Hidden Impact by Piper J. Drake
Series: Safeguard #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 9th 2015
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Meet the men of Centurion Corporation—an elite group of mercenaries who will go to any extreme to complete a mission…even risk their hearts. A new high-stakes series by Piper J. Drake.He's not the hero she's looking forAs part of the elite Centurion Corporation team, military-veteran-turned-mercenary Gabriel Diaz is a natural defender. He'll do anything to ensure a mission is successful. Anything but get emotionally invested—he learned the hard way that can be deadly. Easy bodyguard jobs in between the more challenging missions are all he's interested in now.Maylin Cheng is desperate and running out of time. Her younger sister has gone missing but no one seems to take her concern seriously. Her last hope lies in asking an aloof bodyguard for help. He dismisses her outright, but all that changes when she is almost killed in a not-so-accidental hit-and-run right before his eyes.As Maylin leans on Gabriel, she begins to rely on him for more than just her safety. But as their attraction grows, so does the danger surrounding them. When the elaborate web they're trapped in unravels, Gabriel will do anything to protect them. Even if that means putting his heart in the crosshairs.Book one of the Safeguard series
A new series about a secret security agency? Sign me up! Even better, I felt like this book took those tropes I love but added a tiny dose of realism in its characters. I liked the mix, and I liked the book.
Maylin Cheng is a chef/caterer trying to get help finding her sister, who went missing during a conference visit to China. She approaches Gabriel Diaz because he and his Centurion Corporation team are working the same event she’s catering, and she had heard they are top notch for this kind of problem. He brushes her off, but when she’s almost killed leaving the event, Gabe and his team realize maybe Maylin is on to something big. When the threats against Maylin keep coming, Gabe pledges to help her get to the bottom of things, no matter what. Of course, they also have Feels for each other, and they have to decide how to explore, too.
I loved that Maylin was a chef, and she used cooking to show her love and appreciation. There’s a scene where Gabe’s cool, badass team is helping her in a cool, badass way. She obviously can’t do the hero stuff, so instead she pulls out a picnic basket full of amazing food for everyone on the team, just to offer her version of support. That’s Maylin! She’s smart and holds her own, no small feat given that the rest are soldier/hero types, but she is also keenly aware of her own limitations. Gabe is a lovely match for her, too. He also takes care of those he loves, though he does it through his tough guy actions rather than food. I also appreciated that while he’s a major alpha, he’s still respectful and kind. He cares about Maylin’s feelings (and isn’t afraid of them), values her input, and accepts responsibility for his mistakes without minimizing her feelings. Action heroes can be decent human beings too!
The side characters were interesting, though my favorite was Jewel, the…well, she’s not exactly a villain but she’s definitely an antagonist. Jewel was Gabe’s former lover and teammate who betrayed them and has gone to a rival, morally suspect agency. Something complicated is clearly going on to make her do what she’s done, and I better get her story eventually so I can see more of her badassery, or I will be very, very sad.
Yes, this is still an action adventure story, so there are explosions and secret organizations and guns out the wazoo and the plot doesn’t always hold together under scrutiny, but that’s half the fun. Plus, the characters are interesting and you’re rooting for them the whole way. For me it was the perfect blend!
Grade: 4 out of 5