ORDER A COPY: Midnight Pursuits: A Killer Instincts Novel
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Publishing Date: April 1, 2014
Paperback: 368 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Soldier-for-hire Ethan Hayes is the youngest member of an elite mercenary team. While he may be affectionately nicknamed the rookie, the skills Ethan honed as a Marine make him seriously dangerous. But when a sudden distress call puts him in close quarters with a rival, he finds more than his field skills being put to the test.
Juliet Mason stands out as the master thief in a covert group of assassins and spies. Her latest mission is personal—and it’s gone horribly wrong. Juliet may prefer to work alone, but when the rookie comes to her aid in snowy Eastern Europe, she can’t deny they make a good team. But even up against a powerful enemy, their most challenging task yet may be fighting the passion between them.
Ethan was just starting his mandatory down time, when he intercepted a phone call on Isabel’s phone. Isabel had left it behind as she left for her honeymoon, and even though he saw from the caller I.D. that it was Juliet Mason, he knew he needed to answer. Ethan met Juliet (one of Noelle’s thief/assassins) last year when she helped out Ethan’s team, but he isn’t sure what makes him more angry, her sarcastic tongue and merciless teasing or the fact that he can’t get thoughts of her dark eyes and perfect body out of his head. It is one thing to be teased about his age by his teammates, as they call him the rookie, but having the beautiful and dangerous Juliet mocking him was frustrating.
Ethan can tell when he answers that Juliet is hurt, badly. With Isabel on her honeymoon and the rest of his team on assignment, Ethan knows that even half a world away, he is the only hope that Juliet has and he has to act fast or he may be too late.
After patching up a bullet hole in Juliet’s side and sitting on her until she begins to recover, Ethan finally forces out of her what happened. Juliet’s brother is shot when he returned home early to take care of his sick girlfriend. What Henry manages to tell Juliet confirms that Zoya was killed by a very expensive contract killer, the Siberian Wolf. Henry works for the Red Cross and Zoya is a school teacher. Who would hire a high priced assassin to kill off a school teacher?
Juliet manages to get–or torture–the information out of the Wolf before she kills him and she won’t stop until she kills the man who hired the hit. She also learned that Zoya wasn’t the only target on his list and there are still three living targets. Ethan won’t leave Juliet to face such a dangerous man by herself, especially wounded, but he wants to bring in some of his team to protect the other targets.
Juliet likes to work alone, but if she is going to be followed around by Morgan’s rookie and give in to his boy scout good deeds, she will only agree to protect the others as long as Ethan doesn’t get in her way of extracting her revenge.
If you like Maya Bank’s KGI series like I do, you will really enjoy this story. This is my first of the series (I didn’t realize it was the 4th book) and when I mentioned how much I was enjoying Ethan and Juliet, I was gifted with copies of the first three books in the series. (Thank you, Penguin!)
I don’t know about the other books yet, but if you were going to start a book in the middle of the series, you can’t help but love Juliet and Ethan. You do meet some others in the series, but I didn’t feel lost for not knowing everyone’s deep background. They worked together when it was needed even though this series includes the two separate teams belonging to Morgan and Noelle, who both have different purposes and styles.
Juliet is a tough-as-nails heroine. Juliet is dangerous and she knows it. Her one weakness is her feeling for Henry. She was a orphan who went from one bad foster family to another and her “brother” Henry was another foster kid and they took care of each other. When she loses Henry, she loses the only person who truly loves her and who would cared if she died. Herein we see the soft heart of the dangerous assassin that she tries to keep hidden from the others.
Although Juliet considers herself a bad person since she does kill people for a living, you see her giving in to not only her attraction to the younger Ethan, but also softening up to his Captain America view of the world. He wants to protect the other people because that’s how he is wired, and you see how the jaded Juliet wants to be better and worthy in his eyes.
This was a thrilling action story and a moving love story as well. I am going to see what I can do to squeeze in the first three. There is some deep history between Morgan and Noelle (the leaders of the two separate teams) and you get a tiny glimpse through their arguing that once they were deeply in love but they both appear to feel betrayed by the other. So there is going to be one explosive book when those two get thrown back together.
