Series: Hostile Operations Team

Hot Secrets by Lynn Raye Harris

Hot Secrets by Lynn Raye HarrisHOT Secrets by Lynn Raye Harris
Series: Hostile Operations Team, #13
Published by H.O.T. Publishing, LLC on September 18th 2018
Pages: 314
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She nearly ruined his life. Now she needs him to save hers.

It was supposed to be a simple job for hacker Bliss Bennett: access confidential files and turn them over to the CIA. But something went wrong—and now Bliss has a target on her back. With no idea who to trust, she heads straight toward the one man she hopes won’t turn her away.

Sky “Hacker” Kelley is a badass Special Operator with lethal moves and mad computer skills. He hasn’t seen his former lover—former wife—in four years, not since she nearly cost him his military career. Her arrival on his doorstep in the middle of the night reveals a gut-deep truth—he might want nothing to do with her, but he still wants her. And as much as he’d love to slam the door in her face, Sky isn’t wired to turn away anyone in distress.

Protecting Bliss won’t be easy. The files she stole are at the heart of a dangerous conspiracy, and someone is willing to do whatever it takes—including kill—to get them back. It’ll take all Sky’s considerable black-ops skills to keep Bliss safe—and all his willpower to resist falling into her bed, and her life, ever again…

‘Hot Secrets’ pulls a former couple back together again in a fast-paced and relatively easy, flowing read. In many ways, it’s a classic Lynn Raye Harris RS read that I’ve gotten accustomed to, though I’ll be the first to admit that it works sometimes more than others.

Or it could just be that I love the military covert operations-type stories that bring the unsuspecting world to the brink of destruction, except that a small but extraordinary group of people help prevent the impending disaster while we obliviously all live to see another day.

Still, ‘Hot Secrets’ left me mixed. I did like the intriguing conspiracy theory Harris put forth—a huge amount of suspension of disbelief is clearly needed though—as well as the deft way the conflict is resolved while the puzzle is put together, but oh lord, what do you do when you absolutely hate a protagonist? Especially if it’s a half of a pairing you’re supposed to be rooting for as well?

Some characters just rub me the wrong way, and Bliss Bennett was one of them.

Living with a cold, unfeeling heart meant that Bliss annoyed the hell out of me. I found her self-absorbed, stupidly naive and remorseless for most part, vacillating between saying she’d self-righteously do it all over again (including destroying Sky in the process) and being supposedly sorry for the consequences of her actions.

That she’d only tried to apologise all those years later when she had a desperate need to be protected just showed her up as mercenary and calculative to the core, only admitting that she had no qualms about lying only when her back was pushed to the wall, even playing the victim as she talked about being ‘hurt’ as well in the dissolution of their short-lived marriage. Seeing how Sky stuck with her despite the initial, scintillating conversation as he dealt with his own anger showed him to be a way bigger person than I ever could be for a character whom I thought should have gotten way worse than what he’d dished out on her.

Given the rant, it’s probably safe to say that my rating is a middle-of-the-road one because of a protagonist I detested from start to end. There were so many things I’d hoped to happen in order for Bliss to redeem herself, but somehow that didn’t quite come and as a result, left me sputtering over her HEA that felt less than deserved.


Hot Valor by Lynn Raye Harris

Hot Valor by Lynn Raye HarrisHot Valor by Lynn Raye Harris
Series: Hostile Operations Team #11
Published by H.O.T. Publishing, H.O.T. Publishing, LLC on July 18th 2017
Pages: 316
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Colonel John "Viper" Mendez searches for a ghost from his past... and when he finds her, nothing will be the same!

They told him she was dead. They lied...

Colonel John "Viper" Mendez is having the second-worst day of his life. Accused of using the Hostile Operations Team to assassinate a foreign official, he's gone from being a respected military black-ops commander to a fugitive in the space of an hour. On the run, hunted, and stripped of his honor, Mendez has nowhere to go--and few people he can trust.

Russian spy Ekaterina "Kat" Kasharin is a carbon copy of the woman Mendez once loved. Twenty-one years ago, Valentina vanished from his life. Kat claims to be her twin--but Kat's lying. Ordered by her superiors in Russian Intelligence to abandon the man she loved--or watch him die--Kat had no choice but to obey.

But twenty-one years is a long time to love a man from afar, and Kat won't stand by as a traitor plans his death--even if it means risking her heart and her life to save him. She can never reveal her true identity--or the secrets she keeps locked away. Secrets he would hate her for. Working with him is strictly business, and she won't let emotions get in the way. But the attraction between them is smoking hot--and it's not long before they're burning up the sheets.

