Tag: Bad Boys Undercover

Guest Review: Under the Wire by HelenKay Dimon

Posted June 30, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Under the Wire by HelenKay DimonReviewer: Jen
Under the Wire (Bad Boys Undercover #4) by HelenKay Dimon
Series: Bad Boys Undercover #4
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: June 28th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

The Bad Boys of the Alliance—a top-secret military security agency—are back for more in HelenKay Dimon’s sexy, action-packed series.

Only one thing could pull Reid Armstrong away from a vacation he’s earned with every muscle in his finely honed body—learning that his former fiancée has disappeared on a top-secret science expedition in the middle of nowhere. Second chances don’t come often in Reid’s business, and he needs to prove his worth to Cara Layne or die trying.

Waking up to find her camp destroyed and her colleagues missing, Cara is a walking target. She can’t trust anyone, least of all Reid. Even if his skills get them out alive, he’s a heartache waiting to strike twice. Yet being in close proximity proves their connection burns hotter than ever.

The body count is rising, the enemy is getting closer, and soon Reid will be right back in the position that cost him everything—forced to choose between the woman he loves, and the job that’s his only hope of saving them both . . .

I’ve been dragging my feet on reading the rest of the books in this series after how much I really disliked Book #1. (It’s the kind of dislike that has only grown over time the more I have thought about that story and how much that hero pissed me off. Grrr.) Something about the blurb on this one grabbed me though, and I generally like Dimon’s voice, so I gave it a shot. Woo, it was awesome!

This is a second chance love story, between Reid Armstrong and Cara Layne. Reid is a member of the top secret Alliance agency. He heads to the Russian wilderness because Cara, a geologist and his ex-fiance, failed to check in with her brother while on an expedition. (Yes, Reid literally flies around the world and illegally sneaks into Russia, dragging his colleague Parker along, to see if she’s ok. It’s a bit flimsy, but just go with it!) When he gets there he finds her (absurdly easily), but the rest of her team has disappeared. When she comes clean about the fact that their expedition was about more than just science, Reid, Cara, and Parker get embroiled in something, though they can’t quite figure out what happened to the science team, who is after them, or why. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, Reid and Cara have some massive baggage between them after Cara abruptly broke off their short engagement a year ago and smashed Reid’s heart to pieces. They have to stay alive long enough to solve the puzzle of what is going on as well as work through their personal issues.

The thing I loved most about this book is the way it balanced the action with the relationship development. Though I love them, romantic suspenses/adventures are not always great at tackling emotional development and character growth, but Dimon does it beautifully in this book. Cara and Reid have so much hurt and mistrust between them. At first, I was 100% team Reid. He obviously loved Cara deeply. They were only together during a short and stressful time, but he never doubted his love for her, which is why he proposed so quickly. As the reader, it was so clear that it wasn’t a whim to him; he was in it for the long haul. He simply grabbed what he wanted immediately because, given his dangerous job and terrible childhood, he knew you have to take your happiness when you find it. When she dumps him, it shatters him, and that didn’t endear Cara to me. But little by little, we get to hear more about Cara’s side of the story, and her reasons for leaving were valid, too. Both of them made mistakes and let their own insecurities and hang ups get in the way of their relationship, but they don’t magically fix it with just one conversation. The two of them slowly chip away at the pain and misunderstandings through the course of the book, and seeing them come to a place of love and forgiveness at the end was a great payoff.

The plot is exciting and kept me guessing too. There are so many players involved, and untangling their motivations kept Reid, Cara, and Parker on their toes. There are tons of dead bodies (but not tons of gore), some explosions, hiding in caves, spies and secret agents, and a doomsday bomb. Certainly Reid and his colleagues are larger than life and do the action-movie heroics, but nothing felt so crazy or unbelievable that it yanked me out of the story. Plus, we spend a lot of time with Tasha in this book. (She’s the head of Alliance and the heroine from Running Hot, the prequel to the series.) To be honest, I’d be happy to read an entire series just of her kicking ass and taking names, so I was thrilled to get so much time with her in this book. Smart and lethal woman who can lead a group of the toughest men on the planet–what’s not to love?

I know this book has some small flaws, but it hit so many of my favorites in one story: a brilliant scientist heroine, a hero madly in love, international intrigue, funny dialog, a snarky friend for the hero, adventure through a remote countryside, and some very steamy moments. It’s definitely the best adventure romance I’ve read in a while, and I’m so happy I decided to give the series another chance.

