"Keep the asset safe or die trying."
When a simple mission to deliver the beautiful and brilliant Vanessa Crosby to a safe house goes horribly wrong, ICE agent Diego Santero's life gets complicated. Keeping the anti-crime analyst safe from the notorious mercenaries after her program will put everything he's worked for at risk.
Relentlessly hunted and not knowing whom to trust, Diego takes Vanessa on the run, deep into the heart of the deadly Panamanian rain forest. Vanessa reminds herself that she's just another asset to the ruggedly handsome black ops agent until their intense situation leads to a release of passion neither expected. But even if they make it out alive, how can they ever have a future together?
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Gotta love Uncle Sam. He carried a big stick and an even bigger ego, which was the only explanation Diego Santero could think of for the presence of an actual frea-kin' sign on the door of the Department of Homeland Security's ICE attache office advertising its presence in Panama City.
Not that Diego's ego was any less bloated than the federal stiffs who issued him a salary, but at least he had the common sense to practice discretion. Too often his life and the lives of his crew depended on it.
Diego breezed past the office's main doors without slowing, striding around the rear of the building to an unmarked entrance. Flipping the bird to the goons watching him through the security camera, he slipped his key card through the slot, verified his fingerprints on the scanner, then shouldered the heavy door open.
The first floor corridor reeked of bureaucracythe stale odor of air conditioning and burnt coffee and the dust of constantly shuffled reams of paperwork. He peeled his sunglasses from his sweat-sticky face and tucked them in his shirt pocket, squinting up at the fluorescent lights lining the corridor's ceiling.
Most people preferred a climate-controlled office to the humid heat outside, but if ever there was a man not cut out for white-collar work, it was Diego. Thank God the U.S. Navy had offered him an alternative when he was an eighteen-year-old punk. A childhood spent under the fluorescent lights of the New Jersey public school system had been enough desk work in government buildings to last him a lifetime.
Two members of his crew met him at the base of the stairwell leading to the second-floor briefing rooms.
He nodded his greeting to Alicia and bumped forearms with Ryan. "You been upstairs yet to get a sense of what the stiffs want from us?"
Alicia shook her head. "Waiting for you."
"Chiara brothers. Gotta be," Ryan added in his deep, pensive voice.
Ryan had been Diego's right-hand man since the beginning. Before they'd signed on with ICE, they were SEALs together and had clicked instantly. Mostly because Ryan was a man of few words who let Diego run the show.
"You think everything's about the Chiara brothers, Ryan. Your brain's in a rut." Diego tapped his temple for emphasis. "You're like that dude, Moby Dick, with the white whale."
Ryan shrugged noncommittally.
Alicia, Diego's intelligence specialist and honorary sister, arched a perfect eyebrow. Stubborn as she was, she caked on the makeup and left her hair long as though to remind the rest of the crew that not only did she match them in strength, smarts and experience, but she did so without sacrificing an ounce of estrogen.
"You've read Moby Dick?" she asked.
Ryan snickered. "Naw, he's never read it."
"How the hell do you know that?" Diego asked, squaring his shoulders with mock indignation.
Ryan's lips twitched into a grin. "Because Moby Dick's the name of the whale, not the dude."
"Who names a whale? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
As Alicia and Ryan chuckled good-naturedly, Diego allowed himself a small smile. He never got on his crew about razzing him. With the way he was constantly asking them to risk their lives for Uncle Sam, seizing on humor whenever possible was as necessary to their sanity as their firearms.
He tipped his head toward the stairs. "Enough with the book-club chat. Let's get this briefing over with. These artificial lights are hell on my complexion."
He swiped his key card to unlock the stairwell door and preceded Alicia and Ryan to the second floor.
"SeaWorld," Ryan said behind him.
Diego pushed through the door at the top of the stairs and into another unremarkable, climate-controlled hallway. "What about SeaWorld?"
"They named a whale. They've got Shamu."
Diego stopped in front of the closed briefing room door and pivoted, gesturing his hands in a circle. "Are we actually having this conversation still, or is this some sort of freaky dream I'm having 'cause I ate too much garlic sauce last night?"
