Target for Terror (Security Specialists, Inc # 1) by L.A. Iding
Publication Date: February 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense, Suspense, Adult Fiction
“If you leave on your own, you’ll be dead by morning.”
Critical Care Nurse Natalia Sokolova can’t ignore former FBI Agent Sloan Dryer’s dire warning. After the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia dies under her care, her house explodes in front of her eyes and now she’s found her best friends brutally murdered. Ironically, the only bright spot in this nightmare is Sloan’s bad Ukrainian accent and his willingness to protect her.
Sloan is convinced that someone wants to kill Natalia and when he finds a link to her family, he’s not sure who they can trust. As they run for their lives, and from the passion simmering between them, they uncover a terrorist plot that could bring the nation to its knees. Time is running out. Can Sloan and Natalia save their country and their future, before it’s too late?
Target for Terror is has all of the elements that make for a good book: mystery, action, suspense, and romance all bundled together for one sexy, engaging read. Iding is definitely off to a good start with her new series centered on the work of Sloan and Jordan who have partnered together to create Security Specialists, Inc. The history behind the startup of the company and the backstories of these two heroes are smoothly incorporated throughout the book without readers having too much exposition dumped on them all at once in the beginning of the story.
Watching the burgeoning relationship between Sloan and Natalia grow over the course of the book is what I enjoyed the most during my read. Natalia is distrustful of Sloan, as she should be; her life is in danger, and she’s all alone, unsure of who can be trusted. Sloan tries to keep her safe, but for the first half of the book, Natalia fights him every step of the way. Early on, she’s antagonistic, sarcastic, and feisty…which surprisingly is a turn-on for Sloan, and he’s a sucker for her Russian accent when she insults him:
“Her husky tone sent fissions of heat flickering through his veins. There was something genetically wrong with him if he could be attracted to a woman who’d called him a pig.”
I found a lot of the conversational sparring between them to be quite amusing, and the touch of wry humor Iding sprinkles throughout the book gives readers a much needed respite from the otherwise serious and violent plot.
Target for Terror is not a light, easy read…at least it wasn’t for me. The plot is complex and involves many characters who may or may not be involved in a terrorist plot against the U.S, and in this book, the Cold War is still very much in effect as the tension between Russia and the U.S. escalates, especially after the Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister is shot while delivering a speech in Washington, D.C. I really had to pay attention to understand all the major players involved and their possible motivations for all the murders that take place. What’s so interesting is that Natalia, a regular everyday person and nurse, seems to be somehow connected to all of villains and their plans for power. When the truth finally is revealed, I have to say, it was a shock! As Sloan and Natalia make their way through one crisis after another, they find lots of little surprises as they begin to figure out how everyone is connected. Needless to say, there is a lot going on in this book.
The chemistry between Sloan and Natalia feels genuine, and the intimate scenes between them are hot but not so steamy, they make you blush. However, I do question the timing of these scenes. The couple gives into their passion, hoping the “mind-numbing pleasure” will help them escape momentary from the worry, grief, and desperation they are feeling at the time. While some may completely understand their actions, if I were in their situation, sexual intimacy would not be at the top of my list…figuring out what to do next to survive would. Like most readers of romance, I look forward to the “happily ever after” that I hope I’ll find in the resolution, and that HEA can come in many forms. Sloan and Natalia’s HEA was a bit too soon and too sappy for me. However, others may their resolution to be spot on after everything this couple has been through together.
Following the conclusion to the book, Iding gives readers a preview of what’s next in the sequel which features Jordan, and it’s clear this book will also be full of surprises that will catch both the characters and readers off guard. I’m already sucked in…so I’ll be keeping my out for the book’s release.
Source: I received a copy of the book from the author to provide an honest review.
Natalia leaned back against the seat of the taxi, clutching what little money she had left. Calm. She needed to remain calm. The muscles in her legs quivered from exertion and her scrubs clung to her sweat-dampened skin. Several controlled, deep breaths helped to slow her racing heart.
She placed a hand over the pendant she wore around her neck, searching for strength. She’d been adopted when she was only four-years-old, and didn’t have any memories at all of her birth mother. Nothing except the pendant she wore around her neck. If she hadn’t been wearing it, the necklace would have been gone too, along with everything else she owned.
She spared another wistful thought for her precious things belonging to her mother. And all her research notes. Not that she’d been very close to finding her birth mother, but the clues she’d gathered in relation to her past had been blown to bits.
Her eyes filled with tears and she blinked them back determinedly. Enough. Crying was useless and wouldn’t change anything. She needed to count her blessings. Her cat, Petr was out of his arthritis-filled misery, and she could recreate her notes. Her memories of her dear adopted mother would remain alive in her heart. Her home could be replaced. Ivan would help her. He and his partner Andrew, would gladly allow her to stay with them until she could find something else.
The driver pulled up to Ivan’s house. Gratefully, she climbed from the taxi.
The townhouse Ivan shared with Andrew was dark. Natalia hesitated outside the dark doorway debating what to do. Now that she’d calmed down a bit, knocking on the door at one in the morning didn’t seem prudent, so she raised up on her tiptoes and helped herself to the spare key Ivan kept hidden along the inside edge of his fancy light fixture.
She quietly unlocked and opened the door, flipping on the hallway light as she stepped inside. Blinking, she gave her eyes a few minutes to adjust to the brightness. She headed down the short hallway.