When the truth comes out, the mission implodes. Everything Mendez thought he knew was a lie. He'll have to pull it together though before a deadly foe succeeds in taking away all he loves. By the time he realizes Kat might be most important of all? It could be too late to save her...

Now then, just spank me silly. Who knew Mendez had it in him?

‘Hot Valor’ is one of the better HOT books I’ve read by Lynn Raye Harris in a long while.

John Mendez has been the grumpy, terse guy in charge since the beginning and I’ve never had any inclination to read his story (if he even had one) but Harris has made him grow as a compelling character as time went by. ‘Hot Valor’ is simply the culmination of all those glimpses that we’ve had of him throughout, unveiling the layers of Mendez and I loved that he was paired with a ghost from his past—a woman as deadly and competent as he is, but with the calmness and toughness of an operative worthy of HOT. I hadn’t an inkling of what would happen in this installment but the ride was a good one nonetheless, with an uneasy nod to the politics of Russian meddling taking the headlines these days.

But ‘Hot Valor’ stands out mostly because it defies the majority of the books that have 20- or 30-something heroes/heroines by putting a silver fox and a woman in her forties at the forefront. It’s also a story of 2 people who have fallen down a long time ago, gotten up, dusted themselves off and learned the meaning of carrying on.

And maybe that’s where the prickly issue of age might come in for some people, but having an older pairing here simply showed the finer points of romantic suspense with a distinct lack of TSTL moments and hormonal tantrums. Both Mendez and Kat should be over the hill, but they aren’t and as Harris shows in such a brassy fashion, competence and coolness—acquired only through pain and tragedy—are actually sexier than the typical hot-headed traits that seem imbued in the romance genre’s many alpha men (and women).

Mendez and Kat do have an intriguing history that I knew I wanted uncovered immediately and it was frankly, easier to sympathise with the both of them and what they’d gone through in their private lives. Kat/Valentina hadn’t disappeared from Mendez’s life on a whim because she had personal issues; she’d left only because there was a danger to Mendez and her dedication to someone who hadn’t been a part of her life for 2 decades in the way she rushed to keep him alive was top class. That Mendez could, by the end, get over it enough to get his own HEA was probably icing on the cake.

I had hell of a time, to say the least, drawn in as I was to the romance as well as the intrigue and the politics of the HOT universe. ‘Hot Valor’ did make my day and while Harris’s books are typically a hit or miss for me, I’m actually quite grateful to say that this made me one happy girl.


Hot Addiction by Lynn Raye Harris

Hot Addiction by Lynn Raye HarrisHOT Addiction by Lynn Raye Harris
Series: Hostile Operations Team, #10
Published by H.O.T. Publishing on April 11th 2017
Pages: 227
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When Dex “Double Dee” Davidson was abandoned at the altar by the woman he loved, he threw himself into his military career, training hard enough to get accepted into the elite Black Ops unit known as HOT. The love he felt for Annabelle Quinn burned to ash in the face of her betrayal—so when she crashes back into his life and begs him to save her, he has no problem laughing in her face.
Blackmailed into jilting Dex and forced into an abusive marriage, Annabelle never thought she’d escape the hell of the last five years. But her husband died a month ago and she’s finally free. Except she isn’t. Someone claims that Eric stole a fortune—and they want it back. If she doesn’t return it within twenty-four hours, she’ll be dead—and so will her young daughter. With time running out, Annabelle has no one to turn to. No one except Dex.
When Dex learns that Annabelle’s husband committed treason against the US by selling a top secret military project to the Russians, he has no choice but to get involved. He’ll protect Annabelle and her child, and he’ll find out who’s threatening her. But he won’t fall for her intoxicating sensuality ever again. And if he discovers the secret she’s been hiding from him? It’ll be game over for good…

I try, I really try. Which is why I still go on with the HOT books despite being rather disappointed in Lynn Raye Harris’s past installments.

I like Harris’s storylines—the mixture of devil-may-care action and the active form of counterterrorism that these HOT guys fight—and how these books are actually a build up of an overarching narrative of a complex network of spies, baddies and shady characters who drive the ongoing plot. ‘Hot Addiction’ reminds me very much of ‘Hot Shot’ with its similar plot though, and while it isn’t quite a rehash of it, this takes place so much further in the HOT universe that things have clearly changed in the military situation that the guys deal with, as there are more happily married ones around.

But there’re too many times in the series that I can’t get over the stupidity of many of the heroines whose spineless behaviour can’t hold a candle to the guys they want. Sadly, Annabelle is yet another one in the long line of those—which is why I’ll fondly remember Victoria and Lucky as the ultimate HOT women—who jilted Dex because she chose her parents over him. Then not being able to face the truth of whether her daughter is Dex or the man she left Dex for tanked Annabelle completely in my opinion.

