Series: Killer Instincts #8
Published by Berkley Books on April 25th 2017
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Four years ago, Cate’s entire life changed when she discovered she was the daughter of a supersoldier. But Jim Morgan’s overprotectiveness has pushed her away. These days, she’s working as a freelance photographer and living the dangerous life Jim never wanted for her.
When Cate snaps a photo linking a corrupt South American politician with the leader of a notorious drug cartel, her mercenary father leads a team to rescue her—only to get shot and critically wounded in the process.
As Morgan’s operatives rally together on a revenge mission, they’re faced with new alliances and old heartaches. Cate is forced to work with David “Ash” Ashton, the man who broke her heart two years ago, while Liam Macgregor and Sullivan Port resurface after years apart to finally try to deal with everything they’d left unsaid.
Soon it’s all-out war between the cartel and the mercenaries—with two couples caught in the middle of the blood feud. Love and redemption are within their reach...but first they have to make it home alive.
Action-packed, exotic locales, a story with many twists and turns and heart-rending moments and morally-questionable characters that somehow manage to find their HEA…that probably sums up Elle Kennedy’s Killer Instinct series. And it’s a series, I think—objectively—that could be called one of the more memorable ones in the romantic suspense genre.
‘Midnight Target’ however, wouldn’t work well as a standalone. Rather it’s like a culmination of all the previous 7 books and picks up after a lapse of several years with a few flashbacks in between to explain the developments between the characters, then pushes us all on a ride that finally closes 3 years in the future. A revenge plot drives the story, where the usual tit-for-tat business gets things going in some lawless regions of South America, with over-the-top villains, yet Kennedy still surprises me at times by upping her game here.
But juggling action and the emotional bits of romance can be a difficult, ambitious task and ‘Midnight Target’ doesn’t quite succeed in this aspect, perhaps because Kennedy handled not one but two pairings in the story: Cate/Ash and Sully/Liam, who were the last, unresolved couples hinted in the previous books.
I felt for Cate throughout—a young woman whom no one wants to see as a grown-up—but loved her spirit and daring courage as she struggles and fights against being smothered in cotton wool by the men in her life. Her connection with Ash was evident in the rest of the books, and as I was interested to know their story, I hadn’t expected the bastard he’d morphed into here, treating Cate so badly that I felt that she deserves way better than him. In fact, Ash himself drives the wedge between them at the very end, when he made it clear that Cate was never his choice at all. Only when a drastic turn of events throws them together again does he start to question whether his self-pitying attitude was really right to begin with.
But the unrelenting action means that the romance is almost glossed over, despite the sheer amount of sexy times in the book. Ash barely makes up for the wrongs he’d done to Cate (whom I wished had given him a harder time for it)—sleeping with every other woman while not having the balls to go after who he really wants—and as torn between loyalties as he is, I was rather unhappy that he hadn’t needed to do too much to get Cate back, then unable to decide till the very end that he actually wanted to be with her. From there, the ending seemed rushed and abrupt, like a drop into the glowing sunset as everything suddenly righted around them.
Liam/Sully was the other m/m pairing that didn’t come as a surprise, yet it could be said that their journey is an even more tortured one, with years of separation and so much back and forth that I wondered how they were going to resolve their issues. Yet it’s a resolution—though it feels rushed as well—that caps off the series in a lavish fashion…where hardened mercenaries suddenly turn, rather laughingly, into ‘family men’ ruled by their women and their children.