Review + Giveaway: Behind the Mask by Carolyn Crane

Posted May 19, 2015 by Jen in Blog Tour, Giveaway, Military or Suspense Romance, My Favorite Books, Rating A, Reviews Tags: , , ,

Behind the Mask
Carolyn Crane
Jen Twimom
Rating: A+

What I’m Talking About:

As a former CIA agent and co-founder of The Associates, Zelda knows she has no choice but to step in on behalf of her twin sister Liza, who is going to be “loaned to” a Mexican drug cartel for the weekend. Although she hasn’t been undercover in six years, since the mission that broke her, she understands that getting into Brujos’ territory would save countless lives. However, when things go horribly wrong and Zelda is further traded to the dangerous El Gorrion cartel, she realizes that she may have to break cover and escape.

Hugo is a loaner, but enjoys his isolated life outside of Buena Vista, Valencia. However, when El Gorrion’s men threaten the town and its rare savincas crop, Hugo knows he must resurrect a dangerous ghost from his past. When he finds an American prostitute among the men he goes after, he decides to take her captive to help him around the house, seeing something more in her eyes that the woman she claims to be.

I absolutely love The Associates series, and think Behind the Mask may be my favorite title of the series. I love how the author parcels out clues and information, while the reader waits to see how it will all play out. The suspenseful storyline is intelligent and exciting. And Ms. Crane’s story makes me feel. There were parts when I was afraid to read the book because I knew it would have to get bad before it got good. Bringing me into the world and keeping me so emotionally and mentally engaged made for a very rewarding read. Additionally, there are some intense scenes between Zelda and her co-founder, Dax, that are all the more powerful for those who’ve read the series from the beginning.

I completely adored both main characters. Even though she’s one of the Associates’ founders, we’ve never really known anything about Zelda, so she felt like a fresh, new character to me. She is haunted, and this journey is very cathartic. Since part of the story is shared from her POV, the reader is privy to the wide array of emotions and steps she must go through to begin to heal. Her passion and inner-fire were a complete joy to read.

Likewise, Hugo had his own path of self-discovery, realizing that the ghosts he’d laid to rest are still under the surface. His attraction to Zelda is so strong when he knows her as Liza, that both Zelda and this reader realize that when he finds out her secrets, things will get ugly. And they do. But the key to what makes Behind the Mask such a successful story and romance is that the author doesn’t cheapen the emotional reactions, rather she allows the characters to work through the rough patches and get to the other side. And together – WOW!!! This pair is so full of explosive chemistry, it made the proverbial pages catch fire. And although this could have been written as a huge case of Stockholm syndrome, Ms. Crane builds the romance around an equality; one that is a bit unconventional, but both characters are on equal standing.

Overall, I really enjoyed Behind the Mask, and it is one of my favorite books of 2015. Ms. Crane pens a darkly twisted, yet heartbreakingly beautiful romance. The intensity between Zelda and Hugo is off the charts because they are two people with everything to lose and willing to give up their lives to protect it. The suspenseful story is riveting and well-played, with an ideal balance between action, torture, mind games, and love. I strongly encourage you to pick up The Associates series!

My Rating:  A+, Loved It – Personal Favorite


In addition, this book is one of…


About the Book:

When her long lost sister–a prostitute–is won in a card game by a brutal drug cartel, Zelda knows what she has to do: take her place. Save her. Focus on infiltrating the shadowy group on behalf of the Associates, and try not to think about why she left the spying game years ago. She’s slept with dangerous criminals before; she can do it again. 

Hugo Martinez is one of South America’s most lethal and wanted men, a legendary mercenary living on a windswept mountain. Even at the height of the war he wasn’t in the habit of taking women captive, but the American whore has seen his face. And he and the orphan boy need a cook. He shouldn’t want this woman, but there’s something so unusual about her…

Little by little, Zelda finds herself falling for her captor…but is he the killer she’s been hunting all these years?