Dark crimson smears stained lily-white walls and impeccable hardwood floors. The awful metallic stench grabbed her around the throat, pressing against her trachea. Blood? She stepped closer, unable to believe her senses.
Oh no. Please, God, no!
She fisted a hand in her mouth to keep from screaming. She knew she should run in case the attacker was still there, but she couldn’t leave. She had to find Ivan. She took one step, then another until she reached the kitchen.
And found them.
Two bodies lying face down on the kitchen floor, bathed in blood.
Ivan! Andrew. No! This couldn’t be real. This couldn’t be happening. Deep, gasping sobs rose from her chest. Five years of ingrained critical care nursing broke through the panic enough to force her to approach, leaning over the bodies to check for a pulse, even though in some corner of her brain she knew the action was useless. Her fingers confirmed her brain’s suspicions.
The pale skin was cold, lifeless. They were both dead.
Oh God. Her stomach heaved, rising into her throat in a bilious wave. Run. Belgi. Run! She spun from the horrific sight and ran. Out of the townhouse and down the steps. Tears blurred her vision and she ran face-first into a wall of solid male muscle.
She fought against the arms that came round her, kicking and punching as her momentum carried them down onto the grassy embankment, landing hard enough to make her teeth rattle. He was too strong for her. His arms held hers easily in spite of her wild, thrashing attempts to get free. She opened her mouth to scream but a hard hand closed over her mouth as an even harder body pinned hers against the unyielding earth.
“Natalia, stop fighting. I’m here to help you.”
The words, spoken in Ukrainian, snaked through the waves of hysteria, making sense when nothing else would have. She stopped her fierce struggle and peered through the darkness at the man who held her firmly in his grasp.
Her heart thudded against her chest when she recognized him as the tall, dark-haired man from the hospital. The knowledge he was one of the three government men who’d come to pry information from Josef Korolev was not reassuring.
“You promise not to scream?” he whispered in Ukrainian. She nodded, and then tried to turn her head away to free her mouth. He moved his hand, but kept her body pinned beneath him.
“What are you doing here?” she asked in a vicious whisper. “Da poshel ti! Did you hurt Ivan? And Andrew? Are you going to kill me, too?”
Natalia didn’t know what to expect, but braced herself for the worst. Instead, he rose to his feet in a quick movement, dragging her upright too.
“No, I don’t want to kill you. But someone else sure as hell does. If you want to stay alive, you’d better come with me.” He tugged on her hand.
She dug in her heels and wrenched out of his grip. No way in hell was she going with him. Not when there had already been too much death and destruction for her shell-shocked mind to handle. “I don’t think so. I’m going to the police.” Where she should have gone right away. Stupid. She’d been so stupid.
“If you leave on your own, you’ll be dead by morning.”
Purchase from Amazon : Target For Terror (Security Specialists, Inc. Book 1)
A. Iding is a critical care nurse by day and an author by night. After writing medical romances, winning the Desert Rose Golden Quill Award and the Heart Of Denver Aspen Gold Award, she’s decided to follow her dream to write longer more complex romantic suspense stories. She is currently hard at work on the sequel of this book, Target For Ransom.
Tell us a little about yourself and why writing in the romantic suspense genre appeals to you?
I love writing action and creating twists and turns for the reader. I also like to keep my reader guessing and often struggle with how to make sure the reader won’t figure out the killer.
What gave you the idea for the plot of Target for Terror?
I actually had a patient tell me they knew who shot them and that just kept niggling at me as a great opening for a book. I wanted to do something with terrorism too, so that helped me with plotting the story line. My father was huge into world politics so he helped give me some insight there, too. I don’t know how, but it all came together in a great way.
What kind of research did you conduct before starting or during the process of writing the book? Was there an intriguing fact or insight that you learned from your research?
I’m sure I’m on some FBI or Homeland Security watch list for all the Russian mafia stuff I researched. But the best research was learning about the Russian language and I had help from a Russian friend of mine, Olga. She helped me with the phrases and that’s how I found out that a calling someone a little bird was an endearment. And calling them a pig was an grave insult. Here in the US a pig is used lightly but not in Russia!
Who was your favorite character to write and why? Also, who was the most difficult?
I loved writing both Sloan and Natalia although they both caused me problems too. I wanted Sloan to be a tough guy but with a softness that he only shows toward Natalia. It was hard not to make him too harsh. And Natalia is stubborn, that part was fun, but getting the Russian phrases down took a little time too.
Are there any particular authors who have inspired you or have had a significant impact on your writing?
Laura Griffin is my favorite romantic suspense author. Her books are my inspiration, although I know I have a long ways to go to be anywhere close to as good as she is.
Who is your favorite literary hero or heroine?
I don’t know if Gone With The Wind counts but I loved Rhett Butler for standing up to Scarlet. She really irritated me. 😊
What can readers expect from the upcoming sequel, Target for Ransom?
Jordan’s story is in the works and the readers can expect a secondary story that parallels the first one and then of course intermingles at the end, just like Target For Terror. The reader will also learn a little more about what happened to Sloan’s sister who was married to Jordan for a brief time. My goal is to make this story just as action packed and fast paced as Target For Terror.
Thank you for taking time to participate in this interview for Sun Mountain Reviews.
Post-Interview Commentary: Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind definitely counts as a literary hero, and his character is one at the top of my memorable heroes list. In fact, now that I look back on the story, I can see quite a few similarities in the dynamics between Sloan and Natalia that remind me of Rhett and Scarlett’s relationship. There’s no boredom to be found when they’re together. The sparks fly.