Friday, August 10, 2018

Defending Allye by Susan Stoker

Love is a life-and-death risk for the Mountain Mercenaries in New York Times bestselling author Susan Stoker’s explosive series of alpha heroes, hot action, and hard passion…

Ever since his rescue op off the Pacific Coast, Mountain Mercenary Gray Rogers hasn’t been able to forget his latest “job”—Allye Martin. Any other woman would have panicked during a rescue, but the wily dancer kept her cool—even after being kidnapped by an elusive human trafficker. And Gray couldn’t be happier when a grateful Allye follows him home to Colorado Springs…

For Allye, finding sanctuary in the arms—and bed—of the former Navy SEAL is only temporary. People are disappearing off the streets of San Francisco, victims of the same underground trade that targeted her, and Allye could be the key to dismantling the entire operation. She’s willing to do anything to bring them down. Gray isn’t—for good reason. But you don’t say no to a tough girl like Allye who refuses to play it safe.

Now Gray is risking more than ever before. The Mountain Mercenaries have his back. But is it enough to keep the woman he loves out of harm’s way?

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆☆
4.5 stars
M/F Thriller, Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

This is a fast-paced, thrilling read. I couldn't put it down.

Gray is a tough, rugged, sexy, ex-SEAL. He is helping to right wrongs to innocent people. He has some PTSD in regard to his service, but he wants to do everything in his power to help those who cannot help themselves. When he is sent on a mission, it kind of goes wrong in that he was supposed to recover money and instead, was recovering and rescuing a woman.

Allye is a tough woman. She has been dealt a crap hand from day one. With a family that abandoned her to a life where she doesn't believe in good things happening for her. She has a unique set of features and that sends her down a path of a psycho-stalker.

Gray and Allye have amazing chemistry and their character development was spot on for this story. You got to see their flaws and their triumphs together. I also really enjoyed Gray's "brothers" in this story. They were down to earth and knew when to say something and when to just keep their mouths shut and help.

This is a great first story and I cannot wait for Ro's story. I think I'm going to really enjoy this series. I also hope that we get to see glimpses of Allye and Gray again.

This is a difficult book for me to review. It is an exciting action adventure but the characters feel underdeveloped and I didn’t enjoy the writing style. The Mountain Mercenaries are ex-servicemen who secretly work to protect vulnerable women and children from predators. This story focuses on Gray, a former SEAL, and Allye, the woman he rescues from a sex trafficker.

There are so many series about private security/black-ops groups at the moment and so far this one really isn’t a favourite. There is something oddly paternalistic about this group of men sent to rescue women in trouble and it doesn’t feel very 2018. I felt like the violence towards women was sensationalised at times in this book and I felt like Allye, with her skill set, could have been so much more than a victim or bait as the Mountain Mercenaries fought back against her trafficker.

I really enjoyed the connection between Allye and Gray when he rescues her at the start of the book. Allye is calm under fire and the banter between them is brilliant. Unfortunately, both Gray and Allye become more bland and predictable as the story progresses and they revert back to type. Gray never becomes more than the alpha male SEAL and Allye becomes more of a victim as she leaves her life behind and hides out with Gray. I think Gray’s possessive declarations about Allye being ‘mine’ are supposed to be sexy but the just feel a little bit whiny and controlling after a while.

The action scenes at the start and the end of this book are great. I enjoyed the hunt for the killer and Allye’s trafficker and loved the suspense at the end. But most of the rest of the story didn’t quite work for me.

It took me a bit of time to warm up to the story. The beginning is full of action, which was a plus, but it also a dash of the ridiculous (the USB, seriously?). On a mission to stop people smuggles, Gray, a former Navy SEAL, climbs aboard a boat in the middle of the ocean expecting to find money being exchanged but instead he finds Allye. [Side note, the author does after a little while explain how to pronounce Allye but until we read that point in the story I had no idea how to say it. I hate when authors use stupid spellings for names.]

Anyway, they are having big conversations while swimming in the middle of the ocean in complete darkness like it as nothing, like they are at a coffee shop. Allye and Gray’s conversations establish Allye as a strong woman able to handle difficult situations and Gray as the strong hero type. It was bit too contrived for me. The only thing that kept me reading in the beginning was the bad guy. Luke Nightingale is a portrait of evil and I wanted to know if and how they’d catch him, so I kept on reading and I’m glad I did because I enjoyed the hunt for the bad guy.

The romance between Gray and Allye is good and the naked scene appropriately hot. What the author did really well was conflict between the pair. You can see the point of contention coming. They are not arguing of some trivial misunderstanding, which happens too often in romance books and the author gained a lot of points from me.

The story wraps up with a flurry of action and a satisfying happily ever after. When Gray and Allye’s story finishes, we get a sneak peak of the next story in the series, which will be Ro’s. I look forward to reading it.

This is an excellent beginning to a new series by Susan Stoker. I will definitely be looking out for future installments. Do be warned though, this is pretty gritty in places, no hiding the realities of the ways that the team get their answers or remove danger.

Any fan of Stoker will recognise the ex-SEAL men who are prepared to risk their lives and use their skills to address wrong, and any fan of Charlie's Angels will see some fun comparisons too, I think!

The initial part of the story, where we first get to meet Allye and Gray, gives us the measure of these two people. They are both strong characters, and in spite of the circumstances, they recognise that they are attracted to each other. However, they do not act on it – to both of them, it seems like it might be a product of the situation, rather than genuine. Luckily fate intervenes, and the rest of the fast-paced drama and romance holds out more hope for a happy ending – well, most of the time!

The underlying plot is strong and intense, and I definitely recommend this thriller to you.

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, and Delta Force Heroes. Married to a retired army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri to California to Colorado—and currently lives under the big skies of Texas. A true believer in the happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website or find her on Facebook.

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Montlake –

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Defending Allye (Mountain Mercenaries #1) by Susan Stoker to read and review.

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