by Juno Rushdan
Series: Final Hour #3
Also in this series: Every Last Breath, Nothing to Fear
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
He's strong. Fierce. Relentless.And he may be her only chance of surviving the night.
Gray Box operative Castle Kinkade always gets the job done, no matter how tough the assignment. But when he agrees to protect white-hat hacker Kit Westcott, Castle's loyalty is tested like never before. Trapped in the closest of quarters, protective instincts flaring, he can feel the ice surrounding his heart melt...and he knows he'd do anything to keep Kit safe.
Even defy the rules that shaped his life.
Castle is the last person Kit should confide in, let alone be attracted to, but he's the only ally she has left. Under threat of imminent attack—and a chilling conspiracy that hits too close to home—Castle and Kit are forced to put their hearts and lives on the line...and stop at nothing to face the greatest danger the world has ever known.
The Final Hour Series:Every Last BreathNothing to FearUntil the End
Content warnings: View Spoiler »graphic violence (headshots, etc), depression, suicide (of character’s relative, in the past and off-page), survivor’s guilt, PTSD (military combat related), grief, medicine insecurity « Hide Spoiler
I’ve enjoyed every one of Juno Rushdan’s books I’ve read, but none of them have been as much of an edge-of-your-seat roller coaster ride as this one! This is the third in a series, and while you could probably read it as a stand-alone as everything is recapped well, it won’t be quite the same experience.
Castle is a complicated character. We’ve seen a lot of him from the outside, especially from his sister Maddox’s perspective in the first book, where she worried that something that happened during his time as a SEAL broke him. Castle’s rebuilt himself around his identity at the Gray Box as Director Sanborn’s second-in-command and heir apparent, committed to the mission and the security of his country. Nothing else is important to him, as the Gray Box is his family and Sanborn, known colloquially to the team as “Dad,” is basically a surrogate dad to him. The last thing he wants is to be responsible for a mouthy POI that may hold the information they need to track down stolen biological weapons…
“Careful what you wish for. You just might get me completely unfiltered and unfettered.”
She didn’t bat an eyelash. “Is that a promise or a threat?”
It took me a while to warm up to Kit. Part of the problem is that the previous main characters in the story have all had some level of experience with field operations – Maddox and Gideon were both field operatives, Cole had experience on the civilian side, and Willow, while not a field operative, worked directly with them and had extensive knowledge of what they do. In Willow’s case, it helped that she already trusted Gideon would keep her safe, and that while he might have to do monstrous things to do that, he was not himself a monster. Kit? None of that. She’s a trust fund heiress whose life work was putting together the Outliers, a group of white hat hackers. She’s not much of a hacker herself, more of the head honcho-type, or, as Willow puts it, a Bill Gates. She’s got plenty of reason to be suspicious of the government and too many examples of hackers like her being “disappeared.” Combined with the trauma of watching her team being murdered, she’s not always in the best headspace for making rational decisions. Everyone she loves – her twin brother, her parents, her team – dies, and she’s lonely and hurting. Watching her mouth off and push back at Castle was hilarious, but there were also times when she seemed to forget the seriousness of the situation and put them both in danger.
“I’ve never believed in chemistry, besides the kind to breach a site with explosive charges. Not until you.”
“You say the most romantic things.”
This is definitely an enemies-to-lovers situation, though even at the beginning both recognize the chemistry between them. Castle loves her fiery spirit and how she pushes back against him, and Kit appreciates how honorable and trustworthy he is, even when she has every reason not to trust him. They’re more alike that they want to admit, both people who have worked hard to put together their teams and protect them, who have experienced loss and understand how it changes you.
“When I strike, it is with precision and it is with justified cause.”
Where this series has really excelled is in the plotting and pacing. This book, even more than the previous books, is absolutely non-stop. All of the action scenes are well-written and make you feel like you’re right there in the middle of them. Some of the plot lines that have run through the first two books are finally resolved. I’ve had suspicions since the first book about where some things were going, and while some panned out – to devastating effect – others haven’t, but I’m not quite willing to let go of them yet.
Overall, this is another thrilling entry in the series, and I cannot wait to see what happens next!