Title: Ravaged With You
Author: J Kenner
Publisher/Year: Martini & Olive 9/7/21
Length: 324 Pages
Series: Stark Security #7
Retired from the military and finally free of the demons of past missions, former Special Forces soldier Charlie “Red” Cooper leads a blissfully calm life running his successful distillery. At least until the day he finds his partner and best friend drowned in one of their best barrels of whiskey. Now he must dredge up old skills and memories to not only avenge his friend’s death, but to protect the one woman who has always made his pulse race-his friend’s grieving widow.
Shocked by her husband’s death, Josephine Swift should be mourning, but instead she’s terrified and…pissed. Turns out the husband she’d fallen out of love with was into some seriously bad business. Even worse, he’s dragged her and his partner into his web of deceit and danger. Now his mistakes could get them both killed.
Jo is glad to have the benefit of Red’s skills to keep them safe. She shouldn’t be interested in him-especially not now-but there’s no denying the white-hot attraction that smolders between them. Red’s far too honorable to sully his best friend’s memory by giving in to his desire for Jo. But when their lives hang in the balance, all bets are off. And as the depth of their passion grows, Jo dares to hope for a future. First, though, they have to survive…
Charismatic. Dangerous. Sexy as hell.
Here we are in book seven of this series – and it’s really nice to see the new members of the team that we get introduced to in each installment. Last time we got to see Renly’s story and now it’s time for his twin brother Red’s saga.
This story takes us on a twisted path that we should have figured out at the very beginning yet the way that the story is told, it’s round about and we don’t figure it out as a reader until about 2/3 of the way through. (at least that was me).
So, to take a step back, Red is our leading guy in this story – he was part of the Special Forces and has had quite a bit of trauma coming out of it. We know that he’s got these tells of sorts of things that trigger him, but we don’t really know the full back story. Then there’s Josephine (Jo) – she’s our leading lady. Red, Jo and her husband were all fast friends back in college and that carried over to their adult life. They opened the whiskey distillery together and that’s where our story takes it’s dark turn.
Red received a text to meet his partner at the distillery and when Red gets there, he discovers that things are not as they should be. Alerts and alarms have been turned off and the worst thing imaginable, he finds his friend, face down, dead in one of the vats.
The story from here on out follows several paths. The first is trying to find out what Mitch had gotten himself into and what that means for Red and Jo. The people who murdered Mitch quickly get in contact with Red and tell him that they know there’s a package stolen and if he and Jo don’t find it quickly, then people will slowly die.
The next path is the one with Jo and Red. What we learn throughout this story is that not only were these guys all the best of friends, there was chemistry between Jo and Red before she even got with her husband. There was a moment one night that Red forced an end to and that left them both wondering, but also made Red realize that he couldn’t have the one perfect thing in his life since he had his own demons.
We know that any person who goes to work for Stark has a haunted past and it’ll be a process to dig under the skin and figure out what are the triggers and how to get past. Red is exactly following that same situation and it’s nice that he’s got someone like Jo that can read him and a twin in Renly that cares so much.
The story takes us on flashes of the past, but uncertainties of the present. Every step that Red and Jo make is met with someone trying to do them harm, in the hopes that it’ll get the result that they’re looking for. Stolen goods. Each time that Stark believes they have the upper hand, something goes wrong.
We see people come back from the presumed dead, we see lies and mysteries revealed meaning that we never really knew the people that we thought we knew, There’s a kidnapping, several deaths, a few breakthroughs and an ending that was unexpected, but appropriate none the less.
What we got here as well is what our author J Kenner is known for. A tease throughout the book of what’s to come next in the series. There’s a new recruit named Simon that really makes us scratch our heads. He’s referenced from Devlin Saints series (which was really good if you haven’t read it yet) and we know that Devlin was all about trafficking and bringing that industry down. He had his own dark side because of his family ties and that means that Simon has to be complex as well if he was a recommendation. I can’t wait for that one to come out but in the meantime, now I have to find something else to read. Enjoy!