Deep Cover is the third entry in Scarlett Cole’s romantic suspense series, Love Over Duty, which follows three ex-Navy SEALs who’ve launched their own security firm called Eagle Securities. Not only are they brothers through their shared service, but they’ve also had a strong bond since childhood. Each novel sees them find their romantic matches, and Deep Cover follows the third and final single man, Cabe Moss. This was one of the best romances I’ve read recently for three reasons: it has a really strong, suspenseful plot; it has an extremely likable female protagonist; and the male protagonist is swoonworthy for an unexpected reason.
Cole does a superb job of reminding readers what’s happened in the first two novels so that first-time readers of the series like myself aren’t left behind. For that reason, I won’t dwell on the backstory, but the intricacies of the newest case, which brings FBI-agent Amy Murray into Cabe’s life, are worth touching on. Cole does an excellent job of bringing an exciting, mysterious plot into this third instalment without totally relying on what’s happened in the first two novels.
Amy is an FBI agent who focuses on the cases of missing women which, for deeply personal reasons, is something she’s truly passionate about. Her current case focuses on three missing women who’ve all worked at a local casino in San Diego (where she’s recently been forced to transfer). Her boss alerts her to a collaboration that the FBI is being forced into, since the casino is also suspected of money laundering. The FBI must join forces with the CIA by way of the freelancing security firm they’ve hired – Eagle Securities.
Cabe’s team is the only one available for the task when the CIA tells them that Eagle Securities is needed to go on an undercover assignment at a local casino. They’ll be working the money laundering angle while the FBI is sending someone undercover as a dealer to focus on the missing women. Cabe’s all in – until he walks into the first meeting and realizes the undercover agent is a woman he’d ditched at a bar days earlier. He knew, despite the heartbreaking reason he had decided to leave, he’d been a jerk, but now Cabe has no choice but to make nice with the beautiful Amy if they’re going to uncover a money laundering scheme that’s also causing young women to disappear. It’s high stakes all around.
When I read Amy’s physical description early on, I was a little wary:
Off duty, she loved her hair, which was Scandinavian blonde with a California wave. But on duty–taken together with lips that were a fraction too full and eyes she’d once been told were the color of a tropical ocean–it just added to the difficulty she had being taken seriously.
Blonde, blue-eyed and too pretty to be taken seriously. I was afraid I was reading a novel about a blonde bombshell who was coasting through life, but my fears were quickly assuaged. Amy is intelligent, passionate, and dedicated, determined to find out the truth about the missing women. She also struggles with issues that many women encounter in the workplace, like not being taken seriously and being objectified. She instantly became relatable and a character to root for.
It only got better the further along I read. Not only is there a great female protagonist who is more than just a beauty, but there is also a wonderful male protagonist who is hunky and a pretty ideal man. Cole perfectly crafts a hero with the protective instincts for some old-fashioned, feel-good romantic chivalry, without all of the male-chauvinistic tendencies that would lead him to believe a woman incapable.
It wasn’t just her sex appeal – currently contained or not – that was distracting. Nor was it the way he’d witnessed her bite that full lower lip of hers as he spoke. It was that he now knew she had the brains to back up the beauty. And brains were the sexiest goddamn thing about a woman.
Amy and Cabe instantly have chemistry, but their false start at the bar presents the first obstacle, the fact that they’re now working together presents the second, and finally, they are both struggling with deep emotional scars which prevent them from diving into a relationship. Despite being really interested in the suspenseful plot, it was just a bonus for me. Amy and Cabe’s relationship is the icing on the cake in this one, and the absolute and equal respect that they have for one another is what makes this one of the best romances I’ve read this summer.
From their cameos in Deep Cover, it seems like all of the men from the Love Over Duty series are swoonworthy for the same reason, and all of the women each have distinctive characteristics from our passionate, FBI agent, are relatable characters. Thank you to Scarlett Cole for writing a romance that makes us proud to be lovers of the genre.
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