Series: Killer Instincts

Midnight Target by Elle Kennedy

Midnight Target by Elle KennedyMidnight Target by Elle Kennedy
Series: Killer Instincts #8
Published by Berkley Books on April 25th 2017
Pages: 384
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Four years ago, Cate’s entire life changed when she discovered she was the daughter of a supersoldier. But Jim Morgan’s overprotectiveness has pushed her away. These days, she’s working as a freelance photographer and living the dangerous life Jim never wanted for her.
When Cate snaps a photo linking a corrupt South American politician with the leader of a notorious drug cartel, her mercenary father leads a team to rescue her—only to get shot and critically wounded in the process.
As Morgan’s operatives rally together on a revenge mission, they’re faced with new alliances and old heartaches. Cate is forced to work with David “Ash” Ashton, the man who broke her heart two years ago, while Liam Macgregor and Sullivan Port resurface after years apart to finally try to deal with everything they’d left unsaid.
Soon it’s all-out war between the cartel and the mercenaries—with two couples caught in the middle of the blood feud. Love and redemption are within their reach...but first they have to make it home alive.

Action-packed, exotic locales, a story with many twists and turns and heart-rending moments and morally-questionable characters that somehow manage to find their HEA…that probably sums up Elle Kennedy’s Killer Instinct series. And it’s a series, I think—objectively—that could be called one of the more memorable ones in the romantic suspense genre.

‘Midnight Target’ however, wouldn’t work well as a standalone. Rather it’s like a culmination of all the previous 7 books and picks up after a lapse of several years with a few flashbacks in between to explain the developments between the characters, then pushes us all on a ride that finally closes 3 years in the future. A revenge plot drives the story, where the usual tit-for-tat business gets things going in some lawless regions of South America, with over-the-top villains, yet Kennedy still surprises me at times by upping her game here.

But juggling action and the emotional bits of romance can be a difficult, ambitious task and ‘Midnight Target’ doesn’t quite succeed in this aspect, perhaps because Kennedy handled not one but two pairings in the story: Cate/Ash and Sully/Liam, who were the last, unresolved couples hinted in the previous books.

I felt for Cate throughout—a young woman whom no one wants to see as a grown-up—but loved her spirit and daring courage as she struggles and fights against being smothered in cotton wool by the men in her life. Her connection with Ash was evident in the rest of the books, and as I was interested to know their story, I hadn’t expected the bastard he’d morphed into here, treating Cate so badly that I felt that she deserves way better than him. In fact, Ash himself drives the wedge between them at the very end, when he made it clear that Cate was never his choice at all. Only when a drastic turn of events throws them together again does he start to question whether his self-pitying attitude was really right to begin with.

But the unrelenting action means that the romance is almost glossed over, despite the sheer amount of sexy times in the book. Ash barely makes up for the wrongs he’d done to Cate (whom I wished had given him a harder time for it)—sleeping with every other woman while not having the balls to go after who he really wants—and as torn between loyalties as he is, I was rather unhappy that he hadn’t needed to do too much to get Cate back, then unable to decide till the very end that he actually wanted to be with her. From there, the ending seemed rushed and abrupt, like a drop into the glowing sunset as everything suddenly righted around them.

Liam/Sully was the other m/m pairing that didn’t come as a surprise, yet it could be said that their journey is an even more tortured one, with years of separation and so much back and forth that I wondered how they were going to resolve their issues. Yet it’s a resolution—though it feels rushed as well—that caps off the series in a lavish fashion…where hardened mercenaries suddenly turn, rather laughingly, into ‘family men’ ruled by their women and their children.


