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She’s spent her life on the periphery of humanity.
Bree Geissenger lives by one mantra: You’re only as good as your latest creation. Tucked away in laboratories, always wanted for her brains, she’s been safe. Unseen. But the new life she has at The Arsenal has upended her carefully constructed world. Unable to cope with the threats against her friends, she fractured. Determined not to be the weakest link, she fled the safety of The Arsenal compound to heal. Regroup. Hunt.
Those she loves will no longer be prey. She’ll ferret out everyone who’s a threat to those she loves, no matter the cost. There’s no sacrifice too great in war. A smart soldier doesn’t work alone, though, which means she must work with the operative she wants more than anything.
He ran from a past he’s swore to never delve into.
Ramon Zapata escaped the underground, clandestine world his parents deemed his birthright. Military life honed him into the weapon he swore to never become and gave him the only true family he’s ever known. Life at The Arsenal was everything he’d wanted, including the brilliant, beautiful scientist who blew his world wide open. To save his new family and the woman he loves, he must reconcile his past and work with the black ops organization who spent years hunting him like an animal.
Failure isn’t an option.
NOTE: While this book can be read as a standalone, there are numerous plot threads that continue from previous books. Reading in order will provide a better reading experience.
This book opens where the last one ends, and quite frankly if you haven’t read this series I suggest you go start at the beginning. You’ll get so much more out of every book.
Bree has been away from the Arsenal for a couple of weeks, she’s working through her issues and guilt, but still doing sessions with Sinclair and talking to Jesse as well. Her brother Lars informs her the alarms she set up were going off. She’d her phone on silent and had a bunch of missed calls from Zoey. Zoey lets her know their friendlies, ‘The Triple Threat’ is coming to retrieve her.
I got a kick out of their reaction to getting stuck because of her new invention, and how they needed to override it.
Safety is everyone’s main concern and Bree agrees her family should come to the Arsenal at least temporarily. She’s more than a little surprised when her Gram didn’t protest at all.
I love Bree’s niece and nephew, Hillary and Luke, the addition of her stories about the superheroes just makes everything more amusing. Especially when all the teams just go along with it.
It isn’t long before alarms go off at the compound, since they now have protected airspace and a helicopter is incoming. The passenger on that plane isn’t really welcome but the Arsenal will hear him out.
This is a favorite scene.
“You have done more in your short life as an elite organization than Knightwind has in decades,” Gavin said. “You’ve become the bar we must all aspire to hit. The new leaders of Knightwind recognize that and are prepared to overhaul their approach for future missions, but that will require your assistance.”
“How so?” Vi asked.
“We lack the advanced tech you have,” Gavin said. “Ours is good, but nothing compared to HERA. If we ramp up our endeavors, we’d need your assistance with information.”
“You’re information powerhouses. You said that earlier,” Bree said.
“Yes, but it’s old school,” Mary said. “They likely have significant delays between data obtainment and disbursement. A few hours or days could translate to immediate mission failure.”
“The older the intel, the deader the team,” Nolan surmised.
“So you want us to agree to an alliance in exchange for a one-time assistance with our current issue,” Marshall said.
“We wouldn’t expect an agreement. Our assistance with your current problem is a gift,” Gavin said. “No strings attached.”
“Bullshit,” Bree said. There was always a string. “What are you really wanting for this? Forget the so-called alliance and all the pretty promises you’re throwing at the wall. It’s not going to stick. What. Are. You. After?” She punctuated every word of the question and willed her breathing to calm.
Ram ran his hand down her back. “Talk it out with us, Bree. You know them better than we do.”
“There’s always a string. A condition. My work was supposed to be a quick, one-month assignment, but they dragged it out, adding parameters that were supposedly integral to my original objective. A month turned into two. Then three. On and on.” She glanced at Addy. “I got a coded message to Addy four months into my so-called one-month contract and begged her to get me out.”
“I don’t know this prick, but whoever’s running Knightwind isn’t trustworthy,” Addy said. “Not based on what we saw when I was extracting Bree.”
“We have a new owner, someone who’s worked hard since then to put Knightwind back on the right path,” Gavin said. “It doesn’t excuse what happened back then, but I assure you we have changed.”
“None of that matters,” Jesse said. “Not now. Answer Bree’s question. What are you after in exchange for your help with our issue? What will those assets you have cost us?”
Gavin’s jaw twitched. “Nothing. If you don’t wish to assist with our request, it won’t be an issue.”
“But there is a request,” Bree said. She shook her head. “You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth and contradicting yourself.”
“When we came under new ownership, there was a significant civil war of sorts within our organization. Some high-up leaders who were about to be terminated betrayed Knightwind,” Gavin said. “Their inside intel gave what our enemy needed to take over a detainment facility we ran.”
Bree held her breath. No. Hell no. She shook her head and focused on the table. She didn’t want to think about that horrible place, the one she’d been forced to make impenetrable. God, this was not happening.
“You want our help to get it back,” Vi said. “Why would we be able to do that if you can’t?”
“We have focused on the informational side of the arena while you’ve already made yourselves known as being formidable in all aspects,” Gavin said. “Only one operative has ever broken into that facility and extracted someone. I have it on good authority she’s now an Arsenal employee.”
