CRIMES OF PASSION
When she was on the verge of adulthood, Riva Henneman committed a crime and got caught red-handed. Luckily, she was busted by a HOT young cop…who also had a big heart. A one-time SEAL candidate, Officer Ian Hawthorn knew how it felt to have your dreams derailed. So he gave Riva a choice: face prison time or work for him as a confidential informant. But even a get-out-of-jail-free card comes with a cost. . .
Years later, Ian still remembers beautiful, innocent Rivaand the smoldering attraction they shared but both tried to ignore. Will they have a second chance, now that they’re back in each other’s lives? Riva’s work with inner-city children has led to a surprise run-in with Ian, who has his own agendaone that could put them both in grave danger. Is their desire worth the risk this time?
The high octane suspense and super sizzling romance continues with Turn Me Loose, the third novel in the Alpha Ops series by Anne Calhoun.
About the Author
After doing time at Fortune 500 companies on both coasts, Anne Calhoun landed in a flyover state, where she traded business casual for yoga pants and decided to write down all the lively story ideas that got her through years of monotonous corporate meetings. Her first book, LIBERATING LACEY won the EPIC Award for Best Contemporary Erotic Romance. Her story WHAT SHE NEEDS was chosen for Smart Bitch Sarah's Sizzling Book Club. Anne holds a BA in History and English, and an MA in American Studies from Columbia University. When she's not writing her hobbies include reading, knitting, and yoga. She lives in the Midwest with her family and singlehandedly supports her local Starbucks.
Read an Excerpt
Turn Me Loose
By Anne Calhoun
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Anne Calhoun
All rights reserved.
Seven years earlier ...
Past midnight, but Kaffiend Coffee House hummed like a train station at rush hour, packed with students studying and socializing in equal measures. Riva held her hand over her coffee cup when the waitress came by. Rereading her econ assignment pushed her past the point of diminishing returns. Another half an hour to review her American History reading response paper, and then she'd call it a night. "Just the check, please," she said.
Without a word the waitress moved off, refilling cups as she worked her way back to the counter. The bell over the door dinged, and Riva looked up.
The man standing in the doorway wore a Lancaster College T-shirt, faded jeans, ankle-high brown motorcycle boots, and a really nice jacket, a leather moto deal she knew was expensive because the thin leather clung to his shoulders. Long fingers wrapped around the strap of his backpack slung over his shoulder, his helmet dangling from his thumb as he scanned the tables, looking for an empty seat. Riva watched him for a moment. He was tall, a little thin, older than the rest of the crowd. Her brain jumped through underclassman to senior before settling on grad student, one she hadn't seen here before.
His gaze caught hers. Electric shock, a spark of something that made her aware of her heartbeat, its newly irregular rhythm. His gaze lingered just a second before moving on, and she was grateful she'd done the full hair and makeup routine before leaving her room. Despite the late hour, the wood-paneled room was packed with nervous students cramming for midterms, some of them looking for a little something to keep them going, others looking for a little something to calm them down so they could sleep. Two months into her college career and she already had a reputation for providing quality product: pills to sleep or stay awake, a little weed, something for the pain. She'd made four sales tonight, quick deals either in the ladies room or in the alley behind Kaffiend, where people stepped outside to smoke. She'd have good news to report when she checked in.
Another heart-skittering moment of eye contact, this time with a heated glint in his eye that threw his motivations into question. Was he looking to score from her, or with her? The seat across from her was open, and the owner encouraged table sharing. Maybe he just wanted a place to sit. Maybe he'd want to sit next to her.
She glanced down at her open textbook, counted to ten, then looked again. Wham, this time a full-body electric jolt, and he looked away first. Maybe it wasn't her product he wanted, but her.
The thought made her heart pound.
