in the shadowsRating: 4.75 stars
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Length: Novel

Agent Sean Delaney is undercover, meeting with businessman Adrian Wolcott and his wife, when all three are taken hostage. In order to preserve his cover and buy them all time, Sean drops a few high profile names. It works, but it means that his captors call Staff Sergeant Alexei Dvorkhin to arrange a meeting. Alexei is thrown off guard, having to slip into his cover persona with no warning. He and the rest of MDFs Alpha Team had no idea Sean was on a mission, let alone that the cover personas they cultivated months ago were still being used. But when Alexei sees Sean is hurt, he’s first to demand they extract Sean and the other hostages.

As a result of the rescue, Sean is invited to Adrian’s home in Las Vegas and because of the need to keep the cover intact, Alexei and some of the other members of Alpha Team go with him. The mission seems to be going well and neither Alexei nor Sean have a problem playing up their supposed relationship for their marks. Of course, neither man is faking their attraction to the other, and with one kiss, Alexei and Sean’s relationship changes. Alexei is not the kind of man who does casual. Sean doesn’t do relationships — not because he doesn’t want them, but because his life as a spy necessitates lies. But Alexei already knows his truth, and Sean takes a chance and trusts Alexei. The two men are drawn together and their acting on their attraction only feeds it more.

When their cover is blown, all hell breaks loose. The team barely escapes with their lives. But what’s worse, Sean’s family—who knows nothing about his life because he’s worked very hard to keep them in the dark—is suddenly in trouble. Alpha Team extracts them, but in the process, everything gets worse. Sean not only has to reveal to them what he’s been doing with his life, but also that he’s now a Metahuman. Worse, they barely escape several factions gunning for them.

But it brings to light something worse. For more than a year, Alpha Team has been trying to track down black market Splice dealers, and now they think they have the info they need to take down a huge ring. The MDF puts in place a huge mission utilizing not only their agents, but Strike Force and Night Stalker military divisions as well. While the mission is mostly successful, it also creates a new enemy. As well as shining a spotlight on just how deep the plot goes. Alpha Team has more work to do.

There were a few moments in the second book in this series, In The Ruins, between Alexei and Sean and their chemistry was so electric, I desperately wanted to see their relationship unfold. And here in the third book, we get to see it. I knew I wanted to read the next book the moment the last one finished, and I was not disappointed. (And if you haven’t already figured it out, this Metahuman Files series is best read in order.)

The world that Turner has created is fascinating and intense, creative and layered. Several hundred years in the future, technology is far advanced and some humans have enhanced powers thanks to the dangerous poison Splice. But it’s also familiar. Extremist groups and terrorist cells want power. The U.S. government is fighting to protect its citizens and the world. But not everyone in power has pure motives. Alpha Team is an elite unit of the MDF (Metahuman Defense Force) that works to rid the world of those extremists who are bent on hurt and destruction.

So the overarching plot has been spanning all the novels, and here it takes a definite turn towards resolution. Or so I thought. Part of the plot is resolved, but more questions pop up and new bad guys are revealed. I like that the author manages to advance the plot without it feeling like the same situation but with a new bad guy. I also like that there is forward movement, in that our heroes aren’t always spinning their wheels and being thwarted. Instead, they take care of certain problems, only to have hidden depths revealed. The bad guys are definitely bad, but there are some gray areas too. It gives the story a grounding in reality that makes it exceedingly readable for me.

Now, Alexei and Sean. When I say their chemistry is awesome, I mean it. Like I said, there are just a few moments in the second book with them, but their connection is palpable. And it grows in intensity right in the beginning of this book. These guys need to be together. Alexei had misgivings when first meeting Sean, and it’s understandable as to why, but the attraction couldn’t be denied. Sean wants something real, and Alexei is just the man to give it to him. They are both playful and intense, the love scenes erotic and emotional, and I just wanted to be with them all the time. Alexei’s possessiveness is exactly what Sean needs. I loved the way they worked together, and I loved every moment they spent together on page. And if I had one complaint, it’s that I wanted more of them on page. More of the banter and the sex and just their relationship.

This series has it all for me. It’s intense, whether it’s action or relationships, but it’s balanced with the right amount of downtime that allows the characters, and readers, to breathe. The metaplot keeps moving forward, and the characters find love to help keep them grounded. Everything works. I can’t wait for more. I definitely recommend this book, and this series, to anyone who is a fan of military romances. Or futuristic stories. Or superheroes. Or anyone who just loves well written and intricately crafted books.

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