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About the Book
“Fantastic characters, scorching sexual tension, and non-stop action make this one of my favorite reads this year!”—New York Times bestselling author Laura Kaye.
RITA nominee Scarlett Cole’s Under Fire pairs a hot Navy SEAL with a medical researcher who finds herself in too deep.
Hot, hard-bodied Sixton Rapp is a former SEAL who’s raring to begin his brand-new civilian life. He and his Navy “brothers” start a security firm that offers the kind of services only a team of military-trained professionals can provide. But nothing prepared Six for his new client: an innocent woman on a mission to improve
thousands of lives. . . unless someone takes hers first.
Dr. Louisa North knows time is against her as she tries to create a “miracle” medical treatment for a disease with no known cure, until she creates a sample so powerful that the wrong people want to use it as a chemical weapon. At first, Six is unwilling to accept Louisa as his client. But soon he realizes that the danger is real and that there’s much more to this plain-Jane scientist…including a burning passion between them that neither of them can resist. And now that an enemy is on Louisa’s trail, Six will do whatever it takes to protect her—or die trying.
This is the first book in Scarlett’s Cole Love Over Duty series, and having loved all of her previous books, I was really excited to dive into this one, a romantic/suspense story with some ex-military action and general badassery – always a winning combination.
Sixten ‘Six’ Rapp is an ex-SEAL who has set up his own security company, Eagle Securities, with two of his best friends and combat buddies. He’s only recently out of the service and is adjusting to life back at home, enjoying the simplicities that he has missed and the opportunity to be in charge of his own life for the first time in a long time.
Dr Louisa North is a scientist who is working on developing a cure for Huntington’s disease – a cause close to her heart since it led to the death of her beloved father. Louisa is highly intelligent but suffers from some social anxiety, and would rather be on her own in her laboratory than pretty much anywhere else on earth. She becomes suspicious when she notices some anomalies in her lab, but when a dangerous sample and all of her associated notes go missing, she knows that trouble is brewing. And that trouble becomes very real danger when she suddenly becomes the target of an unknown, but very persistent, assailant.
Six and Louisa first met at a fundraising event and there was a spark between them, but when he comes to her rescue when she really needs him, that spark develops into full-blown attraction that takes them both by surprise.
I really enjoyed this relationship. Louisa’s shyness and nervous habits are endearing, and I loved how openly accepting Six was of her quirks. He likes her and he makes no effort to hide that, and she feels surprisingly safe and comfortable with him, and the chemistry between them builds into a sweet, emotional and passionate romance.
“Let go for me. Lose control in my arms, because I want to lose control in yours.”
When the threat against Louisa continues, she hires Eagle Securities to protect her and investigate what is truly going on, throwing the two of them into an impossible situation as Six is not permitted to have a relationship with his client. The need to claim his girl battles with his need to protect her, and when the danger becomes deadly, he’s in the fight of his life either way.
This was a really good read. The romance was strong and believable, with a great mix of emotion and sexy time (though I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the build-up that occurred off the page), the mystery/suspense storyline was well developed, and contained some good twists, and I really liked the action side of things as Six and his boys did their thing. I loved Six as a character – his protective alpha ways blended really well with his sweetness and vulnerability, and I love how open and honest he was about his feelings for Louisa. He is hot, sweet and swoony and holds nothing back, and he’s a great romantic hero. Louisa’s scientific brain seemed a bit excessive at the beginning of the book with a lot of intellectual dialogue and monologue, but her mellowing out was a part of her character development, and I enjoyed watching the change in her as she opened herself up to Six and fell hard for him.
“Show me,” she said.
He brushed his lips against the skin on the side of her neck so gently that she thought she was imagining it. “Show you what, sweet Louisa?”
“Show me how good sex can be. How good making love can be … How good it can be to just fuck and really mean it.”
I also really enjoyed getting to know the boys on Six’ team – in particular his two friends Mac and Cabe. I loved the camaraderie between them, and there are hints given about their future stories and I can’t wait to get to those.
This is a strong series starter. The different elements are blended really well, and though the mystery storyline was predictable, it still kept me engaged and eager to see how it would all play out. But for me it was all about the romance, and I loved that part of the story – strong, protective alpha and his quirky girl falling in love with no game playing and no stupid behaviour, just lots of chemistry, sweet, flirty moments, sexy time and swoon.
“I want to know how you feel, Lou. Not how you can rationalize this, or how some biological reaction makes your heart speed up the way it does. I want to know how you feel when I look in your eyes and tell you I love you. Does your heart feel it like mine does?
She covered his hand with her own. “Yes, I feel it, Six.”
“I don’t know where I am going to end up when this is all over, but I hope it’s with you.”
I’m definitely looking forward to continuing on with this series.