A moment later he found a table being vacated by a guy Riva recognized from her Principles of Marketing class and sat down. The process of settling himself involved textbooks — Analytical Philosophy, something by Kant — a laptop, an order for coffee, and another glance Riva's way. A little thrill skittered over her nerves; this time she offered a smile. For a second he didn't smile back, and Riva wondered if she'd misunderstood his intention. But then the corners of his mouth curved up, revealing a deep, long crease on either side of his mouth. Mentally she revised his age upward a couple of years, to PhD student, and she couldn't look away if her life depended on it.
His gaze darkened. He shifted in his chair. Maybe he was shy. He had the unassuming demeanor hot nerds usually had, like their good looks didn't factor into their self-awareness at all. Feeling bold, she got up and paid her bill at the counter, then walked back to his table, where he was hunched over the textbook.
"Hi," she said. Up close he looked even more vulnerable, a little pale, his hair tumbling over his forehead. Her heart was flicking against her throat. "I saw you watching me."
He flushed. The skin over his cheekbones actually turned pink. "Yeah. I guess I was pretty obvious."
"I guess I was pretty flattered," she replied.
His gaze sharpened, snared hers. "Yeah?" "Yeah. Riva Henneman."
"Ian Fallon." He held out his hand, which made her laugh even as she shook it. "Have a seat."
She sat, letting her bag slump to the floor at her feet. "Interesting reading you've got there."
He looked down at the textbook, smeared with blue highlighter, notes in pencil along the margins. "It's okay. You?"
"Intro to Econ and American History," she said, hardly knowing whether she was making sense. The chemistry between them was sparking, making her skin hypersensitive, her cheeks flush. "I'm a first year. I'll probably major in business but the history fulfills a requirement."
He nodded, like he knew all about that. "You have Kessler?"
"I like the class."
Another searing look brought the conversation to a halt. Ian glanced at the door as it opened, then said, "I heard you could get me something I need."
Her smile disappeared under a wave of disappointment.
"Did you?" she said, striving for a light tone.
"Not today," she said.
"Those are two drastically different chemical results in your body, Ian."
"I like to cover all my bases. Help me out here. I've tried a couple of other guys, Brian Deluca and what's his name, Sammy from Hamilton, but they were out."
Sammy and Brian were the two other go-to guys on campus, and her competition, such as it was. Brian was set to graduate, and Sammy was lazy as hell, buying product mostly to be sure he had a constant supply for himself. Ian obviously knew his way around Lancaster College's drug scene. "Okay. Meet me out back in five."
Riva sidled past the line of people waiting for the restroom, opened the door into the alley, and stepped out into the cool October night. She leaned against the brick wall and inhaled deeply. The dumpster reeked of coffee grounds but the cool air kept the worst of the trash stench to a minimum.
The door opened again, and Ian stepped through. The light above the door cast stark shadows, hiding his face and eyes. Riva's nerves jerked into high alert. He had angled himself so he stood between her and the doorway as well as the opening at the end of the alley.
She named her price, just wanting this over so she could get back to the business of asking him out.
"No problem," he said, reaching into his front pocket.
She unzipped her backpack and pulled out a baggie containing an ounce of marijuana, waited while he thumbed through the cash in his wallet, then handed it over. She gave him the bag.
Without letting go, she reached into her messenger bag pocket and pulled out a pen, then turned his hand palm up and wrote her number on his palm.
"To save you the trouble of asking," she said, looking up at him through her lashes. This could still go either way, but either way, he'd need her number.
"That'll come in handy," he said.
Delighted, she grinned. He was gorgeous, all man, and obviously smart. The books lacked the used sticker, so the creases and scuffs were all his. No one read that stuff that frequently, for fun. "Call me anytime."
He shoved the wallet into his jeans pocket, then reached behind his back. Steel glinted in the light over the door, and for a terrified split second she thought he'd pulled a knife on her.
A click echoed off the watching brick as he flipped the curved pieces of metal apart. It wasn't a knife. It was a pair of handcuffs. "Riva Henneman, you're under arrest."CHAPTER 2
Present day ...
