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    Review of BENEATH THE SURFACE: ATHENA FORCE by Meredith Fletcher

    Silhouette, May 2008

    The Athena Academy produced some of the world's most capable and talented women. In its years of history, its graduates had supported one another, achieved the highest levels in government and business, and had done their part to end senseless violence and warfare. The academy had only one failure--Shannon Connor. Thrown out of the school for attempting to frame another student for theft, Shannon is despised by the graduates--and she in turn hates the school and will do whatever it takes to get her revenge. As a top reporter, she has plenty of chances to dig for dirt.

    Over the years, Shannon's career has been enhanced by a secret contact who supplies evidence about indiscressions among the rich, famous, and powerful. It's great blackmail material, but it's also the kind of information that makes news. But as Shannon pursues one investigation too far, things turn ugly. That's where ex-Ranger/ex CIA agent Rafe Santorini steps in. Shannon appreciates Rafe saving her life, and certainly appreciates his wonderful body, but she recognizes a setup when she sees one. When her contact texts with the information on a project that just might explode the Athena Academy, Shannon escapes from Rafe and heads for China.

    It turns out, though, that Rafe and the Athena Force women aren't the only people interested in Shannon. Someone unaffiliated either with Shannon's contact or with Rafe, his control Allison, and the National Security team she heads. And that someone wants Shannon dead. Fleeing from attempted murder in Washington D.C. into a shootout in Hong Kong isn't the kind of improvement Shannon had hoped for. Still, she learned enough from her Athena-training to land on her feet and she manages to escape the killers. Whether she'll be able to escape Rafe when he catches up with her a second time, though, is another question.

    Author Meredith Fletcher (see more reviews of romantic suspense by Fletcher) writes a fast-paced action thriller with just enough romance to appeal to the Silhouette audience. Rafe, still recovering from injuries and torture suffered in North Korea makes a great hero. Shannon, though, is the real center of the story. While she's sometimes wrong about her understanding of the world, she's not afraid to take on anyone, no matter how powerful they are. Armed with nothing more than her wits and an iPhone, Shannon not only has to survive multiple gunmen and professional killers, she intends to get the story. One thing she's not so sure about--after what she's done to him, does she have a chance to get the guy as well?

    In BENEATH THE SURFACE, the action never lets up. It's a hard book to put down and I'm happy to recommend it.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/30/08

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