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Review: Midnight Alias by Elle Kennedy

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Midnight Alias
Author: Elle Kennedy  
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2013
Publisher: Signet
Killer Instincts Book #2
ISBN: 978-0451239440
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format(s): Paperback (368 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/ NetGalley

About the book:

     She’s smart, seductive, and in way over her head.
     He’s her only way out. 
     An undercover DEA agent has gone off the radar. Suspecting an internal mole, the government needs Luke Dubois and his elite team of operatives to recover their man, and the New Orleans native thinks he’s found his way inside the dark underbelly of Manhattan: Olivia Taylor, the girlfriend of a mob boss and the sexiest woman he’s ever laid eyes on. His new mission objective? Get past Olivia’s defenses and convince her to take a chance—on him.
     All Olivia wanted was to finish law school and live a normal life, but that dream was shattered when one dangerous night put her deeply in a mobster’s debt. Now Luke and his team will help her escape—in exchange for intel on the missing agent. But Olivia doesn’t anticipate her intense attraction to the reckless Louisiana charmer or that she’ll be forced to risk everything—including her heart.  

What VampBards talking about:

     I think I’ve found another series to add to the auto-buy list!  Elle Kennedy, with her Killer Instincts series succeeded in sucking me into the world of these mercenaries and assassins and giving me a brain-cation from life as I was immersed in the world of Luke and Olivia.  Midnight Alias was a captivating read, full of action, adventure, and sexual tension to spare.
     One of my favorite things about Ms. Kennedy’s newest installment in her Killer Instincts series is the relationships.  There’s four primary relationships in this title – Luke & Olivia, Vince & Olivia,  Olivia & Kathleen, Trevor & Isabel –  and multiple secondary relationships, providing a natural grounding for the strong characters in this Midnight Alias.  We see hints of established relationships, as well as enough background knowledge from the first title in the series, Midnight Rescue – which I didn’t read – to allow someone to jump in and read this title without having read the first book.  Heat index:  3 of 5.
     What do you get when you take a girl with brains and beauty, couple that with responsibility and a heart bigger than Kansas?  Olivia.  This girl did fast-track growing up when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Since she was in high school, Olivia has been responsible for Kathleen’s care as she went through mastectomies, lumpectomies, and rounds of chemo.  She’s been enrolled in college, but her education has had to occasionally take a back-seat to her caregiving duties.  In order to make ends meet, Olivia gave up her job at a diner when a classmate hooked her up with an interview at the Diamond Mine, a strip club.  Olivia’s relationship with her mother definitely drives the plot of this title.  I really like the fact that Olivia has stood by Kathleen through the cancer, surgeries and treatments.  Even without health insurance, Olivia has managed to keep making payments to the medical facilities.  She is dedicated to her mom’s recovery.  I think that because it has been JUST the two of them – Olivia and Kathleen – since Olivia was ten years old & her father was killed in an automobile crash, Olivia has a sense of responsibility that is refreshing in this day and age.
     In addition to Olivia’s sense of responsibility, she feels as though she needs to protect Katherine.  Sure, mom is sick from just finishing chemo.  I didn’t really connect with why Olivia didn’t share certain aspects of her life with her mom, though.  Probably because that’s not an area in which I have much experience.  Watch toward the 70% mark, however.  There’s a shift in this relationship that was understated, but powerful between Kathleen and Olivia.
     Part of the reason that Olivia has all of her mom’s medical bills paid for is her relationship with Vince.  Owner of the Diamond Mine, the strip club in which Olivia secretively works, throws off the skeevy possessive bastard vibe from his introduction.  Point-in-case: (Vince to Olivia)  “ ‘Go on, babe, turn them on, get them nice and hard.’ Said the honorable prince to the love of his life.”  **gag** Vince helped Olivia with a ‘problem’, and he now feels as though she is ‘his’.  Learning about this seriously abusive relationship gave me several instances wherein I had to pause to collect myself before moving on.  Self-preservation is a mighty powerful thing, especially when you’re dealing with special brands of crazy. Overall, I felt that Olivia handled this relationship in a safe, logical manner.  She’s strong, and she’s intelligent.  That’s what she had in her favor, as the stuff with Vince came down.