"Okay, team, huddle up."
The evening birdsong trilled through the screen door as servers, chefs, sous chefs, and the night's hostess gathered around Riva. She leaned against the prep table and scanned their faces, checking in with each kid. They were enrolled in the East Side Community Center's Teen Cuisine program, getting training on all aspects of a restaurant's operations. Kiara, the night's hostess, came in last, pen and paper poised to write down the night's menu before transferring it to the chalkboard intended for the front porch.
"Run it down for me, Chef Isaiah," Riva said.
Proud of his lead role in the kitchen, Isaiah straightened. "We have three mains today: the usual rib eye and chicken, and the special, salmon seared in a sauce of shallots and grapefruit, accompanied by asparagus and potatoes roasted in garlic, rosemary, and olive oil. Appetizers are the usual bruschetta, plus mussels, and we have brussels sprouts roasted in olive oil with bacon and onions."
Riva nodded approvingly. He'd come a long way from the kid who couldn't tell a brussels sprout from a stalk of asparagus. "Anyone have any questions about preparation? All of the greens are from the early plantings at the farm, so they're nice and tender. We'll substitute ingredients from the other farm-to-table suppliers when we run out of our own stuff."
Her dream was to eventually quadruple her greenhouse space, enabling her to start planting earlier in the season and supply not just her restaurant but others in the area. One step at a time. Take it slow, grow organically, and, most important, without drawing any attention to herself.
"Where's the salmon from?" Amber asked.
"Alaska. Wild caught and flown in yesterday," Isaiah said without prompting. Amber made a note on her server's pad. "It's as fresh as you're gonna get in landlocked Lancaster."
"What do you recommend?" Kiara asked.
"It's all good," Isaiah said, "but if anyone asks, go with the salmon."
"What are we gonna eighty-six first?"
"The salmon," Isaiah said. He extended his hand over the large cast-iron pan heating on the eight-burner stove, the movement automatic, practiced. "Early bird gets the worm tonight. Dessert is ice cream from Blackstone Creamery. Chocolate, vanilla, mint chocolate chip."
"Thanks, Isaiah," Riva said. "I'll come around one last time to check your stations. I'm working the front tonight, so you guys are on your own."
Subtle signs of tension rippled through the group. "You've got this. It's a Tuesday night, so we won't be very busy, but even if we were, even if we got slammed by Maud Ward and her entire entourage, you'd still have this," Riva said. "Work your station, and work together."
Kimmy-Jean, a newer addition to the program, worried at her lower lip. "What if no one comes?"
In the spring Oasis operated on a pop-up basis, opening on selected evenings and promoted through social media only. "They'll come," Isaiah said. "You just worry about getting your mise done, yo."
She walked through the kitchen, swiping up a bit of spilled parmesan, adding extra bowls to Carlos's station, making sure the bus boy/dishwasher, Blake, had his trays lined up and ready to go. She ran through another checklist out front. The tables were all neatly set, silverware wrapped in linen, bud vases with a single bloom and small votive candles centered between the settings. She'd learned how to set a beautiful table from her mother on the rare occasions when she surfaced from a fog of Xanax or Cymbalta to host one of the social events her father insisted would strengthen and expand his network of business contacts. Lately during their phone calls her mother had been nervous, speaking in a whisper when her father was in the room, unable to maintain a train of thought even when he wasn't. Riva was worried; her mother had always been high-strung, nervous, talkative, and always moving, never quiet.
She set aside her worries about her mother and focused on the people she could help right now. "Let's not light the candles just yet," she said to Kiara.
The front was designed to look like a large, screened-in porch, the glass windows folded back to open the room to the breezes drifting in from the eastern fields, carrying a scent of warm earth and tender, growing things. The walls were covered in weathered barn boards, the tables made from smaller pieces reclaimed when she'd torn down the outbuildings that were ruined beyond repair. The server's station was just outside the kitchen, making it easy for the staff to grab a pitcher of water or a damp rag as they passed through.
