Brody “Brutus” Jackson isn’t your average small-town mechanic. The shop where he spends his days doubles as the headquarters for the mercenary group he works with. They jokingly call themselves the Bang Shift because the government contracts they take are the less savory ones, and they’re all just shady enough to do what’s necessary to get the jobs done.
As far as Brody’s concerned, it’s the perfect arrangement for a man with no memory of his past, and no hope for the future.
Under FBI protection, Alexandria Collins and her son have been in hiding for ten years. When it’s time to move again, her piece of crap car breaks down and the man giving her a tow is the biggest, hottest guy she’s ever seen. She is determined to ignore the need her long-neglected body hungers for.
After all, the last man she showed interest in put a gun to her head.
Brody thinks the skittish Xan is sexy as hell, but it’s not her hot body that has him rocked to his core. He knows her from somewhere, and in his line of work, that’s a dangerous thing.
Following orders have never been this hard, but when he finds out she’s his next assignment, he will protect her at all costs … even if what she needs protection from most is him.
The story opens strong and only builds from there. Xan is nearly killed by her husband, Marco Collins, a notorious gangster. But she survives and is placed into witness protection where we catch up with her and her son twelve years later. As the date of her ex-husband’s release from prison approaches, she and her son are relocated to a small town. On her way into her new town, her car breaks down and has to be towed to a garage that just happens to be overrun with hot, hot, hot men. One is Brody and it’s mutual lust at first sight. Thus the setup. The rest of the story is about these two battling their own desires, and losing. Underlying it all is Brody’s secret, and the reappearance of the ex husband we all know is coming.
However, what should be a formulaic romance actually has a few jaw-dropping twists that kept me on the edge of my seat and guessing. And I never once guessed right. That’s pretty hard to do. I can usually figure some of it out along the way, but in this case, I guessed wrong every single time.
There are two main plots running simultaneously — the romance between Xan and Brody and the safety of Xan and her son, Scott, once Xan’s ex-husband is released from prison. But several smaller subplots run through the story, including Brody’s memory loss and a possible connection he has with Xan from both of their pasts, the identity of a dirty FBI agent who may or may not be working with Xan’s ex-husband, and the hint of something more between Xan’s neighbor, Roxy, and Bear, one of the other Bang Shifters. The romance angle was relatively unsurprising, but nonetheless rewarding, but the plot involving the ex-husband was twisty, riveting and full of surprises.
The world building was probably the area I found the weakest. Some of the details of being an FBI witness under protection were off. For one, she was under FBI protection and not the U.S. Marshalls. FBI agents typically only protect incarcerated witnesses. Another is when she lets her secret slip to her neighbor and doesn’t call her agent to report this breach. Especially given her fear of her ex-husband and the fact that he’s been recently paroled. There were a few other things that seemed implausible, but it didn’t ruin the story for me.
The characters were likeable and I rooted for them, although they weren’t especially deep and there was little to no character development through the story. Still I found all of the m to be believable and acting according to their respective characters.
Brody is a fun, fast read that has edge-of-your-seat suspense, a steamy romance, and a couple of jaw-dropping twists.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Series: Bang Shift #1
Author: Mandy Harbin
Publisher: Mandolin Park
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo
About the Author
Mandy Harbin is an award-winning, bestselling author of several books across multiple romance genres ranging from contemporary to paranormal erotic romance. She is also the number one bestselling author in teen romance under the pen name M.W. Muse with her popular Goddess Series. She is a Superstar Award recipient, Reader’s Crown and RWA Passionate Plume finalist, and has received Night Owl Reviews Top Pick distinction many times.
She studied writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, earned several degrees, and even pursued an MBA until she realized becoming an author did not have to remain an unfulfilled dream. Mandy is a PAN member of the RWA and lives in a small Arkansas town with her non-traditional family, and although she is a direct descendant of British royalty, they refuse to call her princess. When she’s not penning her latest book, you can find her hanging out online where she loves to connect with fellow readers or stalking Mickey Mouse at Disney World.