Series: Outbreak Task Force #5
Published by Entangled Pubihsing, LLC (Amara) on 21st September 2020
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Racing to lock down the CDC's deadly virus samples from terrorists, ex-Special Forces medic Henry Lee partners with Ruby Toth on the Outbreak Task Force. But the terrorists always seem one step ahead. As they work side by side, Henry's taken with how Ruby accepts and respects him, instead of pitying him for all he lost overseas, including his leg. Ruby's hiding something, though, and Henry fears she's been leaking sensitive information.
Terrorists have kidnapped her brother, and now microbiologist Ruby Toth faces a horrible choice. If she doesn't give them a vial of Small Pox as ransom, her brother will die. She knows her prickly—yet very hot—boss, Henry, could provide the help she needs. But she joined the CDC to root out insiders plotting to unleash a bio-engineered pandemic, and she can't trust anyone. Not even Henry.
‘Hell & Back’ is Julie Rowe’s high-octane, medical-science thriller that, well, probably sits all too uncomfortable in this virus-ridden world at the moment. Still, it provides some mighty fine hours of escapism, non-stop action and rides the all-engulfing wave of bioterrorism which is pretty much what this entire series is all about.
I typically have a great time with the books in this series and the subject-matter of lab tech works and their military protectors being the front-line of defence is personally one that’s fascinating and relevant. It’s an exciting and exhilarating peek into an albeit quasi-fictional world that I’ve never been a part of and probably never will be, which is probably why I’ve always had a soft spot for this series.
Henry Lee’s book is one that’s a long time in coming and Rowe has written both him and Ruby as generally likeable and brave protagonists who do have the hots for each other…only that they seem to realise it at the absolute worst time. There’s a huge measure of instant lust that is slotted in too hurriedly; their attraction is something I can understand but most bewildering perhaps is the insertion of the sex scenes at the most inappropriate times when the enemy was quite literally knocking down the front door.
I think that the rushed romance (with a HEA that literally ended up with flying towards their sunset) tempered my enthusiasm a little somewhat. It isn’t also too much of a surprise that there the destruction is politically-driven when Rowe made it easy to guess who was behind this huge conspiracy given the number of hints that have been dropped throughout the book.
That said, I had a fun time with this – it’s solidly written and researched with secondary characters that go on to fill their roles more and more as the series goes on. It’ll probably does rank somewhere near the top of pile of my best-loved Rowe suspense reads, but probably isn’t quite my favourite.