Thursday, July 11, 2019

Beneath the Layers by Caitlyn Willows

For years she has hidden behind a façade. Then she meets a man who loves to peel back layers to find the treasure beneath.

A mask, a façade, whatever it takes to hide from the rest of the world… That’s how Midge Ellis has lived for the past three years. When how one looks brings unwanted attention, hiding those looks is the best protection. Few know the woman behind the frumpy-looking Marine Corps court reporter. There are also rules to go with the mask, and one of those is ‘no workplace relationships’. Then she meets NCIS Special Agent Kurt Davidson. Her birthday is the catalyst that launches her back into the world—in disguise, of course. Who knew she’d get lucky so quickly?

Kurt Davidson loves to discover what’s beneath a person’s layers, and no one intrigues him more than Staff Sergeant Michelle Ellis. But when she ignores his flirting, he knows she’s not interested. That doesn’t stop him from fantasizing about her every night—and even when he’s undercover searching for a blackmailing female.

It doesn’t take Midge and Kurt much time to realize each other’s real identities or for a killer to up the game—a killer who is slowly tightening the noose around Midge’s neck, implicating her in all the criminal activity Kurt is investigating. Is it someone from her past or someone closer? Whoever it is, they’ve messed with the wrong woman. Old Midge has returned, and she’s determined to find who’s trying to frame her, with or without Kurt’s help.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes involving stalking, harassment, drugs, an emotionally abusive parent, nonsexual voyeurism and violence. There are references to sexual harassment and date rape drugs. There are also scenes of abduction, physically violent sexual assault, murder, attempted rape and one non-graphic scene of on-page rape of secondary character witnessed by POV character.

Publisher's Note: This book was originally published elsewhere under the title Judging Ellie. It has undergone extensive plot and character changes and has been reedited for release with Totally Bound Publishing.

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Book 3
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

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

Midge is kind of in a rut. She enjoys her job, but she's just trying to make it so that she isn't noticed. She wears frumpy clothing because she's learned that being yourself can make more trouble than it's worth. Midge somehow befriended a pair of odd people. Susan and her boyfriend seemed like nice people when they started talking with Midge, but soon, Midge finds out just how odd they truly are.

Despite trying to live her life, Midge is lonely. So, when she is forced to go out on her birthday, she decides that she'll make the most of it.

Kurt is just doing his job. While he knows that the person he's hunting is bad news, he doesn't realize how this job will change his life. He knows his target is a bad woman who is blackmailing several prominent men. He wants to find her and arrest her.

Kurt and Midge's first meeting is somewhat unconventional. Both believe they are someone else and when they feel the chemistry, they jump right into bed with each other. For Midge, it's her birthday present to herself. For Kurt, he's just trying to find the culprit... right?

What neither of them realize is that someone else is pulling the strings and playing a little joke on them. I loved watching their friends maneuver around these two. And when things really heat up and Midge's past comes out and the blackmailer makes some bold steps, that's when I became increasingly engaged in the story.

I will admit that the lead up to the action was kind of boring for me. However, once the action started, you're kept on your toes and guessing. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Overall, this was enjoyable and I would recommend it. I didn't read the previous books in this series, but never felt that I was missing what was going on.

Blessed (or cursed) with a vivid imagination, Caitlyn Willows eventually learned to turn that talent inward. Readers will find deep emotions and sizzling sensuality seamlessly woven into her action-filled stories. Believing life is to be lived and felt, not merely watched, Caitlyn delivers real-to-life characters in unforgettable tales of love, adventure, and always steamy passion. No one is more surprised than she at the direction life has taken her. She is also a mosaic artist and an avid crafter with a passion for cross-stitch. Caitlyn lives in the beautiful desert of Southern California with her husband (a genealogist). She is always on the lookout for the next interesting tidbit that will help fill her writing well.

Connect with Caitlyn

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Beneath the Layers (Rules of Engagement #3) by Caitlyn Willows to read and review.

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