Trust No One (Blackhawk Security: Book 8) by Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: April 18th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Suspense

Series: Blackhawk Security

With One Breath—Book 1 (review here)

Once Removed—Book 2 (review here)

Once Burned—Book 3 (review here)

Fool Me Once—Book 4 (review here)

Just This Once—Book 5 (review here)

Once and Always—Book 6 (review here)

Once a Killer—Book 7 (review here)

Trust No One—Book 8

Purchase Links: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

Mel and Dev are no longer a couple, but they run Blackhawk Security together. When being around Dev becomes too painful, she buys him out.

Dev knows she’s going after her old CIA boss Kingsley, so Dev makes her a deal – if she accepts his help on this last job, he’ll walk away.

But Kingsley is slippery. After he murders one man and almost kills a young woman, they realize he has a well-planned escape.

Can Mel and Dev stop him? Or will Kingsly eliminate them first?

First Line:

Mel walked down the hall to her office, still smiling. She’d just dropped Bree off at the Helena airport, and her security agent would be in Chicago in five hours.

Trust No One by Margaret Watson

While Mel and Dev are no longer a couple and haven’t been for years, it doesn’t mean that Mel still has feelings for him. When Mel’s feelings become too much, she tells Dev she is buying him out. Dev is stunned. But knowing that Mel is going after a corrupt CIA agent, he counteroffers with a deal: He’ll leave Blackhawk Security after they take Kingsley. But Kingsley is slippery and can take down any witnesses that tie him to nefarious activities. With Kingsley’s reach extended to the top of the CIA, Mel and Dev must take Kingsley down quickly. But can they do without bloodshed or anyone getting hurt? And, when the dust settles, will Mel and Dev be able to put their past aside and embrace their future together?

When the author contacted me to ask me to read/review Trust No One, I immediately said yes. Margaret is an auto-accept for any books for me. I have been reviewing and loving her books since 2017/2018 (not sure about the year and am too lazy to look it up). I was also super excited when I saw this was Mel and Dev’s story. I have read this series from the beginning and longed for their book. Now that I’ve got it, I am happy.

Trust No One is the 8th book in the Blackhawk Security series. This book is the series’s last book, but I could be wrong. I would classify this book as a semi-standalone book. You don’t need to read the entire series to understand Dev and Mel’s story or the series’ background. But I suggest reading book seven first (Bree and Jameson’s story). The author comprehensively explains the Kingsely storyline in that book.

Trust No One is a fast-paced book. It occurs within a few weeks of Mel telling Dev she wants to buy him out. The author doesn’t let up on the pace. The pacing suited the book, considering what Mel and Dev were up against. It didn’t slow until after the airport scene at the end of the book.

Trust No One takes almost entirely in Washington, D.C., with the beginning chapter in Montana and the ending in Seattle. The author perfectly captured Washington’s hustle and bustle while highlighting the city’s seedier parts.

The main storyline in Trust No One center around Mel, Dev, and Kingsley. It was a wonderfully written storyline that kept me glued to the book. While I knew how this storyline would end up, I still loved the ride it took me on. There was a twist in the plotline that did take me by surprise. And the author kept me guessing who dirty CIA agents were until almost the end of the book.

I liked Mel. She was feisty, headstrong, and determined to bring down Kingsley. Did I think she was silly for wanting to go after him alone? Yes. But it showed her dedication to keeping her agents safe and bringing down a bad guy. She was paranoid, but in her work, being paranoid was a given. That paranoia helped her and Dev out during several instances when Kingsley’s agents followed them. The only thing that I didn’t like about her was how she dealt with her feelings for Dev. It didn’t follow the strong woman the author had built up throughout the series.

Dev drove me up the wall during the book. I was in awe of his surveillance skills and contacts. I also wanted to know more about what he did during his SEAL/SpecOps days. But at the same time, I also wanted to smack him upside the head. He didn’t want to listen to Mel (though he had more experience in the field). It took him a while to admit that she had skills. As for his feelings for her, I was getting very frustrated with him about that. I knew his feelings for Mel from the beginning of the book. But it took him until almost the end of the book to discuss his tumultuous upbringing and to admit his feelings.

