Total Control by Jackie Ashenden Release Date: June 26, 2018 Publisher: Kensington Book #2 in the 11th Hour series Number of Pages: 304 Kindle Edition Source: Amazon Purchase Romantic Suspense/Military M/F Rating: XXX Read 11/17/18 to 11/19/18
Helicopter pilot Kellan Blake has always hated being told what to do, so being discharged from the army for insubordination doesn’t come as much of a surprise. What does surprise him is that when he joins up with the elite, underground 11th Hour squad instead, they send him straight home. The nest of vipers that calls itself his family is the next target for the team’s tech unit, so he’ll either have to brave their traps and deceptions himself—or watch his sweet, shy friend Sabrina walk into them alone . . .
Sabrina’s no femme fatale, but since there’s no one else with the tech skills to get the info they need, she’ll put on a party dress and take one for the team. But whoever decided she should pretend to be Kellan’s new fiancée hit a little too close to home. How can she concentrate on a dangerous mission when she’s worried about giving away what she really feels for her loyal, passionate, smoking hot partner? At least she isn’t likely to blow their cover. Until she’s in the line of fire, and neither Kellan’s demons nor his heart are hers to tame.
There is so much history between Sabrina and Kellan and I love it. It’s amazing how two people can see circumstances entirely differently from one another. They, for the most part, grew up in the same home. For Kellan, it was his home with his mother and father. For Sabrina, she was the abandoned young girl Kellan’s family took in. While Kellan always believed Sabrina was treated the same as he was, that wasn’t the case.
Because of the way Sabrina was treated by Kellan’s parents, and the fact that he allowed himself to be blind to it, left a lot to be unpacked in this relationship. While Sabrina never held Kellan at fault, he is the type of man who has a sort of hero complex so it doesn’t sit well with him. Especially when his parents are less than welcoming to her in the present day.
I’m a huge fan of friends to lover and fake fiancée stories, so this one seemed made for me. Oddly enough, I have a bit of an issue with the person in the friends to lovers trope that is the clueless person in the scenario; the one that doesn’t even realize the chemistry and connection they have with the other person. And to say Kellan was clueless is a huge understatement. Huge! So while I love the trope, I hate the inevitability of feeling one character has something over the other.
The author does a great job instilling tension into the narrative. From the feelings Sabrina is trying to hide from Kellan, the mission they’re both hiding from his parents, the secrets both Sabrina and Kellan are keeping from each other, the tension is palpable.
This story seems to be the start of something big in this series. There is a lot uncovered and a lot that still needs to be learned. The Sabrina/Kellan arc is concluded, but there’s so much more to come.
My last note, I believe I’ve said it before but I’m going to repeat myself. Jackie Ashenden really knows how to write sexy scenes. Kellan “interrogates” Sabrina at one point and it is raw and angry and hot and wrong and oh so right all at the same time. Fire!