Alicia gave him a playful shove out of the way and pushed through the doorway. "Don't forget Free Willy'" she said in a singsong voice as she walked into the room.
Diego and Ryan filed in after her, nodding hello to the other two members of their team, John and Rory.
Though the stench of bureaucracy was bad in the hallway, it had nothing on the briefing room. Beige tile, white soundproofed walls and row after freakin' row of fluorescent lights on the ceiling.
The circular table that dominated the room was loaded with laptops, stacks of files and maps. A tray with a water pitcher and glasses anchored the middle. A blank projector screen occupied the far wall of the windowless space, ready and waiting for an industrious government official to start a PowerPoint presentation, no doubt. Everything a federal stiff needed to feel right at home.
The way Diego's crew stood around, shifting their weight or fidgeting with their firearm holsters, the ambiance left them as twitchy as it did him.
Thomas Dreyer, a pale-faced, pencil-pushing ICE director Diego had done business with in the past, looked up from his laptop and stood, extending his hand. "Agent Santero, good to see you again."
Diego disagreed, but until he knew what ICE wanted with his crew, he'd hold his tongue. "Sir," he said instead as they shook.
"I appreciate your team being here. Grab some refreshments and let's get started." He gestured across the room to a long table covered with pastries and coffee.
Ignoring the refreshment offer, Diego exchanged brief handshakes with the other man in the room, Special Agent Aaron Montgomery. Diego tried to keep his nose out of ICE gossip, but the last he'd heard, Dreyer and Montgomery had been tapped by Washington to head up Operation ICEWALL, the bureau's shiny new media-friendly mission to block the flow of drugs and money through Central America.
Yeah, right. Good luck with that, guys.
Despite Diego's cynicism over Operation ICE-WALL's potential for success, he understood Dreyer's and Montgomery's presence in Panama, given that the countryalong with Costa Ricawas wedged between Colombia and Mexico. What piqued Diego's curiosity was why, with the entire weight of the American, Panamanian and Mexican governments backing them, and with squads of ICE agents prepared to undertake the mission's execution, they still saw fit to bring in Diego's black ops crew.
Black ops only handled the sensitive, hush-hush problems that would do more harm than good if word got out. Diego and his crew were ICE's ace-in-the-hole problem-solving and crisis-management team, executing everything from covert extractions to well-timed diversionsnot overhyped, billion-dollar, multinational government projects. That is, not unless those projects had gotten out of control in a way that would be detrimental to either the government or the public's support of the operation.
Dreyer clapped his hands together. "Okay, let's get you briefed."
Thoroughly intrigued by the reason for the briefing, Diego crowded near his crew, arms folded. Dreyer consulted his notes, then flipped on the projector. His crew groaned under their breaths.
"Jesus, Dreyer. Hand me one of those dossiers."
Diego waved a hand at the table. "I can't stand another freakin' PowerPoint presentation. Where do you think we are, the Pentagon?"
Undisturbed by Diego's protest, Dreyer handed each operative a navy blue binder, then started his PowerPoint presentation anyway. A photograph of a woman's face glowed from the projector screen. Diego found the coordinating page in his dossier and stared into the woman's striking, midnight-blue eyes.
"Vanessa Crosby, age thirty. A U.S. expatriate who has resided in Panama for seven years as a senior analyst in the criminal detection department at RioBank," Dreyer said. "Yesterday, ICE intelligence analysts intercepted an email from Crosby to her boss expressing concern over a possible pattern of criminal activity she discovered within the bank's system."
"Well, that's terrific news," Diego couldn't help but interject. "Bet she makes Employee of the Month. You want me to bake her a cupcake?"
Dreyer gaped at him. Like he was caught unaware of Diego's tendency to be a smart aleck, despite that they'd worked together on and off for twelve years. Diego flashed his best "you got a problem with me?" face.
Dreyer cleared his throat and adjusted his tie.
Montgomery, sprawling in a chair, took over the briefing. "It seems that Miss Crosby has created an algorithm to track the movement of bulk cash using small deposits and wire transfers. If her program worksand we think it doesit would revolutionize ICE's coun-terterrorism efforts."
