by Toni Linenberger Blonde Betty reviews The Illustrious Leader of the Intrepid BBs 1/7/2014
Though it won’t post until next week, this is my last book review of 2013. Appropriately, the last book is a New Year’s themed story. This past year has been a crazy ride. I’ve met and interacted with more amazing authors, a couple cover models and some great editors, than I dreamed possible. I’ve made some wonderful new friends and found a hopefully permanent blog home (Thanks, Kate!). Though I started this on a whim a couple years ago, this past year I had the chance to get relatively serious about it. I have to say, I haven’t regretted it one bit. I hope that the next year provides even more opportunities and I look forward to continuing this great ride. Thanks to everyone who’s stopped by to comment, read, and enjoy my reviews. I hope you found something new and wonderful to read. I hope you keep coming back for more.
One author I’ve been privileged to get to know this year was Melissa Cutler. As you’ve seen in my reviews, she writes cowboys as well as romantic suspense for Harlequin. She’s moving into hockey player wounded warrior heroes late next summer. Personally I can’t wait. Cutler has a wonderful blend of heroes and heart in her books and I’ve loved every one.
Her latest, Secret Agent Secretary, brings us back to her ICE: Black Ops Defenders series. The black ops team has been disbanded after the last mission. The team has all gone their separate ways. However, Ryan Reitano continues his quest to find Enzo Chiara, the last of the three brothers still alive. To achieve his mission he joins the ICE San Diego field office. There he meets Avery Meadows, a self-proclaimed spy aficionado. Though they manage to avoid each other for the first six months of Ryan’s assignment, New Year’s Eve brings them together in explosive fashion.
Passion ignites after office hours in this installment of the ICE: Black Ops Defenders miniseries
Bullets whizzed past as Ryan Reitano and Avery Meadows escaped into the night. How could Ryan have suspected Avery of being the mole inside ICE? It was true she was no ordinary secretary. The way she used her wits and her lethal stiletto heels against the gunmen pursuing them astonished the jaded agent. And that killer body he’d somehow never noticed before…
Too bad there wasn’t time to explore the possibilities. With Chiara’s men hot on their trail, capturing the mercenary was more than just a mission for Ryan. He had his own reasons for wanting the criminal dead. But with his surprising—and utterly enchanting—new partner, perhaps there’d be a chance for romance later…if they survived.
Though cast as the titular secretary, Avery is so much more than that. She’s funny, smart, and a fitting partner for Ryan’s exploits. She can easily keep up with him and actually gives him a run for his money in some situations. Her excitement with being part of an effort to capture an international criminal is infectious. She brings life back into the jaded Spec Ops warrior Ryan has become.
Avery’s fascination with spies means that this book is well-populated with spy gear and the fictionalized impression Hollywood has given us of spies. There are many references to James Bond and other famous fictional spies. Instead of taking things over the top, these references give this book a lighthearted feel, despite the on-the-run storyline.
I didn’t love Avery and Ryan nearly as much as I loved Diego and Vanessa (book 1). There was something about Vanessa doing math out loud to keep from freaking out that will always number her among my all-time favorite heroines. However, Ryan and Avery are a fun couple and their HEA efforts well crafted. I did like that Cutler brought backs some of our favorites from earlier books. I only wish there had been more screen time with each of them. This was a perfect end of the year read. I am interested to see where she goes with the next installment next summer there are several loose ends still waiting knots.