Author: Tonya Burrows

Reckless Honor by Tonya Burrows

Reckless Honor by Tonya BurrowsReckless Honor by Tonya Burrows
Series: Hornet, #5
Published by Entangled Publishing. LLC (Amara) on April 23rd 2018
Pages: 374
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Jean-Luc Cavalier has only ever cared about three things: sex, booze, and the dangerous missions he undertakes with HORNET. Laissez les bons temps rouler is more than a Mardi Gras motto—it’s the way he lives his life. But all that changes the night he rescues Dr. Claire Oliver from deadly mercenaries.

Now he can’t get the gorgeous blond virologist out of his head.

Claire is running for her life. Someone wants her antiviral research and they’re willing to kill anyone and everyone to get it. She has no one to turn to except a womanizing Cajun with a silver tongue and devastating smile.

But when an ultra-deadly virus decimates the Niger Delta, saving Claire and her research becomes the least of HORNET’s concerns. The virus has all the markings of a bioweapon and Nigeria is only the testing grounds…

Jean-Luc Cavalier, like his last name suggests, has been difficult to take seriously in all of Tonya Burrows’s HORNET books I’ve gone through. The voodoo spell on his man bits that had cursed him into celibacy? Jean-Luc the manwhore had always looked like a joke to me and that’s putting it quite kindly. The womanising bastard of a language-expert hasn’t made his mark on me like some other characters in this series have, and I’ll readily admit my own scepticism when the time rolled around for his own story.

But the context in which Burrows has written his and Claire’s story is undeniably irresistible: the threat of a virus in far-flung Nigeria, the high-stakes of biological warfare coming into play? I’m fidgety with excitement. It’s a story that has its roots in the previous book (which I don’t really remember now), so I struggled a little in catching up with a plot that races through a hot-zone and tries to uncover the mystery behind a rapidly-spreading, man-made virus.

There was a bleakness to this that isn’t present in Burrows’s other books and perversely, I found myself liking the head and dankly pervasive atmosphere of the angst and the hopelessness that surrounded the dying camp that Jean-Luc and Claire found themselves in, while the geek in me slurped up every word to do with viruses and mutations. But as with most RS books, this took a suspense of disbelief to get through—the flitting from exotic location to yet another exotic location, the James Bond-esque type of action, the miraculous happenings when you least expect them.

What I wasn’t sold on was Jean-Luc, unfortunately. Not when I couldn’t shake the longstanding idea of him being a self-serving bastard and deem him a credible hero. Mostly the problem I have with manwhore types is this—I will always doubt their ability to commit no matter how special they make out a woman to be, let alone stick to that very one woman despite the extraordinary circumstances that bring them together.

Past the adrenaline rush and the intense emotions deadly situations tend to pull out of people, I couldn’t be convinced that Claire would have been enough for Jean-Luc not when nothing else has made him changed his mind on the ‘Laissez les bons temps rouler’ motto he went by until the threat of violent hemorrhagic death came on him, curse on his dick aside. That he wanted a chance with Claire because the threat of pending death brought the weight of regrets down on him or that she’d helped saved him…well anything less extreme than that wouldn’t have made him change on his own volition otherwise, would it? The suddenness with which Jean-Luc opted for monogamy was beyond unbelievable as a result and I was surprised in fact, that Claire didn’t have the same reservations, the giving, determined doctor that she is.

But Claire’s constant heart-sickness and the pain she felt about her own dilemma concerning the virus and the people she’d left behind made her a heroine laden with her own burdens—so much so that I didn’t see her getting her head past it at all. From her wanting a night to forget to her inexplicable falling in love with Jean-Luc baffled me as well, when most of the book was spent dodging mercenaries, arguing about playing god and figuring their way out of tricky situations with their only connection being the virus and her determination not to let anyone die because of her.

While Claire/Jean-Luc wasn’t quite a pairing I could realistically buy into, Burrows’s writing has always appealed to me nonetheless, which is what keeps me coming back to her HORNET series. The insertion of the rest of the guys is always a boon—the slight focus on Harvard, Ian and Marcus made me want their own stories, yes, these HORNET men nearly unhinged with their own deep issues—and a timely reminder that there’re so many loose threads yet to be tied up, as each one bleeds into the next story.


Code of Honor by Tonya Burrows

Code of Honor by Tonya BurrowsCode of Honor by Tonya Burrows
Series: HORNET #4
Published by Entangled Publishing. LLC (Amara) on October 23rd 2017
Pages: 224
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Jesse Warrick used to consider himself a kickass medic, but a teammate’s brush with death has him questioning everything. Now he’s been promoted to field commander of HORNET. How can he lead when he can’t get his shit together? And how can he focus when the sexy new recruit makes him want to break the rules?

Lanie Delcambre can’t seem to find solid footing within the elite hostage rescue team. Worse, the man she’s loved for most of her life is now her boss. She’d kill to act on the chemistry between her and Jesse, but she can’t risk ruining her career.

