attempt to save Halina's life, things really heat up, both in the plot and in the personal lives of the two. Whom to trust is an ongoing issue and one which facilitates the plot and keeps the reader guessing who the good guys really are. There is intrigue galore and just when you think you have all the answers, Swan throws in another figure or issue for the reader to ponder. The characters in Shatter were likeable but not quite lovable due to their innate personality flaws. But Swan uses this to the advantage of the plot and it works well. We learn of the personal histories of the characters in bits and pieces such that we are left to speculate and congratulate when we piece together a bit more of the puzzle. When we finally get the puzzle assembled, we are immediately drawn to Halina and we become even more confused about Mitch. All of this makes for a delightful read in which murder, violence, and intrigue combine in a unique way to foster an enjoyable afternoon of romance and fun.
Fantastic Conclusion to a Fantastic Romantic Suspense Series. Though bittersweet, Shatter was a fantastic conclusion to Joan Swan's fantabulously smexy Phoenix Rising series. I've never been a big fan of the romantic suspense genre, but with the paranormal elements thrown in, I was hooked with Fever, the first book in the series. I have anxiously awaited the release of each book in the Phoenix Rising series as I wanted to know more about, not only the firefighters who were targeted, but also Alyssa's smart-aleck brother and lawyer extraordinaire, Mitch. It was soooo worth the wait. Mitch was so much more than I expected him to be. Yes he was in a position of power and has helped out all of the guys from the beginning but he had mostly been comedic relief for me as he was insanely snarky. I always looked forward to scenes with him in them because I knew at some point I would laugh. Knowing that Shatter was going to be about Mitch, I was curious how Ms. Swan was going to justify his man whoring ways. After all, who wants to be with a man who is constantly bed-hopping and incapable of love? I really shouldn't have been concerned and honestly a scene with Jessica late in the book totally made me love both of them more. Let's talk about Halina. We didn't learn anything about Halina's involvement with Schaeffer (and the conspiracy that started this whole mess) until the end of Rush. Even then it was brief and just enough for me to question who she was and what kinda hold she had over Mitch. I will admit that early on in Shatter I didn't particularly like her nor did I want her with Mitch. She came across as a liar and a manipulator who didn't care about anyone but herself. It takes great writing to make me completely change my viewpoint on a character but before the end I was totally rooting for Halina. I also want to note that you learn Halina's secrets when Mitch does. For the most part, Ms. Swan doesn't give anything away with Halina's thoughts so you're constantly wondering what else the girl is hiding and how it will impact Mitch and the rest of the guys. Shatter was intense, passionate, suspenseful, action-packed, and had one heck of a swoon-worthy ending. But like I said, it was bittersweet. I've grown to really love these characters and had hoped that we would get HEA's for all of them and that didn't happen. At least the storyline was tied up nice-and-tight and Schaeffer got his. I just wish we had gotten more details as I would have loved to see his butt fry. *eARC PROVIDED BY KENSINGTON BOOKS VIA NETGALLEY*
ABOUT THE BOOK: For seven years, Halina Beloi has been in hiding. But she's never forgotten Mitch Foster, the long, lean man she had to leave behind. Until, that is, Mitch shows up with a list of questions and a 9mm in his hand. All Mitch knows is that Halina broke his heart and disappeared. But new information has surfaced implicating her as a player in the deadliest game of Mitch's life. This time, he's not letting go without answers. Now terror, danger and heat will fuse them together or shatter the future. . . REVIEW: As with Joan Swan’s books, you get completely wrapped in the characters and the drama of the story. Ms. Swan has a way about her stories that stand out from any other. They are technically, in a way, paranormal, without really having all the paranormal craziness. In the Phoenix Rising series, a group of firefighters have been exposed to a certain chemical that was created by a group of scientists who work for an evil senator. This chemical exposure gives them different “extraordinary” powers, such as being able to take a bullet without dying, reading emotions, etc, etc. In Shatter, we are reintroduced to Alyssa’s brother, Mitch, and the scientist behind this whole thing, Halina. It’s interesting to see both of them overcome their pasts, and the betrayal they had went through seven years ago. It’s a sweet, sexy, and gripping story that will leave you wanting more. I highly recommend picking up this book, as well as the entire series. It is a story that will have you on the edge of your seat and wanting more long after the last page is turned. Five out of five stars for an awesome job!