What do I say about Kingsley? He is a personification of any high-ranking official in Washington, D.C. He was overconfident, had connections that made my head spin and was willing to do whatever it took to cover up his mistakes. But, unlike real life, he was getting his comeuppance. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth every time he appeared in the book.

The romance angle in Trust No One was a slow-burn one. It was always in the background, with Mel’s feelings being more upfront than Dev’s. It did take a back seat to Mel and Dev’s investigation for a while, but you knew it was there.

The end of Trust No One was terrific. The author did a great job of having Kingsley get what he deserved. But how he got it and the events that led to it were fantastic and action-packed. I did get a giggle at the kid with the frog in the airport. It reminded me of my youngest daughter. That would have been something she did at that age. Of course, Mel and Dev got their HEA, and the lead-up to that was emotional. The epilogue was great, and I loved seeing them so happy!!

I recommend Trust No One to anyone over 21. There are language, violence, and sexual situations.

Many thanks to Margaret Watson for allowing me to read and review Trust No One. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Trust No One, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Margaret Watson

Once a Killer (Blackhawk Security: Book 7) by Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of Publication: December 13th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery

Series: Blackhawk Security

With One Breath—Book 1 (review here)

Once Removed—Book 2 (review here)

Once Burned—Book 3 (review here)

Fool Me Once—Book 4 (review here)

Just This Once—Book 5 (review here)

Once and Always—Book 6 (review here)

Once a Killer—Book 7

Trigger Warnings: stalking, PTSD, gun violence, general violence, mentions of severe depression (in a side character)

Purchase Links: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bree Gordon looks nothing like a bodyguard. But the short, slender woman knows how to keep her principal safe. And one of her most potent weapons is her appearance. People see her and dismiss her. Their mistake.

Jameson Ford is a technical whiz who’s working on a program that’ll be a game changer. The military wants it. So does the CIA, along with some unsavory players. Someone close to him wants it, as well – one of the engineers in his lab.

When he reluctantly hires a bodyguard, he’s shocked when Bree shows up. But it doesn’t take long for him to appreciate her abilities. Will the attraction flaring between them be their salvation? Or will it be their downfall?

First Line:

Bree sat next to Alex Conway in the Blackhawk Security dining room, swirling pieces of pancake through the puddle of maple syrup on her plate.

Once a Killer by Margaret Watson

Once a Killer is the seventh book in the Blackhawk Security series. It can be read as a standalone novel. But I suggest reading the previous six to see who the previous characters were, their relationships, and how they fit into this storyline.

Bree Gordon doesn’t look like your typical bodyguard. She is short, slender, and can blend into the background. Bree is also as tough as nails, thanks to her military experience. So, in other words, she is perfect for personal security. Her newest client is Jameson Ford. He is working on a program that could change lives, making him a target. From the CIA to an engineer at his lab, someone wants to get their hands on it. The problem is Jameson doesn’t know who, and when the attempts start getting physical, he needs a bodyguard. Bree doesn’t know that her past is directly tied to what is happening to Jameson. Can she keep Jameson, the program, and her heart safe? Or will she end up losing all three?

I wasn’t a huge fan of Bree at the beginning of the book. She came across as kind of a jerk. But, the more the author revealed about her background, the more I understood why she acted the way she did. I did like her commitment to Jameson. She was committed to keeping him safe, and when her enemies started targeting him, the fury in her was pretty awesome to read.

What is it with clueless men in romance novels? While I liked Jameson, he embodied every clueless hero I read. How could you not know who at your lab was after your program? It wasn’t like he had a vast suspect pool there. He did score some brownie points with me over how he felt about Bree. He knew she was damaged (it was pretty apparent). He didn’t push her for anything; instead, he waited for her to tell him. Usually, it is the other way around (the woman waiting for the man), so it was refreshing to read. I liked that.

