Publisher: KR Press, LLC

Dangerous Witness by Katie Reus

Dangerous Witness by Katie ReusDangerous Witness by Katie Reus
Series: Redemption Harbor #3
Published by KR Press, LLC on January 30th 2018
Pages: 300
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three-stars

He foolishly let her go…

When the woman he loved walked out of his life, Brooks Alexander was certain she did so willingly—with the cool two-million his father had offered as incentive to walk away. So when he learns that Darcy didn’t take a dime of his father’s payoff, Brooks realizes he made an epic mistake. He’s determined to make things right and reclaim his woman. Except neither task is as easily accomplished as he first thought.

Now her life is in his hands…

Wedding planner Darcy is no stranger to disappointment when it comes to the men in her life. When Brooks accused her of taking his father’s bribe, she was devastated that he thought so little of her—and realized he never knew her at all. So she walked away with her pride intact and her heart broken. Now, months later, an overheard conversation puts Darcy in the crosshairs of a dangerous criminal with powerful connections. With nowhere else to turn, she has no choice but to put all her trust in Redemption Harbor Consulting—and its cofounder, the man who broke her heart.

The pattern of the misunderstood woman and the man who stormed away from her—such that the beginning starts with a good man-grovel—is one that Katie Reus has attempted a few times and I have to say, brings glee to my (alarmingly vindictive) soul. ‘Dangerous Witness’ is exactly that, so this uphill climb back into a woman’s graces when a protagonist has truly screwed up, is probably one of my favourite moments. That is happens at the beginning, however, is unusual.

There weren’t too many surprises in the book however and I definitely like this series as well the pairings that Reus has already written into them, as well as the hints of those to come. Still, ‘Dangerous Witness’ was good—as the action happens because of Darcy’s peripheral relations—though not mind-blowing, with the pacing lagging somewhat in the middle as Darcy dithered on her feelings towards Brooks and his sudden insertion back into her life.

What it’d gotten me thinking about however, was the depth of the betrayal and the extent to which readers might expect a reconciliation…and on what grounds that might happen. I did find myself wishing, that Brooks had decided to win Darcy back on the realisation that she wouldn’t have just walked away from him for money; instead it had to take his father to confirm the facts before he decided—7 months later after putting it off repeatedly—to go all out for it. That Darcy was reluctant was entirely justified and understandable, particularly so since it felt as though her life had to be in danger before Brooks stopped delaying what he should have done months ago. I was in fact, waiting for an opportunity to come up again in the story where Brooks needed to show his unmitigated trust in Darcy, and was disappointed when that didn’t happen.

Or maybe I’m just protesting too much. It does after all, end with an iron-clad HEA and a sweetness that Reus always reinforces with a couple that don’t have eyes for anyone else but for each other.

three-stars

Savage Rising by Katie Reus

Savage Rising by Katie ReusSavage Rising by Katie Reus
Series: Redemption Harbor #2
Published by KR Press, LLC on September 26th 2017
Pages: 250
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three-stars

He's a former Marine, her new fake boyfriend, and the only way to escape her dangerous past.

Having a child changed everything for Olivia—she vowed to keep her little girl safe from the mistakes of her past. But when the most dangerous person she ever met blackmails her into doing one last heist, the world she’s so carefully built goes into a tailspin. Frantic, she heads to Redemption Harbor in search of help. Sparks fly when she meets Savage, a man who will do anything to keep Olivia and her daughter safe. He’ll help her get her life back, but can he handle seeing who she once was?

Can they pull it off?

Savage poses as her obsessive ex during a daring undercover operation—and soon the line between reality and their cover story becomes blurred. He’ll use every trick he knows to keep the sensual woman alive and out of jail—and in his life. But the clock is ticking and if they can’t find a way to trust each other, no one will make it out alive.

‘Savage Rising’ is as I expected: a thumping ride of blackmail, fast love and mowing down just a few more baddies in the fictional world along the way. But it’s also what I’ve come to expect of Katie Reus’s writing. Like many of the RS books, Reus’s recipe of suspense honed over many books is dramatic action written with gusto—the punches and kicks go flying and the guns are whipped out with alarming frequency—as characters often ill-suited to each other fall inexplicably hard, then rush to get their white picket fence set up by the end of the story.

Olivia’s and Zac’s stories take a while to come together (the first two seemingly unrelated chapters sort of confused me) and while we already know who Zac Savage is, Olivia’s introduction is slower to come, but unfolds in such a way that there isn’t any doubt she’s more than just a single-mother trying to keep her daughter safe. Brought together by an undercover situation where both of them play lovers, the making of this pairing isn’t an unpredictable one but nonetheless an entertaining ride. Strangely though, perhaps the most tantalising of these books are the parts where Reus gives us glimpses of future pairings—these alone are appetite-whetting and obvious hooks that I’m shamelessly going to say that I’ve bitten into.