Looking around, Riva couldn't believe she'd made this herself, supervised the renovation, done most of the interior work and decorating herself, scavenged and bargain shopped, painted walls and built tables. She'd come a long way in the last seven years, and the farm and restaurant were only stage one of her business plan.
When the first customers arrived, a couple of minutes before the restaurant officially opened, Kiara guided them to a table near the west windows, overlooking the back fields rolling down to the river. Riva lit their candle and offered them the menu. "Do you want the windows shut?" the man asked his date. He was obviously anxious, taking out his phone and silencing the ringer, setting it on the table, then putting it in a pocket.
"I'm good," she said, giving him a pleased smile. "The air's still pretty warm. Maybe later."
"I'll be back in a minute with your drinks," Riva said, then looked up as the door opened again.
The evening progressed smoothly, just as Riva predicted. Tuesday nights weren't big evenings in the restaurant business, so she used them to give the kids a chance to get used to running both the front and back of the house before giving them charge over a busy summer Saturday night.
The program was a simple one, developed in conjunction with the East Side Community Center run by Pastor Webber. Get kids who'd grown up in the impoverished, blighted neighborhoods so common to food deserts access to fresh air, sunshine, and the earth. Teach them to grow their own food, and cook it, which enabled Riva to teach them about healthy eating. It also meant Riva could give back, pay for the mistakes she'd made, help other kids avoid the same mistakes.
Working in the front let things develop organically, for better or worse, in the kitchen. She liked waiting tables. Most of the recipes were her own, and getting feedback directly from customers enabled her to fine tune accordingly. It meant she was close if the kids really needed her, but not watching like one of the hawks circling over a field, ready to pounce on every single mistake.
The sun hung heavy over the tops of the cottonwood trees when Riva started lighting the candles on the unoccupied tables. She automatically looked up when the door opened and saw a single man standing there, his face hidden by the shadows. Tall and lean, he was nothing but a silhouette of a male figure in a suit, nothing that should have made her heart thunk hard against her chest and adrenaline dump into her nervous system. All her muscles screamed at her to drop the box of matches and bolt.
Don't be ridiculous, her brain told her body.
Then he took another step forward, far enough into the light for Riva to see his face. She knew she should have trusted her body, but by then it was too late.
Officer Hawthorn stood in her restaurant.
Kiara approached him, menu in hand. Riva couldn't hear their conversation over her blood thrumming in her ears, but she could decipher it well enough based on the way he looked around, then the way Kiara extended her arm.
She'd seated him in Riva's section. A two top, in the corner. He always sat with his back to the wall. Riva remembered that well enough from seven years earlier. The table gave him a view of all entrances, doors, and the parking lot.
"Blaze on table fourteen," Kiara said to Riva, using the kitchen's slang for a hot customer.
Riva stifled a hysterical laugh. Ian Hawthorn was a blaze in every sense of the word, hot, and so dangerous she should turn and run. She could ask someone else to take the table. It wasn't a practice she encouraged, as it led to confusion in the restaurant, and there was no advantage to it for the kids. All tips were pooled and split among the kitchen staff and servers at the end of the night. They worked for one another, not just for themselves.
Worse, if she asked another server to take the table, the kids would wonder why. In milliseconds, they'd peg Hawthorn for a cop and start asking questions that would lead them to her past, to the mistakes she'd made, to the girl she'd left behind. Right now her goal was to serve him and get him out of the restaurant before anything happened to jeopardize the life she'd built.
Besides, it had to happen sometime, meeting him again. She'd been dreading this for the last seven years. Might as well get it over with, so she could move on. He was her past; this was her future.
Shoulders squared, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then plucked her notebook from her apron as she walked to the table. "Welcome to Oasis. My name's Riva and I'll be taking care of you tonight."
The look on his face when she started talking was almost worth what it cost her to walk across the floor and talk to him. His jaw literally dropped open.
