Series: FBI #1
Author: Marissa Garner
Format: Paperback & eBook, 279 pgs
Published: Dec. 8, 2015 by Forever Yours
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
For San Diego's elite FBI agents, risking their lives is standard procedure when it comes to capturing the city's most dangerous criminals-but falling in love is the greatest risk of all.
Catching bad guys in San Diego's underworld isn't just FBI Special Agent Ben Alfren's job, it's his life. He doesn't have time for a serious relationship, doesn't want one either. So when he meets his sexy new neighbor, Amber Jollett, he has nothing more in mind than unwinding with a glass of wine, a romantic walk on the beach...and maybe a hot fling.
But Amber is more than he bargained for. Her job as a nurse has brought her face-to-face with women caught in a human trafficking ring, women she's determined to help. As Ben and Amber plot to rescue the women, the attraction between them flares into passion. But they'll learn that in this dangerous game of cat and mouse, real love can save - or doom - them . . .
Amber's dangerously psychotic ex-boyfriend has been stalking her for the last couple years, forcing her to move every couple months. She's at a job she loves but has started to get the feeling that her ex is moving in and with her job already in danger of being lost due to the business losing money, it looks like it could be time to move on again. When Ben sees Amber trying to avoid a jerk at their apartment mixer, he is instantly attracted to her but as a FBI agent, his job doesn't exactly allow for ease of starting a relationship. However, their attraction can't be ignored and when Amber possibly stumbles upon a clue to the current case Ben is working on, it's looking like fate wants these two together.
The beginning of this book had kind of a rough start for me, from the ridiculously over the top aggressive douchebag at the apartment mixer that won't take no for an answer from Amber to the somewhat dry relaying of facts/details that introduced our characters and settings. Essentially, Ben the FBI agent is working a case where a group of Mexican male illegal immigrants turn themselves in because they feel their wives/girlfriends/daughters that they crossed the border with were kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. Amber works at a surrogate clinic that has had numerous people canceling appointments and one rude man asking why they charge so much. Amber does some investigating and finds a new clinic drastically undercutting their prices and strangely, all the surrogate mothers they are offering are Hispanic. That is the main storyline but there was also Amber's psycho ex-boyfriend, Gary the apartment complex douchebag who won't stop needlessly showing up, Amber and Ben's growing relationship, Amber's boss' out of nowhere character turn, Ben's inability to stop discussing his ex-girlfriend, the woman FBI agent who played somewhat of a red herring but in a weird way, and the drug cartel drama. I think the author thought the more "maybe they're guilty!" offshoots she could throw out there, the more suspenseful the story would be, it didn't work out that way for me, just felt overcrowded with needless components.
The story seemed to follow Amber (trying to find out why her clinic is losing clients) and Ben (trying to find the missing Hispanic women)more separately than them together. Their attraction was pretty instant, they're sleeping together, and while we have two self-proclaimed commitment phobes, they only seem to think of themselves in that way, rather than acting that way. Amber repeatedly talks about Ben's blue eyes, abs, and six foot frame, she's physically attracted alright but that was about as far as the depth seemed to go between the two. It was hard to sense Ben falling in love with Amber as he repeatedly talked about his ex-girlfriend and how extremely hard it was to get over her. I'm not a fan of my heroes seemingly hung-up on past partners and it got to the point where I felt, does Ben doth protest too much? (I noticed the next book in the series is about Ben's ex-girlfriend so maybe the author was trying to drum up interest in the character)
When Ben and Amber did have their interactions, the conversations felt stilted (at times also felt that way with other characters) and I never felt any chemistry. The suspense aspect, Ben working the case of finding the Hispanic women, was probably the strongest part of the book but the trees aspect of it worked better than the forest, if that makes any sense.
Personally, this story just had too many unbelievable (you're literally fearing for your life and moving every two-three months but refuse to give up a job in your very specific sector?) or not clicking points and lacked in the romance department for it to work for me. The ending was outrageously abrupt, after flipping back and forth about four times to make sure I didn't miss a page, I laughed at how sudden it was. The author is fairly new, so maybe try to see if her writing style would work for you, but I have to say for me, overall, it didn't.