Now they were getting somewhere.
ICE had an entire department with a massive budget devoted to combating bulk cash, aka the millions of American dollars in drug and weapon revenue that crime organizations busted their tails to launder and repurpose without tipping off authorities.
Diego knew nada about algorithms or number analysis or whatever the heck this Crosby broad did for the bank, but he was personally and painfully aware of the many ways bulk cash funded terrorist activities all over the world.
"What exactly did her email say?" Diego asked. "Is it in the dossier?"
"We didn't include it because it doesn't have any impact on the mission we're asking you to perform. To sum it up, she asked her boss for permission to initiate a more expansive test of the algorithm using customer account data. She thinks she can pinpoint the exact account that the bulk cash she detected is being funneled into."
"What was her boss's reaction?" Diego asked. "Seems like the bank's bigwigs would be falling all over themselves to get their hands on a program like that."
"You'd think, but instead he reprimanded her," Montgomery said. "Told her to hand the program over to him because it was outside her job description."
What a prick. "Did she give him the program?"
"No. She put him off. She told him it wasn't user-friendly yet and she'd need to clean it up before anyone else would be able to make use of it. He gave her a deadline of Monday morning."
Alicia slapped her copy of the dossier on the table. "How can you be sure there's a bulk cash scam at all? I find it hard to believe Crosby created an algorithm that no ICE bulk cash investigators or international banks have come up with. And then to find criminal activity that everyone else along the line of checks and balances in RioBank's infrastructure missed? You know what they say about things that are too good to be true."
Diego nodded. Great point. Who was to say Crosby knew what she was talking about? "What's the likelihood this lady's math is wrong?"
"Turn to page two in your dossier," Dreyer said. "Look at her stats and then tell me if you think Vanessa Crosby's theory is wrong."
Diego and his crew flipped the page. In his periphery, he saw Dreyer click to the next slide in his little projector show. He nearly sniggered until a glance at Vanessa Crosby's personal history stopped him cold.
PhD from Princeton after double-majoring in applied mathematics and economics, paid for in part by a load of academic scholarships, probably because she'd finished high school with a 4.4 GPA. Diego didn't even know a 4.4 GPA existed.
He toggled to her photograph. Long, straight brown hair, a smattering of freckles, those almost-black eyes. She looked sharp, smart even, but not like her life story read. He skimmed her credentials againher transcripts and accolades from college, followed by her meteoric rise through the ranks of RioBank. No doubt about it, Vanessa Crosby had a brilliant mathematical mind.
Diego liked that. A lot.
Not that a man such as he, who'd chosen the life of a soldier and who'd barely squeaked out of high school with a diploma, had any business getting turned on by the size of a woman's brain.
Irritation washed through him. Clearly, the feds behind Operation ICEWALL wanted something big from Crosbybigger than that algorithm she'd created. Why else would Diego and his crew be brought in?
Scowling, he snapped the dossier closed. Here was a lady who'd probably worked her tail off to get where she was and seemed to have a pretty good life going. The last thing she or any civilian needed was the U.S. government sweeping in and mucking everything up in their neverending war against the scourges of the world. "Okay, so we can assume Crosby's not wrong about her findings. What's your plan for her?"
Dreyer's expression took on a shimmery, Christmas morning type of glow. Like Vanessa Crosby was some sort of gift-wrapped present for the Department of Homeland Security to do with as they pleased. "We believe Vanessa Crosby is the key to breaking Operation ICEWALL wide open. The weak link in the banking industry we've been waiting for."
Diego seriously doubted weak was an apt description of Crosby, but he decided to keep his trap shut and hear them out.
Montgomery shot to his feet alongside Dreyer. "Our plan is to convince Crosby to work as an ICE insider in the bank. Get her to run the algorithm test without her boss's knowledge and lay out her findings for us. You remember the Chiara brothers crime ring your crew chased in Honduras ten years ago?"
