Though survival training is Master Sergeant Tristan Michaels’s specialty, one of his students has been murdered. And sharing quarters with the ravishing NCIS agent sent to investigate is a challenge his expertise hasn’t prepared him for. Tristan has his reasons for distrusting NCIS agents, but Amber Dalton is stirring unwelcome feelings of a different kind. Despite the fierce attraction between them, Amber is determined not to let it distract her from the mission. But when they’re captured by the killers, escape means combining forces and daring to survive freezing mountain terrain.
Source: ARC from author
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Amber Dalton just got dumped and before she could out the office door and start her now-solo vacation, she got an assignment dumped in her lap. As if there weren’t enough salt in the wound already, her boss quite frankly told her the assignment is hers only because the more experienced investigator isn’t available. Oh, good. She’s the second choice on every level at this point. Can it get any worse??
It can always get worse and it does in about a heartbeat. She was headed for sun and surf on vacation and now finds herself severely underdressed and under packed for the Sierra Nevadas. Her boss told her this is an open and shut case of friendly fire, it’s not. She was supposed to have a place to stay on base but it’s full and, she is stuck with the grumpiest man she has ever met, Master Sergeant Tristan Michaels. The cherry on top of the crap sundae, she is bunking with the Master Sergeant in his two-bedroom home off base and the attraction between them is thicker than the fog surrounding the mountain range.
Tristan Michaels has no love for the NCIS after a particularly terrible experience with them early in his career but one of his students is dead and there are procedures that must be followed. Unfortunately, one of those procedures is NCIS agent, Amber Dalton who happens to be occupying his home and more brain space than he cares to admit. Amber has no intention of taking any sh&t off Tristan and once he understands her commitment to her job and finding out the truth of the situation he finds himself in, even Tristan has to admit he is impressed. Amber is very much like a dog with a bone and the more questions she asks, the more convinced she becomes that Tristan’s student absolutely did not die as a result of friendly fire.
From the moment Amber and Tristan take up the case of the mysterious death, they know there is something really wonky going on. Every answer brings an avalanche of new questions and within a few days, there’s another death on the mountain and no one Amber and Tristan can trust. Every step closer to the truth brings them one step close to true evil and when they are both taken, they realize just how ugly and awful evil can be. Both Amber and Tristan are well-trained and capable of surviving in most conditions but the situation they find themselves in is nothing they could have ever, ever prepared for. It will take every ounce of their skill, instinct for survival, and budding trust in one another to survive the ordeal and bring down an evil that has been plaguing the mountains for years.
The Bottom Line: The deeper I get into this series, the more I like it. Tristan is a slightly damaged man whose personal experiences have very much informed his attitude. Though he really doesn’t want to like Amber, he can’t deny her intelligence, determination, courage, bangin’ body, and how his body, brain, and heart seem drawn to her. Amber has baggage of her own and though she tries to resist Tristan, it is hard to resist a man with such a large and powerful presence. I am generally very much a character over plot reader but this book had me switching it up completely. The plot for Her Master Defender is exceptionally twisted and I LOVED every second of it from start to finish. When the big reveal happens be sure you’re somewhere you can safely spout off a bad word or ten because you will probably need too J The last third of this book is wretchedly awful and awesome all at the same time and I couldn’t put it down. I KNOW Karen Anders is all about the HEAs but this one had me questioning if she was going to go totally off script all the way through to the end. Well played, author lady, well played. As with many of her reads, there are clues to the continuation of the series and I for one am damn glad this series is going to keep going.
About the author and where to find her:
Zoe Dawson is the alter ego of Karen Anders, award winning, multi-published author. Her writing journey started with poetry and branched out into fiction. With a couple of college English courses under her belt, she penned a historical, then moved onto contemporary romance fiction. Today, she is happy producing romantic suspense, romantic mystery, urban fantasy and paranormal novels. The words feed her soul and the happily ever afters feed her heart.