Kill Without Mercy (ARES Security #1)
From the hellhole of a Taliban prison to sweet freedom, five brave military heroes have made it home—and they’re ready to take on the civilian missions no one else can. Individually they’re intimidating. Together they’re invincible. They’re the men of ARES Security.
Rafe Vargas is only in Newton, Iowa, to clear out his late grandfather’s small house. As the covert ops specialist for ARES Security, he's eager to get back to his new life in Texas. But when he crosses paths with Annie White, a haunted beauty with skeletons in her closet, he can't just walk away—not when she’s clearly in danger…
There’s a mysterious serial killer on the loose with a link to Annie’s dark past. And the closer he gets, the deeper Rafe’s instinct to protect kicks in. But even with his considerable skill, Annie’s courage, and his ARES buddies behind him, the slaying won’t stop. Now it’s only a matter of time before Annie’s next—unless they can unravel a history of deadly lies that won’t be buried.
Rating: 4 stars
Alexandra Ivy, one of the Queen’s of paranormal romance, kicks off a new and exciting series revolving around an amazing group of men that have survived the most inhumane and terrifying experience and come away a strong group of heroes out to save each other and those that cross their paths. Though this series is mostly vanilla in terms of Ivy’s typical paranormal characters, the heroine Annie has a special “gift” that keeps the story from being too mainstream. This series jumps right into the lives of the five men that have come together, brothers in arms, to begin a new security company and when one of their own finds himself in over his head the other four rush to his side to help keep him and his new lady safe. If you’ve never read Alexandra’s work this is a good place to start as her imagination and wit are shown in full glory along with her ability to bring together couples that shouldn’t work but always seem to find their HEA and true love together. I am really looking forward to the rest of the books in this series and learning more about each of these extremely interesting men that together make such a kick ass team.
Rafe has never wanted to return to his father’s hometown, but once his grandfather dies, there’s no one left to handle the estate except him. He travels from Texas to Iowa determined to get his chore done and return to the newly anticipated business he and his friends are opening, but when he runs across Annie he is immediately pulled to her. Annie has returned to her hometown, the place of her nightmares, pulled by the visions that have begun haunting her again. She is determined to understand why her life was torn apart a decade earlier, but she soon finds herself the target of a madman and swept up in a whole new spree of murders. Rafe and Annie keep running into each other and soon there is no way they can resist one another, but Annie’s trust will be hard won and only by helping her solve these crimes can he keep her safe and find a way into her heart and life. But can they work together to thwart the killer before they become his next victims?
Rafe is the typical macho commando on the surface, but under all that swagger and danger is a truly sweet guy and Annie seems to pull out his gentleness at every turn. Rafe’s past is a lot darker than many people realize, but he always had the love of his immediate family to keep him level and now his four brothers in arms are his immediate family, so when he finds himself in the path of a serial killer he knows he can count of them to keep him and Annie safe. He is such a sweet guy, doing everything he can to reassure Annie and show her that not all men are untrustworthy, that some are worth the trouble to love. As he works to keep them both safe and make her love him, we can see that he himself is a man that loves deeply and forever. While in the beginning his interest in Annie was purely animal attraction, he quickly sees that she’s in danger of losing herself and her mind and finds a way to use his love to save her and teach her to fight for her own safety and beliefs. Annie likewise was a good character to get to know. In the beginning she is a bit of a scared mouse, but she slowly turns into a tigress the more time she spends with Rafe and his team. She has returned to her past in hopes of understanding it and why she is again having visions, but when faced with recognition she tries to run. Thankfully she has a backbone and when she discovers that others' lives might be on the line she lets go of her own fears so she can confront the truth of her ability. I loved how she was able to take hit after hit and, with only small meltdowns, keep her cool and find a way to move forward to save those in danger. Seeing her fall in love and butt heads with Rafe was beyond entertaining because she shows little glimpses of a sense of humor and ability to take the hits as they come and just keep going.
All in all I would say this is an amazing beginning to a new series by one of my favorite authors, a series I will be on the edge of my seat waiting to read. Rafe and Annie’s story was a good place to start because we get to meet each of them and learn their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Each of these guys definitely has their own personalities and quirks to bring to the team and in the end those differences are what make them work together so well as a team. Rafe is a tough guy with a heart of gold and I cannot wait to see more of him as he and Annie find their lives entwined now that they are together. It was amazing to get to see him in action as he tries to solve the mysteries revolving around his woman and the danger that she is in, knowing all the while that his fears of losing her are keeping him from being his best. It will also be interesting to see how much Annie changes even more now that her past is finally laid to rest and she can have a long and happy life with Rafe. I enjoyed getting to see her work through her fears and find a way to confront the truth of her past, family, and future. Rafe and Annie’s passion burns hot from the second they lay eyes on one another and is a constant undercurrent in their story whether they are fighting each other or fighting for their lives. Another great series to keep readers entertained and keep my bookshelves stocked. I am dying to see where Ms. Ivy takes these guys as they build their business, making a name for themselves and ARES security really takes off. Each of these guys promises to have an interesting story and whatever lucky woman wins their hearts will be just as intriguing, I have no doubt. A++ Alexandra!
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review. No compensation was provided.