Series: Steele Ops

Deadly Obsession by April Hunt

Deadly Obsession by April HuntDeadly Obsession by April Hunt
Series: Steele Ops, #1
Published by Forever on 30th April 2019
Pages: 416
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three-half-stars

Someone is watching their every move.

After a lifetime spent in and out of hospitals, Zoey Wright is tired of playing it safe. She's ready to take charge of her own life and get out of her comfort zone, starting with a new job as a CSI agent. But when her childhood crush Knox Steele gets pulled onto her case, Zoey needs to put her feelings for him aside or more women will die at the hands of the serial killer preying on her hometown.

Former Army Ranger Knox Steele is back in Washington to help his brothers open an elite private security firm. He never expected to stumble onto a crime scene, or see his best friend's little sister working it. Zoey is all grown up now, and the attraction between them is electric, despite his best efforts to resist it. But all that changes for Knox when he realizes the victims have one thing in common . . . and Zoey might be next.

There’s always a special excitement I have when there’s the new start of a series particularly in the sub-genres of romance that I look for. April Hunt’s new Steele Ops series was one I plunged into because, well, new year, new series, new start.

Sort of.

Combining the brother’s-best-friend trope with a typical serial-killer storyline, ‘Deadly Obsession’ is very much an establishing book that sets the context for the series. And thus far, I did like the cocooned bonds and the closeness between the characters and Hunt’s decision to write a somewhat different heroine—whose illness gave her cause to rise above her circumstances again and again—is quite remarkable.

There were no surprises here, where characters or plot were concerned at least: Zoey being in the line of fire, Knox’s non-committal stance towards the will-they-won’t-they relationship, his denseness that needed a huge awakening in the form of mortal danger to Zoey to dissipate, the ‘sex-only’ agreement that you just know will fail. They’re well-worn tropes really, but April Hunt’s engaging writing carried the story and I did, by and large, have a good and easy time making my way through the suspense—even guessed who the perp was well in advance.

There’s much talk about seizing life by the horns especially when faced with one’s mortality nonetheless: Zoey did come across as desperate and overcompensating for having missed out on so much at times, just as Knox’s indecisive mixed signals grated along with the reminders about how he didn’t stick with women at all.

By and large though, I did have an easy time reading this and did find the story quite engaging despite the well-trodden issues in romance that authors do like to take up. Hunt’s writing has a certain kind of clarity here that I can appreciate and there’s enough development of the secondary characters whose coming stories (no doubt) I would like to follow up on.

three-half-stars

Jewel of the Kimberley by Erin Moira O’Hara

Jewel of the Kimberley by Erin Moira O’HaraJewel of the Kimberley by Erin Moira O'Hara
Series: Steele Ops #3
Published by Erin Moira O'Hara on July 14th 2016
Pages: 267
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two-stars

Nick Flanagan had two passions—his fiancée, Ava, and flying Black Hawks. Then he was accepted into a special unit within the SAS, it was a dream come true. That dream cost him Ava. In the four years since, he’s lived hard and fast. Now, having discovered a treacherous lie, Nick wants Ava back. First though, he must contend with a rival, who has an agenda of his own.
Ava Mitchell’s parents had been cool and distant her whole life, so when she fell for fun loving Nick Flanagan, he became her world. After three wonderful years together, Nick joined the SAS and cancelled their wedding. Devastated, Ava walked out, hoping he’d resign and come after her. Several weeks later her biggest fear became a reality when she received word he’d been killed.
Now a successful designer, Ava is about to risk her heart again when the unimaginable happens—Nick walks back into her life. Can she trust the man she once adored, or will he and a band of smugglers destroy her life? To survive she will need a miracle or perhaps a team of heroic commandos.

The blurb alone made me pick up my overdue Kindle subscription but it wasn’t too long before I questioned my own judgement in doing that.

I liked the location (never been to Broome, but I can just imagine the pristine waters and the beautiful Australian landscape) and the unusual suspense story, which is a lot to take in.

Much less convincing however, was the romance and the whiplash speed at which it went, as though it was quickly written to be put out of the way before the suspense could take centre stage. The easy way Ava welcomed Nick back with open arms by the second night despite the fact he’d left her, chosen the army over her and pretty much just tomcatted his way through the whole time left me hanging with disbelief. That their reunion went without bumps at all, progressing to the point where declarations of love were dished out so speedily after Nick simply walked back into her and assumed everything would fall into place somehow made it all hard to swallow and consequently harder for me to like both Ava/Nick as leading characters who simply seemed content to brush the past away too easily. I felt that it should have been a lot more difficult and complicated, with a fuck-ton of issues to sort through. It wasn’t and as a result, beyond disappointing to read.

There is a host of other interesting characters (that I’m mildly curious about) as well when the suspense finally kicks in, but left without the tension and the bit of angst I’d expected, it was simply difficult to get my interest to hold steady after that.

two-stars