Series: LOST

The Lost Spear by N.J. Croft

The Lost Spear by N.J. CroftThe Lost Spear by N.J. Croft
Series: Lost #0.5
Published by Sideways Books on 26th August 2019
Pages: 114
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Archaeologist Dr. Eve Blakeley has dedicated her life's work to finding Genghis Khan's final resting place. But first she'll have to find the Spirit Banner, Khan's lost spear, an eight-hundred-year-old weapon shrouded in as much mystery and lore as his lost tomb. The two are intertwined by centuries of secrets.

During her search through the mountains of Mongolia, she's joined by MI6 agent Zachary Martin, who is convinced that recent, seemingly random acts of terror around the globe are somehow connected to her.

But as they follow the clues to the spear, the line between her historical research and present-day terrorism blurs even more... Someone doesn't want her team to find the spear, and they'll do anything to keep the secrets of Genghis Khan buried forever.

It’s strange that ‘The Lost Spear’ came as part of the ARC offering under Entangled Publishing. But the blurb wasn’t one that I could resist, so I took a chance on an archaeological thriller, not knowing whether it was actually part of an imprint primarily associated with romantic fiction.

The long and short of it is, ‘The Lost Spear’ would be a disappointment especially if you think this is one that falls under that category. The romance plot is thin and weak, with the barest hint (that’s more told than showed) of what could happen between several characters. That the male protagonist (is MI6 agent Zachary Martin even one?) was kissing Eve Blakeley with nary a hint of chemistry while contemplating his own feelings towards his recently-dead partner mere pages ago didn’t really bode well for a strong romance.

That said, if archaeology and searching out lost items, racing against time if your thing, then ‘The Lost Spear’ does well to outline an intriguing mystery surrounding Genghis Khan and his Spirit Banner and the quest to find it.

But at 114 pages, it felt like this went nowhere, with a compendium of theories about the Spirit Banner, the revelation of bad guys who quite predictably masqueraded as good guys and an unsatisfactory cliffhanger that at the end, left me wondering if this was just a circular walk in the steppes of Central Asia. It’s a clear setup for what looks like a full-length sequel, but I’m not sure if I’m into this enough to continue.


Wrecked by Cynthia Eden

Wrecked by Cynthia EdenWrecked by Cynthia Eden
Series: LOST #6
Published by Avon on May 30th 2017
Pages: 248
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LOST Agent Ana Young was only fourteen when she was abducted by a madman, but unlike many kidnapping victims, she did go home. Now, her mission is to find the missing. But her new case has her on the hunt for the escaped convict who’s obsessed with her. And Ana has an unlikely partner—the sexy, supposedly-by-the-book FBI agent she had one amazing night with and had to forget.


FBI Special Agent Cash Knox knows that Ana, the petite, tough-ass former bounty hunter, can get the job done again. But this time, someone else leads them to “Bernie-the-Butcher,” someone who’s been watching Ana. Waiting for her.


Now, catching a deranged murderer means Ana must trust her guarded heart to the gorgeous, complicated G-man she wasn’t supposed to fall for.

Cynthia Eden’s LOST series has thus far, been a mixed bag for me, but there are several ones which I do like and ‘Wrecked’ is one of them. It’s exciting to dive into a world where shades of grey operate and where characters are never what they seem, up until the very end, so everything that Eden throws up is a potential twist in the plot.

‘Wrecked’ is Ana Young’s story, one of the latest additions in Gabe Spencer’s outfit, whose bounty hunter past had been decided for her when she’d been tortured as a child, except that those walls of hers can be pulled down—by the unlikeliest of people in FBI agent Cash Knox. He’s back in her circles because a hunter of serial killers is at large and him needing her help is just as much an order from his boss as it is his need to see her again. Their very brief history is their only foundation, but even then, Cash’s own link to her isn’t merely because law enforcement dictates it. The mystery trail is complex and sometimes confusing, but Cash and Ana need to sort through their own issues as they search for a perpetrator that seems way too brilliant for their liking.

As far as Romantic Suspense goes, ‘Wrecked’ is an entertaining read, where connections are (sometimes coincidentally) forged from dark pasts and love found in the oddest of places, even from a one-night stand that isn’t as accidental as it seemed. Eden writes about perpetrators who are as much victims as they are of circumstances, warped only because they’d been traumatised, but also of love found so near and yet so far from where one’s personal demons lurk. Some parts of the book do seem a bit more dramatic and over the top than I thought they should have been—but it does rack up the chill factor at times and the psychological insights are one of a kind. Overall, it’s a story that’s hard to put down and in that vein, that’s more than good enough for me.


Taken by Cynthia Eden

Taken by Cynthia EdenTaken by Cynthia Eden
Series: LOST #5
Published by Avon on November 29th 2016
Pages: 400
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Bailey Jones somehow survived her harrowing abduction by the infamous Death Angel. But while her physical scars have healed, she can’t stop wondering about a woman she helped to escape, who simply disappeared. When LOST agent Asher Young is assigned to her case, Bailey instantly feels an attraction to the intense ex-SEAL who seems to be carrying dark secrets of his own.

Asher can’t afford to let his growing feelings for Bailey distract him from his job. Only she can soothe his horrific nightmares, but the last thing he wants is for the demons from his past to ever hurt her. Bailey has gotten past his guard, and the emotions he feels for her—they’re as dark and dangerous as the past he doesn’t want to face.

