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Network Operative Hunter Savage is nearly at death’s door when he turns renegade to save his sister, kidnapped by the Black Pope, Rex Kovac, leader of the covert terrorist organization R.E.D. Hunter’s only means of saving Celine? Steal Kovac’s most prized possession—his wife.
Renowned belly dancer, Tanya Kovac is nowhere near as innocent as she seems...and Hunter is nowhere near as indifferent to Tanya’s charms as he wants and needs to be to save his sister.
No one who lived in Chechnya possessed any food. Alex knew that. But the soldiers would have some.
A pack of them suddenly filled the street, shouting, and he ducked into the building closest to him. Inside, sound seemed muted. He heard water dripping overhead somewhere. Then a voice came. The words were spoken in Spanish.
“I have searched for this for much time. My time is precious, and now I will not allow it to be wasted any more.”
Frowning, Alex moved closer, not making a sound on the hard-packed earth. He crept up to a steel barrel and dared to peek around it. But the sound of something small and heavy hitting the steel cover of the barrel he hid behind jolted him. He shrunk down into himself, praying that he wouldn’t be found. Then the voice, still in that maliciously soft tone, moved away again.
Alex waited an instant, then rose slightly to see what covered the barrel lid. Rings. One in particular caught his eye. It was gold, embellished with some sort of black rock. A black crow was carved into rock, with an emerald sparkling as a menacing eye.
Thoughtlessly, he reached for it. Then another voice came. A voice he knew. His mother. But he’d never heard her speak in the way she was now. She begged for her life.
Though it was the last thing he wanted to do, he looked around the barrel and saw his parents, each held ruthlessly by a soldier. The two had been beaten and could barely stand. Blood covered their faces.
“Spare her. You only need me. You have what you want,” his father begged.
The memory of his mother putting her newborn baby in his arms, her cruel, exhausted words telling him that his sister was his responsibility, came to Alex. The urge to say, “It’s your responsibility to keep her safe, Papa,” came and went.
His mother screamed, but it ended on a wet gurgle and the sound of a body hitting the ground His father cried out in agony.
“Did you love her so very much, hombre?” that silky, lethal voice came again. “Does it pain you to see her life’s blood drain at your feet? If only I could leave you to your grief. But you know that is not possible. You knew that when you willingly chose to betray me.”
“Híbrido!” his father cried. Bastard! But a moment later his body joined his wife’s, his blood mingling with hers.
“Poetry,” their killer murmured tenderly.
Alex didn’t move fast enough. The killer turned, and their gazes met in the semi-darkness. Surprise filled the killer’s eyes. Alex didn’t wait for the shout that came. He turned and ran back the way he came with all his strength. Gunfire followed him, but the killer’s voice stopped that. “It’s a local brat. Wrong place at the wrong time.”
Alex ran for a moment, but as soon as he saw cover, he dove for it. He couldn’t get too far from his sister. A metallic taste filled his mouth.
His parents were dead. He and his sister were completely alone.
His fingers closed around the ring he’d taken, and he eased it from his pocket. The crow carved in obsidian looked as evil as the man who’d worn it. That man had removed his jewelry so as to avoid getting it bloody…
The thought of his sister, waiting for him, brought Alex back to his feet. He inched around the truck he was hiding behind until he reached the cab. For long minutes, he waited to hear any sign that it was occupied. Then he climbed up, found it empty save for food and a water canister on the seat next to a gun. He grabbed everything, climbed down and stuffed it all into the sack he’d found in another place, years ago. From somewhere nearby, but not close enough to see, he heard voices and understood pieces of what was being said. The soldiers would move out tonight. He and his sister would be hiding in their truck when they went. It was dangerous, but it was the only way to escape the city.
Best Book! "Reading RENEGADE’S ROSE was an exercise in tugged heartstrings, bitten nails from intense suspense, dry mouth from tension and excited elation at the best darned happily-ever-after (HEA) Karen's written yet in this series.
“Hunter Savage is a man determined to be his namesake. He wants to be the most dangerous man in the world , yet Karen gave me a view into his heart and the dreams he dares not reveal. Despite his intentions, his intensive Network training and his duty, he has always had a bright fire burning in his heart that never died, that the Network could never douse; his love for his sister Celine. In this story, I learned about Hunter’s background and it was chilling, sad, and at times I felt a need to comfort the boy who became a man; never knowing love, the comfort of a loving mother’s touch nor ever being told he mattered—that he was loved for himself. How could you not feel for this man? How could you not connect with this character? Karen had me all but crying at the injustice that befell him at such a tender age. That background is intrinsic for understanding the driving force behind his pursuit of the bad guys. In this installment, Kovac figures heavily as the leader of R.E.D., a terrorist group that has plagued The Network all throughout the series and has done something that aims a spike in Hunter’s heart—Kovac kidnaps Celine. Can you imagine losing the one person who helped keep you from losing your soul to The Network's duty machine?
“Hunter is led to Tanya, another person who has had choices taken from her and who is forced to live a different kind of duty. Tanya is a character that I liked. When you first meet her, you have certain expectations, as does Hunter. As the story unfolds, you begin to marvel at how Karen’s mind works because Tanya’s duty is similar in nature to Hunter’s. They both have to save someone whose love keeps them human, keeps them sane when everything and everyone around them wants to break them. Karen gives us little teases and hints along the way until a major light bulb pops on and your jaw drops. I had NO idea that…. Darn, if I say anything else about Tanya, it’ll be a spoiler and I don’t want to do that. I was floored when a major portion of The Network’s chess game was revealed which affects her and Hunter’s sister. Suffice to say that, as with other people who have become, either inadvertently or purposefully, aware of The Network, they too cannot escape its tentacles. On [one of the last pages of the story] there is a line, a phrase that refers to #2, Shannon McKee, and I wanted to give Karen a High Five for writing that. I'm all excited. Finally a character that says in the book exactly how I feel about Ms. McKee. Yes!
“BTW, there is a part that might squick a reader out. It's a courageous and physically challenging moment that, had it not been done, would have altered the story’s path. Still, just the visual thought of Tanya doing what she had to do, makes me shudder. Just saying …
“Now, let’s talk romance. [Hunter and Tanya’s] relationship is touching and really awesome. It was passionate, desperate and an emotional roller-coaster. If you've read any of the previous books in the series, you know that Karen has their relationships working within the parameters of the world she set up. As much as us readers would have it different, it would lose its integrity if she messed with the rules. That being said, you, the reader, are in for a treat! If anyone can find a loophole, it's Angelo. Bless his chess master’s heart, he produces a scenario that Ms. Shannon McKee is NOT happy about but could do nothing to gainsay. I am absolutely thrilled and I bet you will be too.
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 238
Paper Weight (lb): 10.0
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