How could he forget, when Ryan never let him? Leo, Nico and Enzo Chiara were scumbag Italian mercenaries who'd created a hell of a business as pawn brokers for the criminal elite, coordinating million-dollar sales of everything from small arms and tanks to nuclear devices. "Yeah, I remember."
"We believe there's a connection between the bulk cash scam Crosby discovered and intel we received from an informant about a submarine sale the Chiara brothers are brokering next week. ICE has been tracking these bastards for years. This is our best chance at shutting them down. Thanks to Vanessa Crosby."
Diego glanced at Ryan, his brows raised in question. If anyone would have a hunch about the Chiaras using RioBank as a bulk cash laundering vehicle, it would be him. He'd been hunting them longer than anyonefor reasons he was irritatingly tight-lipped aboutand had made it his number-one goal in life to dig for new intel on them every chance he got between missions.
Ryan's jaw grew tight. "It's a viable lead, for sure. The Chiaras are here in Panama City. I can feel it."
Diego squelched an eye roll at his hoodoo logic. The man took the Chiara brothers chase way too personally. Diego was the oppositehe never took a mission to heart. Bring down one criminal and another took his place on the Wanted poster. Each was just another target for the business end of his Sig Sauer.
"So you want me to convince Vanessa Crosby to work with ICE?" he asked.
"God, no," Dreyer said with a derisive chuckle. "You'd have her running in the opposite direction, screaming in terror."
The assessment was a stab to the gut. Here he was an elite black ops agentthe best of the best, with a service record that spoke for itselfand yet his bosses didn't trust him to open his mouth around a potential informant. True, he wasn't exactly qualified to match wits with a brainiac like Crosby, but it stuck in his craw that the stiffs thought so little of him in the smarts department.
To hide his frustration, he slipped into easy sarcasm. "Aw, that hurts. And here I thought I had a way with the ladies." He looked at Alicia to back him up on that.
She'd been around him enough to know he could talk a good game when the situation demanded.
She scrunched her face and gave a little head shake. "Sorry, you're not exactly a smooth operator around women."
"Well, hell." Life as a nomadic agent didn't exactly allow him a whole lot of opportunity to hone his seduction skills. Wasn't like he spent weekends trolling bars between missionsthat was prime training time.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Action, drama and love...what more can you ask for. Diego has been hiding from his emotions since he suffered his own personal loss. Vanessa has exerience loss her whole life. These two find each other and learn that loving another person doesn't have to mean you'll lose them. Another great one by Melissa Cutler!
Tempted into Danger is suspenseful and yummy. Keeping a woman safe was the easy part for the scrumpious Diago. The setting of the novel was located in Panama and I was drawn into the lush surroundings and the vivid tropics. I found myself wanting to be Vanessa and snuggle up with Diago in Panama. The suspense was not only sizzling but fast paced action. I couldn’t put the book down!
iego Santero is beginning to think his job in Black OPS is just to be a chauffeur for people who are on a bad guys "to kill" list. When asked to go and pick up and deliver "the asset" to Panamanian authorities Diego is ready to go AWOL...until he sees the photo of their "asset" Vanessa Crosby. Cute, but wait whats this...a Brainiac??? Now that's hard to top. Vanessa never dreamed her normal life would end up with her being whisked away from her home and safety, until her apartment is blown up right before her eyes. The question begs itself...Why? When she learns the algorithm she created for fun as a challenge is being sought by the Feds and by the Chaira brothers, notorious for MANY crimes in Panama. She has no choice if she wants to live. What she didn't count on was getting stuck in the jungle with Diego. After her apartment was destroyed Vanessa is sent to the "safe house" secondary location, but when they arrive and the safe house is already under attack, the ICE team scatters in effort of thwart the Chiara brothers and they band of bad guys. Diego and Vanessa flea into the Panamanian jungle on foot after the vehicle they were driving is gunned down and turned to scrap. With nothing on her but her work clothes and the flash drive with the algorithm they run, but they are far from safe until they can reach Diego's "Leroy" - a place for safety when EVERYTHING goes wrong. Diego and Vanessa face a lot more before they are able to regroup with Diego's team - a venomous snake, jungle natives, choppers and even the Chiara brothers and their gang. While all this is happening and Diego is spending time with Vanessa love is growing. Vanessa is scared that she'll never be able to return to some sense of normalcy, while Diego fears that even if he lets his guard down that she'd never have the life she deserves with him. They fight the attraction until they test the waters and see it may be worth the risk, but getting back to the ICE offices is not going to be easy. They just about have things well in hand when things go from on track to out of control in a matter of a few minutes when the tables are turned. What happens is too good to reveal. To find out if Diego and Vanessa get their HEA you have to read this new Book in her ICE: Black Ops Defenders series from Harlequin Romantic Suspense! Melissa was a new to me author