Her Rogue Alpha
Her Rogue Alpha is the fifth book in Paige Tyler’s X-Ops series, combining military and government forces special operation missions with paranormal elements, specifically characters that are shifters or genetically enhanced hybrids. The combination of tight, action packed sequences with the skills of paranormal heroes and heroines make for some entertaining stories. I read and enjoyed book four of the series, Her Fierce Warrior and I’ve also read two of the author’s SWAT team stories that are built along the same lines, with wolf shifters who work for a special unit of the police force. Each story can be read as a standalone (though with a continuing story arc through the series). The romantic setup for this story is slightly different, in that Jayson and Layla are already established as a couple at the start. But there is trouble in paradise.
Jayson’s last military mission was a cock-up. Ambushed while approaching an innocent looking goat farm in Afghanistan with his team, he suffered serious back injuries that resulted in a discharge from the military and a pretty solid case of PTSD. His girlfriend Layla is supportive of him and hopes to help him adjust to all the changes in his life, but Jayson can’t avoid the belief that she’s not going to stick around with an invalid like him, especially with his depression always at the forefront. He’s got a job on the firing range working for the Department of Covert Operations (DCO), but it’s a gimme job, and he knows it. When the Deputy Director offers him a chance at a new and improved serum that would give him hybrid capabilities of enhanced senses while healing his back injury, Jayson is tempted. But Layla is horrified by the notion, knowing previous participants in the last study are still dealing with the side effects. Heedless of her warning, Jayson agrees to be injected with the serum and is sent on a rescue mission to the Ukraine to test his new capabilities, with Layla in swift pursuit. Meanwhile, back home in Washington, a thief has stolen property belonging to Thorn, a former senator and current member of the DCO committee. Thorn is under investigation over illegal activities related to the hybrid program run by the DCO. Layla’s sister Ivy and her partner Landon have been providing surveillance of Thorn’s home for the Department of Homeland Security and witness the theft. Thorn will stop at nothing to get his property back and Ivy and Landon must work in concert with Hayes, the local police officer assigned to the case to find the missing items. Once again, the operatives of the DCO have their hands full, both at home and abroad.
Jayson is fully engaged in his quest to find a missing teenager when Layla catches up to him. They soon discover the mission is much more complicated than either expected. The area of Ukraine they are in is fictional and while there is some lip service given to the current political situation between Russia and Ukraine, it should be taken with a grain of literary salt. The Russians are the bad guys naturally, and there are lots of action packed scenes as Jayson and Layla work their way across the countryside.
There is, however, a distinct lack of sexual/romantic tension in the story. This is rather surprising, given that Layla and Jayson haven’t consummated their relationship yet because of his injuries. You’d think that the fact they’re an established couple who haven’t had sex would make for some super-steamy chemistry but somehow this isn’t the case. We DO get some sexy scenes as they finally connect physically and emotionally during the mission, but it’s due to Jayson’s renewed confidence more than any sexual tension between them. His personal difficulties – both mental and physical – drive his character development and I like how the author delves into his PTSD and the subsequent revelations that help him deal with it. Layla provides the support and understanding Jayson needs while working through his issues and her empathetic nature makes her very likable. Along with her fighting abilities, she is a strong woman in all senses of the word.
While Jayson and Layla work together in Ukraine, things at home seem equally unstable. We quickly learn that the thief who stole two items (a large diamond and a mystery article) from Thorn is herself a shifter. She has a well-established jewelry shop and has taken to a little breaking and entering on the side because, well, she’s bored. When her friend Rory, a fence and pawn shop owner, mentioned Thorn’s diamond to her in passing, she stole it on a whim, along with what else was in the safe. But the word is out that Thorn wants his property back and he proves his ruthlessness by getting rid of any known suspects. Dreya is on the run – but Ivy and Landon are on her tail. This is also an interesting and action packed subplot, but seems to not really fit with the rest of the plot, other than to have two storylines to switch back and forth and make the page count longer. It’s also left open-ended (while the other storyline in Ukraine is complete), paving the way for the next story in the series, that appears will focus on Dreya and Hayes, the police officer. I’m probably going to have to pick that one up too, since I want to know what will happen with them (good work, Ms. Tyler). Her Rogue Alpha is light on romance but fits in well with the rest of the series and has some fun action packed scenes in a fast moving plot, providing an entertaining story.