Hero Nick Donovan is a former SEAL who transitioned from the Navy’s most elite special ops unit to a soul-sucking job eliminating supposed national security threats for the CIA. Concerned by his emotional numbness at following orders and eliminating targets he isn’t fully convinced deserve it and the dangers to his family of payback for his government job, Nick’s traded his CIA work for the specialized security agency AEGIS. But despite his best efforts, his work has made his greatest fear a reality: seeking revenge for Nick’s perceived involvement in the death of his family, the leader of a powerful Mexican drug cartel has gone after Nick’s family, mistaking the one woman he hasn’t been able to forget for his sister-in-law and kidnapping her into the Mexican flesh trade. So now, nearly a decade after a life-changing hot summer fling with heroine Jennifer Grayson before his life imploded and she dropped off his radar, Nick is heading into Mexico’s prostitution capital and flying nearly blind to rescue her. Nick is your typical alpha male with a mile-wide protective streak, convinced that he’s a danger to his loved ones and that it’s best to keep his distance from Jenny—regardless of how much he wants her and how perfectly his body remembers hers from that long-ago summer. He has some serious issues stemming from his father’s highly-publicized alleged embezzlement and suspected car accident-suicide to avoid prosecution, and he’s never really gotten over that summer with Jenny—particularly when she drops a bombshell about it once they’re reunited. I don’t particularly agree with the way he reacts to the news and his subsequent behaviour [without giving anything away, that particular trope always has me wanting to smack the hero into getting over himself], but it adds some angsty drama to the relationship, and I can empathize with him to some degree. Especially since it’s clear from the get-go that that summer wasn’t just a fling for him.
For the most part, Jenny was a tougher sell for me as a character. For someone with an advanced degree in a scientific discipline, she does some really stupid things. Sneaking off to Niger, a West African hotbed for terrorists and human traffickers, on a paleontological dig days after being rescued from a Mexican brothel and with people clearly after her so she can avoid telling Nick the truth about their long-ago summer and escape the feelings he still arouses in her? Cutting off all communication with Nick and keeping a very important thing to herself for a decade? Not exactly the smartest (or bravest) moves. I get that they were both young and stupid and thought each knew best, and points for her for acknowledging she was self-absorbed and stupid that summer, but she generally rubbed me the wrong way. Not to say she’s not a well-written character—Ms. Thomas does a great job writing her and making her a flawed, realistic character we can relate to—but I didn’t particularly like her much or get why Nick had been hung up on her for a decade. But seeing the two of them together and how she makes him feel something other than the numbness that’s encased him for years, I can see how they’re perfect for each other and could root for them and their HEA.
Overall, I enjoyed PERSONAL TARGET and meeting the AEGIS blokes and look forward to all their stories.
**ARC provided by Publisher**
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