The main storyline in Once a Killer was Bree bodyguarding Jameson until they figured out who was after his program. I liked seeing the role reversal here. A small, thin woman guarding a grown man did bring a smile to my face. And Bree was the real deal. That woman showed, a few times, that she wasn’t one to be trifled with. The author didn’t draw this storyline out. Instead, she added Bree’s issues from the military towards the end of it. I wasn’t a big fan of that, but it did add a much-needed oomph to the storyline.

The romance in Once a Killer was scorching hot. It was a combination of forced proximity and Instalove (neither of which I like). Even with my dislike of those tropes, it was still a great love story. I liked that Jameson had to wait for Bree to open up instead of the other way around. It wasn’t an easy romance, with Bree running scared toward the end. But it did end up with a HEA.

The sex scenes were amazing. I would have been disappointed if the sex had fallen short. But it didn’t, and I loved it!! I do think that amazing sex scenes go hand in hand with these types of romances.

The mystery angle in Once a Killer was well written. I did figure out who was behind everything reasonably early in the book. That made me frustrated when Bree and Jameson couldn’t figure it out. I was yelling about who it was in my head. Of course, the culmination of this storyline ended with a huge bang and with me feeling very satisfied as a reader.

The trigger warnings in Once a Killer weren’t that bad. There was a lot of violence (gun, physical, and car). There were also some elements of stalking (mentioned and shown briefly) that Bree took care of quickly. Bree’s PTSD was mentioned, and she did explain to Jameson the events that led up to it. The severe depression in the side character was well written. My heart broke for that character, and I was slightly aggravated with Jameson for not seeing it sooner. But as soon as it was brought to his attention, Jameson got that person help. If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading the book.

The end of Once a Killer was interesting. For one, I couldn’t figure out if there would be a new book. With the introduction of Bree’s enemies, I wonder if the author will start a new series and set it in the same universe as her other books. I liked that Bree and Jameson did get their HEA. As much as I complained about Bree, I feel Jameson will be good for her and help her overcome her issues.

I would recommend Once a Killer to anyone over 21. Besides the trigger warnings, there are also language and sexual situations.

Many thanks to Margaret Watson and Dragonfly Press for allowing me to read and review Once a Killer. All opinions expressed in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Once a Killer, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Once and Always (Blackhawk Security: Book 6) by Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: August 2nd, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

Series: Blackhawk Security

With One Breath—Book 1 (review here)

Once Removed—Book 2 (review here)

Once Burned—Book 3 (review here)

Fool Me Once—Book 4 (review here)

Just This Once—Book 5 (review here)

Once and Always—Book 6

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Zoe was still in high school when she saw her father shot dead by a classmate obsessed with her, and then still a kid, witnessed the killer’s sentencing. A horrible tragedy, but now, thirteen years later, she’s thoroughly rebooted her life.

She’s the CEO of her own cyber security company, a celebrity in her field, and a speaker in high demand.

She’s just the kind of strong, self-reliant woman who can take care of herself in any situation.

Except the one she’s in.

She’s got a stalker.

And she already knows he’s a killer.

Given her background, Zoe knows instantly that she needs protection and she knows how to get it—her sister Mel’s the owner of Blackhawk Security.

But trust Mel to send Spence Flynn, the one agent Zoe can’t be alone with, but not because they don’t get along. It’s because attraction sizzles between the two of them like runaway electricity. And because they both know the last thing a body guard should do is get into a relationship with his principal.

It’s unethical and dangerous.

But how are they supposed to fight this thing? Spoiler: Good intentions suffer a knockout in the first round. And then, to the delight of the reader, the earth moves in the most delicious way.

Meanwhile, Zoe’s stalker is still sending her charms from a bracelet he stole from her thirteen years ago, the scariest being a heart he’s had engraved with both their names. Unnerving enough– and then he starts dropping off lunch for her, tailing her in a white Subaru, and trying to break into her condo.

Spence has his hands full in more than one way. And Zoe has a public appearance coming up. The perfect time for a stalker to strike.

First Line:

His heart racing, Ethan Davies slowed his steps as he neared Zoe’s locker.

Once and Always by Margaret Watson

If you have been following my blog long enough, I have a few authors I review regularly. Margaret Watson is one of them. I am a big fan of her books, and I always accept the invitation to review them when it comes to my email. When the invite for Once and Always appeared in my inbox, it was a no-brainer that I would accept.

