Releases May 25, 2010
When you have no alternative, then you call in L.O.S.T. Because with the Last Option Special Team, it's do or die. . . .
It's Jax Cassidy's first mission for L.O.S.T. - one that will give the former cop who went rogue a chance to prove herself. Her assignment: gain the trust of assassin Marcus Cross . . . eliminate him . . . then take down Marcus's mentor, Joseph Lazarus, a man with a bold eye on the White House. But the woman who's known by her team for being a femme fatale succumbs to passion, only to discover Cross's deadly secret. He's a vampire, and Joseph Lazarus is his creator.
Left for dead by his platoon in the violent hills of Afghanistan, Special Ops sniper Marcus Cross was given a second chance at life. His newly heightened skills make him the perfect killing machine, and as Lazarus's right-hand man, he's quickly rising to the top of his dark empire, purging enemies with speed and precision. Only when dangerous beauty Jax Cassidy is sent to bring him in does he begin to question Lazarus's motives and his own actions. But when Jax's life is threatened by the one thing that can destroy them both, Marcus must make a bitter choice - her death or his.
Publisher: Pocket Star; A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Single Title/Series: L.O.S.T. Series Book One
Cover Thoughts: Intense. The crystalline blue eyes are spot on with hero's description too. Kudos for that!
Why I Read It: I received an Advanced Review Copy from the author.
Jax Cassidy has been given a second chance to make a difference in the world as a highly specialized assassin for the black ops team, L.O.S.T. Where only a necessary few within the U.S. government are even permitted to know of its existence, Last Option Special Team is a covert group of assassins so heavily and deeply buried that its members are literally walking ghosts amongst humanity. Those within the dark folds of its classified ranks are beings who harbor such intensely tragic pasts that they give thanks to seeing it all erased, becoming John and Jane Doe's.
Forced unwillingly into L.O.S.T. with wounds still fresh from their recent battering that ultimately had her on the path towards a life sentence in prison, Jax must first bare her soul to the standing operatives and recover from her destroyed strength of self or find her butt right back on her previous path. After six months of intense therapy and training, Jax hits the ground primed and ready to become a full-fledged working L.O.S.T. agent but her first assignment may prove to also be her last.
Led by a power-crazed fanatic, The Solution has breached its boundaries by destroying innocents along with the enemy. Regretting the weakness that led to his involvement with its leader, the frightening Colonel Lazarus, Senator Rowland is now shutting down the The Solution for good. However, little does he know that he's incurring the wrath of a thousand year old vampire as well as the vampires he commands and no one shuts down Colonel Lazarus. Sending out his best assassin, Marcus Cross, Lazarus will remind the senator who controls whom. Feeling the heat of the colonel's threat, Rowland calls upon L.O.S.T. to eliminate The Solution.
Marcus is a patriot, a solider who was given a second chance ten years ago by Colonel Lazarus to walk amongst humanity as an immortal after he was left for dead in Afghanistan. Believing in The Solution and what it stands for, Marcus has never questioned the colonel until now as a recent growing unrest builds within his dead heart. The colonel is becoming power hungry and Marcus can sense it but he owes the colonel his life and will complete his mission as long as it doesn't go against his own strict morals, however few in number they may be.
Like two freight trains on a collision course, Jax and Marcus collide with blistering heat as their lust for each other is immediate as it is combustible. Of course knowing that they each are the enemy, they circle one another testing for weaknesses while also managing to heighten their physical need and awareness. Unable to resist their primal urges, mouths and bodies clash passionately awakening Marcus's vampiric nature and thus unveiling his immortality. Ingesting his blood, Jax overflows with adrenaline that becomes life-saving on more than one occasion and while she quickly accepts what Marcus is, that doesn't mean that she'll choose to walk his immortal path.
Sensing his perfect assassin's weakness for Jax, Lazarus orchestrates the ultimate test for Marcus to once and for all prove his loyalties. But when it finally comes down to Marcus eliminating Jax - the first person and only woman to not only steal his heart but to also reignite his lost humanity, Marcus chooses to instead save her life by sacrificing his own.
While an entertaining read, ENEMY LOVER left me a bit for wanting. To be completely truthful, I think the novel would have excelled far greater if written as a straight contemporary or romantic suspense. The vampire plot for one wasn't introduced until after a quarter of the way into the novel and two, the paranormal world building isn't nearly on par with other paranormal novels currently on the market today. It was bizarre to say the least that new vampiric abilities were introduced almost at random, as though added in later for a more dramatic effect. More history, more in depth telling of Harlow's vampires would have made this reader much more happy and the story much more believable.
In addition, and I never thought I'd think this about a paranormal heroine, but Jax is simply too hardcore for my reading tastes. There is little to any softness or vulnerabilities to her despite the tragedies of her past which ultimately could have been played out much deeper within the plot as well as Jax's character building. Instead she's spastic, hasty and repeatedly puts her team at risk while knowing that they're in way above their heads. However, she does handle Marcus and the unveiling of his existence as a vampire exceedingly well. Jax is fearless in that respect plus her high voltage alpha nature requires a man who can far supersede her and who can do that better then a vampire? I'll also concede that I enjoyed Jax as a character in the last quarter. She became more humanized when a member of her team falls into the hands of Lazarus. From then on, I was rooting for Jax.
However, completely opposite from Jax, Marcus is everything one would desire in a hero. He's strong and capable. A protector of the innocent and the slayer of evil. Basically he's a man that any woman could trust with her safety while wrapped snugly within his arms. In addition, Marcus has more depth of character than Jax for his tragic past erupts painfully and repeatedly in his face during the course of ENEMY LOVER. No matter his thought that his humanity is long gone, it's instead very apparent that his humanity is rightfully in attendance but rather that he was perhaps hoping it was good and buried. It's easier to take lives that way. His resulting sacrifice of his own life for Jax solidifies Marcus as a true hero as well as one deserving of the title.
What I do admire about Harlow's debut is that despite my issues, its a strong launching point for her new series. All plot arcs were tied up nicely and the writing holds great promise for more to come. For paranormal readers yearning for something delicious to sink their teeth into while awaiting other more anticipated reads, ENEMY LOVER is one such morsel.
Book Junkie: 5/5
Bitten by Romance: 3.5/5