Review: An Operative’s Last Stand – Juno Rushdan
by Juno Rushdan
Series: Fugitive Heroes: Topaz Unit #4
Also in this series: Rogue Christmas Operation, Alaskan Christmas Escape, Disavowed in Wyoming
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Source: the author
I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A kill squad is closing in…Now this team leader must risk everything for answers
Barely escaping CIA mercenaries, ex-agent Hunter Wright is after the person he thinks targeted his ops team, Topaz, for treason. Deputy director Kelly Russell is still the one woman he can't resist, but she believes Hunter went rogue. Now she's his only shot at getting the answers they need. Can they trust each other enough to save Topaz—and each other?
Needless to say, after the last book, I was dying to know what was next for Topaz unit, especially after that tantalizing hint about who Hunter’s love interest would be. Let’s just say that she didn’t come off so great in the last book, so when I read the blurb and saw that my suspicions were confirmed? Whoa. Needless to say, the author knocked it out of the park with a rollercoaster ending to the series.
Bound by the intensity of their missions, the Topaz unit was closer than family, with their handler, Kelly, as an honorary member, though the feelings Hunter, the team’s leader, had for her were anything but familial. After the fiasco that led to Topaz being disavowed and hunted, Kelly was somehow promoted to deputy director of the CIA. To Hunter, it can only mean one thing: she’s the one who sold them out. When the CIA finally tracks the team to their island hideout, Hunter knows it’s time to change up the game. They’re going to return to the US and confront Kelly and clear Topaz’s name once and for all. And if Hunter still has feelings for Kelly, even after everything? His team is more important, and his team is all that matters.
“Kelly Russell had ruined his life and the lives of the people who meant the most to him. Those standing in this room, shoulder to shoulder with him.
That sin was unforgivable.”
Kelly is an absolute ice queen with fiery red hair. Raised by her career CIA father and, after his death, a woman who’s now the head of the NSA, her job is her life. She doesn’t have time for anything else, though she did make an exception – once. Hunter and Kelly had a one night stand while on a temporary assignment a year and a half ago, not too long before the botched mission. While they both wanted more, Kelly shut down any talk of a repeat the following morning, worried that the possible conflict of interest would torpedo her career. With his own career firmly in tatters and his team in danger, Hunter still can’t quite understand why she betrayed the team – betrayed him. But Hunter knows his responsibilities are clear, even if seeing her again is like a punch to the stomach. His ability to think three steps ahead, to consider problems from fresh angles have allowed them to stay a few steps ahead of the CIA, and now he’s putting that same intellect to figuring out how to beat the CIA on their home turf. Like Kelly, he holds honor – and protecting the US – above everything else, and it’s not just his teams’ lives at stake if the true perpetrator remains at large.
“He was betting on Kelly and that she would come through. In the event he was wrong, no one else should have to suffer for his error in judgment. They all had others who loved them, needed them to survive this.
If Kelly betrayed him, he would be the only one to pay the price.”
While all of the books had a pretty high kill count, this one had a few more content warnings and was a bit harder to read. Enemies to lovers doesn’t even touch the depths of animosity between the two of them at the start of the book, and it was heart-wrenching watching each of them figure out how they were deceived. There’s a good balance between the action and the romance, and also the bonus of watching the whole team (plus significant others) working together. Zee’s book was my favorite in this series, so I was very happy to see that she played a large part in this book. Both Hunter and Kelly comment that she’s the glue of the team, and she really is. She’s a good sounding board for Hunter when he’s trying to work through his feelings about Kelly, and good at talking down the other team members when they question his plan of attack.
Overall, this was a great end to an action-packed series, and I’m very much looking forward to whatever the author writes next!
Content notes: View Spoiler »violence (including death), torture, kidnapping, misogyny, toxic family, death of parents (in the past) « Hide Spoiler