I understand that characters have their flaws. Tt makes them human and relatable, though there are some faults that go beyond my own personal limits—the lack of trust destroying relationships irreparably being one of those, clearly. Annabelle’s turning to Dex appeared more out of desperation than remorse and want, needing his company when she was scared witless yet it was still not enough to give up the whole truth to him. She gets my sympathy to an extent of course—a victim of rape never deserves it, despite what some people try to argue—but I couldn’t like her sufficiently because ultimately she didn’t have enough gumption to fight for what she wanted. I think she simply did way too many things wrong from the start which eventually snowballed into something she couldn’t control, then pretty much laying it on Dex when he tried to do the best by her just didn’t resonate with me, to put it nicely. That Dex was the one left grovelling in the end was probably the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

Clearly this review falls in the minority and it’s just me with my personal triggers and innate sense of ‘justice’ of wronged parties acting up here. It didn’t change the fact that I felt sorry for Dex though, even though his HEA seemed to be harder fought on his side than Annabelle who should had grown more than a pair…yesterday. My rating reflects this, but that’s not to say that I’m not going to follow up on Mendez’s story, hoping for another hit the next time around.


Hot Ice by Lynn Raye Harris

Hot Ice by Lynn Raye HarrisHot Ice by Lynn Raye Harris
Series: Hostile Operations Team, #7
Published by H.O.T. Publishing, LLC on January 27th 2015
Pages: 321
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When fire and ice collide, you get steam…
Grace Campbell leads a privileged life. The daughter of a United States senator, she moves within the social circles of the rich and famous. But Grace is also a scientist, and when someone learns she possesses the knowledge necessary to create a new super virus capable of destroying entire nations, she becomes a target for terror groups and foreign governments alike.
Garrett “Iceman” Spencer didn’t join the Army’s elite Hostile Operations Team to babysit a spoiled rich girl, but when his superiors insist on assigning him to a senator’s daughter as her security detail, he has no choice but to comply.
It’s a shock to find that beneath the glasses and serious scowl, Grace Campbell burns hot. And Garrett, who’s been burned before, suddenly wants to immerse himself in the flames.
Keeping Grace alive—and keeping his hands off her—is a full-time job for this HOT soldier. Failure is not an option…

Garrett Spencer finds himself playing bodyguard to Genetic scientist Grace Campbell and the assignment goes sideways the moment he gets ‘frisky’ with his principal.

And that’s disappointingly, the story in a nutshell because it could have been so much more.

The premise offers so much potential: a scientist who is targeted because of her work and an unwilling operative who finds himself caught in the web of politics and intrigue. While the big picture and that the whole overarching plot of under-the-table- weapons/arms dealing haven’t fully been unravelled yet with the mysterious Ian Black running free, I felt ‘Hot Ice’ was anti-climatic in many ways.

It’s a pity that too much of the book focuses on Grace’s insecurities, the frank, copious (and sometimes crude) sex, Garrett’s stupid ex and his precious daughter and his constant need to justify why he’ll never have a relationship…ad nauseum, especially since these scenes could have been replaced by tightening the screw on the suspense, layering the web of lies and further ratcheting up the romantic tension.

Grace’s naivety made me cringe and serves as a timely reminder why I’m cautious about stories that pair military operatives with civilians. There’s a fine line to tread when it comes to being ignorant about military tactics, wanting to be strong, and/or crossing it into TSTL moments. Despite Ms. Harris’s valiant attempt to make Grace a believable character, I found myself alternating between wanting to strangle her and congratulate her on calling Garrett out on his excuses for his manwhoring ways.

As frustrating as this was, I’m probably still optimistic (and crossing my fingers) enough to want to know how Flash gets it on.


Hot Rebel by Lynn Raye Harris

Hot Rebel by Lynn Raye HarrisHot Rebel by Lynn Raye Harris
Series: Hostile Operations Team, #6
Published by H.O.T. Publishing, LLC on September 29th 2014
Pages: 312
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A rebel on the run…
Victoria Royal is a traitor. Or so the U.S. government believes. Victoria was once a promising sniper in the Army, but now she’s gone rogue—worse, she’s just landed in the middle of a Hostile Operations Team mission in the desert and blasted it all to hell.
Nick “Brandy” Brandon doesn’t expect to run into Victoria when he’s bugging out from a mission gone wrong. It’s been more than three years since she disappeared from the sniper course they were in together, and he’s finally stopped thinking about her killer curves and smart mouth.
But now she’s back—and she’s far more dangerous than Nick ever believed possible… Is she really a traitor? Or is there something more at stake? He has to decide fast—because time’s running out and too many lives hang in the balance…

Victoria Royal was briefly introduced in the last book (Hot Shot) as part of Nick Brandon’s memories – and now we see her again, tainted with the same brush as the government uses for all terrorists and those associated with them. She has all but dropped off the radar, up until the point where she messes up a HOT’s op.

