Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Elle Kennedy -- Midnight Alias

Elle Kennedy -- Midnight Alias

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.75}
Action: ♠♠♠♠.♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥.♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦.♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠.♠
Action: 4.5 / Emotion: 4.0 / Romance: 4.5 / Sensuous: 2.5 / Suspense: 3.5  //  Laughter: 0 / Giggle: 2  //  Tears: 1 / Teary: 1

Setting:       New York
Era:             Present Day (2013)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Midnight Alias, Elle Kennedy's second book in The Killer Instincts Series, was a thrilling, action-packed, entertaining Romantic Suspense read.   This book was so enthralling that it was a one-night read.   (Part of the reason this book came across as so great was because the past few books that found their way into my hands were disappointing reads.)   Kennedy gave readers the kind of story that one expects to find between the covers of a book featuring a military-looking, shirtless, muscled, alpha male, carrying a gun on the front cover.

Kennedy gave the readers plenty of action, suspense, romance, and sensuality as she wove a tale about Luke Gustave Dubois, a former Navy SEAL, who was now a member Morgan's Mercenaries, and Olivia "Liv" Taylor, who danced at the Diamond Mine strip club as Livy Lovelace.   Also included in the book was an intriguing, emotional mini-secondary story featuring Trevor "Trev" Callaghan, former Army and Luke's current team leader, and chameleon extraordinaire, Isabel "Izzy" Roma, who was dancing at the Diamond Mine as Candy Cane.

Adrenaline junkie and sexy Cajun bad boy, Luke Dubois, opens the book telling his teammates (in the extremely luxurious suite in which they are lazing around) that he is bored out of his mind and can't understand why their illustrious leader, Jim Morgan, accepted such a tedious assignment.   Kennedy shows her skill at character development by inserting small, revealing tidbits about the characters as Trevor, the team leader, explains to Luke that Morgan had to accept this assignment because he owed the DEA a favor.   Thus, it was that this almost inconsequential detail reveals that Jim Morgan is an honorable man.

The DEA hired Morgan's Mercenaries to investigate the disappearance of one of their undercover operatives, Carter Dane, who went missing two months ago.   The team was centering their investigation around the Diamond Mine, a strip club owned by Vince Angelo, because that was where Carter Dane had last been seen.   The Diamond Mine 'was nothing more than a glorified washing machine,' where one of New York's five mob bosses, Ric De Luca, laundered his money and ran his drugs.   The DEA could not send in another undercover operative because it seemed there was a mole in their agency that had blown Dane's cover, thus, it was necessary to send in someone not connected to the DEA.

Kennedy did a great job of introducing a secondary character that had not been introduced in the first book of the series by showcasing her skills at writing great dialogue between the men working the case and highlighting the sense of camaraderie between Morgan's Mercenaries.   Australian, Sullivan "Sully" Port, apparently a ladies man with skills even superior to Luke's when it came to picking up women, was strolling through the suite in nothing but a towel after his shower.
"Don't you even think of complaining, mate," Sullivan Port said as he strode into the living room in nothing but a towel.   The white terry cloth, hanging low on the guy's hips, was way too small for that huge body of his.   Sullivan was six-three, with broad shoulders and a heavy chest, and he constantly seemed to be strolling around half-naked.   Maybe it was an Australian thing.
. . .  
When he plopped down on the armchair across from the sofa, both Luke and Trevor shielded their eyes.

"Whoa, fix that towel, man," Luke ordered.

"Fix it?" Trevor echoed.   "No, go put clothes on instead.   For the love of God, this isn't a frat house."   (Page 1)
Kennedy has done a great job of inserting a lot of sexy-looking, interesting men into the story and has begun to flesh out their personalities in a manner that makes readers want to read each of their stories.   Sullivan is just one of those men.   Sadly, Kennedy has not stated on her website whether Sullivan will be one of those men who will get his own story.

Another such character is Derek "D" Pratt, who already drew incredible interest when he was introduced in Midnight Rescue.   Kennedy has been dropping subtle hints right and left that D has suffered a horrendous past.   A past that the secretive D has never revealed.   D is very blunt, rude and, apparently, uncaring about how he comes across.   He is featured several times throughout this book in a manner that engenders great interest in reading his story.   Kennedy highlighted D's lack of compassion during a conversation with Luke when they learned that Olivia is Vince Angelo's girlfriend.
"She's a mobster's girlfriend."   D spoke up, his black eyes flickering with irritation.   "And she shakes her ass in a G-string for dirty old men."