That said, it was fun watching Olivia and Zac work together and knowing that they have that kind of chemistry definitely pushes up the steam factor when they finally fall into bed as well. Both Olivia and Zac are generally likeable, believable characters and the latter certainly takes the cake in hulkish badassery minus the green skin. I just had a little more difficulty with the instant love part of it, sceptically wondering during the epilogue if that quickness had more to do with forced intimacy in a high-stress situation that was adrenaline induced. Clearly, it’s a balance that’s not easy to get right (and I’m obviously picky about this), though that isn’t going to stop me from wanting more of a series that shows such promise.

three-stars

Resurrection by Katie Reus

Resurrection by Katie ReusResurrection by Katie Reus
Series: Resurrection Harbor #1
Published by KR Press, LLC on July 11th 2017
Pages: 189
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four-stars

She faked her own death…

Skye Arévalo left the CIA and faked her death to protect Colt Stuart, the only man she ever loved. Months later, a brutal kidnapping draws her to quietly infiltrate a dangerous cartel. Just when she thinks she’s home free, things go horribly wrong and she escapes with bloodthirsty enemies on her heels…only to find herself face to face with a bewildered and angry Colt.

He’ll cross every line to save her…

When Colt, a former Marine, finds out the woman he loved betrayed him, he’s shocked and hurt, but it doesn’t stop him from breaking every law on the books to keep her alive. Unfortunately, it might not be enough to stop a powerful enemy who will do anything to see the world burn and Skye dead.

There’s always a sense of excitement and trepidation each time I begin a new series, particularly what looks like a whole new set of novellas—akin to the Red Stone Security series—that Katie Reus is starting. It’s fresh meat to devour, crudely speaking, and sinking my teeth into a romantic suspense book just knowing there’s more to come is always an unforgettable feeling that I seek over and over again.

I liked the unusual dynamics of the group of good friends in Redemption Harbor, as I did the setup for this story. The prologue was hilarious and Skye/Colt were off to a fantastic start before we find out what really happened to them. Reus writes more than a credible heroine in Skye Arévalo—scared but not too scared, gutsy when it mattered and never too TSTL to run away—and a hero who is pretty much the mirror image of her, which makes me think that Redemption Harbor is off to a good start.

It’s also only lately that Reus has been dabbling with setting up 2 couples in her books and so far, I think that it has been working, for me at least. Reus tries this here once more (sort of) and once again, I liked it very much as this particular technique just amps up the plot, the stakes and the characters you get to be invested in.

There are parts of course, that pushed my ability to suspend disbelief, but in all, ‘Resurrection’ is as much focused on sharpening the fuzzy lines of supporting characters as it is with developing the relationship between Skye/Colt and a little between Mercer and Mary Grace. And it’s here that the story stutters a little, as too many POVs spoil the broth as did the flashbacks that broke the narrative with interspersed scenes of the time Skye and Colt shared before she disappeared.

That said though, I was fully entertained for the few hours it took me to finish this novella. It’s action-packed, fairly solid for an establishing book and I think I’m already a fan.

four-stars

Lethal Game by Katie Reus

Lethal Game by Katie ReusLethal Game by Katie Reus
Series: Red Stone Security #15
Published by KR Press, LLC on January 10th 2017
Pages: 165
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three-half-stars

He broke her heart.

Graysen’s betrayal nearly destroyed Isa a year ago. Now that she’s working for Red Stone Security, she’s managed to piece her life back together after a rough year and a broken heart. Then he appears back in her life and makes it clear he’s not going anywhere until she gives them a second chance. A chance she refuses to take.

Now he’s back to claim what’s his.

Graysen’s never gotten over Isa and he knows he never will. It’s his fault she walked away, but he can’t seem to let her go. He quit his job with the CIA and called in every favor he had to get hired by Red Stone Security just to be near her again. But Isa doesn’t care that he’s desperate to make things right between them—she wants nothing to do with him. He doesn’t blame her, but he’s not willing to give her up. When they’re cornered by lethal terrorists, everything changes. Graysen and Isa will have to find a way to work together if they want to survive. Only then will he be able to convince her to claim the chance at happiness the past stole from them.

Isa Johnson’s barely recovered from the shock of betrayal that Graysen West dealt her in what seemed like a honey trap case for the CIA when she runs into him at Red Stone a year later—only to find out that he has called in every favour he’s owed in an attempt to win her back. But peripherally, there’s also a quick wrap-up for Carlito, who’s ready to cast aside his easy ways with women after meeting “the one” in Red Stone.

