Her Beautiful Assassin
I’ve read some plot and character types I usually avoid as I make my way through the Family Secrets series. In Virginia Kantra’s Her Beautiful Assassin, it’s the dreaded (or depending on your preference, beloved) Navy SEAL hero. The good news is, this is the best book yet in the series, good enough that not even the spoilers splashed all over the cover can ruin it.
After her husband’s death, Samantha Barnes became the interim U.S. ambassador to a small Eastern European nation in his stead. When she takes over his efforts to broker peace between the country and its neighbors, she becomes a target of those opposed to the peace talks. Navy SEAL Marcus Evans is assigned to her security unit, a job he doesn’t particularly want. That’s before he meets the beautiful ambassador.
The attraction between them is strong, even if they both know nothing can come of the light flirting. Then Marcus’s superior informs him that there is a mole inside Samantha’s security detail. He orders Marcus to get her out of town and into hiding. Against her will, Marcus does, and the close quarters of an isolated cabin only increases the sexual tension between them. It doesn’t guarantee safety, though, and Marcus soon suspects the woman he’s falling in love with is still in danger from an unexpected source.
I’ve read enough of these Harlequin/Silhouette interconnected series to know that the best books are the ones that manage to stand on their own as a good story in their own right. Her Beautiful Assassin is one that does. It’s not necessary to read the other books or know anything going into it. Kantra doesn’t flood the story with exposition to get the uninitiated reader caught up. Instead, everything we need to know about the overall plot of the series comes out the way it should, as the characters learn it.
The focus remains on these two characters and their relationship and should appeal to readers who enjoy cabin romances. Marcus and Samanth’as interaction drives the story. They have very good chemistry and the sexual tension remains very high. While it is a fast relationship, there is enough of a sense of them getting to know each other to make it easier to swallow. I appreciated the number of character moments the story provided and just how much of their exchanges we were allowed to see. The suspense plot didn’t overwhelm their relationship, but it wasn’t forgotten either.
While Marcus is yet another almighty SEAL, he has enough insecurities to keep him bearable, not because of his Sad Past, but because he’s not perfect and he knows it. He’s blessed with tremendous physical capabilities, but grew up in a family where it was clear he wasn’t really as smart as everyone else. Of course, the specter of Brockmann hovers over any SEAL story and comparisons are inevitable. There are some Brockmannesque elements in Kantra’s story, but the author’s voice and style are distinctive enough to make this story her own.
A word about the cover of this book: it contains huge spoilers, in several different ways I shouldn’t pinpoint for those who haven’t read it yet. While the twists of the story aren’t giant surprises, they certainly didn’t need to be spelled out all over the cover of the book, especially when the “deepest secret,” as the back cover puts it, doesn’t come out until well into the story.
Even so, Her Beautiful Assassin is a strong enough read to withstand even those cover spoilers. It’s a very good book, both as part of the series and as a stand-alone.