Monday, October 21, 2013

SPY IN THE SADDLE by Dana Marton

Spy in the Saddle (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1459)(I work for the author.)

Two agents must work together without letting a tense past—and a sizzling new attraction—disrupt their most important mission in Dana Marton's HQ: Texas miniseries
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?

SPY IN THE SADDLE is the very satisfying conclusion to Dana Marton's SDDU (Special Designation Defense Unit) trilogy that takes place in south Texas along the border.  In this installment it's Shep's turn to fall hard in love, and boy does he ever.  Ten years previously, Shep was a parole officer, and Lilly was the case that ended his career, as he broke rules trying to help her. Although Lilly had a serious crush on her back then, Shep merely thought of her as a troubled girl he wanted to help turn her life around.  In return for his assistance, she stole his car, burned his house, and caused him to get fired from his job.
When FBI Agent Lilly Tanner shows up at the SDDU as their new liaison, Shep can't believe his eyes...and bad luck.  And the other guys can't believe their good luck, because Lilly has not only turned her life around, but grown into a beautiful woman at the same time.  She's thrilled but nervous to be working with the man she never forgot, but Shep is annoyed at his attraction to her.  Pretty soon their attraction takes a mild physical turn as part of their undercover identities, and the simple kiss is enough to wake them both up to what's between them.  I found Lilly to be a fascinating character - not only is she trying to resolve her teenage crush with her feelings for Shep now that she's a grown woman, but she's also trying to prove to Shep that she's not the delinquent he remembers.  He's a reminder of the past she's overcome, and watching both of them acknowledge how much they've grown in ten years really added to their believability as people.
Dana Marton never disappoints - she writes some of the sexiest military/law enforcement alpha male heroes around, and her heroines are consistently smart, strong and capable.  Add to that a finely crafted mystery, moments of truly intense action and danger, and SPY IN THE SADDLE qualifies as yet another wonderful romantic suspense literary escape.

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Most Eligible Spy (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1448)  My Spy / Last Spy Standing (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1453)  The Spy Wore Spurs (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1364)  Agents Under Fire (novella trilogy) 

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