Once and Always had an exciting plotline. At 18, Zoe witnessed her father killed by an obsessed classmate, and then she had to go through a trial. Thirteen years later, she has moved on with her life until she starts receiving packages. Those packages contain charms from a bracelet she lost around the time her father was killed, and only one person could have it—Ethan, her former stalker who killed her father. Contacting her sister, who owns Blackhawk Security, she is assigned a bodyguard until Ethan is caught. But when she sees who it is, she is slightly concerned. Zoe has been thirsting after Spence since he helped Nico the year before. The feelings are mutual, but Spence is there for a job: to protect Zoe from Ethan until he is caught. Will that happen? And will Zoe and Spence give in to their mutual attraction?

Once and Always is book 6 in the Blackhawk Security series. Once and Always can be read as a stand-alone book. But I suggest reading the first five books before picking this one up. That way, you know who the secondary characters are that are mentioned in Once and Always.

I will put a trigger warning on this review. The author did take great care to show sympathy and understanding for Ethan and made several references to mental illness reform (mainly about the facility he was held at for five years) and knowledge. There are mentions of attempted kidnapping. There are also talks about Ethan’s mental illness, and the author does show how he spiraled back into his delusions after his mother died. But, if these trigger you, I suggest not reading this book.

I did not expect to find sympathy for Ethan. The villains in most books are pure evil. But Ethan, well, he was different. The things he did to Zoe were terrible; there is no question about that, but knowing that he suffered a relapse after his mother’s death did soften my stance on him. The scenes in the cabin only cemented my opinion of him. I also liked that Zoe and Spence understood that after the fact. Their actions at the end of the book (which was discussed after the cabin) were proof of that.

I liked Zoe. She was a strong, opinionated, outspoken woman who knew her worth. Being a tech company CEO in an industry with few women shaped her. What also shaped her was what happened to her as a teenager. How could it not? I loved reading her scenes because she was always on point. She wasn’t afraid to share her feelings, even if she knew that the other person didn’t return them (the scene with Ron comes to mind, and a scene with Spence towards the end of the book).

I liked Spence, but I wanted to smack him at various times during the book. He was great at his job and would do anything to keep Zoe safe. But he wasn’t too good with personal skills or sharing his feelings. I did agree with him that they (him and Zoe) needed space, but I didn’t agree with how he phrased it. Also, I didn’t particularly appreciate how he treated Zoe after the scenes at the cabin. I talked out loud to the book and said, “Dude, you seriously didn’t say that to her!!” Spence had a lot of baggage he needed to lose, and I was afraid he would miss that ship with Zoe.

The secondary characters did make the book. These secondary characters flushed the book out and made the plotline more interesting to read.

I enjoyed the romance angle of Once and Always. There was a bit of Insta Love, but it was easy to overlook. It was an easy romance to read, and I liked knowing (well, for the most part) how Zoe and Spence would end up.

The sexual tension between Zoe and Spence was immediate from the beginning. It didn’t take long for them to end up in bed. The author raised the pressure by just having them look at each other. I loved it. I was a little meh about Zoe being a screamer during sex. She made Spence’s ears ring the first time she climaxed and every time after that. All I could think was, “What was her downstairs neighbors thinking” and “I hope the apartment is soundproof”….lol.

The mystery angle of Once and Always was also well written. It wasn’t too much of a mystery about who was sending the charms and why. The mystery, to me, was if Ethan would grab Zoe and when. The author gave several false leads, and I was kept on edge, wondering if it would happen.

The suspense angle was intertwined with the mystery angle. The author did a great job of keeping guessing at when (and if) Ethan was going to capture Zoe. I also was kept on edge by Spence and his decisions.

The end of Once and Always did bring tears to my eyes. While I was sad about how it ended, I loved how Zoe and Spence brought awareness to mental illness. I loved how the author wrapped up Zoe and Spence’s storyline. I am not sure who will be featured in book 7 (if there is a book 7), but if I had to guess, it would be Mel and her business partner. Either way, I am looking forward to it.