Grade: 5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Playing Dirty by HelenKay Dimon

Posted May 19, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Publisher: Avon, Harper CollinsGenres: Romantic Suspense

Playing Dirty by HelenKay DimonJen’s review of Playing Dirty (Bad Boys Undercover #1) by HelenKay Dimon

As an elite Alliance agent—the joint undercover operation of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, and the CIA—Ford Decker lives for the adrenaline. But when he befriends sexy property manager Shay Alexander in hopes of finding her cousin, a known national security threat, Ford crosses the line, getting to know her better . . . in bed.

After being burned by her last relationship, Shay wants to take things slow. Yet she can’t keep her hands off the drop-dead gorgeous hottie who’s moved into her apartment building. So when Ford’s identity as an undercover agent is exposed, his betrayal cuts deep. Shay never wants to see him again, but Ford can’t let her go, not when her life is still in danger. He will sacrifice everything to protect her, then be prepared to walk away from the only woman he’s ever loved, even if it breaks him.

Ford Decker is an agent for a top secret, shadowy agency run jointly by the CIA and MI6. It’s the kind of agency that is so top secret they mostly operate independently and without regard for pesky things like laws. One of their primary purposes is to thwart terrorists, which is how Ford ends up searching for a young scientist who appears to have developed and then stolen a frightening new biological weapon. Shay Alexander is the scientist’s cousin, and Ford moves into the building where she and her cousin live to keep an eye on her. He ends up getting involved with her (because of course he does), which causes him all kinds of guilt. He has to do his job and save the world from a terrorist, even though he knows it might cost him Shay’s trust.

This is one of those books I could have really loved, if not for one issue. Ford has to lie to Shay because he’s a super secret agent. It’s not my favorite situation, but I’ve enjoyed plenty of books with that set up before because once the truth comes out, everyone can move past it and work together. Very slightly spoilery bit: But here, the truth doesn’t come out until almost the very end. Ford plays Shay the whole time. Yes, he genuinely cares about her and yes he feels guilty, but yet he keeps screwing her, literally and figuratively. She gets no chance to help, no chance to get to know the real Ford, no chance to do the right thing and help catch her cousin. As Ford kept lying and lying, I went from cringing to downright frustrated. Ford is said to be such a dedicated agent that he is willing to take advantage of the love of his life to save the world because that’s how important this is. But then we’re expected to believe he isn’t quite dedicated enough to keep it in his pants, something that was in opposition to his mission directives at first. I guess horniness trumps terrorism.

When the truth finally comes out, Shay is understandably crushed. Not only does she learn the guy she thought she was falling in love with used her for the entire length of their relationship, but she finds out the little cousin she has always loved and protected is involved in something horrific. This might all be turned around if she (and we as readers) were given some time to adjust, but the book is nearly at an end by this point. I was left with all this pent up indignation and anger for Shay. She, on the other hand, changes her opinion ridiculously quickly and forgives Ford in the end. Maybe Ford genuinely loves her, but she can’t love him because she doesn’t know him!

You’d think after this diatribe my score for the book would be a zero, but I really did like much of it. (If the truth had come out a little earlier, this could have been a solid 4 grade!) Aside from the lying, I liked Ford. He does try to be a good boyfriend to Shay for much of the book. Early on I assumed the lie would be revealed somewhere in the middle, so I actually appreciated his attempts to be supportive and caring toward Shay. It was only as the end neared and I realized the reveal would be humiliating that I started questioning Ford’s caring moments and wonder whether it was all basically grooming. Was he being supportive because he loved her or to build up her trust so she’d come to him if her cousin made contact? I loved seeing Ford’s teammates and all the complicated relationships in the agency. I am definitely looking forward to the other books because I usually like Dimon’s writing and fast-paced action.

I’m starting to feel like an uptight goody two shoes because I am always complaining about lies in romances, but I have such a hard time believing in any HEA when a relationship is built on lies. I know tons of readers would have no problem with the lying in this book, so if that’s not a deal breaker for you I do think you’d enjoy it. I clearly was not the right reader for this one.

Grade: 2.75 out of 5

This book is available from Avon Books. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

Tagged: , , , , , , ,