Whatever It Takes (Trust No One # 4) by Dixie Lee Brown
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Adult Fiction
Assassin Alex Morgan will do anything to save an innocent life – especially if it means rescuing a child from a hell like the one she endured.
But going undercover as husband and wife, with none other than the disarmingly sexy Detective Nate Sanders, may be a little more togetherness than she can handle. She’s used to working alone, and no man is going to change that – not even a man who makes her heart pound and her defenses crumble with just a touch
Nate has dodged more than a few bullets over the years, but fighting his attraction for Alex may be the bullet that does him in. Still, Nate’s determined to help her find the missing kid. There’s no doubt in his mind that they’re walking straight into danger, but Nate’s willing to face anything if it means protecting Alex. She might have been on her own once, but Nate has one more mission: to stay by her side – forever.
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 tosuffer 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 via Edelweiss 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 release edition.
DIXIE LEE BROWN lives and writes in Central Oregon, inspired by what she believes is the most gorgeous scenery anywhere. She resides with two dogs and a cat, who make sure she never takes herself too seriously. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, movies, and trips to the beach.
Ms. Brown gives us greater insight into the Trust No One series in this Q&A.
What drew you to write in the romantic suspense genre?
Thanks for having me here today! I love to read, and I love to read romance of any kind, but when I started to write, the suspense part of the story just seemed to write itself. The mix of romance and danger is just too hard to resist.
What was the inspiration for or intention behind writing a series called “Trust No One”?
The situations my imperfect characters find themselves in highlight how hard it is to trust another human being. Many of them have trusted in the past and lived to regret their actions, which is what led to the series title. They want to trust, but sometimes it’s hard to take that step.
What three adjectives best describe the hero, Nate?
Tall, dark, and sexy!
The heroine of Whatever it Takes, Alex Morgan, is a deeply conflicted but enduring character. Can you describe your approach to digging into and developing Alex’s psychological makeup? How difficult was it to create such a complex three-dimensional character?
I didn’t find Alex’s character difficult to create at all. Her backstory is probably more detailed than any I’ve ever done before, which was necessary to fully anticipate how she might react in given situations. I spent a lot of time contemplating her past and how it relates to her present, and I made some assumptions that seem right for Alex but may be totally wrong in the world of psychology. I think that’s okay, though, because not everyone fits the mold anyway.
What is your favorite scene from this book? Which scene was the most difficult to write?
My favorite scene was when the fight starts in the bar and Alex drops in to help Nate. The scene most difficult to write was the one in the tunnel. Even as I think about it now, everything goes dark and I can’t get a clear picture of what’s going on! Maybe I’m not a tunnel person!
Do you have a favorite couple from the series?
Absolutely! Nate and Alex are my favorite couple.
What have you learned so far from writing this series?
Many, many things! One very important thing I learned is the importance of keeping a detailed character list and timeline. It contains such things as physical description, a family tree of sorts, what kind of car they drive, what kind of gun they carry, personal preferences, allergies, anything I might need to refer to again. The list saves me tons of time.
What other authors or books have had a significant influence on your writing?
There are so many great authors whose books I enjoy and learn from. Here are just a few: MacKenzie Crowne; JM Stewart; Vonnie Davis; AJ Nuest; Lisa Olech; Laura Kaye; Sharon Struth; Kelly Moran —See! I get going and can’t stop!
Can you share any tidbits about the next book in the series and what readers can expect next?
Book #5 in the series will feature Jim Brady who has been a secondary character in each of the books except #2. We get to know him better in WHATEVER IT TAKES, and his story begins where Nate and Alex’s ends, with a mission to locate the mother of the young boy they’ve rescued. He meets his own leading lady and sparks fly!
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring romantic suspense authors?
Learn your craft, and never give up! Was that two? Sorry!
Thank you for taking time to answer the questions for this interview for Sun Mountain Reviews.
Thanks again for inviting me!
Print Copy of Dixie Lee Brown’s If You Only Knew (Trust No One # 3)
– where you get to meet Alex and Nate for the first time!
Purchase Links for Whatever It Takes