Mia. It had to be Mia. Right? Or Addy. No, they would have known if Addy broke into that vile place. She’d gotten Bree out of Knightwind after she’d left that facility.
As if reading her mind, Addy said, “I didn’t break into any detention facility.”
“No. You didn’t.” So it was Mia they were talking about. Damn.
The private paramilitary arena was small. Everyone knew everyone else. Bree had accepted that long ago, but all these horrible pathways converging left her wishing she’d stayed at Grams’ cabin.
“And all the impenetrable defenses of this facility were created by Bree,” Gavin said. “If anyone can break them, it’ll be The Arsenal and whatever tech she’s created for you.”
Damn. Damn. Damn. She hadn’t wanted anyone to know about the work she’d done for Knightwind. Addy hadn’t ever asked. Neither had Mary, Vi, or Rhea.
“No,” Addy said quickly. “She’s not working with you ever again. I’ll personally hunt every last one of you down before that happens.”
That’s why Bree loved Addy. She was the protective big sister. Okay, she was apparently younger than Bree, but still. Vi shut her laptop and glanced at Mary, who shook her head.
“This is your call, Bree,” Mary said.
“How do we know your assets are who we need?” Bree asked. Focusing on The Arsenal’s mission to find the financial backers behind Carlisle Industries kept her brain from spiraling. “We need proof you can help.”
“Fair enough.” Gavin pulled out a thumb drive and tossed it to Vi. “That should be a good start. You’ve been looking into the secretary of defense. We’ve been unable to figure out exactly what is happening with him, but we suspect he’s in trouble. That’s surveillance footage from the past week, taken within his home and office— both of which you’ve been unable to get coverage of so far. No one can.”
The large overhead screens along the walls came to life, as did the monitors on the table’s surface. Images of a bald man with Bob filled the screens.
“We’ve been unable to identify him, but this man has become a daily part of his routine. Our asset only sees the secretary of defense a couple times a day, but this individual is with him often, yet is not part of his official entourage.” Gavin motioned toward the screen. “We suspect your HERA system will find his identity even though we’ve failed to do so.”
“So a test within a gift,” Zoey muttered. She, Vi, and Mary all typed away on their laptops.
Bree heard the distinctive chime of an identity match through the room’s speakers, but no visual appeared. She smiled. They weren’t sharing that HERA had already found out who the asshole with Bob was.
“Will that suffice as proof?” Gavin asked.
“Perhaps,” Mary said. “It’s up to Bree.”
“If we agree to this, Edge and Quillery command your assets. They are solely within their operational governance while this operation takes place,” Bree said. “We will allow one Knight asset to work with our teams, but The Arsenal will have full control of the mission.”
“That’s preposterous,” Gavin argued.
“Take it or leave it,” Vi said.
“What else, Bree?”
Damn. They wanted more. Okay… She took a deep breath. “We have full access to your databases, both those online and those tucked away while we’re working together on this mission. In exchange, we will agree to run facial recognitions through HERA for you, but no more than six. That will include locating the targets, if we choose to do so. We’ll require the full mission debrief on why you’re seeking them, though, since we don’t trust your moral code.”
“If they even have one,” Addy muttered.
“In exchange for this mutual cooperation,” Bree said with another deep breath after, “we will review your mission file on Facility Six. Full disclosure on your objective and who you are specifically wanting to extract will be required. We make no promise to assist, but we will review the material you provide, and I will make recommendations on approach regardless of The Arsenal’s decision.”
“Add in recommendations from the operative who’s been successful, and I can make this work with my superiors,” Gavin said. “When did you become such a ballbuster?”
“When you chained me to a wall and told me my work wasn’t done until your bosses said it was,” Bree shot back.
“What the fuck?” Ram stood.
“Sit down,” Gage ordered. He glared across the table. “There’s a room across the hall. Make your call to the people with the balls to make a decision before we change our mind.”
Cara Carnes. Lethal Echo (Kindle Locations 673-738).
Now Bree’s taken on a lot of guilt that really isn’t hers and while she’s still getting herself together she still has bouts of feeling unworthy.
A shortfall of the group is revealed when attempting the plan to get eyes on Bob (the Secretary of Defense), Bree has new tech and she’s hesitant to share. She was very busy while everyone was working on the Russia thing. It’s Ram, Pierce and Doug who notice her tell and calls them out on it. Then Bree finally says something and immediately they recognize what they’d been doing and the apologies start flying. More important is they now have a solution they didn’t know they had.
This whole book is multiple levels, between family, friends, missions, new tech and the simmer to sizzle romance between Bree and Ram, I just couldn’t put it down.
I can’t wait for the next book in this series!!!
5 Contented Purrs for Cara!
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Born in small-town Texas, Cara Carnes was a princess, a pirate, fashion model, actress, rock star and Jon Bon Jovi’s wife all before the age of 13. In reality, her fascination for enthralling worlds took seed somewhere amidst a somewhat dull day job and a wonderful life filled with family and friends. When she’s not cemented to her chair, Cara loves traveling, photography and reading.