It was only supposed to be a training mission. No live ammo, no hostages, and no real bad guys—only someone didn’t give the bad guys that memo. When their hotel is taken hostage with half of HORNET inside, Jesse and Lanie are the team’s only hope of escaping alive…

Tonya Burrows’s long-running HORNET series has so far, been a breath of fresh air. ‘Code of Honor’ is Jesse/Lanie’s story and as newly-minted team leader, Jesse’s off to a bad start, burdened by his self-doubts, his desire for a childhood friend and a son who doesn’t give him any time of day. A hostage situation at the end of their training however, exacerbates this, throwing the group as well as his teetering confidence into chaos.

Unlike the other paramilitary or security companies formed by a tight group of ex-military buddies, Burrows’s HORNET men are openly broken, psychopathically quirky and badly damaged—physically and mentally—that it’s a wonder they can ever be functioning as individuals let alone as a cohesive security group. But they stumble along, badly might I add, flying by the seat of their pants from a disaster to another while trying to hold themselves together, not dissimilar to a boy-band put together by an executive producer and told to sing/dance in harmony in front of squealing fangirls from the onset.

This bunch of misfits and their antics however, keep me coming back to this series, because it’s entertaining (with some bit of schadenfreude on my part thrown in) to see how they get themselves into deep water (yet again) and then fight their way out of it with nary a thing but their wits and pocket knives.

For most part, I liked the action and the suspense, and the introduction of a kickass former Texas Ranger and Jesse’s blast from the past brought a different dynamic to the misfits of HORNET. Yet while the action flowed, along with an overarching plot that reeled me in, the romance bit gave me pause, because it wasn’t something I could envision at all, or at least, found difficult to buy into.

Had Lanie really never stopped loving Jesse from afar, even though Jesse had moved on so thoroughly that he’d married 3 women after having feeling something for her as a teenager, then only confessing at the end that he’d only wanted her? That it had taken over a decade to make this happen seemed like an unfair deal for Lanie, who didn’t seem to question Jesse’s faux-pas, his personal angst, his inability to see past his own issues and his circling around the block for nearly 20 years before coming back to her.

Admittedly, the second-chance romance is a trope that’s problematic for me. A character tends to struggle more than the other with unrequited feelings and resentment, and sometimes even the admission of having ‘loved’ a person for so long yet doing the opposite thing about it (in Jesse’s case at least) makes it more unforgivable. The story’s focus on suspense meant that Lanie/Jesse’s romance was too easily squared away with love declarations and a simple apology to Lanie about having broke her heart all those years ago seemed to resolve it all for them, even when seen in the light of how easily they could lose their lives in the most unexpected of ways. With an epilogue that quickly shifted the focus away from them and onto Jean-Luc’s half-cocked effort to save a woman he barely knew, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in how Jesse/Lanie was handled as a pairing.

It isn’t to say that the other aspects of romantic suspense weren’t handled well, because those parts of ‘Code of Honor’ were engaging with some emotional twists and turns that secondary characters inadvertently revealed about themselves when they’re thrust into critical situations. So while I’m mixed about this book, I’m hanging onto the HORNET series for that alone, then crossing my fingers for a romance that I can actually get fully invested in.


Too Wilde to Tame by Tonya Burrows

Too Wilde to Tame by Tonya BurrowsToo Wilde to Tame by Tonya Burrows
Series: Wilde Security, #5
Published by Entangled Publishing on February 27th 2017
Pages: 275
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For three years, ballet teacher Natalie Taggart has lived across the hall from grumpy, reclusive, sexy Greer Wilde. Save for a handful of hellos and the occasional heated glance, they never spoke to each other.
Until the morning Greer lands on her doorstep, bleeding, beaten, and bullet-riddled.
Greer doesn’t need or want her help. He has only one goal: revenge. And nobody—not his brothers, and certainly not his too-hot-for-his-sanity next-door neighbor—is going to get in his way.

My first venture into the Wilde brothers series by Tonya Burrows is akin to stepping into a family business where there are secrets and dynamics previously explored that I hadn’t been part of. I felt as though a huge chunk of the Wilde brothers’ backstory—especially Greer’s—had eluded me at the start of the book and wondered for a moment, if I should have read the rest in the Wilde series before beginning this one. But there’s some kind of small crossover with Burrows’s Hornet series and this tenuous link bridge helped a little in shaping who Greer Wilde is after he appeared in ‘Honor Reclaimed’.

Much of what I’ve read of Burrows’s books thus far typically involve military-types coming back from the edge because a woman changes the course of a life not worth living and ’Too Wilde to Tame’ fits this formula. Enter Natalie Taggert, the naive radio psychologist and part-time dance teacher who finds herself out of her depth with Greer Wilde yet nosy—and possibly annoying—enough to want to be his fixer when he refuses help, resulting in an enormous amount of push-pull between them which formed the majority of the conflict in the story.

