Review, Excerpt, and Sweepstakes: Under Fire (Book #1: Love Over Duty Series) by Scarlett Cole

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Hot, hard-bodied Sixten Rapp is a former SEAL who’s raring to begin his brand-new civilian life. He and his Navy “brothers” start a security firm that offers the kind of services only a team of military-trained professionals can provide. But nothing prepared Six for his new client: an innocent woman on a mission to improve thousands of lives. . . unless someone takes hers first.

Dr. Louisa North knows time is against her as she tries to create a “miracle” medical treatment for a disease with no known cure, until she creates a sample so powerful that the wrong people want to use it as a chemical weapon. At first, Six is unwilling to accept Louisa as his client. But soon he realizes that the danger is real and that there’s much more to this plain-Jane scientist…including a burning passion between them that neither of them can resist. And now that an enemy is on Louisa’s trail, Six will do whatever it takes to protect her—or die trying.  

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Source: Netgalley and Purchase     My Rating: 5/5 star

Louisa North, thanks to a life-long struggle with pathological shyness, craves the order and solitude of her perfectly controlled world.  Her lab has only one other employee and is organized to the point of perfection and her home is her solace.  She has dedicated her life to her research, been reasonably successful in her efforts, and has had few regrets.  It isn’t until her peaceful and ordered world is disturbed that Louisa begins to think there may be more to life than just work. 

Louisa’s last round of experiments and samples were proving to be quite promising right up until the treacherous side effects cropped up.  With nothing left to do but start again, Louisa stores the samples and prepares to move forward with the next round of testing.  In a secure facility with strict rules and regulations, Louisa expects her work to be safe.  That expectation is shattered the morning Louisa notices one of her stored samples has been tampered with and another is missing.  Though she goes through the proper in-house channels to report the disturbance, Louisa quickly discovers it isn’t enough, she’s being lied to, and her life is in danger.  

Helping individuals like Louisa North isn’t at all what Six’s new security firm is meant to do.  Staffed with highly skilled, well-trained ex-military, Six’s firm is meant to work on overseas ops and protection details; things the regular military isn’t always able to do and less skilled firms can’t handle.  From the moment he meets her, Six knows Louisa is different and he can feel her fear, anger, and discomfort over her missing sample.  Bound and determined to help her, Six calls in his crew and though they don’t initially think her case is one they should take on, they become convinced when she begins using phrases and words like “biological weapon” and “weaponized.”  As the situation continues to escalate, Six and Louisa are drawn closer together until each realizes their respective worlds just weren’t complete without the other.  If they survive the awful, there may just be a future for the two of them.

The Bottom Line:  Well, this is one of those reads that makes me angry about having to have a real job and responsibilities.  You know, things that take me away from reading a damn good book 😊  I got sucked into this on page one and the book didn’t let me go until the very end.  There’s something for everyone here including a team of hard-bodied, highly-trained, dangerous men led by Six and his best-friend, a scary let’s kill a lot of people with a biological weapon plot, just enough action to warrant some seriously intense naughty bits, and a slightly damaged woman whose life is turned upside down.  With all that being said, my favorite part of this entire read is Cole’s treatment of Louisa.  Louisa has a legitimate issue which has kept her from living a totally full and rewarding life.  I LOVE that those issues don’t miraculously disappear when Louisa starts getting some!  Six doesn’t cure Louisa, he loves her, supports her, and gives her more tools to work with her issues rather than hide from them.  Louisa grows as a character yet still must deal with the hand life has dealt her; it’s just a bit easier now that Six is in her life.  In all, Under Fire is an excellent start to an exciting new action-packed contemporary romance series by one of my favorite authors.  If you aren’t reading Scarlett Cole, you need to be and Under Fire would be an excellent place to start!

Excerpt from Under Fire (Book #1: Love Over Duty Series): 

Six looked tortured. Common sense was telling her that it was best to just go back to her room and let him work through it, which totally lined up with her usual MO of avoiding, well, life. But for once she held her ground. “Okay, first please quit the martyr act. We are grown-ups who had consensual sex. I’m sure you’ve done that before, so don’t start getting weird just because it was me. Second, I’ll look at you any way I damn well please. You didn’t care how I looked at you when I was riding . . . well . . . you know,” she said, gesturing toward his shorts. “Third. If the only difference between you tugging at the corner of this towel to do something . . . urgh . . . hot, or sexual, or something and you walking out of the bathroom without kissing me good morning is the fact that I gave your company a check, I’ll cancel it. I’d rather pay you to help me, but I’m sure I can find somebody else if it’s the difference between us doing this or not.” Her knees were shaking and her voice was loud enough that she suddenly realized if any of Six’s team were still in the house, they’d likely heard her stumbled words. She felt pink spread to her cheeks.

She stepped toward the bathroom door, feeling like she was going to pass out before she made it to her own room. Her heart was pounding, and her head was spinning.

“Lou,” Six said quietly, his hand looping her wrist. “You like your lists? Fine. I’ll give you mine. First, I’m not being a martyr. We can’t build a reputation as a professional firm if I hook up with one of our first clients. Professionally, you must see how weird that looks, no matter how badly I want to. And what kind of message does it send to the guys who work for me? And yes. I have had sex before, lots of it, but what we did was much more than that. So please, for both our sakes, don’t minimize it. Just because I shouldn’t have done it doesn’t mean it wasn’t perfect. And for the record, how you looked riding my cock—and yes, you can say that word because, as you mentioned, we’re both grown-ups—was burned into my memory. And third, if it was as simple as just giving into this, you’d have been out of that towel and up on the counter with my face between your legs before you could cry out my name. It’s just . . . Shit, Lou. I’m trying to figure out what the right thing to do here is, and my duty wins out every time.”

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About the author and where to find her:

Scarlett Cole

The tattoo across my right hip says it all really. A Life Less Ordinary. Inked by the amazingly talented Luke Wessman at the Wooster Street Social Club (a.k.a. New York Ink). Why is it important? Well, it sums up my view on life. That we should all aspire to live a life that is less boring, less predictable. Be bold, and do something amazing. I’ve made some crazy choices. I’ve been a car maker, a consultant, and even a senior executive at a large retailer running strategy. Born in England, spent time in the U.S. and Japan, before ending up in Canada were I met my own, personal hero – all six and a half feet of him. Both of us are scorpios! Yeah, I know! Should have checked the astrological signs earlier, but somehow it works for us. We have two amazing kids, who I either could never part with or could easily be convinced to sell on e-bay.  I’ve wanted to be a writer for a really long time. Check through my office cupboards or my computer and you’ll find half written stories and character descriptions everywhere. Now I’m getting the chance to follow that dream.

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