He stiffened.   "So?"

"So stop acting like she's some quivering virgin.   She's not a victim.   She knows exactly what goes on in that club.   Her man runs drugs and beats the hell out of dealers who piss off De Luca."   D shrugged.   "I don't give two shits if she's scared.   She chose to be in this position when she decided to bang Angelo."   (Luke and D, page 39)
But D doesn't know the whole story.   Kennedy has painted Olivia as one of the most beleaguered heroines to grace the pages of a book.   Olivia has father issues because her reckless, rash father, Eddie Taylor, died when she was ten, leaving her mother, schoolteacher Kathleen Taylor, to fend for herself and her daughter.   Olivia was dancing at the Diamond Mine for one reason only -- money.   The first time Kathleen was diagnosed with cancer, sixteen year old Olivia had to quit high school to take care of her.   But Olivia didn't complain or give up, she got her GED and eventually started taking classes at NYU, while working three jobs when Kathleen's cancer returned.   When Kathleen's cancer returned for the third time, Olivia quit her waitressing jobs and became Livy Lovelace, a stripper at the Diamond Mine, at the recommendation of her classmate and fellow dancer, Cora Malcolm.

Olivia's bad luck increased because the sleezy, drug-running, murdering owner of the Diamond Mine was obsessed with her.   One night when Olivia was attached as she was leaving the club, she woke up in the hospital with a fractured cheekbone and found herself under the control of Vince Angelo.   Rather than reporting the attack to the police, Vince had "taken care" of the situation, paid off Olivia's and Kathleen's hospital bills, paid Olivia's tuition, and bought her a brand new BMW.   Olivia found herself in an untenable situation.   She had to pretend that she liked being Vince's girlfriend until she could save enough money and her mother was well enough from them to flee New York.

Probably the most unbelievable thing about the story was the fact that the villain, Vince Angelo, bought Olivia's story that she was a virgin and had not yet taken her to his bed.   But Kennedy did a great job of explaining why this was so.   Vince was given a voice in the story.   It was interesting how Vince justified his illegal activities and considered himself the consummate gentleman because his woman was classy and untouched and he was willing to wait for her until she become accustomed to the idea of becoming his wife.

Kennedy did an outstanding job of building Vince's characterization.   She revealed his poor upbringing and how he was driven to not only became a member of Ric De Luca's operation, but to climb the corporate ladder.   Vince was portrayed so realistically that it made sense that he would latch onto Olivia to fulfill his need to become a man of distinction and class.   It also made sense that he didn't trust Olivia and had her watched 24/7.

As the team member assigned to look for Carter Dane inside the club, Luke was frustrated because of his attraction to Olivia.   Luke had never had never had any trouble getting women (what Cajan bad boy wouldn't) and couldn't understand his fascination with a stripper.   In fact, Kennedy included a cute, well-written scene between Luke and Trevor which displayed some more of the male camaraderie that was evident between the mercenaries.
They didn't say a word for the next five minutes, as Luke polished off his meal.   Yep, Trev was most definitely perturbed about something.   So was he.   But he hadn't realized how perturbed he actually was until he'd set down his coffee, opened his mouth, and something unexpected popped out: "I want to [screw] her."

Trevor's mouth fell open.

It suddenly occurred to him that he was in the vicinity of one of the world's last remaining gentlemen.   "I mean, have sex with her.   Make love to her, whatever."

"I know what [screwing] is," Trevor said dryly.   "I'm more perplexed by why you felt that was something you needed to share with me."

"I know, it's TMI, but -- "

"WTMI."   (Luke and Trevor, page 40)
Kennedy did a great job of building the awareness between Luke and Olivia.   At the club Luke paid for a private lap dance and Olivia found herself aware of a man for the first time in a long time.   And then when Luke "accidently" bumped into Olivia at the Laundromat, Kennedy did a great job detailing the discomfort between Luke and Olivia.   And Luke's line to Olivia was so typically male that it was impossible not to want to slap him.   But, really, it seemed to portray the frustration that Luke felt when he learned that the dancer he was attracted to was the girlfriend of the scumbag who owned the club.