Excerpted from Turn Me Loose by Anne Calhoun. Copyright © 2017 Anne Calhoun. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another new author, another book that I didn't quite fall into. And by new I mean new to me. Turn Me Loose is the sixth in the Alpha Ops series which, for most romance series, isn't a problem to read out of order and I didn't find any difficulty from that aspect. But I didn't fall for this story or romance either. It's a bit of a second chance at love in that the protagonists, Riva and Ian, have history but the book is set seven years later so all of that comes back when life brings them into each other's worlds again. On their own, the characters tugged at my heartstrings. Especially Riva, who endured so much as a kid (trigger warning: abuse, drug addiction and use). She had a rough go of it as a teen but in the present has really turned her entire life around to help others. Of the two, I enjoyed her character development much more. Then there's the romance and I got pretty sick of it early on. The book was slow going as-is but then the author decided to play up the history between Riva and Ian with all the old feelings that suddenly come back. They want to be together but they have history with him arresting her when they were younger and it's a constant back and forth for the entire book. Instead of a natural tension, it became the only real tension I felt in their relationship and a forced one at that. I wanted them to grow as characters. Combined with a lackluster ending that left me feeling very dissatisfied with the book as a whole, I doubt I'll be picking up more in this series. The book was well written in terms of the technical side, I'll give it that, but wasn't my kind of read.
Received an ARC for my fair review for netgalley. Riva was eighteen she was busted for selling drugs, the Officer who arrested her asked her to be his informant thus avoiding jail time. Ian was that officer, at that time, they were attracted to each other but never acted on it. Seven years go by, and in walks Ian, the attraction returns, and again finds herself making a deal with him, this time to save one of the kids working with her.
Fast-paced paced read with lots of drama and suspense, Ian is a cop that gave Riva a second chance when she needed. An attraction was always there between the two of them and still is years later. Riva and Ian must work together again, will they now have a second chance in love? Lots of suspense and drama, I really liked this entertaining read and the characters were amazing.
The Alpha Ops series by Anne Calhoun has the best kind of heroes – Navy SEALs and police officers – and delivers a sexy and suspenseful story every time. Turn Me Loose is the 6th book in the standalone series and the third full-length novel. I’ve been eager to read Ian Hawthorn’s story since he appeared as a secondary character in earlier books, and this romance definitely lived up to my expectations. As a new cop, fresh out of the SEALs due to unforeseen circumstances, Ian is driven to succeed. When he catches a young college woman selling drugs in an undercover sting, he offers her a choice – jail time or working with him to catch some of the bigger fish involved in the drug trade. When Riva Henneman gets caught by Ian she’s humiliated, having thought the spark of attraction she’d felt when they’d made eye contact would mean a date after the deal, not handcuffs. Though her reasons for what she’s caught doing are complicated, she understands the chance Ian is giving her when he offers her the deal to work with him. Once the job is done, she makes good on her promise to herself to do better and becomes a farm to table operator, running a restaurant with the help of disadvantaged youth one step away from their own trouble on the streets. Riva’s criminal past remains hidden – until Ian shows up one day in her restaurant several years later. A chance circumstance with one of her employees leads to Riva making another deal with Ian – she knows more secrets about the local drug trade than she’d let on before and even though she’s kept herself clean, she’s willing to put it all on the line to help Ian take down the leader. The flare of attraction between them is as strong as ever, one Ian couldn’t and wouldn’t act on when she was his informant and he was in a position of power. Now they are equals, and Riva isn’t that 18-year-old girl anymore. They’ve both had dreams of ‘what if’ in the intervening years, and fate seems to have given them a second chance. As things heat up between them, the danger does too. Will their happy ever after end far too soon? I definitely did not expect the first meeting between Ian and Riva to turn out the way it did! From the very start of the story, I was hooked, eager to see how things in the present could work out for them based on their past history. I really admired Riva’s character, how she owned up to the choices she’d made and fought to make things better. She has a complicated relationship with her parents, and they play a key role in the plot of the story as Riva has to make choices that will affect them as well. There’s a high level of tension throughout, both on the suspense side of the story as well as between Riva and Ian. Ian has a lot of personal issues related to getting involved with Riva but he soon comes to realize that a relationship with her is more valuable to him than advancing his career. Still, his drive to solve the case he’s been working on for years that involves the local drug trade and crooked cops means he’s going to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Protecting Riva and lusting after her at the same time make for a challenge, one he soon loses when they are in close proximity. Their sex scenes are steamy and intense as they finally get the chance to lose control with each other. The second half of the story is a real nail biter as things come down to the wire. I love how the story played out and Ian and Riva definitely deserve their happy ending! It's a great read!
