Author: Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn KellyEdge of Truth by Brynn Kelly
Published by Harlequin Books on May 30th 2017
Pages: 400
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three-stars

Rotting in an African dungeon is the last place journalist Tess Newell expected to find herself. As she's held hostage by the terrorist group she's investigating, Tess's salvation--and temptation--arrives in the form of another prisoner. A French Foreign Legionnaire with a sinful smile and too many secrets to be anything but dangerous. Yet she knows he's her only hope of surviving.
The Legion is the only family Flynn has. His sanctuary and his purgatory, after years spent in hell. When a mission goes south and Flynn is captured, it's not the enemy that worries him, but the brazen, alluring reporter whose prying questions threaten to bring down his world--and the walls he's built around his heart.
Yet after a daring escape, Flynn must risk it all and go on the run with Tess to retrieve the evidence she needs. The chemistry between them threatens to detonate but, with the enemy fast closing in, time is running out to unravel the truth from the lies in this deadly conspiracy...

A celebrity reporter is thrown into jail in some unknown location in Africa, presumably held by terrorists making a demand. But it appears that Tess has uncovered some secrets of her own, which will probably upend what most people categorise in their black-and-white-worlds of good vs. evil. Her only hope of escape, however, is an edgy, secretive soldier thrown into the same jail cell with her and until the truth emerges, it’s best that they stick together since escape is their end game.

While I’d read Brynn Kelly’s first book ‘Deception Island’ with a dose of skepticism, getting an early copy of ‘Edge of Truth’ made me excited once again for the shady, spooks and spies kind of story that promises heart-pounding action. To some extent, that is what the story offers.

But if it started out great for me, it fizzled out too soon, only picking up towards the end. Nonetheless, it’s well-written, with many detailed, descriptive scenes that amp up the experience of Flynn and Tess making their escape and guaranteed to make your pulse speed up.

For the rest of the time though, I wondered where the narrative was going. There was loads of time spent in the deep POV, which made for exciting action, yet focused so much on sensory experience that I couldn’t, after a while, make sense of what was really happening (and lost any sense of time like the characters did), or whether progress was really made in getting to the crux of the story. Dialogue—banter almost—is interspersed with periods of waiting and action, and it took so long getting to the part where Tess finally stopped looking at Flynn with suspicion despite his many attempts at saving her. I’d hope to see more of the fallout after the conspiracy exposed, but the story never quite got there in the end, focusing instead, on the steps that Flynn/Tess took to escape and give the bad guys the runaround.

However, Tess’s self-righteous behaviour (mostly consisting of pushing away) annoyed me, as did her insistence that things had to be done only her way while accusing Flynn of having a hero-complex. I hated how she never listened but did things on her own because she was only convinced that only her way would keep everyone safe. Grateful much? This saviour-complex and the secrets she stubbornly strove to keep, supposedly for the good of everyone, crossed the line into TSTL for me long before I could even think of it as bravery. That her wilfulness ended up in her also breaking the one thing Flynn asked of her—to leave his past the hell alone because it left him in a world of hurt—made it hard for me to like her at all. It screws up clearly, her efforts gone to waste as Flynn rushes to her rescue…yet again. A hell of a lot happens in 2 days—as though time has been compressed—and there’s clearly instant-love at work here, with Flynn seeming to have more of a revelatory experience than Tess and I never quite got the feeling that she returned that sentiment with as much force as he did—that much she prioritised the ‘story’ above all else.

For me, the long and short of it is, I wished I were more convinced by this story, as well as by a pairing that should have made more sense but didn’t. Flynn/Tess weren’t entirely believable (or compatible) as a couple but if you’re in it more for the suspense and action, then ‘Edge of Truth’ would work perfectly.

three-stars

Deception Island by Brynn Kelly

Deception Island by Brynn KellyDeception Island by Brynn Kelly
Published by HQN Books on May 31st 2016
Pages: 336
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three-stars

Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past—until his son is kidnapped. Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the legionnaire soon finds himself trapped in paradise with a fiery, daring beauty who's nothing he expects…and everything he desires. But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he's made a critical mistake—one that could cost him everything. 
Playing body double for a spoiled socialite was supposed to be Holly Ryan's ticket to freedom. But when she's snatched off her yacht by a tall, dark and dangerous stranger, the not-quite-reformed con artist will make a desperate play to turn her captor from enemy to ally, by any means necessary. 
Yet as scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch. When they're double-crossed, they'll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined…because in this deadly game of deception, it's their lives—and hearts—on the line.

Desperation drives Rafe Angelito to kidnap a woman who’s on a mission to sail around the world, believing that the ransom money will in turn free his son who’s held by a friend turned enemy. But appearances are not what they seem for both Rafe and Holly, who start their acquaintance based on deception and end their journey as lovers.

For a debut novel, ‘Deception Island’ packs a punch, filled with non-stop action and edgy scenes when things got ugly and confrontational. The premise is exciting, if somewhat removed from the experiences of the ordinary man: there’s talk of refugee camp upbringings, child soldiers, bloodied personal histories, the French Foreign Legion and so on. It is all very mysterious (as though watching the action unfold behind a veil separating reality and fiction) and very exotic – character- and location-wise at least – but also due to the lack of grounding information about the main characters that I’ve found myself wanting to know but was frustratingly not told about, whether intentionally or not. Where is Rafe really from and what is his native tongue? How exactly did Holly, an ex-con, manage to even find herself in a position as a body double for a spoiled American heiress?

Rafe, more so than Holly, remained ambiguous even after the revelations of his dark past, which takes on preternatural life of its own in the way it consumes him. Holly on the other hand, was more an open book to read, even if I did cringe when she tried to use seduction as a means to get away or when her thoughts about Rafe’s bulging muscles kept popping up at inappropriate times. It is as though we’re pushed to simply live their story in the here and now, with a foot already planted in the future somewhere in the sunny climes of Corsica.

three-stars