I would recommend Once and Always to anyone over 21. There are graphic sex, language, and violence. There are also the trigger warnings that I posted above.

With One Breath (Blackhawk Security: Book 1) by Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: March 1st, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense

Series: Blackhawk Security

With One Breath—Book 1

Once Removed—Book 2 (review here)

Once Burned—Book 3 (review here)

Fool Me Once—Book 4 (review here)

Just This Once—Book 5 (review here)

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two against the Taliban, two wildly different agendas — both crazy risky!

Laila’s not the type of woman who needs rescuing. Except for a tiny rule-breaking penchant, she’s a model CIA agent—smart, resourceful, brave, and very very determined.. But right now she’s in a tight situation—in more than one way. She’s hiding from the Taliban in a network of pitch-dark interlocking caves, so narrow a cat could barely thread its way through them. A cat or an agent trained for it.

And that would be Jase, her designated rescuer.

Once her CIA training agent, he’s the last man she’d get involved with, even though he’s the hottest guy she’s ever met. He’s bossy. Intimidating. Way too alpha. And a strict rule follower.

All traits on her ‘no fly’ list.

Set against the tense U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, this rapid-fire tale begins with electrifying action, moves on to fast-flying sparks, and never lets up. Laila’s on the way to Kabul to leave the country, where she also teaches a class of village girls, when her driver betrays her. She outwits him, but it’s only a matter of time till the Taliban track her down.

She’s never been so glad to see Jase.

Romance should be the last thing on either’s mind as they frantically crawl and slither their way through the claustrophobic caves, desperate to find an exit. Still, infatuation sparks.

And smolders.

But neither can afford to take their eyes off their own goals. Jase’s is simple–to rejoin his team and deliver Laila safely to Kabul. But Laila has a more ambitious agenda, one that will require breaking rules, disobeying orders, and endangering the whole team.

First Line:

Laila’s arms ached as she held the heavy M4A1 carbine in front of her.

with one breath by margaret watson

I committed the one thing that I have told people not to do—read books out of order if they are in a series. In my defense, the author restructured the series and bumped this book up to the first book in the series. So the book I thought I was reading last ended up being the first book in the series. It threw me for a loop but didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

With One Breath had an exciting plotline. Laila is a civilian CIA agent who goes undercover in a remote village to gather information on the Taliban. Jase was Laila’s trainer in Kabul, and he is part of an extraction team that is supposed to get Laila and leave after intel tells them that she is in immediate danger. Circumstances strand Laila and Jase in caves outside a Taliban arms depot. Fighting a red hot attraction, Laila and Jase must work together to avoid getting captured by the Taliban. But Laila also has another plan that needs to be set in motion once they get out. She wants to move her girl students and their families to the embassy in Kabul and save them from the Taliban. Will Laila and Jase get out of the caves? Will they rescue the girls and their families? And will they give in to their attraction?

With One Breath is the first book in the Blackhawk Security series. Since it is the first book, readers can read it as a standalone.

If you are claustrophobic and do not do well reading about people being trapped in caves, I highly suggest not reading this book. A good part of this book takes place in the caves where Laila and Jase are hiding. I am not claustrophobic, and those scenes got my anxiety going through the roof.

I liked Laila and loved her determination. The only thing that I didn’t even remotely like about her was that she trusted too quickly. She was led into a Taliban trap by the older brother of a girl she taught in school. Then, she took him with her during her rescue of those same girls. I get why she did it but still. Other than that, she rocked. I don’t know how she dealt with being in those caves (and traveling the passages!!) without having a breakdown.

I also liked Jase. I did think he was a little too straight-laced, but when the author gave his backstory, I understood why. I liked how he tried to keep it professional with Laila and kept his cool under pressure. Even though he didn’t like Laila’s plan, he went along with it. The only thing I didn’t like was that he called Lailabae.” I made my feelings clear in a previous review. Other than that, I thought he was the perfect Alpha male.

