Sunday, October 6, 2013

Spy in the Saddle - Dana Marton (HI #1459 - Nov 2013)

Series: HQ: Texas (Book 3)

It's been ten years since soldier Shep Lewis laid eyes on delinquent-turned-FBI agent Lilly Tanner, and this time they have an even bigger problem than each other: terrorists. In the center of a smuggling operation, Shep and Lilly must partner up and protect each other. 

Not even their undercover identities can mask the mounting attraction between the pair as they struggle to survive in the merciless Texas borderlands. Can they put the past behind them and focus on the mission at hand? Or will their partnership reignite the flames of their untapped passions?

Excellent conclusion to the HQ: Texas trilogy.  The team is down to the wire to stop a group of terrorists from coming across the border.  They know when, but they still need to know where and they still want the guy in charge.  To add insult to injury they are being sent an FBI agent liaison who will make the decision whether to call in the National Guard.  The last time Shep saw this particular agent she was eighteen and he was her parole officer.  He lost track of her after she stole his car and accidentally set his house on fire.  Now they have to work together and try to ignore the attraction sparking between them.

I really liked Lilly.  She had a rough start in life ending up in foster care and rebelling from there.  By the time she was seventeen she had a juvenile record and Shep was her parole officer.  She developed quite a crush on him as he was young, good looking and actually nice to her.  She felt bad about taking off the way she did but felt she would do better on her own.  Eventually she got an education, became a cop and then entered the FBI, her troubled youth giving her an edge in some cases.   When she gets assigned to Shep's team she doesn't know what to expect, so she puts on a tough front and wades in.  Lilly is surprised by the way that he still makes her feel but is determined that it won't affect her work.  She sees a chance to get in undercover and takes it.  She has a quick mind and her early experiences enable her to make some snap decisions.  She didn't expect Shep to set himself up as her boyfriend as a way to protect her.  That put him a little too close for her comfort especially with that passion burning between them. She was a bit on the independent side and took some chances that didn't work out well a couple times. She also got really frustrated with his protectiveness and called him on it several times though she is glad of his backup later on.  I loved seeing the way that she and Shep worked so well together.  I really enjoyed the last chapter and the discussion of their future plans.

Shep has been as frustrated as the rest of the team with their inability to catch the man behind the threat.  None of them are happy to find out they are going to have FBI oversight.  He's even less happy to discover that it's Lilly.  She'd still been a kid the last time he saw her but not anymore.  She starts right out getting involved with his investigations.  He goes into protective mode immediately when they get shot at, before he realizes that she knows what she's doing.  He tries to keep her out of his investigation of the bar only to discover that she got there ahead of him and managed to set herself up in an undercover identity.  I loved seeing him get all bent out of shape over the people hitting on her until he made it look like she was his girlfriend.  It takes him some time but he goes from completely resenting her presence to appreciating the woman she has become and how good she is at what she does.  They start to work together very well which really ends up paying off for the team.  He also admits that he loves her when he realizes the danger she is in and he could lose her.  

I really enjoyed the resolution of the terrorist plot.  Seeing the way all the clues build on each other over the three books really shows how involved an investigation like that is.  I liked the way this team works together and each has their particular strengths.  The intensity that built as the deadline got closer really kept me turning the pages.  By the time the final showdown came I couldn't read fast enough to get to the end.

I have to say that I found the title and cover a bit misleading.  Shep is not a cowboy and admits that he isn't even much of a rider, Lilly taking the lead when the have to ride double on a horse.  In fact, riding only happens once and not even for that long.

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