Wicked Games by A.D. Justice
Investigative reporter Brianna Tate has stumbled upon the story of a lifetime but she has no idea it will change her entire life. When the story thrusts her into a web of lies that puts her life in danger, she has to choose between seeing the man she loves destroyed or giving up her whole life to enter WITSEC. After three years of living someone else's life, everything changes when her true identity and location is discovered. She is forced to leave protective custody to save the man she still loves.
Noah Steele owns a successful business with Steele Security, providing security escorts for the nations' top officials, wealthy elitists, and high-profile visiting dignitaries. What he keeps from everyone in his life is that he never fully recovered from losing Brianna. He shares a bed with other women but never his heart. Noah's life now revolves around his work until the night he stumbles upon an intruder in his house and learns that intruder is actually his long-dead love, Brianna.
With her sudden reappearance, Noah discovers the passion that once fueled their relationship is still there, burning hotter than ever. However, even love can't erase the betrayal Noah experiences after learning that Brianna faked her death and has been in hiding this whole time. Noah must decide if he can accept that she betrayed him and caused him the worst pain in his life. Learning that she has been alive and seemingly fine without him may be more than he can take.
Brianna's relationships with everyone at Steele Security is teetering precariously on a ledge. Loyalty and honesty is key with the men who once looked at her as a sister but now openly distrust her. Can they work together to identify the real threat, save his business and their own lives? Or will Noah lose the only woman he's ever loved, twice in one lifetime, in his fight against the tangled web of lies and betrayal that surround him?
This is the book one in the series, but through the whole story, there is so much reflection and reference to the past, that I felt that I've missed a book or two before. And I have really mixed feelings about it, because some parts were good, some just odd (military/CIA/security personnel being insulted and furious with the idea of Brianna having to go to witness protection), some a bit, or a lot, rushed (where did eight weeks disappear?).
Even though the tension, suspense, starts from the page one, and when it happens, it is explosive, frenzied, and violent, the main focus of the tale is the tragic, bitter-sweet, love story between Noah and Brianna. Love story that is filled with trust issues, questions of forgiveness, and second chances.
To get the whole picture of past, present, and the possible future that seems to be on constant turmoil, there's a lot of reflection. And to keep up with who is doing the current remembering and thinking, you really have to pay attention.
The 18+ warning comes partly from the high heat level the book has. But as I felt rather disconnected from the cast, including Noah and Brianna, I noticed I glimpsed through them. Some of them had a place in the story, some felt like a filler, and
But since the plot itself and the suspense part were good, I'll give this story 3,5 stars.
Book one of new series by a new author to me - will I continue to book two? I don't have any need to rush for it, so not sure at the moment.
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