If you read the third book in this series, If Only You Knew, like me, you probably have been looking forward to Nate and Alex’s story because they don’t seem to get off on the right footing when they meet in the latter part of the book, and the sparks between them have already started to fly! Now, in this fourth installment that extends the plot from book three, Whatever It Takes features the continuation of Nate and Alex’s relationship. And I’ll go ahead and say right now Brown does not disappoint. Whatever it Takes has all the excitement, thrills and an amorous romance that I’ve come to expect in this series.
The book picks up the plot several months later in the story’s timeline. A five-year-old boy, Marco, was kidnapped in the last book and used as leverage by a rogue FBI agent to manipulate the boy’s mother into cooperating with him in his illicit schemes. Now, after months of searching, Joe’s team has a strong lead on the human trafficker who has him, and time is of the essence in getting the boy out of the hands of Diego Vasquez. As the team prepares a plan to get Marco back to his mother, Alex is sent to locate undercover detective, Nate Sanders to assist in the rescue mission.
When Alex does find Nate, their encounter is anything but typical, and it is one of the best scenes in the book because of its intense action and suspense. In the follow-up scene it’s evident their overt antagonism toward each other is really just a façade to mask the sexual tension brimming between them. Nate has been warned about Alex’s instability, “…she was lethal, unpredictable, and apt to respond with violent intent at the first sign of perceived danger.” Yet, even knowing this about her and finally seeing her in action, Nate’s attraction only increases. He is drawn to the fiery, tough-as-nails, smart-mouthed beauty, and although Alex is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, ironically Nate has a need to protect her. Even though he doesn’t know her very well, he can immediately sense the scared, vulnerable woman hidden behind the hardened mercenary who is exceptional and impressive in her knife wielding skills.
Alex has had a traumatic past and her emotional growth has been stunted by the abuse she has suffered. She’s aloof and distrustful of others, except for Joe and her teammates. Alex is still haunted by her captivity and Nate has to work hard for every step he takes to get close to her. The title of the book, Whatever It Takes is fitting for the progression of their relationship. Their constant verbal sparring which eventually leads to a tender but sensual romance is well-worth the read.
The title also connects to Alex and her unwavering attempt to save Marco from the ugly future that awaits him if the team fails to rescue him. Because of what happened to her, she is personally invested in seeing this boy freed, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get him back, even knowing her role in the rescue places her in imminent danger and has the potential to take her right back to the torment she vowed never to suffer again. Brown does a really good job in getting into the mindset of someone who has suffered severe emotional damage, and I’m impressed with how well she helps us understand what it’s like to carry this baggage around with her every single day.
Although the rescue mission is well-planned, the events that follow are unpredictable and suspenseful, and just when you thing the worst is over, the stakes for this couple’s survival become even higher.
I’ll admit at times, I became frustrated with Alex’s behavior. Nate tries to prove over and over to her that he cares about her and he’s in for the duration, even though Alex pushes him away every time they begin to make progress. Nate’s character is wonderful and even though Alex tells him to stay away because she’s crazy and fears that she’ll hurt him, Nate believes and trusts her. His feelings are always transparent:
“If you’re going to spend more time around me, and I hope you will, you should be prepared because I look for the good in people and I’m likely to say something nice at any moment. I’m a complete sap,and I get all emotional at the drop of a hat. I want you to know how I feel.”
Nate is irresistible, and his openness is refreshing. I just wish it didn’t take so long for Alex to realize he is willing to accept her just as she is. When she tells him she wishes she were normal, I love his reply that “normal is overrated.”
Now I’m ready for Jimmy’s story. He’s one of Alex’s teammates and one of the few she connects with because both suffer from PTSD. In the next mission, Jimmy will be taking the lead and most likely working solo since as a former SEAL, he’s a deadly weapon, without or without a gun. The plot continues as Jimmy sets out to find Marco’s mother, who has mysteriously disappeared.
Although Whatever it Takes can be read as a stand-alone since Brown provides enough detail to explain how Marco and his mother came to be separated, I recommend reading the third installment first. While others may be fine with reading a summary of past events connected to the ongoing plot, I prefer to experience the entirety of a story rather than relying on a re-cap of the what happened before. All in all, Whatever It Takes is a very good romantic suspense.
Source: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher to provide an honest review. Note: The quotes used in this review were taken from a pre-released version of the book and may have changed or been omitted in the final released edition.
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