The suspense angle of the book was well written. I loved the cat and mouse game Jase and Laila played with the Taliban. Those scenes in the cave and the scenes that involved them escaping had me on the edge of my seat. I was also kept on edge with the plan to get the girls and their families out to Kabul and then out of the country. There were points during those scenes that I did wonder how it was going to go. And of course, what happened to Jase at the airport had me screaming!!

The romance angle of the book was also just as well written. There is no InstaLove involved. Instead, Laila and Jase’s relationship was allowed to blossom naturally. Of course, being in a high-stress situation did move it along, but it wasn’t Instalove. I also liked that the relationship continued to progress after Kabul and that it showed that being in love wasn’t perfect. It was messy, and some things could derail it if allowed. I loved it!!!

Jase and Laila had insane chemistry. The author kept the sexual tension up for most of the book before allowing them to have sex. That was the only time they had it, and I loved it. Not having sex every other page allowed me to focus on the storylines.

The end of With One Breath was terrific!! Laila and Jase fought tooth and nail for their happiness, and I cheered with how they ended up. I also loved that the author gave updates on the girls and their families.

I would recommend With One Breath to anyone over 21. There is violence, language, and sex.

Just This Once (Blackhawk Security: Book 5) by Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: July 31st, 2021

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense

Series: Blackhawk Security

With One Breath—Book 1

Once Removed—Book 2 (review here)

Once Burned—Book 3 (review here)

Fool Me Once—Book 4 (review here)

Just This Once—Book 5

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sierra Baker has no idea she’s in danger – until a frightening and unsettling traffic stop late one night. When Cody Parker shows up the next day and announces he’s her bodyguard, she’s even more terrified. Is Parker on the level? Or is this the shadowy stranger who stopped her car the night before?

Her partner Alex assures Sierra the danger is real – the Russian mob is after her. Parker has been sent to protect her. But she and Cody are oil and water. Complete opposites who agree on nothing. Except for their irresistible attraction to each other.

First Line:

Sierra’s shoulders relaxed as she turned her car onto the stretch of road winding through Iverson Woods Forest Preserve near Evanston.

just this once margaret watson

I have been in the mood to read contemporary romance lately. I had been reading some books with a heavy subject matter, and I needed something that was the opposite. So, when I got the invite to read/review Margaret Watson’s romances, I jumped on it. I have always enjoyed her book and figured that this book would be a perfect way to decompress. I was right!! I enjoyed reading Just This Once.

Just This Once is book 5 in the Blackhawk Security series. Readers can read this book as a standalone. But, I would highly recommend reading the previous four books to get the background behind some of the characters mentioned in the book.

Just This Once had an exciting plotline. The Russian bratva is targeting Sierra. They think she has the information that they were going after Alex (in book 4). Cody is a bodyguard for Blackhawk Security and was hired to guard Sierra until the threat was over. What they weren’t expecting was the instant attraction and heat between them. But secrets are being held, which could potentially kill Sierra and her family. Can Cody protect her from the bratva? And will he realize that what he and Sierra have is worth keeping?

I loved Sierra in this book. She was independent and knew what she wanted. She wasn’t afraid to challenge Cody on certain things. But she was also an enigma. I did get a little irritated with her past being such a secret. By the middle of the book, I was ready for her to spill the beans to Cody. But even when it was revealed, I was still left wondering what her parents did that made them targets. I am hoping that it will be shown in upcoming books. Other than that, I loved her!!

Cody was almost too alpha male for me. That was the only thing that I didn’t like about him. That and the fact that he called Sierrabae” all the time. I hate that word and think it is ridiculous for teens/early 20’s to say it, but having a character who is in his 30’s saying it made me go, “Bleh.” I will say that he was a great bodyguard, trying to keep it professional. I loved seeing his struggle to keep his feelings for Sierra at bay while trying to protect her from the Russians.

The suspense angle of the book was terrific. That part of the plotline continued from book 4 with the bratva. Alex’s ex-husband did make a small appearance at the beginning of the book, and my thought process was “Freaking Jerry.” If you have read book 4, you understand why I thought that. I also liked that the author continued the minor plotline of the police mole, and I loved how she wrapped it up.

