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Friday, November 29, 2013

ARC Review: Targeted by Katie Reus

Confession time: I’ve had self-publishing phenom Katie Reus’s entire Red Stone Security romantic suspense series on my epic Kindle to-read queue for aeons but have never gotten around to reading any of them. So when she started her new Deadly Ops series, I figured it was time to finally check out this talented author I’d heard so much about and who’d been endorsed by some of my favourite romantic suspense authors. Former military hero currently working intelligence? Check. Drug runners and terrorists smuggling biological weapons? Double check. Teenage love given a second chance? Triple check. Smokin’ half-clothed bloke with a gun on the cover? TARGETED hit all the highlights I look for in romantic suspense. And it didn’t disappoint—it’s a well-crafted, action-packed read big on (realistic) thrills and great sexual tension that sets the scene for what will surely be a thoroughly enjoyable, sexy series.

Former Marine Force Recon Scout Sniper Jack Stone left the military and his previous life as Sam Kelly to work for a super elite and ultra-secretive branch of the National Security Agency. Fresh off a two-year deep cover stint to bring down a human trafficking ring led by Albanian terrorists, he’s drafted into a solo operation to investigate the connection between a seemingly on-the-straight-and-narrow medical supply company, a ruthless South American drug lord, and a North African terrorist group set on unleashing biological weapons on US soil. The catch? The target’s assistant and surrogate daughter is Sophie Moreno, the love of his (former) life he feels he failed at age eighteen and whom he’s spent the bulk of his adult life trying to forget. When Sophie, suspicious of her boss’ increasingly evasive behaviour, obtains photographic evidence of weapons being smuggled with the company’s medical supplies, she lands square in the drug lord’s crosshairs and Jack’s mission shifts from gathering information to protecting the woman he’s never stopped loving but believes he can never have. If that’s not enough of a thrill ride for you, throw in an NSA mole, a former agent-slash-best-friend gone rogue, and one hell of a twist, and you have the pulse-pounding, action-packed read that is TARGETED. The writing is crisp and the pacing taut, and Ms. Reus does a great job of tempering the adrenaline rush with sexual tension so palpable it’ll have you hollering at Jack and Sophie to just get it ON. From the second they lay eyes on each other (again), primal attraction sizzles between them but isn’t decanted until ~60% through the book, which just added to me desire to keep turning pages. Well played, Ms. Reus.

I really, really liked Jack/Sam. The flashbacks weaved through the story give us a glimpse of his rough upbringing in foster care and the sweetness (and heat) of his relationship with the teenage Sophie when the two of them end up in the same foster home with a decent foster mum… and the main story shows off the swoon-worthy badass alpha he’s become. I liked how his feelings of failure and guilt regarding Sophie that have haunted him all his adult life and have kept him from trying to contact her in over a decade took him from seemingly invincible super-warrior to regular guy (who could probably kill you with a paperclip)—it made me really connect with him and feel his struggle of being so close to the woman he’s been in love with all his life but unable to divulge his secrets. Watching him try to fight his feelings—past and present—for Sophie and try to focus on the task at hand rather than what she still does for him was both heartwarming and great fun and had me rooting for him to get the girl in the end all the way.

Sophie is one of those heroines that you’ll either like or will rub you completely the wrong way; I happen to fall on the “like” side of the spectrum. I really enjoyed how, despite being thrust into a completely foreign (and deadly) situation and betrayed by someone important to her, she kept it together and didn’t go all damsel in distress/whiny TSTL flake. Growing up in the foster care system and having survived a vicious attack, she’s no shrinking violet, and she’s got spunk and sass to spare. Though I was tempted to smack her upside the head for being a bit of an idiot about the Jack/Sam thing (and then flipping out when she learns the truth—hello, national security much?) and being all “I’m just a means to an end” pouty despite the fact that Jack puts his career on the line for her, I could see where she was coming from. And, admittedly, watching her fall for Jack whilst being confused about all the Sam-like feelings he elicits was quite entertaining. And, oh boy, the two of them together are HOT. Even when they’re not together per se, the sparks between them are electric, and the main event may just set fire to your Kindle.

Overall, TARGETED is an impressive start to what promises to be a sizzling trilogy/series. If you like your romance action-packed and hot (and with a sexy military hero), definitely give this one a go!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |


  1. I haven't read these books either, but I do look forward to it when I get the chance.