I met thanks to another author. I read teaser after teaser and it only got me hooked! I loved how we meet hard edged Diego and his team. Each using a code word for a nickname. We get to meet all of them and get s small glimpse of each as we see them group and work together seamlessly. I loved watching the romance bloom and each facing an uncertain future. Diego is a soldier to the core, but seeing him reveal a little about his family makes him more soft and relate-able. Vanessa on the other hand is far from home being in Panama and doing what she loves....Analyzing numbers. Bet she didn't see this adventure coming? But that's why we have authors like Melissa who can make a story believable and full off shock and romance. I loved Diego and Vanessa's story and the big shocker at the end threw me for a loop! As Melissa said, if you can pull of both then you've done your job well. She has done that in spades! Thanks Melissa I can't wait for more of Diego and his team to "drop in" on the next novel!
Rating: 4.5 Hearts In Tempted Into Danger (ICE: Black Ops Defenders #1) by Melissa Cutler, RioBank anti-crime analyst Vanessa Crosby didn't realize when she created an algorithm to track cash flow in her spare time that it would put her life into danger. But that's exactly what happened when her boss found out what her mathematical mind created. It seems there is a connection with the bank and the Chiara brothers - a group of three brothers who are heavy hitters in the world of international crime. Now Vanessa's boss is demanding she hand over the algorithm, although she doesn't trust his motives. She decides she needs to investigate what she's found a bit further before handing over the information. Before she gets a chance to do so, she's attacked in her apartment and becomes part of a hostage situation, only to be saved by one of the most fearless men she's ever met. "She was about to go off the grid with a man she'd just met, without anyone knowing where she'd be. She'd made up her mind to trust Diego implicitly, but that trust was being put to the test sooner than she would've liked." Diego and his crew saved her life at the risk of their own. Vanessa knows she is indebted to them but is still scared as to who she can trust. She's never really had anyone in her life she could count on except herself and her best friend Jordan, so trusting that they won't leave her to fend for herself is a hard thing to do. When they come under attack again as Diego has them in sight of the safe house his superiors set up, they have to resort to his plan zero and end up in his hideout in the Panama jungle. Nothing can ever seem to go as planned for them unfortunately as they meet trouble at every turn: from pit vipers to downpours, and from rebels to indigenous tribes. Vanessa and Diego form a strong bond during their time keeping each other alive and sane. One that is formed on friendship and intense chemistry. She knows if they survive the mission she'll never see Diego again so Vanessa is determined to savor every moment they have together and to form enough memories to last her a lifetime. "I would chase you to the corners of the earth to keep you safe if I had to. Doesn't matter if you believe me or not. That's what would happen. There is no scenario you could dream up that won't result in me protecting your life with my life." Diego Santero is almost offended at the mission he and his ICE crew have been given. They are basically chauffeurs taking Vanessa to a meeting at a safe house with his superiors and then bringing her safely home again. Being part of a black ops team, he's used to assignments that are a bit more high risk to say the least. Diego is glad after all that he was assigned to the case when they come under fire upon arrival at Vanessa's apartment. No other team would have been able to get her out safely and on the road to the meeting like they had. Unfortunately the safe house is also compromised which leads him to believe there's a traitor among the ICE officers at command. He takes Vanessa to his hideout while his other team members go to theirs as well. Diego can't believe it, but the more time he spends with the beautiful math wiz, the more captivated he is by her. It shakes him to his core to feel this way. He is always focused on his mission and never deviates so he can keep everyone safe. With every danger they encounter, he finds himself protecting Vanessa not only because she is the "asset" in the mission, but because of his growing attachment to her. He's never thought of a life outside of black ops, but finds himself contemplating giving up his career to have Vanessa by his side every moment. Talk about an action-filled thriller of a romance! Melissa Cutler's story kept me on the edge of my seat trying to find out what would happen next to our passionate, but unlucky, couple. Their romance played out in the steamy jungles of Panama where they hit barriers at every turn but thankfully it only helped bring them closer in their growing relationship. I loved that our heroine Vanessa is a smart-as-a-whip mathematician (think a female Charlie Epps on the show Numb3rs) and that our hero Diego loved her for her mind as much as for her body. The fact that he loved to hear her solve complex math problems out loud and got turned on by it was both funny and very sexy. ;) Diego's character was intense, honor-bound and fiercely protective of Vanessa, who had been abandoned before, and was exactly the kind of man she deserved to have in her life. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy lots of thrills and absolutely remarkable characters.