Advanced Review Copy generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Love Over Duty series
“Now that you’ve got a little more color in your face, and you’ve stopped shaking, you want to tell me who those men were, or what they wanted?”
Louisa smoothed her hands down the front of his chest to fix his rumpled hoodie and then straightened the hem. Six grabbed her hands in his and stilled them. His hands were the size of baseball mitts compared to hers.
“I don’t know for sure. They beat you in here by a minute or two at most. They told me that they wanted me to go with them, and that was about it. I don’t
want to think this has something to do with the missing sample.”
Thoughts crowded in almost too quickly to process them all. Things like this didn’t happen to her. It went against the rules. Her rules that said she would spend
her life doing research away from all the horrid stuff that went on in the world. And shit like this certainly didn’t happen in Mission Hills. She wondered if it was smart to keep the fact that she’d swapped the two samples and disposed of the one they seemed to be after five days earlier from the police when they finally arrived. But this was a golden opportunity to find out where the police were with the theft in the lab. Obviously Six had saved her life, but she didn’t want him to get into trouble for shooting one of the men. She wasn’t even sure how that would work. It wasn’t like he was defending his home. He was defending hers with a gun he’d brought with him which she wasn’t sure was even legal. Crap.
“It’s all such a mess,” she whispered against Six’s shoulder.
“I know. But I’m right here with you,” he said softly.
Her heart pounded again and her head felt groggy, like mud, as though she was hungover. What she really needed was some silence. She tried to pull away from Six, but he wouldn’t let her move. “Let me go,” she said, blowing her bangs out of her face.
Six shook his head slowly. “I don’t know what’s going on, but you’ll walk the police through it step by step, and I’ll tell them what I know. Then we’ll figure out how to make you safe tonight. Then in the morning, I’ll help you figure out what you can do to remain safe while this gets sorted out.”
What if they came back? Oh, God. She hadn’t thought that far ahead. She could go to her mother’s home, but that might lead the people that were after her to her family. Damn. Why had she already decided it was about the sample when it could have been an abduction attempt or an armed robbery, which didn’t make her feel less vulnerable but did quash all the conspiracy theories in her head? What if she was excluding options that were important? She was the daughter of a very wealthy widow. Ransom could be a possibility.
Six squeezed her shaking hands, bringing her back to the present. “And just so you know, staying safe means learning to protect yourself, sweetheart.”
“I did just fine,” Louisa huffed, unwilling to take on the mantle of victim she was constructing in her head.
“You held a rolling pin,” Six said, shaking his head at her. “What were you going to do, Betty Crocker them to death?”
She pushed her hands against his chest, and this time he let her go. It had never occurred to her that someone would violate her home, but Six was right. If she looked at it logically, she obviously needed to upgrade every element of her home security. She couldn’t even remember when she’d last opened the window in the dining room, but she’d obviously become lax in locking it afterward. And none of her external security lights had come on, which meant they either weren’t effective or the sensors were pointing at the wrong places. And her alarm had the ability to be on for just the doors and windows when she was home but awake, yet she never—
“What’s going on inside that head of yours?” Six asked. “Because you disappear inside it sometimes and I worry when I see you start messing with things.”
Louisa looked down at her hands and realized she was restacking the coasters she had placed on the marble. “I was just thinking through what you said. I guess I’ve become a little lazy … I’ve stopped worrying about home security because nothing ever really happens here.”
“Okay, we’ll look at two things. One, how you protect your home, and two, how you protect yourself in the event that someone makes it past all of your other defenses.” He parted her bangs with his finger, and it made her shiver.
Since her father’s death, she hadn’t had anyone to count on. Not like this. “Why are you really here, Six? It’s not about my uneven shelves, is it?” she asked quietly.
Six studied her face, taking in her forehead, her cheeks, and even her neck before meeting her eyes. It was a moment that felt much longer, filled with … something. Potential, maybe. “Because you asked me to help, and—”
He stopped talking at the sound of wheels pulling onto the gravel. Quickly, he shut off the kitchen light, and it became apparent that the exterior lights were on. With a swift jog, gun drawn, he hurried to take a look out the window. Blue and red beams of light flashed onto her kitchen wall. They were the best thing she’d seen all day, well, other than seeing the door to the kitchen burst open and Six rolling in, looking as deadly as any soldier she’d ever seen. In hindsight, now that the danger had passed, she realized he’d looked hotter than any Hollywood action star in a big blockbuster movie.
Even as she wondered what other reason he’d been about to give her for being there, she realized that none of his words, or the arrival of the police, meant she was safe.
Born in England, Scarlett Cole traveled the world, living in Japan and the United States before settling in Canada where she met her own personal hero – all six and a half feet of him. She now lives with her husband and children in Manchester, England where she’s at work on her next book. She is the author of The Strongest Steel.