Thursday, September 15, 2016

Killer Countdown - Amelia Autin (HRS #1909 - Aug 2016)

Series: Man on a Mission (Book 8)

TV reporter Carly Edwards has the scoop of a century! She's discovered that Senator Shane Jones was diagnosed with a life-altering illness, but she can't help but be drawn to his courage. So when Shane saves Carly's life from a killer, she resolves to keep her story -- and the irresistible politician -- alive…

A politician and a media personality are a recipe for romantic disaster. The last thing Shane wants is to endanger Carly. But how can he prevent her from getting close when the very air between them sizzles? As their lives are threatened, Shane realizes Carly's the one woman he wants forever -- if he can keep them both safe!

Amelia has done it again - written a story that kept me enthralled from beginning to end. I saved it to read on a seven hour trans-Atlantic flight, and I have never had a trip pass so quickly. Shane is the oldest of the Jones kids and has the super-protective attitude of many firstborns. His life hasn't exactly worked out the way he planned. He had been a Marine, planning to make a career of it, when an injury ended those dreams. He transferred his sense of duty to the political side, and is now the junior Senator from Colorado. He's had loss in his life also, losing his father when he was younger, then his pregnant wife was killed in a terrorist attack. He has plans for his current career that may be in jeopardy once again. He has been diagnosed with a condition that could end those hopes. When the story opens, he is at the Arizona Mayo Clinic, where he has just received the results of all his tests. He spends a few minutes feeling sorry for himself, but in true Jones tradition, tries to shake it off and figure out how to move forward. He doesn't expect a visit from his "fiancee", and is intrigued enough to go along with it.

Carly is a television reporter with an outstanding reputation. She has reported on wars, police actions, disasters and any number of hot stories. Right now she is trying to find out why Senator Jones is at the Mayo Clinic. She's resourceful, and pretends to be his fiancee to get access to him, and is stunned when he allows her in. Her reputation precedes her, and Shane strikes a bargain with her, that if she will keep his secret for now, he will give her the exclusive when he's ready to talk. Carly has had her own trials and tribulations, including losing her fiance in an accident for which she blames herself. That memory has her accepting Shane's deal.

Things start to go a little crazy when someone shoots at Shane on his way out of the hospital. Carly is there and takes off after the shooter, using her cellphone to capture video of him. Shane is on her heels and protects her when the shooter turns his sights on her. Shane is furious that she took the risk, but also impressed by her presence of mind. When another attack happens back in DC, Shane realizes that Carly is at risk because she can identify the shooter. He is determined to keep her safe, not just because it's the right thing to do, but also because she rouses feelings in him he hasn't experienced since he lost his wife.

I loved the development of their relationship. Shane is super-protective, even though he is well aware that Carly is capable of protecting herself. He is also a straight shooting man, who doesn't play fast and loose with the truth. I loved the fact that he made up his own mind about issues without allowing outside influences. This is one of the things about Shane that really draws Carly to him. Likewise, Carly is an honest journalist who doesn't make things up to create a more sensational story. Shane appreciates that honesty, which makes it much easier to ask her to do the story on his illness. There is also an undeniable attraction between the two of them, but both have been badly hurt in the past, making them reluctant to risk their hearts again. The attraction grows stronger every day, but Carly especially is in denial. She tries to convince Shane that they can be together while keeping their emotions under control. I loved that Shane was already fully invested, but pretended to go along with her until he could convince her. Even though she makes that claim, she already suspects that it is too late to claim emotional distance.

I loved Carly's strength as she holds it together through each attack. She is determined not to crumble, and to fight against whoever has targeted them. She is also just as protective of Shane as he is of her. There were a couple of great scenes where she lays into him for taking risks - hello pot, meet kettle. She also slowly learns that it is okay to lean on someone now and then. I loved the scenes where she broke down and Shane was there for her. It was obvious that she felt deeply enough for him that she could trust him that way, even though she wasn't ready to admit it. 

I also loved how quickly they got to know each other's quirks and foibles. I loved seeing Shane try to protect her without giving her the impression that he didn't think she could take care of herself. He knew her well enough to know that would push her to take more risks. And Carly understood that Shane hated the fact that his illness was something he couldn't control. When he tried to push her away to protect her from what could happen, she wouldn't stand for it. I loved seeing her stand up to him and call him on his cowardice (not something a Marine would take well!). When the danger was all over, they have to decide if they are willing to take the risks of loving each other. I really loved the proposal scene. The epilogue was great, and I loved seeing where their lives have gone.

The suspense of the story was fantastic. The first attack at the clinic is a real attention-getter, and Carly's involvement just ups the stakes. When Shane realizes that she has become a target too, he's determined to find the reason. Each attack comes a little closer to succeeding. I loved seeing the assassin's frustration as Shane's innate abilities foil every attempt. It was interesting to see who Shane suspected was behind the attacks, and those whose help he asked for in checking it out. It was also very satisfying to see Carly put her investigative reporter's brain to work and come up with a completely different scenario.  I also loved seeing Niall, the brother we haven't seen much of, and his involvement in their protection. I loved seeing Shane finally get fed up and take matters into his own hands. The final confrontation was intense, exciting, and I really didn't expect the identity of the person who saved Shane. I also loved Niall's last word and the motivation behind it! Now I can't wait to read his story!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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