Hidden (Deep Ops, #1) by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Deep Ops #1
Also in this series: Hidden (Deep Ops, #1)
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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Hide. That’s all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she’s off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .
Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he’s been set up . . .
Fight. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa’s fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock . . .
Pippa lives essentially in the middle of nowhere, secluded except for the sexy new guy who moved into the only nearby house. Malcolm is also running from his life as an undercover cop and the demons of his past. It turns out someone wants Malcolm for a new operation, though, and Pippa is his target. She might be involved with a terrorist plot, and while Malcolm just can’t believe she’s a terrorist, he knows she’s lying and hiding something. Malcolm has to learn to work with his new team and get the info they need about Pippa, although that gets increasingly difficult as he gets to know her. Neither Malcolm nor Pippa can trust the other, but if they don’t they may not be able to stop an attack.
I loved this book. Pippa and Malcolm were richly drawn and interesting characters, both with their own baggage and their own hopes. Both of them were so damaged by their past, though both have channeled that in different directions. Pippa was traumatized by her childhood, experiencing panic attacks and terrible nightmares and largely cloistering herself in her house out of fear. In many ways, though, she’s better off than Malcolm–she is in (online) therapy, has a fulfilling job that doesn’t require her to leave her house, and isn’t self-medicating with alcohol like Malcolm. Malcolm has been working undercover for years, and the stress of being so deep undercover for so long has taken its toll on him. He’s got some serious PTSD and some unhealthy coping mechanisms, and it was tough to read about at first. The way Pippa sees Malcolm’s pain and wants to offer comfort was just lovely, and Malcolm realizes he wants to do the same for her.
There was a bit of a different tone from many of Zanetti’s other books. Malcolm is still WAY alpha, but he demonstrates a deep awareness of how he might appear threatening to Pippa, and he goes out of his way to avoid that not for self-serving reasons but because he doesn’t want to contribute to her fear. There’s also a lot more consent talk than Zanetti’s books usually feature. Of course, he still is bossy and gets off on dominating her in bed, but I honestly appreciated that Malcolm isn’t as much of a cave man as Zanetti’s usual heroes. (The book was still way sexy too.) I hope she continues that trend.
By far my favorite part of the book is Malcolm’s new team of “Homeland Defense Department” agents. They are all misfits and outcasts, people with secrets in their past that got them sent to the middle of nowhere to handle the cases no one else thinks are important. They start to develop friendships in this book, and it’s clear they will become a tight knit and top notch team. Each and every one of them is fantastic, especially the dog Roscoe who provides a ton of comic relief. I CANNOT wait to read about all of them in future books.
This book did have a few inconsistencies, like how Pippa warmed to Malcolm and started falling for him so quickly. I also would have liked Pippa to find out the truth about Malcolm a little earlier. She does find out early enough to resolve some conflict and have a role in stopping the attack, but I would have preferred just a little more time for her to come to terms with Malcolm’s lies.
These are pretty minor quibbles, though. Mainly I just had a great time reading this book, and I am beyond excited to see it continue.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5