While I don’t exactly understand the reason for their separation at the end (the push-pull uncertainty between them wasn’t too convincing), this was in all, a quick read with so much action that will ensure you breeze through the book in no time. I particularly enjoyed the bickering and the blistering chemistry that Nick and Victoria have and next to Kev/Lucky and Georgie/Sam, they’re definitely one of the more likeable ones in the HOT series.


Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris

Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye HarrisHot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris
Series: Hostile Operations Team #1
Published by H.O.T. Publishing, LLC on July 17th 2013
Pages: 386
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He was the last man in the world she wanted to see…but he might be the only one who could save her…
Ten years ago, Matt Girard did something he shouldn’t. When sweet Evangeline Baker offered him her virginity, he took it. Then he left town and he’s never looked back.
Until now. His future as a black ops soldier with the Hostile Operations Team is in jeopardy, and he’s come home for a few days before going back to face the consequences of a mission gone wrong.
Matt still makes Evie’s heart pound, but she wants nothing to do with him. She’s had enough of men who lie and promise things they don’t deliver. But when her sister goes missing and her ex-boyfriend turns up dead, she’s in need of Matt’s special military skills.
With time running out, Matt will put everything on the line to protect Evie and find her sister. Even if it means sacrificing all he’s worked for with HOT. Sometimes, the reward is worth the price. Especially when it’s the one woman he can’t forget…

Matt Girard returns to Rochambeau with his tail between his legs after an op gone wrong, only to face a woman whom he hasn’t seen for 10 years. they’ve got history alright, and it all ended in a bitter note after he bragged about taking her virginity.

War has a way of taking it out of you, so the man that Evie Baker sees is a different one from the arrogant, entitled boy she remembers. They battle with their feelings just as a series of events collude to bring them closer together.

I hesitated to read Hot Pursuit for the longest time and actually plowed through the rest of the HOT books before finally returning to this one….and finally realised why it has been panned by a number of reviewers. Matt Girard is such a different man here than the one I read about in the later books that it feels as though I’m reading about a completely different person. Sure, he isn’t too much of the neanderthal asshole that’s found too often in the romance genre, but I can’t say the same for the ridiculous actions of Evie Baker, who seems to lose her wits and common sense each time a situation comes up. Writing a needy female who also shouldn’t be a total washout is tricky business; unfortunately, Ms Harris didn’t quite get the balance right here. After having gone through the likes of Georgie and Lucky, I was quite ready to drop Evie like a pan of hot potatoes.

That said, I do like Harris’s writing, and am now hoping for a *kickass* heroine in the next book involving Nick and Victoria (who’s supposedly another sniper).


Hot Shot by Lynn Raye Harris

Hot Shot by Lynn Raye HarrisHot Shot by Lynn Raye Harris
Series: Hostile Operations Team #5
Published by H.O.T. Publishing, LLC on June 30th 2014
Pages: 215
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Cool under pressure… Until now.
Hostile Operations Team sniper Jack “Hawk” Hunter is cool, methodical, and utterly lethal. Nothing rattles Jack’s calm. But that was before he learned he fathered a child three years ago—a child who has just been kidnapped.
Gina Domenico is a superstar, a pop sensation with a string of hit records. But deep inside, she’s still the lonely girl she’s always been. When Jack saved her from an arms dealer, they spent three unforgettable days together waiting for rescue—and Gina fell hard for the sexy soldier before he walked away forever.
But now she needs his help and she’ll do anything to get it. Though Jack can never forgive Gina for keeping his child from him, he’ll do everything in his power—and HOT’s—to bring their son home safely.
Nothing is what it seems, however, and their fates hang in the balance as someone else pulls the strings…and brings them ever closer to an explosive confrontation that could either save their son—or cost them everything.

Hot Shot bears all of the hallmarks of all the HOT books I’ve seen thus far: Fast-paced, high-octane action, some humour, the inclusion of the HOT gang (which I really like) and the well-written narrative that doesn’t make me stumble in any way. Love the sneaky way Nick and Victoria are introduced as well somewhere in between.

That being said, I’ve got very mixed feelings about this one though, particularly with a pairing that’s as tricky as Jack and Gina. While I can appreciate how Ms Harris deals with the issues surrounding a celebrity’s high-profile lifestyle vs. an operative’s life under the radar (throw a love child into the mix too), I’m still not too sold on the characterisation of Jack-the-arse for most of the story, even though he comes round at the end.