Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. – George Washington
1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war. – Art 47. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977
I first found Exchange of Fire on Reading In Pajamas and was intrigued. I love a “Kick Butt and Take Names” heroine, and Wraith definitively qualifies. A sharpshooting badass with a steady hand and a sharp eye, Wraith is part of a four-man (well, two men and two women, but you get the idea) with a super-secret, blackest-of-the-black private . . . well, corporation doesn’t really describe it. More like “If you even think that you know anything about the possibility of this group even existing, they will never find your body” sort of thing. Anyway! Nasty, nasty with razorblades on top.
But don’t think that this is all a bad deal. When the US government needs the really nasty, vicious, “how can they call these creatures humans” taken care of, they call SBG. And SBG gets it done. So, when they needed a cartel taken out that specialized in sex trafficking of young girls, Wraith, Magician, Talon and Romeo, and their leader, Cappy, are sent to Mexico to take care of the problem. However, after six months of chasing the cartel members, and losing young girls to short, horrific experiences, something had to be done. And what happened damaged Magician almost beyond salvaging – but it destroyed Wraith.
Six months later, the story picks up with Wraith living in a ‘bolt hole’ in the Carolinas, working for Grady, an ex-Marine who now runs a games center, full to bursting with go-cart tracks, a monster arcade room, paintball arena, and all the other wonderful, safe, fun goodies that kids and teenagers swoon over. They both have their damaged pasts to overcome, but Wraith’s makes Grady’s look like child’s play. But they are going to have to work together, because the monsters are coming – and they are out for blood.
The story was excellent. Fast action, two strong, capable women with guns and knives and scars pushed all my “Yeah, Baby!!!” buttons. When Magician, Talon, Romeo and Cappy come back on the scene, it is with a level of heart that was real and touching, with a dose of kicking Wraith’s ass, which she certainly deserved. They all have to pull together to get the bad guys. And the bad guys aren’t all on the other side – there is plenty of political backstabbing (with real knives).
DePaul does an exceptional job of weaving the problems of the American tendency towards uncontrolled, private black-ops corporations into the story in a brilliantly realistic manner. Some people will do anything for power, and absolute power, with absolutely no oversight and lots and lots of guns and ammo is more dangerous than we care to admit. The other thing that was handled with a deft touch was PTSD and how it affects the strongest, steadiest soldiers. There is only so much that any human being can handle, no matter how intensive their training.
The only drawback for me, honestly, was Grady. For an ex-Marine, I found him to be, well, let’s just say he lacked sac. My Marine adoptive father would have kicked his backside from here to California. “Geeze, would you like a little cheese with that whine? You would think he went over to the sandbox and played with little pink unicorns and fairies in tutus . . . Just sayin’. Other than wimpy boy, everything else about the book was rock solid, but Mr. Crybaby Pants dropped it a half-star for me. Pfft. I liked Talon lots better! 😉
About The Author:
P.A. DePaul is a multi-genre romance author including paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense. As an avid lover of stories, you can pretty much bet her nose is either stuck in a book or in front of a computer madly typing as she listens to the voices in her head (In her world it’s perfectly natural for her characters to tell her their tale so she can put it down on paper to their satisfaction).