Review of FOR THE LOVE OF... by Kally Jo Surbeck (see her website)
LooseID, 2004 (Paperback publication, July 2005
Just one more job. Mob assassin Mac (Mackenzie) Harmon needs only one more job and she'll complete her contract with 'The Outfit,' and be able to head for her dream house in Tahiti. Completing the last job shouldn't be too tough--the target heads a crooked drug company that's even doublecrossing The Outfit by selling FDA disapproved drugs in Canada--but when Mac learns that there's more to the target's plot than she knew, she pulls back--and runs into a super-sexy neighbor out for a walk. That's what Gabriel (Gabe) Zumbrenen claims he is, anyway. But Mac is used to lies and suspects that Gabe is hiding something.
Gabe is hiding a lot--including the fact that he works for The Outfit too, and that he's been hired to 'clean' Mac once she finishes her final job. Because nobody just walks away from The Outfit. Loose strings and flapping lips do not make for success in the kind of business that this organized crime ring runs.
Gabe and Mac gradually reveal themselves, let themselves wonder if a partnership might be possible, if their shared hatred for the Outfit might be enough to allow them to trust one another. Unfortunately, staying alive as assassins isn't exactly the kind of trust training that leads to long-term relationships. Sharing assassin toys, working together on a massive sting operation, and exploring the lust that tingles in Mac's body every time Gabe gets close just might be, however.
Managing the balance between romance and adventure is always a challenge in a romantic suspense. Author Kally Joe Surbeck does a pretty good job of it, with steamy-hot lust flowing from the natural contact between Mac and Gabe. Their mistrust for each other (justified because both are keeping secrets) accentuates the heat flowing between them. Still, Surbeck is at her best when she drops the romance and concentrates on Mac's internal conflict between her need for family and friendship, and her certainty that no relationship can be trusted. Both Gabe and Mac's sidekick Bobby, provide mirrors of Kally's own experience.
FOR THE LOVE OF... was a 2004 Eppie winner and it's easy to see why. Surbeck's capable writing, constant adventure, and the steamy romance make a strong offering. Despite Surbeck's efforts to integrate it, I found the romantic elements a bit forced, reducing credibility a little, and drawing me out of the story flow. But when Surbeck gets the adventure going, FOR THE LOVE OF... is a hard book to put down.
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