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My Booklandia

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Mercenary by Michele Mannon

Title: Mercenary
Author: Michele Mannon
Series: Deadliest Lies, #2
Publisher: St. Martin's Press Swerve
Publication Date: September 6, 2016

Sometimes in life, choices just aren't part of the plan. When fate interferes and bulldozes right over you.

That's how I felt the first time I saw him. Standing in my kitchen, soaking wet, hotter than a man has the right to be, and holding a knife.

Declan's cold, stone-cold. I can't help but want him. His presence stirs up some raw emotion within me. He seems so...alone. But is he here to kill me or save me?

He's the one man I should never want...and the one I can never forget.

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I reenter the kitchen and stop short. My doubts roll away like river rain after a torrential storm. Leaving me speechless, in reckless girl oblivion.

The notched bit of wood is on the countertop next to the bowl of icing which I’d put in the refrigerator. The knife is gone. And a funny oh-so feminine feeling, beginning in my toes, speeding up my spine, making my heart thump wildly and my jaw go slack, overwhelms me.

Homemade chocolate icing coats his fingertips. I watch, fascinated, as one by one, he licks them clean.

Happy birthday, Madelyn.

His jawline is missing its hardness. His body less stiff, less controlled. He seems younger than I initially thought, in his late twenties. Less wound up, more relaxed. The tension in the small space has disappeared, replaced by a noticeable air of contentment. His laid back manner, the softening of his lips, the way he takes his time licking each long digit...oh yeah. I'm not the only one brought to my knees by homemade cupcakes.

I stare at him, thinking how he's ten times more dangerous like this. In three bites, he polishes off a chocolate cupcake, a perfect balance of flaky to moistly rich. Paying no heed to me whatsoever, standing there, eating him up as he pops the last piece into his mouth.

Then god love him, he licks his lips.

Whoa. Easy. Except there's a tiny bit of icing on his bottom lip...and I find myself waiting breathlessly to see what he'll do about it.

Heat rushes through me. My skin is hot enough to fry a Sunday flapjack. Fortunately, he misses this as he stares at the floor.

He curls a finger at me, and my eyebrows arch high. I hesitate at the come-here gesture.

What does he want?

Maybe some help with that smidgeon of icing on his lower lip. Do I point it out to him...or be more daring?

 I step closer, noticing how rainwater still clings to his long eyelashes. I inhale the outdoorsy scent of him, fresh and pure like damp wood. Wood smothered in chocolate with rich accents of chocolate cream.

He reaches out to me. To pull me into him and let me help him out with that spec of icing? Sadly, no. Instead, he tugs the worn, tattered cotton towel I've forgotten I was holding from my grasp. "I'll take that."

"Oh." Oh.

I move away, not knowing what else to do, and pick up my favorite kind of cupcake, vanilla bean with real vanilla bean flavoring I'd painstakingly shaved into the white batter. I use a spoon to spread on some icing then eat it with small, measured bites.

Moaning on the inside at the taste –and at the way his arms and chest flex as he rubs the towel over his head.

When he finishes, he folds it up and sets it on the countertop. "Get better locks."

I pause before responding, my mind still worked up from the lethal combination of cupcakes and a fine display of man candy.

"No need. Our stay here is temporary. See that," I point to my acceptance letter hanging from the refrigerator. "I'm transferring to San Diego State University. My bags are packed and I'm out of here in a few days."

"Good. No place for someone like you. Still, change the goddamn locks."

I bit my lip. Someone like me?

His gaze drops to my lips, tracking my movements. "Or do you know about what's been going on?"

He’s staring at my lips, and I wonder if he’s referring to this sizzling energy, this awareness that heats up the few feet between us.

Like he’s contemplating kissing me.

Like I’m actually wanting to kiss him.

A noise escapes my lips, something between a gasp and a slight, muted moan, which I struggle to swallow back.

For a man who’s given very little inclination as to why he's here, a whole lotta expression seems to cross his handsome face at once. Surprise—no missing that. Humor. Sadness. Pain. Until I see the flash of desire in his eyes.

"You should have stayed hidden. You shouldn’t have invited me inside."

His words come as a shock like a bucket of ice over my head. My private ice bucket challenge thrusting my thoughts away from kissing and back to the reality of this situation. “It was the right thing to do. The kind thing. I wouldn’t keep my worst enemy outside in a storm like this.”

For a second, he stares at me like I’ve grown two heads. Then, a frown mars his features. I step backward, one step, two.

He thrusts his hand out, grabs my arm and holds me in place.

"Has your sister's friend left you alone?"

"What friend?"

"Franco DiCapitano."

"That grease ball mobster? He's not Kylie's friend, not by a long shot."

"You ever talk to them? You and your sister hang out with them?"

"I avoid them at all costs. My sister's never confirmed this but Franco's responsible for my father's murder. And despite what you think, I'm not naïve. I know when trouble's around. I've learned to be careful. "

"You let me in."

"You're not some mobster who thinks violence is power."

"You are naïve." He walks over to the door, opens it and stands in the threshold, peering outside. The wind is vicious, the storm in a full rage. A force of nature trying to drive another force of nature back inside.

Author Bio:
Michele Mannon is an avid fan of traveling, skinny cinnamon lattes, and gawking at shirtless men on television--jocks, MMA fighters, vampires, and bikers alike. With a love for different cultures and rich "characters", she earned a degree in French, taught English in Japan, and worked in the NYC fashion industry. Now she puts her experiences to pen, by creating sassy heroines and oh-so sexy Alpha males, and throwing them into situations they'd never dream of being caught in. Michele lives in New Jersey with her family and three wicked cats.

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Lydia's Review

Mercenary is book two in the Deadliest Lies series and is a standalone, but book one explains a lot of what will be happening in this story, as it's about the heroine's from book one sister.

Maddy and Declan are from two completely different walks of life... but Declan is an alpha, protective, and you can't help but love him.

Mercenary is filled with suspense and smoking hot chemistry. The only thing I really wanted from this book was Declan's POV.

If you love an instalove, over the top romance, then this is for you. But I'm really wanting Diego's story, so I will be following (stalking) this author for more.

~ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stars

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