When corpses begin surfacing—all marked with the same tattoo depicting the Death Angel’s calling card—Asher must race to stop a twisted killer who wants nothing more than to claim his next prize: Bailey . . .

‘Taken’ was an entertaining read and did send me on a whodunnit quest, a game I always play each time a murder/serial killer mystery comes up. But I guessed it correctly this time, even managing to piece things together before the climatic (and predictable) end.

Perhaps this is exactly why I can’t seem to shake the feeling that the LOST cases are getting too familiar and it’s this familiarity that has taken the sheen off this book. While I loved the previous story in this series and the complex case it presented, ‘Taken’ follows that pattern in a way that made me yearn for Cynthia Eden to up the ante on the plot and suspense. Like every other LOST book, every secondary character in law enforcement or in the medical profession is a suspect and a red-herring and bureaucracy mucks up an investigation that is hindered by either weather, the media or the police themselves. The killer is hell bent on the heroine – all the cases somehow point to her – and once we uncover the reason why, the story races from guessing game to resolution.

While I do understand Eden’s need to give her lead characters a darker, edgier side, there were several character motivations that I couldn’t understand and consequently thought were actually made out to be more significant than they really should have been. Asher’s childhood trauma for instance, that consequently affected his ability to commit but stirs every protective instinct with women felt too unbelievable for me to swallow and his own sudden fixation with needing to take away Bailey’s pain felt more like a psychological run-off than love. Bailey in turn, because of her own childhood tragedy, wants Asher as a first step to reclaiming her old life. But because these damaged characters seem to turn to each other to exorcise their own demons or fulfill some gaping need more than anything else, it was hard to take this pairing at face value, let alone accept the near instant-love that seemed to appear after they tumble into bed.

Admittedly, ‘Taken’ isn’t the best of Eden’s books, but it’s definitely a decent story, especially if you’re new to this author.


Torn by Cynthia Eden

Torn by Cynthia EdenTorn by Cynthia Eden
Series: LOST #4
Published by Avon on May 31st 2016
Pages: 384
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Forensic anthropologist Victoria Palmer has always been better with the dead than the living. Shutting down her emotions, she lets few people in. But then Victoria’s latest investigation takes her and agent Wade Monroe to Savannah, Georgia. Handsome, dangerous, and more than ready to play dirty on any case, Wade weakens Victoria’s aloofness with just one glance.

Wade knows their recent cases have pushed Victoria beyond her limits. But her skills are crucial to finding a college student who went missing five years ago. Victoria is able to determine she was murdered, and that the killer is still on the loose.

And when the vicious murderer targets Victoria, Wade must do everything in his power to protect her . . . because he refuses to let a woman he loves be torn from him . . . again.

Wade Monroe and Victoria Palmer are put on a 5-year-old case of a missing woman in Savannah but for either of them, it’s a case that breaks open their pasts and finally, their attraction to each other. Already withdrawn and distant after a recent abduction, Victoria’s steely will to keep anyone out her personal affairs is challenged when Wade intrudes immediately after they are assigned to the case. The investigation that ensues however, is a twisty road of lies, bureaucratic manoeuvrings and false turns. Wade and Victoria rush – and fail – to save two women, then find themselves the target of the killer, whose reach seems to transcend time and even space.

The crime is extraordinary and its perpetrators beyond twisted. But I felt there were several facets of the case that hadn’t been addressed more thoroughly and Cynthia Eden could have presented a more watertight – and ultimately more believable – case had these questions been answered: why for instance, was there a huge five-year gap between the abduction of women, given the monstrous-nature of the perpetrator we’re led to believe? What would drive two killers to work hand-in-hand when neither had seemed to anything alone before? Why only the sudden fixation on Victoria now, when they’d uncovered her secrets years ago?

Nevertheless, I particularly enjoyed being led down the same investigative journey Wade/Victoria took and the breathless, claustrophobic atmosphere of this story. Like them, I clamoured in the dark, wondered about motivations but was surprised at the quick resolution of the sexual tension between them because I hadn’t expected an Alpha-cop with simmering temper issues growling after his own emotionally-skittish prey. Yet because Ms. Eden never gives up on her pairings, their relationship is as always, minted through fire and all the more convincing after that.


Twisted by Cynthia Eden

Twisted by Cynthia EdenTwisted by Cynthia Eden
Series: LOST #2
Published by Avon on April 28th 2015
Pages: 384
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Dean Bannon comes to New Orleans for one reason only: to track down a missing sixteen-year-old girl. That's before he meets the drop-dead gorgeous con artist who makes him want to lose his legendary control.
With her past, Emma Castille doesn't claim to be psychic. She just notices things other people don't. Like the fear in a runaway's eyes—or the pain in an ex-FBI agent's heart. Her chemistry with Dean is blistering, but Emma follows her passion . . . not someone else's orders.
Then a madman breaks into Emma's home and leaves a twisted message: You're next. Now Dean refuses to let her out of his sight until he pries every last secret from her full, sexy lips. And suddenly Emma's aching to give him everything he wants.

Nope.  Everything rubbed me the wrong way from the start, particularly the heroine (whom Cynthia Eden intended to be strong and determined but turns out as wilful, spiteful and bloody bitchy) who tries to hide her secrets from the control freak Dean Bannon. I’m disappointed, really, considering the quality of Cynthia Eden’s books, because I really just expected better. In fact, it annoyed me so much I just had to put it down not even a quarter way through.

Maybe I’d throw back some hard liquor and pick it up again someday but…just not yet.