tequila sunriseRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

It has been eight months since Melissa Cruz left the FBI and she now works as head of security for her boyfriend Danny Talley’s family company. Between that and her job handling dangerous contracts oversees, the pair don’t get to see each other as much as they would like. Now home from a job, Mel is looking forward to spending Christmas Eve with Danny and reconnecting. They will be attending a party on Talley Enterprise’s newest ship, along with the rest of the Talley family, friends, press, and business associates.

Before Mel and Danny can reunite however, the ship is hijacked during the party, putting the life of the Talley family and all the guests on the line. Danny has learned to be an asset to Mel and her team over the course of their relationship and he is determined to do whatever it takes to help Mel and the others figure out who is behind the attack and what they want. Everything is not as straightforward as it first appears and they soon realize that letting everyone off the ship alive may not be in the attacker’s plans. Now Danny and Mel, along with Jamie, Aidan, Nic, and Cam, must race against the clock to figure out how to stop the bad guys before they lose the ship — and their lives.

Tequila Sunrise is the fourth book in Layla Reyne’s fabulous Agents Irish and Whiskey series. The first three books focused on FBI partners Aidan and Jamie and formed a trilogy with an overarching plot across the books. In Tequila Sunrise, we switch our focus to Mel and Danny, prominent side characters in the series. Mel is Aidan’s best friend, former sister-in-law, and their FBI boss, while Danny is Aidan’s brother. We have gotten teased over the books with Mel and Danny’s secret relationship and they are both such great characters, I was really excited to see them get their own story here. FWIW, I think you can read this one without having read the first three books, though Aidan and Jamie and other side characters do appear in this story, so you will be missing some of the history among the group.

In the Dedication to this book, Reyne notes that “Die Hard is a fucking Christmas movie!” and that definitely gives readers a hint of what is to come here. After some short set up, we are right in the action here as the ship is hijacked and our heroes are fighting to save the ship and all its guests. There is a larger than life feel about our characters as they sneak in, kick butt, outsmart bad guys, and save the day. The story is exciting and high action and I was totally swept up in the adventure.

Mel and Danny are a perfect pair here. He is charming and suave, working the crowd and the bad guys with skill. Danny has come a long way over the series and he is now highly skilled and talented in his own right, particularly with lock picking. He is the charming former bachelor who now will do whatever it takes to fight for his family and those he loves. For Mel’s part, she is pretty much 100% awesome. Mel has always been tough, strong, and kick ass, and this story really highlights that. She can take down men twice her size, is fearless in a crisis, and manages to coordinate everyone’s efforts to get the job done. I love that Mel isn’t just along for the ride here; she is clearly the one in charge and really making things happen. And I love that in addition to Mel and Danny, we also get to spend time with Jamie, Aiden, and their friends Cam and Nic, who all help out in solving the crisis.

Despite knowing Danny and Mel well from the earlier books in the series, we don’t know them very much as a couple because they hid their relationship for a while, nor were they the POV couple in those books. So this story intermingles the present day action with flashbacks to different points in their relationship, as well as a few flashbacks of each of them individually with family. I get why this background helped to build the romantic connection between them alongside the suspense, but I will say these flashbacks did affect the momentum of the story for me. Things would be barreling along with the team taking out the bad guys, and suddenly we would pause to see a scene of Danny and Mel at some past point in their lives. It definitely pulled me out of the action at times and threw off the flow of the story, so I would have preferred another way to help us get to know the pair than this device.

I guess for me, this story was really all about the action, and this is the part that really shines here. I did find that at the ending of the crisis, the events happened way too fast to believe. The clock is ticking, and somehow these guys manage to accomplish an absurd amount of stuff in essentially no time. I kept thinking things like, they really did that in three minutes? I’ll admit it threw me out of the story somewhat as it sometimes seemed too unrealistic to be believed. That said, the story was exciting, suspenseful, and a lot of fun, so I can forgive a little loose dealings with the clock.

Overall I found this a great installment in this fabulous series. I love that Reyne has branched out beyond our original MCs to bring us more stories in this world, and Danny and Mel are such great characters that they really shined here in this book. The single book format works nicely here, giving us a tight story in a shorter format that works well for these secondary characters. There is a light holiday vibe to this one as well, as the story takes place over Christmas, so if you are looking for a little jump start to your holiday reading, you will find that here too. I definitely enjoyed this one and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense, particularly if you are a fan of the larger series.

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