Awesome book! Melissa Cutler weaves a story full of intrigue, suspense, danger and amazing chemistry between Diego and Vanessa. They were/are perfect together. He is a take charge alpha with just a bit of mystery about him. She is smart and sees more than some might give her credit for but she is also tough. She "gets" Diego and they worked so well together to overcome any obstacle. My heart felt so many different emotions with this story and that is what I love most about reading. I was invested in this story from the first word and I read the entire book in one sitting, couldn't put it down!! The secondary characters are awesome too and I can't wait to read more ICE: Black Ops Defenders books!
4 STARS ICE: Black Ops Defenders book one Starts off with a lot of drama and action and keeps going till the end. The characters are interesting and you want to know more about them. plot was more like a action film with explosions, car chases and gunfights. Vanessa developed a program that would help find drug money being laundered through the banks on her spare time. The U.S. wants to use it. Drug dealers want to destroy it if they can't get it. Vanessa is smart but has emotional issues of being left alone. Diego an ICE agent was given the job of escorting Vanessa to a safe house. He feels his team of black ops were being wasted just driving her to safe house. He is thinking he might have to quit. Before he can get to Vanessa she is attacked and kidnapped from her apartment. Diego and his team go into action to rescue her. Vanessa does not what is going on but does realize that Diego was protecting her and got her away from the bad guys. Before they can get to the safe house more and more things go wrong. Other things go right. Vanessa wants to use her program to help others so she is willing to go and help. Diego is driven to use his black op skills to make the world a better place after his brother was killed in the towers on 9/11. He can't relax and take off time away from the job. Because he knows he can save lives and get the bad guys before they can hurt more people. The story is set in Panama. Which makes me want to go see it. Loved the rain forest setting. I enjoyed reading Tempted into Danger. I will read more books from Melissa in the future. I was given this ebook to read and asked to give honest review of it by Netgalley. 06/04/2013 PUB Harlequin Imprint Harlequin Romantic Suspense 288 pages ISBN: 0373278284
Ok, I am officially hooked on Romantic Suspense after reading Tempted into Danger by Melissa Cutler. It was the one Romance genre that I had always shied away from. Cutler has made me a fan. I felt like I was reading a great action movie, I could visualize every scene. I loved that the heroine, Vanessa, was a math geek…..it gives us bookish girls hope that there is an Alfa male like Diego just waiting for us and our own adventure. I found that I had to keep turning the page and reading on, I had to know that the characters were going to make it to the next chapter. If you like movies like Indiana Jones and Speed, you will like Romantic Suspense and Cutler’s books will keep your heart racing and holding your breath but in a good way. Also hats off to Cutler, she made me want to read the other books associated with Tempted into Danger by little teasers, but she won my respect because she didn’t tell me anything about how those stories play out, I dislike spoilers. Now if I can find my Alfa male…..only I think I would like my own adventure to have a few less bullets flying…..
