Fatal Courage by Misty Evans

Fatal Courage by Misty EvansFatal Courage by Misty Evans
Series: Shadow Force International, #3
Published by BeachPath Publishing on August 20th 2016
Pages: 297
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He ruined her career…
In twenty-one missions, CIA golden girl Ruby McKellen has failed only once. Thanks to Navy SEAL Jaxon Sloan, the man who stole her heart and forced her to choose between him and her partner Elliot, she’s on probation and Elliot is in prison for national security crimes. To prove Elliot’s innocence and save her damaged career, Ruby is running an unsanctioned mission—but the only way to get the proof she needs is to go to Jax with her tail between her legs.
She wrecked his heart…
Jaxon left the Navy after the mission with Ruby in Morocco went south, but that one hot, unbelievable night with her will haunt him forever. Working for Shadow Force International now, his new assignment has brought him full circle—the CIA operative Jax’s testimony sent to prison has escaped and Jax has been ordered to hunt him down. Just like in Morocco, the one thing standing in his way is Ruby.
A second chance at love could prove fatal…
When Ruby’s life is threatened and Jax stumbles on information that might prove Elliot is innocent, guilt over putting the man in prison compels him to join her unsanctioned mission. What really happened that night six months ago? Is Elliot an honorable spy or a mastermind at manipulation? Ruby is the only one who can help Jax navigate the world of undercover lies and betrayal to find the truth.
In a battle of wills—and of hearts—Jax and Ruby must have the courage to face the truth about themselves, their past, and what it really means to betray someone you love.

Misty Evans knows how to plot a book – with such élan that it’s clear it’s not her first rodeo dealing with this particular sub-genre of romantic suspense. In that shadowy world of spies, counterterrorism, misleading intelligence and double agents, she takes us for a merry ride through characters who live and thrive in the grey areas and well, sort of fall in love (or lust).

Jax’s and Ruby’s story however, isn’t a simple one. There’s loads of history between them and a huge information dump that I found distracting – the first installment of SFI was an excellent example of suspense that subsequent books moved away from – and while the action merely amped up as the pages wore on, Jax and Ruby struggle to find their HEA, not least because of conflicting interests and motivations that could seem more selfish than noble.

I’m neutral about this one; there were bits I liked and bits I didn’t, so those cancel each other out fairly evenly. The action was entertaining as hell, if a little hard to believe because it inches closer to Mission Impossible or the Bourne movies complete with the special effects and superhuman feats. But for the characters and the changing POVs (why was it necessary to have one in Elliot’s POV when he’s a secondary character who faded out towards the end?) were harder to get into. Jaxon’s own personality quirks and temper issues gave him that knife’s edge, I found Ruby’s insistence on prioritising the job, doing things only her way, keeping her plans secret and her quickness to shift blame onto others – to the extent where people got hurt because of it – more difficult to like. And perhaps there is nothing worse than a self-aware heroine who knows that she has treated the male lead badly (but does nothing about it), then asks in self-recrimination why he’s still being so good to her when there is only one night of unforgettable sex between them. Somehow working on the assumption that asking for forgiveness is better than giving collaboration a chance, Ruby irked me so much at times that I wondered if Jax would indeed be better off without her.

My other quibble is the rather abrupt closure…or lack thereof, rather. Loose ends didn’t seem fully tied up and while we’re given a hint of where and how things would wrap up, the ending wasn’t as unequivocally certain as i’d hoped it would be.