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*Note: I received a print copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review for iRead book tour*
Like fire and ice, Alexandra Callet’s life runs hot and cold. At the age of thirty-three, Alexandra owns a stunning home and a successful interior design company. But she is in love with her business partner, Jake Taylor, and he doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a woman. She should be on top of the world, but instead she feels dragged down by the void in her heart. Hoping for answers, she decides a trip to Mexico might soothe her soul.
Jake Taylor only pretends to be a confirmed bachelor. Jake has been entranced by Alexandra’s determination and exotic beauty since the moment they met, but she has no idea how he feels. He considers confessing his love, but fears jeopardizing their friendship and business. He’s caught in a web of pretending he doesn’t care, and doesn’t see a way out of it. Alexandra is recruited for a dangerous mission. Following her trip to Mexico, her resemblance to a member of an assassin’s family leads Alexandra to be recruited by the DEA. Her training leaves her distracted, and her business begins to suffer. Jake notices her sudden change, and feels her slipping both personally and professionally beyond his reach.
Should he finally take the chance…before it’s too late? After all, he has nothing to lose. However, when Alexandra returns to Mexico for her mission, things go terribly wrong. Will she be able find the strength to fight and escape the peaceful haven that has now become her prison?
Or will Jake lose Alexandra forever…
Kevin O’Neill is the agent in charge of the operation which is about trying to capture and smuggle Miguel Santiago aka “The Magician” out of Mexico. The Mexican government is uncooperative, so it is a covert operation. It doesn’t help that Miguel is well-protected at all times and his residence is an imposing fortress. When two of Kevin’s field agents spot Alexandra on her vacation in Mexico, the DEA finally feel the wheels of fortune turning in their favor. Because, if anyone can lure Miguel out of his safe haven, it is his sister Daniela. And by some twist of fate, Alexandra bears a striking resemblance to Daniela.
Alexandra runs a successful interior designing & architectural firm with her partner Jake. She has always nursed feelings of something more than just platonic towards him. Fed up with being just Jake’s friend and professional partner, she welcomes the distraction DEA has to offer and agrees help them out. After a rigorous training where she perfects her voice pitch and body language similar to Daniela, she sets out to Mexico once again.
I loved the premise of the book – it had this whole larger-than-life and an almost cinematic vibe that was fun to imagine. There is a sizeable cast of characters, a lot of them being DEA field agents and undercover spies. So all the initial juggling where we are taken back and forth from Alexandra’s quiet life to the hectic DEA operation made for an engrossing read. The pace was pretty good too. I couldn’t connect with some things though. Some of the dialogues, especially all the conversational humor felt a bit contrived. Then, there was this whole Jake and Alexandra’s unrequited love story. I am not exactly a huge fan of romance taking centre stage if the book’s genre is something else, but considering this book is pitched more on the lines of thriller/suspense-romance, I felt that the romantic part in this book ended up being sort of half-baked. Jake doesn’t get much of page-time and I honestly thought it didn’t complement well with the rest of the story. Then there were some other ideas which weren’t explored fully but just made as random observations. I mean, there is a moment in the book where Alex’s trainer comments that her transformation as Daniella is so convincing that she worries that Alex might find it difficult to shrug off Daniella after the case. At that point, I thought it was interesting and that something on that line of thought will be incorporated into the rest of the book, but nothing else happens. Another thing I couldn’t connect with is Alex’s faith. I think it is nice to have a protagonist who is devout, but I just thought it was a bit out of place and over-emphasized, especially all the Biblical references and metaphors.
Overall, the book was quite engaging and easy to read. A good one to pick up if you would like to read something involving undercover ops, sprinkled with a bit of romance and lots of Mexican flavor!
About the Author:
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, S.K. Derban moved to London within the first three months, and remained in England until the age of five. Her father, an American citizen, was a decorated veteran of the second world war. Derban’s mother, born and raised in the United Kingdom, was involved with the London Royal Ballet Company, and a great fan of the arts. Even after returning to the United States, Derban’s life was filled with a love of the theatre and a passion for British murder mysteries. S.K. Derban has always remained passionate about writing, and is thrilled to finally share her work with others.
Her personal travel and missionary adventures also help to transport readers virtually across the globe. When writing, S.K. Derban relies on all aspects of her life, from her faith in the Lord, to her love and knowledge of the arts.
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