What happens when a black ops team is sent to play taxi cab driver? A non-stop action adventure filled with suspense and a smoking hot romance! Black operative Diego is sent on a task to transport Vanessa Crosby, mathematical wizard who works in a bank in Panama to the ICE team’s safe house. She has uncovered illegal bank transfers with a specialized program she has created making her a very popular girl. The US government wants her help and the Panama crime lords want her dead. Caught in a war zone, Diego promises to safe Vanessa even if it cost him his life. Pursued by the drug lord’s army, facing poisons snakes and helicopter crashes doesn’t compare to the thought of failure because Diego knows he must save Vanessa at any cost. The more he gets to know her the more he realizes he can’t live without this spit fire, Vanessa, racing through the jungle by his side. This was a fantastic Special Ops story! From the first chapter, I was holding on for what was sure to be a roller coaster action ride...and the action didn’t stop. Quick witted characters, steamy romantic encounters and a man in black boxers with weapons, Tempted into Danger is sure to be a hit with the action and suspense romance fans. This is the first book and the ICE: Black Ops Defenders and I will be looking forward to the next book in this series. This ARC copy of Tempted into Danger was given to me by Harlequin Romantic Suspense in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication June 4, 2013.
Thrilling, romantic, thoroughly entertaining! Right from the start I could not put this down! Tempted Into Danger had everything I crave for in a romantic suspense story. It had pulse-racing action, delicious slow-burning romance, plenty of tension, and a fast-paced storyline filled with thrills and unexpected moments. The setting in the Panamanian rain forest was exotic and made for such an exciting back drop. I thought Vanessa and Diego complemented each other very well. Both characters go through their own journey of personal growth and change. What each had gone through in their past tugged at my heart. I loved how they drew strength and learned from each other as they fought to survive. The story takes place over a few days. Even in that short time-frame, Cutler was able to pull off a believable romance that is slowly-built and satisfying. My only gripe is that there was no epilogue. I hope that we do see some sort of update about them later on. If you're a fan of romance suspense of the black ops variety, or if you like the kind of romance where the true action hero falls hard for the girl with the brilliant mind, then I highly recommend Tempted Into Danger. Melissa Cutler is a new-to-me author. I'll be waiting for more! Who is the next book about? Ryan's I hope!!! *** A complimentary copy was provided for an honest review ***
TID tells the story of a close knit Black Ops Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) team. As most black ops teams are military, the choice of ICE is unusual. It will please military readers, but also keeps the story fresh and interesting. Diego Santero is the head of the premiere ICE black ops team. His assignment: to protect brainy Vanessa Crosby from the drug cartel that wants to kill her. Vanessa is not a bad-ass heroine. For that reason I liked her all the more. She is a mathematician who invents an algorithm to track small cash deposits in her spare time. This algorithm has the potential to upset the drug trade in South America. She is totally out of her element while on the run with Diego. Diego, to his credit, seems to be far more interested in Vanessa’s brain than her body. In an effort to keep her mind off her predicament, he starts having her work math problems. Out loud. Though he’s trying to distract her, Diego also finds her using her brain very sexy. These scenes are my favorite in the book. It initiates a connection between the characters that is far more interesting than the physical chemistry often relied on in on-the-run adventures.
Vanessa has basically been abandoned by everyone she’s every loved. Her mother died in a car accident after dropping her off at daycare when she was 2. Her dad was a college football coach and never had time for her. He abandoned her at the house all the time. Then he picked his new wife and kids over her. Her best friend left her for a man, so she followed her to Panama. Her crazy math skills find her in a world she didn’t know existed. Running with a man she can’t keep her hands off of. I don’t know what these two would’ve done if anything else would’ve went wrong. I swear, I think everything that could’ve gone wrong, did. I love a romantic suspense that literally grabs you and pulls you to the edge of your seat. This did that and so much more. I didn’t know who the bad guy was until the very end, when it happened in the book. I had no clue. It was amazing. I always figure it out. Ms. Cutler is a new-to-me author, but I will definitely be checking out more of her work. This book is a roller coaster of turbulent emotions and life-threatening situations. I loved it!