Turn Me Loose by Anne Calhoun is the second book in this series that I have read. As each book is a stand alone, I never felt confused and it was fun to see the other couples from the series make an appearance. Riva and Ian worked well together even though their history made it difficult for Riva. She has grown a lot since they first met and doesn't hesitate to stand up to Ian when necessary. They are both well developed characters and the plot is driven by their relationship more than action. I have to confess that I never really felt the attraction or intense desire between them. All in all a good story with an intense mystery. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. All of the above opinions expressed are my own. I rate this book 3.5 stars.
An intriguing story with interesting and complex characters… This is the fifth book in the Alpha Ops series that can be read as a stand-alone. Imagine meeting someone with which you have such a palpable chemistry, you don’t know their name but there’s a perceptible though invisible connection flowing between you both with that first look upon the other. Circumstances not ideal prevented anything from becoming of the rare sparks but you were left with an indelible impression that years later can be remembered vividly. Meeting that person again would be a profound case of emotional déjà vu and when history repeats itself similarly yet differently you have to wonder about the ironic hand of fate. Can the outcome be any different this time? Such a second chance has been given to our protagonists, Riva Henneman and Ian Bradshaw. Will it mean redemption, closure, or the possibility of more? Arrested for distributing drugs in college, abandoned by the father she’d tried to impress, Riva Henneman had no options but jail or become a confidential informant. Working with the officer who arrested her was quite an emotional trial with the strong attraction between them but no lines were ever crossed. The experience scared her and when it was over she began life again walking a straight path. Seven years later she has her own restaurant, a farming program and helps teenage kids in need so they don’t end up like she did. Seeing her arresting officer and CI handler in her restaurant brought the memories back in force and the sexual pull between them has not lost its potency. To save one of her kids from trouble with the law she makes the deal she should have made years ago. Her personal history is about to repeat itself. Will this time she find the redemption she’s always needed? Officer Ian Hawthorn was trying to make a name for himself when he arrested a young woman selling drugs in college. He had no qualms using her to rise in the department but he’d have been lying if he said he felt nothing for her. Their chemistry was evident to both of them, how she handled the situation impressed him. Ian wasn’t a man to take advantage of a woman and when the case was over they went separate ways. Now he’s a Lieutenant, stopping for a meal at a local restaurant he’s stunned to see Riva, he’s not forgotten her and isn’t surprised when she asks him not to come back. When one of Riva’s kids lands in jail she offers him a prize he can’t refuse but it’s more than what is offered that draws him, it’s spending time with her again. They aren’t the people they once were, older and hopefully wiser yet the situation they find themselves in is eerily reminiscent of the past. Will they finally learn where things might have gone if allowed to? This was an intriguing story with interesting and complex characters. The relationship between them was riddled with issues from a shared past that had to be navigated, the romance was a slow inevitable burn that exploded when they let go of the inner turmoil that held them back and just let nature take its course. The past did define these characters to some extent and they had to put it into perspective, the passage of time enabled them to free themselves, there’s always the possibility for more if you reach out for it. This story is told to us with present and past chapters. An advanced reading copy was obtained from the publisher via NetGalley. 4.5 stars
'TURN ME LOOSE" by Anne Calhoun is book Six in the "Alpha Ops" series. This is the story of Riva Henneman and Ian Hawthorn. I have not yet read the other books in this series so for me this was a standalone book. Riva was young teenage girl when she first met Ian. Ian was an Officer who caught her committing a crime of selling Drugs. Ian saw something in Riva and gave her a chance to redeem herself by becoming a confidential informant. Now years later Riva has turned her life around having a great job and even working with kids. When Ian walks into her Restaurant the old attraction they had earlier is back. This time they are going to act on it! This was a exciting read with a Second Chance at Love. "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
