Can’t Hide From Me – Cordelia Kingsbridge
Charles Hunter’s team is on a mission to extract an unidentified ATF agent from an undercover job gone wrong. All they’ve got to go on is the rendezvous location—until Charles recognizes the ex he hasn’t seen in years. Their “simple rescue mission” is about to get a lot more complicated.
For Ángel Medina, adjusting to life after his cartel nightmare is hard enough without confronting memories of a failed relationship. All he wants is a fresh start. But when a violent stalker lashes out from the shadows, Ángel realizes his nightmare is far from over.
As the stalker’s obsession escalates and bodies start dropping, Charles and Ángel are thrown together in a desperate search for the culprit. Tempers flare and old passions reignite, drawing them back into the same turbulent relationship that once ended in disaster.
But the stalker isn’t letting go—and the next strike might hit straight through the heart.
The thing with mysteries is that whenever a non-spoiler spoiler says, “I guessed the unsub the moment the character was introduced”, I immediately zero in on the suspect. This does not necessarily ruin the reading experience, especially if the writing is engaging but well, I already know what to expect.
This is the case for Can’t Hide From Me, a standalone novel from the author of Seven Of Spades, Cordelia Kingsbridge. The stalker’s identity became obvious when I got the hint but this book is as gripping as her famous series. She writes suspense with a deft hand and she was able to keep those edge-of-my-seat feels going until the last page.
Emotions ran high as tension of every kind filled the scenes from page one. ATF undercover agent, Angel Medina barely escaped the clutches of the cartel when his extraction nearly went haywire at the start of the story, then immediately right after, found himself the target of a dangerous stalker. As if he did not have enough problems, he and Charles Hunter, also ATF, had a bitter breakup two years prior and ugly feelings resurfaced after they met again and worked in the same team. At the same time, their attraction remained as strong as ever and both were powerless to resist.
Charles glanced sideways, watching Ángel curled up comfortably on his couch, barefoot and wearing Charles’s T-shirt. How could he haver ever talked himself into believing this was going to work? He’d never been able to spend any length of time in Ángel’s company without fucking him, fighting with him, or doing both simultaneously. Ángel had set Charles on fire the moment they’d met, and while those flames had banked and flared over the years, they’d never been extinguished.
There were some unwise decisions from both parties that complicated the already volatile situation. One particularly stupid move was Angel hitting the clubs just hours after his extraction, fully aware he had a target on his back because that’s how badly he needed to get laid. Charles claiming he had self-control when they know he had zero when it comes to Angel. So he just had to invite Angel to stay in his apartment with the intent of keeping him safe (that’s what he told everybody and himself). Both threw professionalism to the wind because they simply can’t keep their hands off each other. So now they’re both targets of the stalker. Fan-fucking-tastic.
I liked how the author developed Charles and Angel individually and as a couple. Charles is more level-headed, serious and a closeted bi while Angel is more spontaneous, hot-tempered and openly gay. The latter also has a degree on psychology(?) and was not afraid to use psychological tactics when it suits him. For the most part, it seemed that their connection was only sexual but a closer look revealed deeper feelings running underneath.
I also liked how the issue of Charles coming out as bi was incorporated into the story, not just making it the usual coming out woes, but that it’s something that actually affected the course of events and had serious consequences for the MCs. This revelation came as a bigger surprise to me and made me see Charles and Angel in a different light.
The chemistry between the two men was undeniable although I’m not sure they’re healthy for each other. One manipulated the other, the other was also a prick and there was too much history between them. It wasn’t until the end when they let it all out that the two of them together finally felt right.
In keeping with her other books, CK created a diverse and interesting cast with emphasis on giving many important and relatively atypical (for MM) roles for her female characters. And if you have read her other books, you know what that usually means to the story. (^_−)☆
Narrator Nick J. Russo did a great job as usual. Each character stood out and his female voices were convincing and varied. His Mexican accent for Angel was beautiful! I think that was the best rendition of the accent I’ve heard so far. I’m kind of not sure about the pronunciation of the name though. He pronounced it as ‘an-hel’, I thought it should be ‘ang-hel’. Maybe Mexicans say it differently from us despite similar Spanish influences. Anyhoo…
I might not love it as much as SOS but overall, Can’t Hide From Me is a well-written and highly entertaining action/mystery story with a tumultuous romantic side plot. Recommended if you’re looking for steamy, suspenseful stories about feds fucking and fighting (crass, I know but that’s what they did)
Cordelia Kingsbridge books here
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
Hostile Ground – L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov
After the deaths of three undercover cops investigating a drug ring in a seedy strip club in Seattle, Detective Mahir Hussain has been sent to finish the job. He joins the club’s security team in the hopes of finding enough evidence to bust the operation before the men in charge find a reason to put him in a shallow grave.
