Series: Deep Six

Devil and the Deep by Julie Ann Walker

Devil and the Deep by Julie Ann WalkerDevil and the Deep by Julie Ann Walker
Series: Deep Six #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on July 5th 2016
Pages: 384
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Cocktail parties, political fundraisers, and charity events are Maddy Powers' way of life. But the daring man who appropriated her father's yacht a couple of months ago is still out there, somewhere, and she wants to pay him back for the scorching kiss they shared.
Behind his suave smile and ladykiller eyes, Bran Palladino carries a dark secret that keeps him from pursuing Maddy… even though he can't get her out of his head. But when Maddy is kidnapped as part of a grand scheme, it's time to put up or shut up… because Bran can't live without Maddy now.

The setup for Bran Palladino and Maddy Powers in the previous book unfurls in this book, where we learn that Maddy’s idea of taking three scholarship students to a remote isle near where the Deep Six Crew is working is more than motivated by altruism. It’s a location near Bran, the larger-than-life rescuer of damsels (just Maddy, in her overblown imagination) whom she’d kissed and is now working on maintaining a stream of email communication between them. That hope she carries about them turns to fear, then flares to life when Bran turns up just at a time when mercenaries storm her isolated location and take her and her young charges hostage. Along with him are Alex and Mason, the other pairing whose inadvertent involvement in the action made them larger than life – and a pairing I want to see succeed – and perhaps even more than Bran/Maddy’s constant back and forth while masked men run around them.

I was delighted with Maddy in some places and exasperated in others – the smartmouth just simply kept going in the most inappropriate of times – but I generally did like her spunk and her courage in calling out bull when it was needed. Yet the same goes for Bran whom I thought had too much of his Daddy issues consuming his thoughts and actions that they became an excuse for the millstone on his neck which he used regularly to keep women and relationships away. That Bran seemingly came to his senses so easily and doing that hundred and eighty in a snap at the end after being given a talking to by LT and Alex made for an abrupt, unbelievable conclusion that I found hard to accept.

Gratingly ridiculous in parts and moving in others, ‘Devil and the Deep’ ended up as a mixed-bag of treasures for me. The suspense/action is written with jocular light-heartedness at times, filled unnecessarily with overblown hyperboles and numerous film references – sometimes during a shootout – that I wondered if it could all really be taken seriously.

But what I really missed was the treasure-hunting itself that the first book had set up the series for, the course of which the book veered off here. Instead, we’re embroiled in the Powers family drama involving only two of the veteran SEALS crew, which was disappointing because I did remember liking their special brand of chemistry together. All we got to show for it in this story is a rusted hilt and a mention of future events in the ending chapters, but it wasn’t enough to stave off my dissatisfaction.


Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker

Hell or High Water by Julie Ann WalkerHell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker
Series: Deep Six, #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on July 7th 2015
Pages: 377
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In a world on the brink...
Six men. One sunken Spanish galleon. Millions in gold and silver coins lying on the ocean floor. And a past that refuses to let the guys of Deep Six Salvage forget the Navy SEAL motto: the only easy day was yesterday...
There's more than one kind of treasure...
The nation's security has always been CIA agent Olivia Mortier's top priority. But a mission-gone-wrong has begun to make her wonder if there's more to life than risking hers.
And more than one secret at the bottom of the sea...
Only two things could make Leo Anderson abandon his hunt for the legendary lost ship, La Santa Christina, and return to the world of weapons and warfare he swore to leave behind: a capsule of enriched uranium, lost on the ocean floor, and a plea for assistance from the one woman he can't seem to forget...

I definitely liked the original idea of ex-military alpha men starting their salvage company instead of the usual security contracting firm they form. Treasure hunting in the seas is quite the adventure I can see myself getting into, coupled with a good dose of romantic suspense.

As chuffed as I was with the idea of looking for the ghost ship, the plot really wasn’t about treasure hunting at all because it got sidetracked by a CIA agent who comes looking for them to do another deep-sea dive – a remnant of their old days coming back to kick them in the arse when they least expect it. There were entertaining actions scenes nonetheless that held me spellbound for brief periods, even though I’d hoped they would get down to searching for the lost ship that never quite materialised in this book (but would probably be picked up again in the next).

There were parts in the book that I couldn’t wrap my head around, distracted as I was by the weird, almost-preppy narrative filled with teenage, out-of-place observations that seemed so contradictory to the building of suspense. If they were meant to be humorous injections, then some worked for me while many fell flat in my disbelieving eyes. I felt no connection to the leading pair and particularly the heroine whose plight and secrets did little to garner any sympathy. Add in a completely whipped hero who thinks she can do no wrong and I pretty had a foot out the door right there.

Yet I’m holding out hope that the subsequent books would be better in what looks like a promising adventure series. Call me a failing pessimist.