“And I’ve fallen.

So hard.

I’ve hit the ground. Gone right through it. Never in my life have I felt this. Nothing like this. I’ve felt shame and cowardice, weakness and strength. I’ve known terror and indifference, self-hate and general disgust. I’ve seen things that cannot be unseen.

And yet I’ve known nothing like this terrible, horrible, paralyzing feeling. I feel crippled. Desperate and out of control. And it keeps getting worse. Every day I feel sick. Empty and somehow aching.

Love is a heartless bastard.”  – ― Tahereh Mafi, Destroy Me

Targeted: Deadly Ops, Book 1 | Katie ReusA bad start to a book can stop my read in its tracks, and this one started out, well, bad. Not because the writing is bad, it isn’t, but because I thought it was going to be just another series of bedroom calisthenics with no real story to back it up. Thankfully, the premise sounded promising, so I gave it a couple of chapters to see if it would be worth reading.

I am glad I did. Targeted surprised me – in a good way. The story, once you get past the immediate problem, is tightly written, well-paced, and surprisingly free of excessive nookie at the cost of story. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a ‘romantic suspense’ – but it does mean that it is much more suspense than romance, which is just what I like.

The premise is interesting – not ‘Oh, I have never seen that before’ interesting, but though I have seen it done before, I have never seen it done this well before. Sophie Moreno had a hard life growing up. A very hard life, until she met Sam. Placed in the same foster home, Sophie and Sam form an unbreakable bond. But when placed separately for their last months in the system, and Sophie is brutally raped by her new foster father while her new foster mother stands by, Sophie is broken, unable to bear the agony and shame she feels. And the pain of Sam not being there to protect her from the monster. Contrary to what the sickos into BDSM think – Rape Is NOT Sexy. And Sophie is certain that no one will ever love her again. Not like Sam did, before she was brutalized. Turning her back on him, she sends him away, determined to protect herself from his disgust at what has happened to her.

Now, thirteen years later, Sam is no longer Sam but Jack Stone, an undercover agent for an undercover agency hidden within the NSA. Back from a grueling undercover operation in the bowels of a human trafficking ring, Jack just wants to rest, relax, and decompress. But his boss, Wesley Burkhart, Deputy Director of the NSA, has something different in mind. Something that will bring Jack right back to Sophie. For Sophie has seen something she shouldn’t – and a vicious cartel boss will do whatever it takes to track Sophie down and kill her. Now Jack is determined to protect her, while keeping his identity a secret. But their old bond is still there, and keeping his secret may destroy them both.

This book, the first in the Deadly Ops series by Katie Reus, shows promise. The action is well written, the characters intriguing, and the storyline kept me riveted. There were some continuity issues that had me scratching my head, but not enough to make me turn off my listen. I am hoping that the same issues don’t show up in the next book, Bound to Danger. These are the only two on Audible, but there are more in the series at Deadly Ops.

Sophie Eastlake does a beautiful job of narration. She has quite a catalog with Audible, including the Elder Races, Nikki Glass, and the Chicagoland Vampires series. I would have enjoyed listening to the book just for her narration.

If you are looking for a romantic suspense where the suspense is the star, you might give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed. Not a five star read, due to a couple of odd content issues, but a good listen nonetheless.

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