Seven years ago Riva Henneman's life was kind of a mess, and she made a lot of bad choices, ones that had her coming face to face with the law. Lucky for her the cop who caught her happened to be a little more understanding than most, and he made her a deal, which she reluctantly took, and it wound up helping her get her life back on the straight and narrow. She has since moved on from her wild and unruly days and become a productive member of society, even opening her own restaurant. Things are damn near perfect for her... that is until a certain sexy police officer wanders through her door! She always hoped their paths would never cross again, but fate had other plans them! To say that Riva and Ian's relationship is complicated is a complete understatement, there are so many tallies in the cons column as to why they shouldn't be together, but for some reason fate keeps pushing them together anyhow. The past they share is riddled with hurt and misunderstanding, and Riva has a hard time letting go of of the pain that Ian caused her, and he is struggling with the fact that being with her could put his job in jeopardy. But, little by little they start to let go of everything holding them back and it opens the door for some serious fireworks!! The chemistry between these two was explosive, full of lust, passion and desire... they left me breathless and blushing more than few times! Their road to finding their happy ending is filled with lots of ups and downs, and plenty of spicy encounters... and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of their journey! Highly recommend this one, it's sure to leave you satisfied!! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this title.
3.5 stars--TURN ME LOOSE is the sixth installment in Anne Calhoun’s contemporary, adult ALPHA OPS erotic, romantic suspense series focusing on a group of law enforcement personnel most of whom are current or former Navy SEALs and Special Ops agents. This is Lieutenant Ian Hawthorn, and Riva Henneman’s story line. TURN ME LOOSE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from previous story lines is revealed where necessary. Told from dual third person perspectives (Riva and Ian) TURN ME LOOSE follows the second chance, building relationship between under cover police Lieutenant Ian Hawthorn, and teen advisor Riva Henneman. Seven years earlier, a then eighteen year old Riva Henneman found herself on the wrong side of the law. Rather than do time in jail, Riva agreed to work undercover as a confidential informant for police officer Ian Hawthorn. Fast forward to present day, where Riva will come face to face with her past, a past looking for help to take down the people responsible for the latest influx of drug wars and dirty cops. What ensues is the building but forbidden romance between Riva and Ian, and our couple’s under cover operation to take down the man who has destroyed too many lives. TURN ME LOOSE has a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including many coworkers and fellow law enforcement agents of our story line hero, and a handful of teens who battle temptation at every turn. We are also reintroduced to most of the previous story line couples by way of cameo appearances at the end of the story. The world building looks at the undercover operation to take down a suspected drug dealer; a well known and respected businessman but a supplier of illegal narcotics whose reach goes beyond the street gangs and into organized crime and dirty cops. The relationship between Riva and Ian is one of second chances. The couple’s attraction to one another began seven years earlier but Ian knew that to get involved with a confidential informant would mean professional suicide for an undercover cop. An accidental meeting between Ian and his former CI finds our hero hoping for a second chance with the woman he claims has stolen his heart. The $ex scenes are intimate, seductive and spicy without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. TURN ME LOOSE is my favorite installment of Anne Calhoun’s ALPHA OPS series. It is a story of romantic suspense but for all intents and purposes, the suspense was a bit lacking as the reader is aware of the who, what and why. TURN ME LOOSE is a fated tale of one woman’s struggle for acceptance, and one’s man battle with himself, and control of the unknown. The premise is engaging; the characters are flawed and challenging.
