This is the second book in the Endgame Ops series, and if you haven’t read the first one, there are an awful lot of characters to get to grips with here, especially since a number of them are stated in the beginning as having been killed in action and then turn out to be mysteriously alive.
And when I say ‘a number of them’ I mean ‘literally everyone’. Starting with one of the protagonists of the book, Ella Banning. She was ‘killed’ a year ago in an operation in Beirut which went south, leaving her lover, Jude Dagan, devastated. Now she’s turned up alive, right hand woman to a notorious arms dealer.
Saying that Jude does not handle this well is the understatement of the year. In fact, he goes completely off the rails, first deciding he has to kill her as a traitor, then that he wants answers. When he finally gets face to face with her, he’s violent, threatening, demanding, and totally mistrustful. Ella tells him to his face that she’s on an undercover mission and he’s endangering everything, and he just flat-out doesn’t listen. And not a single one of his team-mates calls him on it. He even kidnaps her and drags her off to a remote hideaway to… I still don’t know what for. To ‘keep her safe’, he claimed, completely disrespecting the fact that she was doing her job and his actions made it impossible for her to be professional and help people who needed her. And then he didn’t check her for an implanted tracker, despite having the equipment conveniently on hand, leading to them both being almost killed anyway.
There is so much contradictory in Jude’s attitude. It’s stated repeatedly that Ella was broken (and we get a nasty account of the torture she underwent) in order for the arms dealer to trust she’s too afraid of him to betray him. In which case, Jude should absolutely never trust a word out of her mouth. Or… she was never broken in the first place, in which case she is most definitely not ‘soft’, as he thinks of her multiple times. I nearly threw my e-reader at the wall at the sentence “She’d become a better soldier while she’d been away from him, but she was still soft.”
I like romantic suspense and action novels, and I like an alpha male, but this book was a mess of contradictory plot points and Jude crossed well over the line from alpha to a-hole. Despite the cliffhanger ending, I’m not in the least tempted to read any more in this series. It took me four days to wade through a book I should have finished in a couple of hours because I kept losing my temper and having to put it down. Jude’s boneheaded stupidity and conviction that He Knew Best made me want to murder him myself. I’m not even kidding when I say I was disappointed when the villain didn’t manage it.
I only didn’t DNF this because I don’t believe in critiquing something without having full and informed knowledge of the thing. Having battled through to the end of this, I can therefore in full confidence say I absolutely hated it and I’m giving it one star - which is more than it deserves.
Running The Risk is available now, if you want a book to lose your temper with.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.