The romance was just as good. I will warn everyone that there is InstaLove involved. Sierra and Cody were together for a very intense week. They were being chased by the mob and were holed up in a safe house (not a SAFE house but a house that was fortified and secure). I wasn’t surprised that the romance moved that fast.

The chemistry between Sierra and Cody was unbelievable. I kept waiting for them to break down and have sex. But, surprisingly, they only had sex twice. I loved that the author did that, though. It kept my attention on their romance instead of me skimming the pages just to read the sex scenes.

The end of Just This Once was interesting. I wasn’t surprised at what happened after Cody caught the mole. Police close ranks around their own. I was also surprised at Sierra telling Cody her real name. I have to say; it didn’t fit her. Of course, they get their HEA, but I wondered about that for a couple of chapters.

I would recommend Just This Once to anyone over 21. There is graphic sex, language, and violence.

Fool Me Once (Blackhawk Security: Book 3) by Margaret Watson

Book Cover
Fool Me Once by Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: May 15th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary

Series: Blackhawk Security Series

Once Removed—Book 1 (review here)

Once Burned—Book 2 (review here)

Fool Me Once—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Google Play

Format Read: Published Book

Received From: Author

Goodreads Synopsis:

When attorney Alexandra comes home early and overhears her husband Jerry hiring a hitman to kill her, she runs. Heads toward Seattle. After being a street kid there, she knows how to disappear.

But a man is following her. After she finds a tracking device, she wonders if tall, compelling Gideon is Jerry’s hired killer.

Alex and Gideon become stranded in a massive snowstorm. Snowed in at a tiny hotel, Alex isn’t sure which is more dangerous – her husband, who is likely coming after her? Or the dark stranger she’s trapped with? A man who’s clearly hiding secrets.

First Line:

Alex curled her fingers around the stem of the shallow glass as the loud, happy voices of her staff bounced off the restaurant’s walls.

Fool Me Once by Margaret Watson

I know that I have said this several times, but I love the romantic suspense genre. There is something about seeing a romance blossom while the main characters either fight for their lives or try to uncover a plot (or sometimes both) that makes me happy. So, it was a no-brainer for me when Margaret emailed me to let me know that book three was available for review.

Fool Me Once is the 3rd book in the Blackhawk Security series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. The characters from the previous books do make appearances, but they don’t take over the storyline, which I liked.

As with the previous two books, Fool Me Once is a fast-paced book. Right from the beginning, when Alex overhears her husband hiring a hitman to kill her, it was super fast. There was a small amount of lag once Gideon and Alex get to the Blackhawk Security compound, but the author could get the book back on track and keep the fast pace up until the end of the book.

Alex was a tough cookie with a backstory that broke my heart. At times, she came across as abrasive, and there were a few times where she was unlikable. But, in the end, I did like her and was rooting for her.

I wasn’t too sure what to think about Gideon. He came across as a bit stalkerish at the beginning of the book. His backstory wasn’t fully explained until they got stuck in the motel. Gideon’s backstory wasn’t as heartbreaking as Alex’s, but it was still sad.

The suspense angle of the book was well written. I liked that the author decided to go the Russian mafia/corrupt federal agent route. It made the book so much more interesting to read.

The romance angle of the book was well written also. I liked that the author didn’t have the characters jump right into bed with each other. Instead, there was a wait. There was InstaLove, but I did expect it.

I loved the end of Fool Me Once. I am not going to get into it, but there is a HEA. Plus, Alex’s ex-husband got what he deserved.

I enjoyed reading Fool Me Once. It was a fast-paced book with memorable characters. Plus, the romance was enjoyable to read.

I would recommend Fool Me Once to anyone over the age of 21. There is non-graphic violence, sex, and some mild language.

Once Removed (Blackhawk Security: Book 1) by Margaret Watson

Once Removed (Blackhawk Security Book 1) by [Margaret Watson]

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: January 15th, 2021

Genre: Romance

Series: Blackhawk Security

Once Removed—Book 1

Once Burned—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Indigo | Kobo

Format Read: eBook

Got book from: Author via BookFunnel

Trigger Warning: Child Abuse (not graphic but talked about), Domestic Violence (not graphic, talked about), mild violence

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Lainey becomes trapped in a burning building with her almost-divorced husband’s body, Brody rescues her just in time. And when she realizes the killer is now after her, she takes refuge at Brody’s Montana ranch.