Riva a college student at the time, gets arrested for selling drugs. Ian is a twenty five year old cop and if she becomes his confidential informant, he'll drop the charges. There is chemistry between them but neither will cross the line. Now seven years later, Riva owns her own ground to table restaurant. She helps troubled kids and teaches them farming and cooking. Ian stops by not knowing Riva is the owner. After he eats she asks him to never come back. Ian is in the middle of stopping drug trafficking and corrupt cops in his town. He has one of Riva's kids arrested and she goes to get him. She makes a deal with Ian, drop the charges and she'll help bring down the head drug dealer. It's been seven years since she went home but her mom needs her and Ian goes along. The fire between still blazes will they let it go out or see how hot it will burn them? Smoking sex scenes, will keep you on the edge of your seat. One thing I liked about Riva, she was strong and didn't blame her mistakes on others. Ian was see sawing between wanting her but not messing up his career. I did read it in one day. *VOLUNTARILY REVIEWED THIS FOR NETGALLEY*
TURN ME LOOSE is a read that will certainly get your adrenaline pumping with its fast pace, fiery chemistry and suspense filled plot. I really enjoyed this novel. Calhoun gives us a great love story all around second chances. I received this ARC copy of Turn Me Loose from St. Martin's Press. This is my honest and voluntary review.
3.5 Stars! A second chance romance that seems doomed even the second time around. Ian arrested Reva when she was 18. He made a deal with her to become an informant and there would be no record of her arrest. Disheartened by her drug dealing dad's refusal to help, she takes the deal. Ian an Reva had instant attraction but for obvious reason, nothing could happen. 7 years later and they meet again. Reva's all grown up now, staying clean and helping local kids learn to farm-to-table. Still very much off limits, Ian and Reva team up again after one of her "kids" gets arrested. She makes a new deal to get her father if they let Isiah go. Working together again brings back not only their attraction but also Reva's resentment for the way he used her for his job. Ian knows he couldn't give in to his attraction then or now but will he really be able to say no to the adult Reva he has come to respect? This is one of those books that I feel like I should have loved, but I never really fell into the story. I don't have any obvious complaints about it and I felt it was well written. I just didn't get all that excited about it. It's a safe read. Minimal violence, no sexual abuse and no other women/men drama. ARC provided by NetGalley.
I really enjoyed this one! These were great characters and the writing was excellent. I liked how the author gave us bits and pieces of the history between Ian and Riva and how it's affecting their relationship present day. There isn't as much suspense and action in this one as there was in some of the prior books but it has enough to keep the story interesting. Definitely a book I'm recommending to everyone.
At eighteen, all Riva wanted was her father’s approval. In order to gain it she did some rather unsavory things which led her directly into Ian’s path. It was tantamount that their attraction to each other be denied. Only the promise of what could have been was experienced as neither ever crossed the line. Seven years later, Riva has a new life that gives her joy and happiness while also helping young teenagers at risk. When Ian plans to use one of her students in the same manner he had used her, she steps in to intervene. What follows is an emotionally intense story of letting go of the past as well as each of them coming to terms with who they are now and who they choose to be in the future. This is a rather wordy book and not a fast read. There were times when the internal dialogue just became a bit boring. It might not have bothered me so much had I been allowed to see the progression of Ian and Riva falling in love but what little there was of that came much, much later in the book. The most gut wrenching moment was when the author opened the door to expose Riva’s parent’s relationship. It literally stole my breath and made me realize what she had had to endure while growing up and even why she had made those decisions when younger. While there is not much levity between this couple, there was some fun moments with Ian’s coworkers. I am especially curious about Jo and Caleb’s story and will be anxiously watching for it. ARC provided for an honest review Dual POV No Physical Abuse Possible Triggers - (view spoiler)