     I have to talk about the supporting characters before I get back to Olivia.  Kudos to Ms. Kennedy for creating such powerful secondary characters.  I think they round out the story, and provide the main characters with anchors and believability.  Here’s the quick run-down:
      Trevor:  leader of this mission.  His GF died around a year ago, and it messed with his head for the longest time.  Apparently had a death wish in the previous book, until Isabel took a bullet for him.  Seems that his time for mourning is drawing to a close.  Close with the members of his team, but reluctant to talk about his loss & moving on.
     Isabel:  assassin on loan from Noelle…even though she’s supposed to be on vacation.  Master of disguise.  Daughter of an imprisoned mob dude.  Has serious sexual tension with Trevor & daddy issues.  Doesn’t appear as though she trusts easily.
     D or Derek:  Dude gives me the Zhadist (from BDB) vibe.  Seriously messed up, loose cannon.  He is described, “With that cold gaze and predatory way of moving, Derek Pratt was capable of scaring anybody shitless, even people who knew him.”  There was one scene with him and Olivia that made me tear up.  I’m excited to learn more about D, his tats, and what’s got him so messed up.  We caught a brief glimpse of Derek in this title.  Nowhere. Near. Enough.  I would like his book right after Trevor and Isabel’s, please!
     Miscellaneous Others:  As mostly ex-military, working as independent mercenaries, the gentlemen in this book are definitely described as smokin’ hot.  With their model-quality good looks and their killer bods, the fact that they work as mercenaries isn’t at the top of the list as to why they’re great company.  One of the most important aspects of these colleagues is that they seem connected in a way that is closer, and deeper than the normal work buddies.  The ladies that were ‘extras’ were mostly relegated to some sort of a connection to the strip club.  Watch for the gut-wrenching scene involving the classmate that got her in to the club.
     The last relationship I want to talk about is Luke Dubois and Olivia Taylor.  From the beginning, it was obvious that these two would end up together.  OB-VI-OUS.  This is ok, however, because the genre IS Romantic Suspense!  While Ms. Kennedy chose to go with the ‘friends-with-benefits’ trope for this couple initially, she built up the characters, the emotions surrounding them, and the plot to drive them together as MUCH more than friends cemented them as a believable couple for me.  As their relationship grew, I was really satisfied with the way the characters were developed, and how they attempted to control the relationship with superficial oaths that were eventually outgrown.  Both Luke and Olivia have daddy issues, but for different reasons.  I think that is one reason they work well together for me.  They complement one another, and are supportive.  While Olivia craves structure, security and consistency, “…Luke Dubois was a bad boy from head to toe.  Not to mention a damn good kisser.” Some of the steamiest scenes were make-out scenes in this book.
     One teeny-tiny reference in Midnight Alias made me grin from ear-to-ear, however:  “Lou’s Bacon.  He’d always thought it was a dumb-ass name for a restaurant, but Lou did fry up some damn good bacon.”  Ghutter Girls, I think Ms. Kennedy had us in mind with this explanation of Luke’s favorite restaurant!
     With a suspense-riddled, double conflict arc, Elle Kennedy takes her readers on a cloak-and-dagger mission from square one.  Hot mercenaries, emotionally damaged peeps, and suspense make Midnight Alias a great ‘vacation of the mind’ title.  Kennedy transports her reader to the world she’s created for attractive and deep characters that take the reader by the hand and drag them through the story.  Sometimes gasping for breath!  I’m looking forward to the next title in the Killer Instincts seriesMidnight Games, slated to release August 2013.  Seriously.  Trevor & Isabel need to get the HEA!

VampBards Rating:

Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)
 
 
Purchase Info:
Midnight Alias: A Killer Instincts Novel
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