Midnight Captive by Elle Kennedy

Midnight Captive by Elle KennedyMidnight Captive by Elle Kennedy
Series: Killer Instincts #6
Published by Signet on June 2nd 2015
Pages: 368
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Former CIA agent Bailey Jones has spent months trying to forget her night of passion with mercenary Sean Reilly. An elite and methodical assassin, she has no room in her life for a reckless, rule-breaking Irishman, and she’s vowed to steer clear of the tempting bad boy who lured her into his bed under false pretenses.
When Sean is implicated in the robbery of a Dublin bank, Bailey knows something isn’t right. So what if she can’t trust him? There’s no way Sean would end up on the wrong side of the law. In fact, he’s stuck in the middle of a dark and dirty conspiracy that could put his twin brother’s life at risk with one wrong move. And Bailey’s life too when she agrees to help.
As the stakes are raised and Bailey finds herself torn between two brothers, the fine line between danger and desire is crossed…and it’ll take more than a killer instinct to survive.

Reading ‘Midnight Captive’ is taking a step back into the retro days of the IRA bombings, when things were more easily categorised as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – for the sake of reunification and nationalism of course. Elle Kennedy revives this decades-old conflict through the creation of a splinter group and familial rivalries, only to plant ex-CIA agent Bailey and Sean Reilly in the middle of this ticking time bomb (pun fully intended). But Sean and Bailey have a history and what starts out as a bank robbery tailspins into something out of control for the both of them. There’s no steadying the boat, and getting back on track unearths way too many secrets both would rather keep hidden.

The first third of the book kept me captivated, although the constant runaround got a little tired at the halfway mark, where I found myself reading about Irish characters I cared a lot less than I did about Bailey and Sean. On the side, Ms. Kennedy continues the M/M tete-a-tete between Liam and Sully, who do seem to have a host of problems coming to terms with the fact that they might have bisexual leanings.

‘Midnight Captive’ didn’t quite go exactly as I’d anticipated, but it was at least gratifying to see Sean’s burning obsession with Bailey reciprocated – at the very end, even though it stinks a little of lust-miraculously-turned-love.


Midnight Action by Elle Kennedy

Midnight Action by Elle KennedyMidnight Action by Elle Kennedy
Series: Killer Instincts #5
Published by Signet on November 4th 2014
Pages: 368
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Ex–army ranger Jim Morgan leads a team of elite mercenaries, but eighteen years ago in Paris, he was part of a black ops unit whose mission was to hunt down a rogue operative. In order to trap the criminal, Jim seduced Noelle, the man’s daughter—a ruthless act that cost him the love of his life and turned her into a mortal enemy. Now he can’t trust her, but he still desires her. He also needs her help....
Older, wiser, and unwilling to play the fool again, Noelle runs a group of highly skilled assassins. And she’s just been offered the hit of the century: Eliminate Jim Morgan. History gives them no reason to trust each other, but with their lives in jeopardy at the hands of a common enemy, the lines between love and hate are soon blurred. Now Noelle and Jim must face the past if they want to have a future—let alone a future together.

When I thought it wasn’t possible, Elle Kennedy has managed to bring together 2 of the most screwed up characters I’ve had the dubious honour of reading about. Noelle and Jim have a long history and a fuck-ton of issues to work through but the long and short of it is, even when contracted to kill him, Noelle finds herself unable to do so. Instead, she ends up doing the opposite of what she’s supposed to do, helping him to find the person who has placed the hit on him as well as his daughter from a hook-up 17 years ago.

I felt for Noelle deeply after learning her history and I can’t help but still think that Morgan has been a bastard to her and all the women in his life (his present actions don’t redeem him enough for the trail of destruction he’d left in his wake). There’s a huge load of action (both the suspense kind and the bedroom sort) in the book and even some M/M tension between Morgan’s guys. Already, we also have a set-up between the next pairing of Sean/Bailey (and maybe Liam/Sully?), whose book we wouldn’t get till next year. The moral centres of these dubious characters (and the side-characters) aside – which makes me hesitate to give it a full 5 stars, Midnight Action is a solid read with enough intrigue and heartbreaking moments to keep your arse glued to your seat until the last page is turned.

And judging from the way the guys and the girls pair up, Noelle’s chameleons and Morgan’s mercenaries are going to be a big, (not so) happy family by the time the series is done.