She’s a cop who made one mistake.
He’s a SWAT team operator who broke her heart.
The gunman holding them hostage? He’s got no idea who he’s dealing with…
Luella Brayshaw doesn’t think when she sees Nate Rivers, twelve years since he walked away. She just feels – all the hurt, and all the heat – and she runs. But by the time her brain clicks into gear she’s on a random train, with Nate – and that’s when it all goes very, very wrong.
Driven and dedicated, Elite SWAT tactical operator Nate Rivers knows he made the right decision all those years ago. Although it’s hard to remember why with Lou right in front of him, all strong, gorgeous and justifiably furious with him.
But then a gunman takes their carriage hostage… and suddenly the past doesn’t matter.
Now it’s up to Nate and Lou – unarmed – to save everyone on that train.
When their past and present collide, passion ignites – as hot and as powerful as a decade before. But can the mistakes of the past be forgiven? Or will they destroy any chance of a future together?
I purchased the first three books in this series in a box set. I am reviewing individually.
Lou is on desk duty after being sidelined for an error in judgement. She’s supposed to be on the desk of Elite Swat but somehow they have her being the ‘target’ in a training exercise. As such she decides to be the best target ever and manages to escape them at almost every turn. That is until she spots Nate and she takes the exercise a step further putting them in a difficult position.
Nate was following the target, he hadn’t had a good look at her although as he watched her approach the train station he recognized the walk. He’s surprised to realize Lou’s his target. He doesn’t understand why she’s playing target when actors usually do that. He has no choice but to follow as she got on the train.
They are about to leave when a woman catches Lou’s eye and they stop.
This is a favorite scene.
The train was slowing as it arrived at City West station. They’d need to get off here and catch the next train back.
“You will not do that,” Lou said, dropping the hand strap so she could step closer to him. They’d already been standing relatively close, but now she was near enough that she needed to tilt her chin to meet his gaze. “Don’t you dare. I can look after myself. Besides, Nate, I did fuck up, all right? So, nothing to set straight. Probably whatever gossip you hear will be true.”
The train rolled to a complete stop. A young woman with a baby asleep in one of those baby sling things stood at the door, ready to alight. Outside, only a few people dotted the station platform. It was late morning on a Monday – not exactly peak hour for the Perth to Fremantle line.
“No way,” Nate said, as the doors slid open. “That doesn’t sound like the Lou I knew. Tell me what happened, there’s got to be more to it—”
“There’s not, Nate,” she said on a sigh. “Come on, let’s just get off this stupid train.”
Nate activated his microphone as he waited for the mother and baby to step off in front of him. He’d already let the team know he’d followed the target onto the platform and then onto the train.
He’d completely ignored Peters’ ranting about Lou not understanding simple instructions, and besides – Peters had calmed down pretty quick. It wasn’t much more than three minutes from Perth to City West. They’d added maybe ten minutes to the exercise, and they’d all be back at headquarters for the debrief before they knew it.
“At City West with the target. We’ll catch the—”
Lou’s hand on his arm instantly silenced him. Initially it was just because she’d touched him – even through the thin cotton fabric of his shirt the simple act of her hand on him instantly focused all of his attention. But swiftly, it stopped being about a visceral, primal reaction to Lou as a woman, and became completely about what she was trying to tell him.
She’d curled her hand just above his elbow, her fingers digging into his bicep.
“Wait,” she said, urgently, under her breath.
As the woman and her baby stepped out of the train and onto the platform, a man and another woman hurried through the carriage door.
Well, more accurately – the man hurried. The man was only of average height, but he was constructed of inflated muscle, with huge shoulders and pectorals beneath the snug black T-shirt he wore. His muscular arms were liberally covered in tattoos, with the artwork presumably continuing under the fabric of his shirt, reappearing above his collar to wrap around his neck.
Rather than take one of the many spare seats in the nearly empty carriage, the guy dragged the woman to a stop immediately across from the still open carriage door.
His dark hair was short, his features blunt. His jaw was clenched.
Now, Nate had nothing against tattoos. Tatts could be cool. Not his thing personally, but heaps of the guys at E-SWAT had them. Likewise, he got the whole gym thing. He was paid to be fit. Extremely fit.
So, having tatts and being ripped didn’t make you a bad guy. But Nate had been in the job long enough to know a shithead when he saw one. And this guy, with his arm wrapped around the waist of the woman beside him, was pure shithead.