The last novella of Katie Reus’s Red Stone Security series is very much like the last few installments: a stepped-up game with multiple pairing (ambitious but very possible) and some kind of action that comes with the romantic suspense label, all wrapped up in half the size of a book. ‘Lethal Game’ is by and large a quick, enjoyable read, although its brevity does mean there’s a bit more of telling instead of showing, with personal histories that are glossed over and instant quick connections that bear repetitive—and somewhat cheesy—phrases such as “she was it for him”, “claiming her as his”. It doesn’t quite live up to more exciting last few books, but it’s nonetheless a good roundup of everyone’s HEA.

It’s a shame that this is really the last of the series—I think Reus could have easily continued this indefinitely.

three-half-stars

Dangerous Protector by Katie Reus

Dangerous Protector by Katie ReusDangerous Protector by Katie Reus
Series: Red Stone Security #14
on July 12th 2016
Pages: 250
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four-stars

She thought she was finally safe…
After two years of running Tegan O’Kelly could finally stop when the deadly gangster after her died. Eight months ago she put down roots in sunny Miami. For the first time in years she has friends, a job she likes and she can think about the future, not just surviving to the next day. When her car is bombed in broad daylight, she decides to stand her ground instead of running from her faceless enemy.

But a deadly enemy has her in his crosshairs…

Single father Aaron Fitzpatrick knew Tegan was trouble from the moment he laid eyes on her. Sexy trouble wrapped up in a petite, dynamite package he fantasizes about kissing far too often. So far he’s been able to keep his distance, but when he witnesses her car explode—with her close by—something protective erupts inside him. After his wife left him and their son five years ago, he’s stayed away from relationships and women, but he can’t keep his distance from Tegan. It’s clear she’s in danger and the more he learns about her, the more he knows he has to stand beside her and fight the danger hunting her.

Short and fast, ‘Dangerous Protector’ sucks you back into the world of Red Security quickly as Katie Reus wastes no time and no punches with Teagan O’Kelly and Aaron Fitzpatrick, setting up their acquaintance, history and relationship with a few well-written paragraphs straight in opening chapters. Throw in some danger and the hesitant man suddenly serves into action to protect the woman he’s had his eye on for months.

Most of the Red Stone Security series deals with an uncomplicated conflict – with suspense and danger thrown in – and how a pairing is birthed as a result of it. This is no different, which makes every book a standalone, even if I can’t quite recall what happened in the previous books and that isn’t a bad thing since it doesn’t depend on an ongoing plotline at all. There are some parts of the story which fell too easily into the Alpha (and grumpy) hero and the damsel in distress stereotypes (complete with weeping and clinging) but I found myself comfortable enough to ignore those clichés as the story steamrolled its way to a steamy end.

four-stars

Love Thy Enemy by Katie Reus

Love Thy Enemy by Katie ReusLove Thy Enemy by Katie Reus
Series: Red Stone Security #13
on June 1st 2016
Pages: 300
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four-stars

She refuses to trust him.
Red Stone Security employee Dominique Castle knows all too well that there are people in this world she just can't trust. After losing both her parents, Dominique keeps her distance from anyone tied to her past—especially the man she's hated for years. And Viktor Ivanov isn't going to change her mind about who he really is—no matter how determined the infuriatingly sexy Russian is.
He's determined to win her over.
She may hate him and not trust him, but Viktor is determined to crack through Dominique's icy exterior one way or another—even if it means taking the game into his own hands. With a past like Viktor's, he's made more than a few enemies along the way—enemies who'll stop at nothing to take him down. When Viktor realizes Dominique's life is in danger because of him, he’ll stop at nothing to protect her—whether she likes it or not. Now it's up to Dominique to trust the one man who's linked to the agony of her past. Can she find a way to love the enemy she always loathed?
Length: 55,000 words

Two Russians, two sassy women and a whole lot of shady business in between, with a little cheese and smut thrown in.

It’s a winning combination strangely, put together in a self-contained, compact romantic suspense type of story I crave from time to time, which Katie Reus can and does provide. The male protagonists walk in the shades of grey – there’re hints of previous illegal activities – unlike the ‘Boy Scouts’ at Red Stone Security, made the book more alluringly forbidden somehow. Even as similar as Viktor and Abram are as brothers and somewhat alike even in their speech and mannerisms, I found myself liking both Dominique and Lucy who aren’t pushovers themselves.

I’m simply compelled to write something about this series now because it seems Reus has taken a step up in her game. The sheer boldness of handling two developing love stories (and both enemies to lovers – employee/friends to lovers tropes) amidst the pounding suspense floored me, perhaps all the more so because Reus pulls if off well enough that I didn’t feel as though I’d been short-changed or wanting more by the end of the novella.

four-stars