This will definitely make my ‘I’m gonna follow the series’ list. But if you just want to give this a try, it can work as a stand alone as well.
Bonus – Elle Kennedy has a breakdown of the characters of the Killer Instinct Series on her website
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“She was the best mother in the world, but she wasn’t always sweet.” A laugh sprang to his lips. “This one time, she got into a fistfight at one of my hockey games.”
Juliet burst out laughing. “Seriously? Why?”
“One of the other moms was trash-talking a kid, a player on the opposing team. She was being really nasty, booing the poor kid, yelling at the ref to toss him out of the game when he body checked her son.” Ethan grinned. “My mother asked her very politely to stop, which led to the woman turning her nastiness on Mom, and, well, nobody gets away with talking to Debbie Hayes like that. All us kids were on the ice–the game was stopped so the refs could deal with the fight in the bleachers–and we were just standing there, gaping at them.”
“What happened afterward?” Juliet asked curiously.
“They were both ordered to leave the arena and never return. So for the rest of the season, my dad was the only one allowed to come to my games.”
She snorted. “Sounds like my kind of woman.”
Ethan swallowed the lump obstructing his throat. “I think you would’ve like her.” He paused. “And she definitely would’ve like you.”
“I highly doubt that. She would have taken one look at me and told me I was completely unsuitable for her son.”
He was about to argue, but she didn’t give him the opportunity. She abruptly rose from the bench, and indefinable expression on her face. “I’ll be back. I just want to check something out.”
She was gone in the blink of an eye, leaving Ethan sitting there in frustration. He was tempted to hurry after her, but he didn’t want to draw any attention to himself, and sprinting down the sidewalk in pursuit of Juliet was guaranteed to do just that.
What the hell had he said to send her running like that? It wasn’t like he’d asked her to come with him to meet his folks; both his parents were gone.
So what? Did the idea that his dead mother might have approved of her terrify Juliet that much?
He gritted his teeth, impatience coursing through him as he waited for her to return. It was always one step forward, two steps back with the woman, and he was getting damn tired of it. Just once he wanted her to admit that she enjoyed spending time with him. That she cared about him. But it seemed like she was determined to keep her distance, no matter how hard he tried to bridge it.
She was gone for nearly forty minutes, and as each minute ticked by, Ethan grew more and more tense. He was about to abandon his post and go looking for her when he spotted her dark hair in the crowd of pedestrians. His shoulders relaxed but his features remained hard, even when Juliet settled next to him on the bench again.
“What the hell was that?” he demanded.
She shrugged, and he noticed that her cheeks were redder than before, as if she’d just finished doing something strenuous. “I told you, I had to check something out.”
He scowled at her. “Are you going to elaborate?”
Sighing, Juliet reached into the inner pocket of her coat and pulled out a rumpled brown bag. “Before, when we were cruising the area, I noticed a little bakery a few blocks east of here.” Her face burned brighter. “I popped in to see if they had any chocolate-chip cookies.”
He jaw fell open, and he had to wonder if he’d misheard her. “Chocolate-chip cookies,” he echoed.
“But the bakery was closed,” she hurried on, “so I had to break in and–“
“I broke in,” she repeated. “Don’t worry. Nobody saw me. Anyway…” She held out the paper bag, embarrassment filled her gaze. “The bastards didn’t have chocolate chip, so you’ll have to be satisfied with good old gingerbread.”
Dumbfounded, Ethan stared at the bag before meeting her dark eyes. “You broke into a bakery to steal cookies for me?”
She shifted awkwardly on the bench. “Yeah. You know, ’cause what you said about your mother, and the hot chocolate and…” She trailed off, then shoved the bag into his lap, a defensive edge creeping into her voice. “Let me guess, you’re pissed off that I compromised our surveillance.”
He just gaped at her.
“Fuck, fine. It was a stupid idea, I guess. Toss the bag in the trash if you–“
He cut her off with a kiss. A firm, fleeting kiss, over before it even began, but it conveyed all the emotion he couldn’t seem to put into words.
“Thank you,” he said gruffly. “That was really nice of you, sweetheart.”
He saw her pulse jump in her throat. “You’re welcome,” she said after a beat.