Sunday, July 9, 2017

ARC Review: HOT Valor (Hostile Operations Team #11)

HOT Valor (Hostile Operations Team #11)

by Lynn Raye Harris

They told him she was dead. They lied...
Colonel John "Viper" Mendez is having the second-worst day of his life. Accused of using the Hostile Operations Team to assassinate a foreign official, he's gone from being a respected military black-ops commander to a fugitive in the space of an hour. On the run, hunted, and stripped of his honor, Mendez has nowhere to go--and few people he can trust.
Russian spy Ekaterina "Kat" Kasharin is a carbon copy of the woman Mendez once loved. Twenty-one years ago, Valentina vanished from his life. Kat claims to be her twin--but Kat's lying. Ordered by her superiors in Russian Intelligence to abandon the man she loved--or watch him die--Kat had no choice but to obey.
But twenty-one years is a long time to love a man from afar, and Kat won't stand by as a traitor plans his death--even if it means risking her heart and her life to save him. She can never reveal her true identity--or the secrets she keeps locked away. Secrets he would hate her for. Working with him is strictly business, and she won't let emotions get in the way. But the attraction between them is smoking hot--and it's not long before they're burning up the sheets.
When the truth comes out, the mission implodes. Everything Mendez thought he knew was a lie. He'll have to pull it together though before a deadly foe succeeds in taking away all he loves. By the time he realizes Kat might be most important of all? It could be too late to save her...
Themes:  Contemporary
Rating: 4.75 stars
Heat Rating: 

"And he wasn't going to let her make him come first. It wasn't how he was wired.  He was an alpha male, all decisive and macho, and his primary goal in any sexual encounter was to make her melt into a puddle of orgasmic bliss." (HOT Valor)--With that quote, I almost feel I don't need to bother with the review! OMG that man is so hot...I just need to run and grab ice before I share my review. 

The Colonel has finally gotten to share his story with the world and find a chance at the great love that all of his men have had.  Fans of this series have been waiting for a long time to find out who Mendez would end up with and what made him into the strong, brave, and sometimes just a little bit sad man he is.  And boy-oh-boy Mrs. Harris did NOT let us down with this one.  Exotic locations, sensual encounters, and the ultimate happiness of two people that should never have lost the chance to love. The HOT series is one where each story is a stand-alone, but the true greatness of story is only discovered when you experience the entire series.  So if you are just coming to this series, before you read HOT Valor, I highly recommend going back to the start and getting to know Mendez for the great leader he is.  If you are a fan of military Romantic suspense there is no way you will dislike Lynn's writing and this series is one that will keep you interested and you will most likely become an instant loyal fan, like all the others of us who stumbled upon this series.  I am really looking forward to wherever Lynn takes us and takes her HOT men and women, whether they are Army or Navy, all of the members of HOT are deserving of the love and devotion that Mendez and the other married guys have found in their mates.
This story kicks off with Mendez’s entire life being through into chaos when he is alerted to a plot to disgrace his team, remove him from command and ultimately have him arrested and killed.  Knowing there is always someone ready to take him down, Mendez has a backup plan, but he never imagined it would involve the woman he loved 20 years ago and lost to a tragic end.  Mendez runs in order to give himself time and when he arrives in New Orleans to meet this woman who calls herself Kat, but looks so much like the woman he loved, it is a kick in the balls.  He refuses to truly trust her, despite her claims of working to protect him. Kat is thrilled and terrified in equal portions to see Mendez, but she is determined to make sure that his life is not lost to a plot that has been in the making for 21 years.  She has lived through too much tragedy to see this brave and sexy man lose everything and die in disgrace.   Thrown together, though not to happy about it, Kat and Mendez have to get past their traumas and lies in order to trust one another, or their survival will be forfeit.  But when Kat and Mendez's pasts blows up in their faces, the desire and secrets between them, not to mention the passions and anger, have to be set aside in order to complete their mission.
Mendez has been a favorite of mine since the beginning of this series and I have been dying to know more about him--though to be fair any woman that has read this series probably has the same feeling.  He is the glue that keeps his teams together and is the man they all turn to for leadership and guidance, not only in their work but also with their personal lives.  In previous stories in the series Mendez was the one that made the love connections between the couples possible and kept them together. He is the type of alpha male that only gets better with age and it is obvious as he kicks ass and takes names that he has not lost a single bit of his skill or stamina with age.  I loved seeing him in action as an operator and though he fought hard, when he lost his heart, again, to Kat it made him even more sexy and the kind of man I would like to find to grow old with.  Kat is a woman of mystery to Mendez, but luckily Lynn doesn't keep the readers in the dark like she does Mendez, sharing Kat’s secrets and fears with us as Mendez tries to uncover them himself.  Kat has lived a nightmare for two decades, but she has tried to make the most of her circumstances and make a difference in the world and she refuses to allow anyone to take down John Mendez, knowing that a world without him is not the kind of world she wants to live in.  The more we learn about Kat, the sadder her life is but the more we see how much she needs Mendez in her life.  In the end she gets everything she has missed the past twenty years and gets a chance to start her life anew with the man she loves while allowing him to keep his place in the world to allow him to save those in need of his expertise.
HOT Valor is the story so many have been waiting for and with all the passion, suspense, and drama we have come to expect from a Harris novel, the core of this story is about two people that have been lonely and lost for two decades and finally find a way to share their hearts and lives fully.  The messy details of their pasts certainly will continue to affect them, but the love and light they bring to one another shows that Mendez and Kat will find a way to move forward in their lives despite their pasts. Mendez is a sexy, alpha operator to the core, though we have gotten used to seeing him in the role of leader and coordinator, and seeing him in the field as he works to clear his name shows that he hasn’t lost any of the skills that allowed him to be in command of such a volatile group of men and women. I enjoyed finally getting to know the story of Mendez’s past and the tragedies that shaped him into the man he is, but I also mourned with him as he relived those horrors and finally came to terms with everything.  Kat was almost as heartbreaking as she shared her past with Mendez and was forced to relive it all again and again.  Kat is the kind of woman that would not be wrongly described as a willow tree--she bends and bends, but nothing breaks her spirit as long as she knows her Johnny is out there somewhere in the world making it a better place.  While there was certainly the expected suspense and drama, the emotional roller-coasters these two find themselves leading us down will have you in tears, laughing, and wondering how they could ever get past the heartaches they carry.  Their strength and the love that brings them together in the end is undeniable and as bright as a solar flare, making it almost dangerous to look at.  I enjoyed every moment of this story and found myself unable to put it down if only to carry it with me just in case there was a minute to read a few more pages.  I feel like Mendez’s book was a turning point in the HOT world, not an ending just a new beginning, and I cannot wait to see where we go next and who will find their mate.  Lynn's writing, as always, keeps me on the edge of my seat and dying to know what happens next, but the true skill that makes Lynn Raye Harris an author to watch is the way she can lead her couples through some of the most dangerous situations while still building relationships that last forever and allowing her characters to grow and change.  Another masterpiece worthy of a place of honor on any bookshelf, be it digital or print.
*eARC provided by author for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

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