Release Date: May 19, 2015
The Associates #4
ISBN: #978-0988313163
Romantic Suspense
Book Source: Author

Purchase Info:
Behind the Mask (The Associates #4)

Reviews in the Series:
Against the Dark by Carolyn Crane (The Associates #1)
Off the Edge by Carolyn Crane (The Associates #2)
Into the Shadows by Carolyn Crane (The Associates #3)

About the Author

Crane Author PhotoCarolyn Crane is a RITA-winning author of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and other tales of love and adventure (and erotic & dark romance as NYT bestselling author Annika Martin). Her books have been published by Random House and Samhain, and she also goes the indie route. She works a straight job as a marketing writer, she loves to read in bed and run, she’s passionate about helping animals, and she makes her home in Minnesota with her husband and two cats.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter


As part of the her blog tour, Carolyn is giving away (1) $75.00 [US] gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice & open internationally) and 32 digital copies of either Against the Dark, Off the Edge or Into the Shadows (winner’s choice & open internationally). This contest is running across all of the blogs during the tour. Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form, below. The giveaway is open during the time specified on the Rafflecopter form. Winner(s) chosen at random from all eligible entries. This contest is open internationally where not prohibited by law. Open to participants, 18 years or older, who are legally allowed to participate in such a contest as allowed by their local laws. All federal, state, local, and municipal laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. By participating in the contest, participants agree to be bound by the decisions of the contest sponsor. Prize will be delivered by the author. This blog, its reviewers, and the owner are not responsible for items lost in the mail. By entering this giveaway, participants agree to abide by these terms.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please email me at twimom227 (at) gmail (dot) com if you have troubles with the form.

Blog Tour Stops

Monday, May 18, 2015
Straight Shooting Book Reviews (Excerpt):
Romance Junkies (Excerpt):
Ramblings From This Chick (Guest Post):
Under the Covers Book Blog (Guest Post):
Lush Book Reviews (Excerpt):
Badass Book Reviews (Review):
Urban Girl Reader (Excerpt):

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Happiness is a book (Review):
Reading by the Book (Excerpt):
That’s What I’m Talking About (Review):
Cricket’s Chirps (Review):
The Romance Dish (Review):
The Book Review (Review):

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Em & M Books (Excerpt):
Ex Libris (Guest Post):
Herding Cats & Burning Soup (Interview):
The Book Nympho (Review):
Long and Short Reviews (Excerpt):
Love Affair with an E-Reader (Review):

Thursday, May 21, 2015
Paranormal Haven (Interview):
Becky on Books (Review):
Amy’s Blog (Excerpt):
So Many Reads (Excerpt):
Angela Quarles Blog (Excerpt):
Goldilox and the Three Weres (Review):

Friday, May 22, 2015
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell (Review):
Blogging by Liza (Excerpt):
Bring Your Own Book Club (BYOB) (Review):
Peaces of Me (Interview):
Ariesgrl Book Reviews (Excerpt):
C. K. Crouch (Review):

25 responses to “Review + Giveaway: Behind the Mask by Carolyn Crane

  1. Jennifer @ The Book Nympho

    I’m about 60% done. I tried to stay up all last night to finish it but I was just too sleepy. It’s really good and I think it will replace #3 as my favorite.

    • Oh, it’s so good. But I honestly got so worried at one point, I had to take a break – makes me think of when Joey (FRIENDS) would put books in the freezer!

  2. […] Now, I’m not sure what Carolyn did with this and others of my suggestions, as I haven’t read her final version. However, I can’t wait to read it again and see! She’s such a brilliant writer and works magic in revisions. The story blew me away in rough draft – it might kill me in its final form. Which it sounds like it’s doing to others, like in this review at That’s What I’m Talking About. […]

  3. Melanie Simmons

    I’m waiting on the audio. I still need to listen to book one. I’ve listened to books two and three.

  4. Janie

    Can’t wait to read this. I’m a fan of this series, too. Peter from “Off the Edge” is one of my favorite heroes.

  5. Rummanah

    I never heard of this author before, Jen! This sounds like a series that I need to read though I haven’t ventured into the military romance genre before. I know that since you loved it so much, I may too.

    • OMG… You really MUST READ her Disillusionists UF series. Amazing. 3 books and a couple novellas. Really and truly… So awesome. 🙂

  6. Ack. I’m going to have to give this series a go. I don’t know how I missed it. I loved her illusionists series. So good and creative. Awesome to see this one really rocked it. (and that cover! *noms*)

  7. Evelyn S

    I really enjoy military suspense novels. I have to be this series in my TBR list!

  8. UnaReads

    I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense unless it has a paranormal aspect to it. The “standard” romantic suspense usually the couple moves too fast for me. However, I do prefer them with a good military vibe.

  9. Angie Dubisher

    My favorite kind of romantic suspense is one that grabs me within the first few pages. Looking forward to reading this one!