Lainey and Brody have been fighting their attraction for years. But as the barriers between them fall, Lainey rescues Phoebe, a runaway teen, from the compound where her husband died. Now they’re forced to focus on Phoebe and an invisible threat.

Whoever murdered her husband has eyes on Lainey. Will their fragile new family survive a desperate predator? Can they protect Phoebe, identify the killer and find their happily ever after?

Synopsis Overview:

Lainey is looking for her ex-husband to serve him divorce papers. Knowing that he was working as a security guard at a compound, she heads there. Instead of finding him, giving him the forms, and leavingLainey finds his body. She is then assaulted and left to die in a burning building. Lainey is saved by Brody, a rancher who happened to be in the area.

Under suspicion of her ex-husband’s death, Lainey is forced to move in with Brody when someone tries to break into her house, and the police don’t do anything about it. Deciding to stop at the compound to see if any clues could clear her name, Brody and Lainey find a tween scavenging for food. Deciding to take Phoebe in, Lainey and Brody realize that even a well-fortified ranch can’t protect Lainey from whoever is after her.

Brody and Lainey also have to deal with their growing feelings for each other. Both of them have good reasons for wanting to take it slow. Lainey, it is because her husband physically abused her. Brody, it’s because his ex-wife played games with him. Also, Brody has a secret, and he is afraid that if Lainey finds out what it is, she will reject him.

Will Lainey find out who is after her and why? Will Brody trust Lainey with his secret? And will Phoebe be safe?

Once Removed is the love story of Lainey and Brody. What I liked about Once Removed is that it wasn’t an InstaLove story. Lainey and Brody had known each other for a couple of years before anything happened. Lainey was Brody’s accountant, and their attraction grew over the years instead of over a couple of weeks. Now, saying that, the book did move fast when it came to the relationship. Lainey and Brody were living together for a couple of days. But the author allowed their romantic relationship to grow.

The mystery/thriller angle of Once Removed was well written. The author kept me guessing who was going after Lainey and why that person was doing it. I did have a small suspicion, but that was proven wrong when the bad guy was revealed.

Phoebe’s storyline was well written, and I loved how the author merged them towards the end of the book. It also pulled on my heartstrings. The pain that Phoebe was feeling was transparent. Her gradual acceptance of Brody (and more immediate acceptance of Lainey) was heartwarming. I liked that the author didn’t get into graphic detail about the abuse and neglect that Phoebe endured. The little snippets that were shared were enough to make me go teary-eyed.

I also liked that the author chose not to go into details about the abuse Lainey endured. Yes, she talked about it, but it wasn’t graphic. I also liked that the author chose to tackle a problem regarding law enforcement and domestic violence. Instead of her ex being reprimanded, the sheriff’s office closed rank around him. They ignored what he was doing until they couldn’t. Sadly, this is more common than what we think, and I am glad that the author chose to showcase it.

While Brody’s secret wasn’t necessarily a bad one, it was still significant. I won’t go into what it was, but I could understand why he was hesitant to call DCF about Phoebe.

There is sex in Once Removed. It was tastefully written, and nothing was graphic. I did have to laugh in the events leading up to Brody and Lainey having sex. There were a couple of near misses with Phoebe that made me go, “Yeah, I can relate. “

The end of Once Removed was your typical mystery/romance. The reveal of the bad guy did surprise me. Only because it wasn’t who I thought it was going to be. The author also set up the next book in the series perfectly. And the epilogue was PERFECT!! I loved it!!

Once Removed was a fantastic romance/mystery. It was fast-paced with a mystery that the author kept me guessing until the end of the book. I cannot wait to read book 2!!

I am going to recommend that no one under the age of 21 read Once Removed. There is talk of spousal and child abuse (not graphic). There is an attempted murder at the beginning of the book and an attempted kidnapping at the end. There is sex, but nothing explicit.