Whether his criminality extended beyond intimidating women, Nate had no idea. But he had absolutely no doubt the small woman standing beside the man did not want to be on this train.
He glanced at Lou.
But she’d already stepped around him, crossing the carriage to stand before the woman. The woman hadn’t looked up the entire time Nate had been watching, her blonde hair covering her face in a tangled curtain.
“Are you okay?” Lou asked her, as Nate stepped up beside her.
The shithead was entirely focused on Lou, his anger almost a tangible thing – like an aura of fury surrounding him. He was older than Nate had thought, probably late forties, with salt and pepper through his almost buzz cut hair. He held the blonde woman tight, her body pressed against his from shoulder to hip. The muscles in the arm wrapped around her were tensed, and veins popped on the back of his hand and up his arms. A similar vein pulsed on the man’s forehead as he glared at Luella.
A beeping noise heralded the closing of the carriage doors behind Nate.
It seemed they weren’t going to get back to Elite SWAT headquarters as quickly as he’d thought. But that was okay. You don’t just look the other way – ever.
Lou would’ve asked the woman if she was okay whether she was in uniform or not. So would he.
But – the thing was they weren’t in uniform, and the shithead had no idea that two police officers stood in front of him. Unarmed police officers, given neither of them had needed a firearm for the surveillance exercise, and gun legislation in Australia didn’t allow even the police to conceal carry without good reason. And if the E-SWAT team had all been wearing gun holsters while tailing Lou, that would’ve given the game away.
“Are you okay?” Lou repeated, when the woman remained absolutely silent.
No – that wasn’t true. Nate could hear her breathing – louder than it should be. Much louder.
“She’s fine,” the shithead grunted.
“I’d really rather hear that from her,” Lou said, sounding absolutely calm and reasonable. She kept her attention on the woman only, as if the behemoth of a man was utterly irrelevant to her.
The mop of blonde hair lifted, and the woman met Lou’s gaze.
She said nothing, but her message was clear: Help me.
Then her head dropped down again.
“Tell her you’re fucking fine, Fiona. You can at least fucking do that for me.”
Fiona didn’t move.
Nate realised she was wearing business attire: a striped pencil skirt, navy blue blouse, sensible heels. A security pass hung from a lanyard at her neck.
Fiona had been at work before the shithead had come along. Did she even know the guy?
He needed to call in backup to meet them at the next station. He was fairly sure he could take the guy down if necessary, but it wasn’t at that point yet. The best thing to do would be to get the guy off the train, and Fiona safe. Ideally peacefully and without freaking out everyone on the train. And that would be easier with backup.
The train took a turn, and the carriage swayed slightly. The tension in the small space was thick, with all passengers’ eyes on them: a couple of lanky teenage boys, a middle-aged woman with a thick paperback novel on her lap, and a slightly overweight guy in a suit, probably between meetings.
The suit met Nate’s gaze: should we do something?
Nate nodded and immediately changed plan. Everyone on the carriage was already freaked out. It was only a few more minutes until Subiaco station, but he could at least let them know the police were onto this. He reached into his back pocket for his police ID.
At the same time, Luella placed a hand on Fiona’s shoulder, the one furthest from the brooding man mountain.
“It’s okay, Fiona, I’m – ”
But whatever Lou was about to say was forgotten as the shithead suddenly reached for the small of his back. Instantly, Nate knew what the guy was doing and he made a grab for Lou, hooking onto the waist of her jeans and yanking her towards him.
At the same time, he activated his mic and spoke in a low, urgent tone as the man began to yell and Fiona screamed.
“One suspect, armed, middle carriage. Black clothing, neck tattoo. Multiple hostages. Approaching Subiaco station.”
Ashton, Leah. Elite SWAT Box Set: Books 1-3 Kindle Locations(280-339). Kindle Edition.
Being in a hostage situation out of uniform is not ideal, but these two are better prepared than most to handle it.
The tension and intensity of the situation is clear from the start and I loved the interactions between Lou and Nate. They have much to resolve but the chemistry between them is palpable.
I’m already starting the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Leah!
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RITA® Award-winning author Leah Ashton writes fast-paced romantic suspense and smart, modern contemporary romance. All her books feature strong heroines, deliciously heroic heroes and swoon worthy happily ever afters.
Leah lives in Perth, Western Australia with her gorgeous husband, two amazing daughters and the best intentions to meal plan and have an effortlessly tidy home. When she’s not writing, Leah loves all day breakfast, rambling conversations and laughing until she cries. She really hates cucumber. And scary movies.