Yet Greer’s history came in scattered bits and for the longest time, there didn’t seem to be head or tail with this elusive, mysterious black-ops guy who led a life so secretive and so suicidal that I couldn’t get a grasp on his character up until the pieces came together at the end. And a super-soldier he was as well, when he was able to get into enthusiastic sex when gravely injured.

I’m not entirely convinced by Natalie’s and Greer’s connection which seem to come from nowhere after Natalie takes care of his injuries—it all happened really quickly and suddenly love’s the word between them—but Burrows does make a case for why Natalie would be able to empathise with Greer’s condition. There are several odd connections in the revenge plot here, a little too coincidental for my liking when I’d been expecting more of a military-type thriller, but the book wraps up nicely with an epilogue that closes the door on the Wilde brothers.


Broken Honor by Tonya Burrows

Broken Honor by Tonya BurrowsBroken Honor by Tonya Burrows
Series: HORNET  #3
Published by Entangled: Select on February 24th 2015
Pages: 350
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Ice-cold and unbreakable, Travis Quinn is the HORNET team's hard-ass. No weaknesses. Except, of course, for the accident that not only destroyed his career as a Navy SEAL, but left terrifying blanks in his memory. But Travis remembers everything about Mara Escareno--the curve of her lips, the feel of her body...and how he walked out on her suddenly six weeks ago.
Mara could never resist the dangerously sexy Travis, which is probably how she ended up pregnant and disowned by her family. But before Travis can fully process the news, Mara is kidnapped by his enemies and plunged into the violent, merciless world of human trafficking. They want Travis--and the information locked within his damaged memory--no matter the cost. And now Travis's enemies have discovered his only weakness...Mara.

Mara Escareno was a one-night stand that became more…and more, up until the point where it all goes to hell in a basket when Mara is kidnapped and forcibly brought to the breakaway, lawless country of Transnistria. With a pregnancy in question, Quinn and Mara have to evaluate what that fling really meant to them, if they manage to escape with their lives.

I’ve been itching for Quinn’s book ever since Gabe Bristow fell into the clutches of Audrey Van Amee and I’m still unsure what really to make of Broken Honor. Pregnancy and babies aren’t elements in the story which I like at all, but because I’ve always had a soft spot for the crazy Hornet men who are more likely to kill each other than the enemies, I pushed through the book.

The vacillating between wanting in or out and the constant apologising for said behaviour annoyed the hell out of me after the nth time it happened and while I understand the circumstances that led to Quinn behaving like a coward and Mara behaving like a hormone-fuelled pregnant cow at times, I wished both could have manned up and made a damn decision sooner…and when they did, the wholehearted way Quinn embraced impending fatherhood happened almost instantaneously that my mouth was left hanging open in disbelief.

I did however, appreciate the overarching plot of the corruption that Jasper Bristow was implicated in (big surprise) and the return of Raffi whom I absolutely love. I’m going to be quite sad that Quinn will probably no longer feature prominently in future stories having left the team but there’s also Lanie’s and Jesse’s tale that’s been set up quite nicely here, which is something I’ll look out for.


Honor Reclaimed by Tonya Burrows

Honor Reclaimed by Tonya BurrowsHonor Reclaimed (HORNET, #2) by Tonya Burrows
Series: HORNET #2
Published by Entangled: Select on May 27th 2014
Pages: 350
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Former Marine sniper Seth Harlan is determined to prove that he can still do his job despite his ongoing battle with PTSD. When an old friend contacts HORNET to rescue a black ops soldier, Seth's stability is strained. He knows all too well what it's like to rot inside an enemy camp, praying for rescue and waiting for death. And he's not about to leave a man behind.
Photojournalist Phoebe Leighton just stumbled into the middle of an arms deal. Teaming up with a ragtag team of mercenaries is the last thing she wants to do--especially when she realizes Seth Harlan is assigned to the mission. He may ignite a passion in her she thought long dead, but Phoebe's hiding a secret that could destroy him.
With a bomb in the mix, HORNET's mission is suddenly about a lot more than an abandoned soldier. Racing against the clock, Seth, Phoebe, and the rest of the team struggle to stop a ruthless warlord bent on power, revenge...and death.

For some inexplicable reason, Seth’s story resonated with me enough for me to type up a review of it here. I’ve not read the Wilde Security series yet but I’ve been told that he pops up there as a damaged guy who is badly in need of his own happy ending.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to read it in Honor Reclaimed; in fact, I devoured every single line that transformed Seth’s existence – and redemption – into a thing of beauty, eating up all of Ms Burrows’s life-breathing descriptions of landscapes, fight scenes and characters as the hours went by.

Above all, it was a hoot to read about the antics of the Hornet team (they were still getting off their feet in Seal of Honor) and I hadn’t realised just how much I’ve missed those yahoos until I read about Quinn, Ian, Jesse and Marcus. After Seal of Honor, I had hoped to read Quinn’s story (there’s also a hint that Ms. Burrows might do something with Zak Hendricks, Ian and Jesse in later books) but I’m more than contented to have Seth finally getting what he needs and deserves.