To protect the strippers, only gay men can work the club. Ridley, the cold and intimidating head of security, knows exactly how to test potential new hires-including Mahir. From the minute they meet, Mahir and Ridley engage in a dangerous dance of sex and mind games. Mahir needs to find his evidence before Ridley figures out he’s a cop-and before they both grow too close to betray one another.
As the game goes on, Mahir burrows deeper into the operation, where he learns there’s much more happening than meets the eye . . . and why every cop who made it this far has been silenced with a bullet.
Two of my favorite authors collaborating in what promised to be explosive and intense. I know many people gave high ratings and loved it but this one falls between like and love for me.
There are many elements present that I have come to expect from LAW and Voinov so that might be one reason why some parts were predictable such as Kinza’s involvement, Ridley’s real name, what happened to the boys they used as couriers, etc. This was probably one of the few LAW stories where the surprises were not so surprising. What I was surprised with was that the connection between Mahir and Kinza was not utilized to the max. That was something the authors would normally do to up the ante. I thought Lombardi would recognize those gazelle eyes anywhere OR maybe he just thought all Middle Eastern people look the same. Still, he should have known, he was supposed to be astute. Also, there were too many sex scenes that didn’t do anything to the story and we can only hope Ridley’s office was sound proof what with all their conspiratorial talks and out of control moments in there.
Those niggles aside, I greatly enjoyed Hostile Ground. Mahir is a detective, assigned to an undercover mission in Lombardi’s strip club which was a front for something more sinister. Mahir who went by Saeed in this mission, is a muslim which makes him a target of racists jokes while his family grudgingly accepts the fact that he is gay. There were many derogatory terms in the story, so be warned but I liked the way Mahir handled these issues like a boss.
His nephew Kinza was recently outed which caused some conflict with his family. The boy ran away to live with Mahir, who was his favorite uncle. This couldn’t have come at the worst time, the detective was in the middle of his undercover work. Things got even more dangerous when the boy followed him to the club one day and was recruited by Lombardi. The interactions between Mahir and Kinza were some of the best parts of the story. Mahir adored his nephew and would do anything to keep him safe. He nearly panicked and blew the case when he saw his nephew walking inside the club but fortunately, Ridley talked some sense into him AND Kinza was awesome! Boy got nerves of steel. And super smart too! Where other boys would have broken down and panicked, he kept his head. He’ll make a great FBI agent one day.
Ridley is a man of many personalities. There’s the ice-cold psycho bastard, the man who made sure Mahir got home safe after making him inhale cocaine, the one who who can’t resist fucking the new recruit and more. The more time Mahir spends with the man, the more layers he uncover, even after the case was over.
The guy with the icy stare behind the dark sunglasses- he could shoot a cop and not blink. The one who’d left Mahir aching all over, and who had seemed just as unhappy as Mahir that they couldn’t continue things, wasn’t murderer. He couldn’t be. Could he?
Theirs was a romance between two men in a high stressed environment. It started with insta-lust where they used each other to blow off steam and it gradually evolved into something deeper, solid and more meaningful. The way the romance developed was convincingly executed and the authors happily provided an epilogue.
The case was a bitch to crack and the whole set-up reminded me of the HongKong movie, Infernal Affairs, where an undercover cop goes so deep he almost didn’t get out. Even though I knew what was coming, I could still feel the suspense. Every goon was keeping an eye on Ridley and Mahir, waiting for them to slip up. Lombardi got Kinza in his clutches. There’s more at stake than Mahir had bargained for. Things begin to escalate and then one day, the goons showed up at Mahir’s doorstep. Shit really hit the fan! Bullets flew, covers blown, and close calls that were too close as the story builds into to its heart-stopping climax. It was, overall, a fun ride with a satisfying conclusion. And although I want to keep them all safe, Mahir isn’t ready to retire just yet. As we speak, they’re preparing for another mission because as Ridley said
“I like it dangerous.”
So, a sequel please!
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love