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Saturday, April 19, 2014

ARC Review: Midnight Pursuits by Elle Kennedy

Elle Kennedy’s Killer Instincts spec ops romantic suspense series isn’t for everyone (read: definitely not if you’re into sunshine and rainbows!), but it’s one of my favourite series out there and much fist pumping happens when ARCs go up on NetGalley. I read a lot of romantic suspense ranging from the darkest, grittiest stuff with heinous villains that do unspeakable things I need a couple of days to decompress from to the RS-lite I can read in one sitting, so counting the days to release day from the second a book is announced is a rare occurrence. And yet Ms. Kennedy manages to do it every time with her perfect mix of scarily badass heroines, sexy alpha heroes, realistic and non-superfluous violence, and uber-hot sexytimes.

MIDNIGHT PURSUITS is the fourth instalment in the Killer Instincts series and is definitely best read in order. It’s rare, even in RS, to have the heroine be even more badass than an a former-Special-Forces-turned-soldier-for-hire hero, but former master thief and current assassin on a very personal (and bloody) revenge mission Juliet Mason does just that. You know you have one tough chick when a former Marine is the bleeding heart! Juliet is one of assassin queen Noelle’s most ruthless operators and will go to any length to complete her mission. In MIDNIGHT PURSUITS, that mission is highly personal: a power play by corrupt Belarusian politician Dmitry Orlov results in her foster brother’s death as collateral damage and she vows to avenge his death and kill Orlov, no matter what it takes. She is unapologetic about her an-eye-for-an-eye plan, and it’s fascinating to ponder and witness how Ms. Kennedy can turn someone who kills for a living and is willing to murder someone in cold blood for revenge (albeit, granted, Orlov is a coldhearted psycho!) into a redeemable character readers can empathize and sympathize with. I love a strong heroine, but I also like them a little damaged and vulnerable and chock-full of emotion under that hardened façade, and Juliet has all that in spades. In previous novels and at the beginning of MIDNIGHT PURSUITS she’s closed off and unapproachable, but as we slowly learn about her tough childhood in foster care, her love for and loyalty toward her foster brother, her work for Noelle, her blossoming feelings for hero Ethan, and what she tells herself she has no right to want out of life, the heartless bitch façade crumbles and we get to see and feel for the real woman underneath. Eliciting empathy and rooting for a seemingly heartless assassin? Score one for Ms. Kennedy.

Hero Ethan Hayes is the Captain America of illustrious Jim Morgan’s team of mercenaries that specializes in high-risk extractions: the quintessential honourable all-American boy-next-door with the idyllic childhood and ‘sweet’ nature. But in MIDNIGHT PURSUITS the rookie proves to everyone—especially Juliet—that he has a sexy, dangerous alpha side that makes him all man. When Juliet is seriously injured in her quest for revenge, he intercepts her SOS to good friend and fellow operator Isabel and flies halfway around the world to her aid. And when he discovers that there are others besides Juliet’s brother being targeted by Orlov—including a teenage girl— he can’t turn a blind eye and convinces Juliet to help him protect them whilst she seeks her revenge. Seriously: swoon! I really liked Ethan; in previous books he’d come across as the laid-back, fresh-faced newbie, but he really comes into his own in this story and proves that he’s not one to be trifled with and that he is exactly what Juliet needs. The teasing and groundwork for the sexual tension between Juliet and Ethan had been laid in the previous novel, but the chemistry leaps off the pages in this one and threatens to set your e-reader on fire. In typical Elle Kennedy fashion, those two—and their love scenes—are HOT. I liked how Juliet was incredibly attracted to Ethan but (futilely) fought it because she didn’t do relationships (Ethan has ‘commitment’ stamped across his forehead) and was too much messed up darkness to his (seemingly) youthful light, but I especially liked how Ethan loved and accepted her for who she was—flaws and all—without any desire to change her. I seriously wanted to take him home! (That scene with the cookies? Incredibly adorable and humanizing.)

With MIDNIGHT PURSUITS, Elle Kennedy delivers another excellent fast-paced and action-packed addition to the Killer Instincts series. Queen of the assassins Noelle and chief of the mercenaries Jim Morgan are complete scene-stealers (in a good way!), and the Epilogue sets up their upcoming story—which has been building since the first book—nicely. Those two have a long history, and I can barely wait until November and the release of MIDNIGHT ACTION to learn their story and how they went from passionate love to unadulterated hate. That story promises to deliver badassery, complex emotions, and scorching heat to the max!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase:Amazon | Kindle | B&N | The Book Depository |


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