Thursday, August 21, 2014

Exchange of Fire by P A DePaul

The Basics:
Exchange of Fire by P A DePaul
Book One in the SBG series
Romance, Suspense
Published August 19, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I haven't read much romantic suspense lately, and I really liked that cover. 


Faking her death was easy, living with her past is harder, but nothing is more dangerous than falling in love…

Sandra Walsh was a deadly sniper for the Sweet Briar Group, a covert agency with assassins for hire, until her last mission went horribly wrong, accidentally killing an innocent girl. Knowing she’s a danger to her team, Sandra goes off the grid, becoming a Shade—an agent declared dead but secretly hiding among the living. She intends to honor her vow never to pull another trigger or have contact with the spy world again. Until she meets Casper Grady…

Grady is a former Marine with a troubled past and a debt to pay. His life mission has gone from protecting the nation to helping local children and their families. The moment he meets Sandra, he knows there’s more to her than meets the eye, but he can’t help but be drawn to the mysterious femme fatale. And when Sandra’s past suddenly catches up to her, Grady is determined to protect her at all costs, no matter how dark and dangerous her secrets are.

As the danger increases, so does their intense attraction. But when they’re forced to choose between each other and the people they’ve sworn to protect, their growing love might not be enough to keep them together—or alive…

My thoughts:

Exchange of Fire was more than I expected it to be. I thought it would be a sort of shoot 'em up, spy-action, go go go kind of romance, with some hot sex scenes on the run. Instead, it's got a slower pace, but a more meaningful relationship conflict and I really enjoyed that.

Sandra's on the run and her past is about to catch up with her. Grady's trying to create a safe haven for children - you can probably see already where the conflict exists. I loved watching these two nearly self-combust from sexual tension, all while trying to remain hands-off as they respected that there could be nothing long lasting between them. It was a really well written romance, and I was sympathetic towards both Grady and Sandra (which rarely happen, I must admit).

I really liked Sandra's teammates. There were some interesting characters there, and lots of fodder for future books, of course. The entire SBG entity opens up loads of potential storylines, and I'm already looking forward to reading what DePaul makes of it.

There were some scenes that had me frowning. I felt awful for Sandra during the 'rag on her for disappearing' moments. I thought it was clear that she was suffering, and yes, she made a bad choice, but given the fact that an alternative would put the lives of her team members at risk and that she was also pretty clearly suffering some kind of PTSD.... Okay, to be honest, I understand why everyone was ragging on her. Having to grieve her death would have been awful, and feeling at all responsible? Yeah. But talk about kicking the poor girl while she was down!

The pacing of this book was a little off for me - there's plenty of action and all of it is great. Very tense, well-written, and it all feels pretty authentic for the invididuals (and their skillsets) involved. But the book sagged for me whenever it focused on the bad guys and what they were up to. I just didn't care, to be honest, and I ended up skimming over these sections more often than not.

Ultimately, this was a fun spy-action-romance, and I will be back to this series for more. It looks like the next book is not about Talon, but I hope one in the not-too-distant future is. Cause... come on!

Bottom line:

Exchange of Fire is a fun read, with a believable romance and characters that I cared about very quickly. I'll watch for sequels, which I think is a pretty solid recommendation in and of itself.

4 stars
For fans of action-romances, spies

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