As the story progressed, Luke decided to give Olivia the benefit of the doubt (quite unlike D) and told Trevor that he was going to reveal who he was and let Olivia know that they were willing to help her.   Olivia, however, was so fearful of trusting anyone because she knew Vince was spying on her, that she didn't plan to take advantage of Luke's offer.

That is, until Olivia learned that Vince had involved her friend, Cora, in an even worse enterprise than stripping.   When Olivia learned what Vince had done to Cora, a single mother, going to school to make a better life for her and her young daughter, she called Luke for help.   Kennedy wrote the scene so beautifully that you could almost hear Olivia's heart breaking because the team wasn't really offering to help Olivia as much as they wanted her to help them.
The frown deepened, almost a scowl now.   Her shoulders stiffened, then sagged.   "Of course you do.   Nothing comes free, does it?"

She spoke in a flat tone, as if she truly believed that people weren't capable of helping each other out of the goodness of their hearts.   He supposed he didn't blame her.   (Luke, page 74)
Shortly thereafter, Kennedy revealed how truly callous D was as he bluntly asked Olivia some extremely personal questions about her relationship with Vince.   Because D was so brutal to Olivia at this point in the story, when later in the book Olivia noticed why D had been so agitated (something his teammates failed to figure out), Olivia shocked readers and D when she wrapped him up in a hug that revealed how truly compassionate a person Olivia was.   (And that D had a heart somewhere way underneath his bad attitude and tattoos.)   With this kind of detail, surely Elle Kennedy is going to write D's story!

Olivia agreed to help the team locate the missing DEA agent, thus, finding herself under the watchful protection of the mercenaries.   Rather than watch Olivia's apartment from the rooftop across the way, like Sullivan, when it was his turn to keep an eye on Olivia, Luke climbed into her bedroom window so Rocko, the goon Vince assigned to watch Olivia, wouldn't see him.   Thus, it was that Kennedy was able to entertain readers with some hot and spicy lovemaking scenes.   And to reveal that Olivia was determined to keep Luke at arms-length because he was too much like her father to ever be considered boyfriend material.

The strong, loving relationship between Olivia and her mother, Kathleen, was revealed as the story evolved even though Kathleen did not actually spend much time on the pages of the book.   But when Kathleen did speak, her words were wise.   Kathleen may have been sick, but she wasn't deaf and she questioned Olivia about the man in her room.   The scene when Kathleen knocked on the door and asked Luke how he liked his eggs was extremely entertaining and enjoyable.   Kathleen's words also revealed what readers had already figured out.
"My daughter craves normalcy.   A steady job, steady husband, steady life.   I'm afraid it's her way of ensuring she doesn't end up like me."   (Kathleen, page 152)

"Liv, we both know you're not the type of woman who does just sex.   You wouldn't have gotten intimate with him if you didn't care about him."   (Kathleen, page 175)
Luke was also out of his depth.   He knew all about having sex with women, but not about being in a relationship.   A wonderful addition to the story was the scene where Luke, in frustration, called his friend Kane Woodland (hero of Midnight Rescue) to ask him how he knew he was in love with Abby Sinclair.
This attraction to Olivia Taylor was getting out of control, and he was starting to suspect it went beyond a simple case of lust.   (Luke, page 103)

He'd never been in love before, and truthfully, he had no idea what being in love entailed.   Was he supposed to buy her a gift?   Start referring to their sex life as lovemaking?   Crap.   He was totally out of his element here.   Didn't know how to handle this in the slightest.   (Luke, page 129)
Another really entertaining addition to the story was the way Kennedy kept including snarky phrases from the mind and mouth of Olivia as she dealt with the jerks in her life.   The originality of these phrases added a welcome uniqueness to this story.
An exotic dancer in a cocktail gown -- she didn't miss the irony of that.   But Vince had ordered her to look elegant tonight.   He insisted that the customers welcomed a break from the trash every now and then, that they longed for a taste of class.   And you, babe, are the epitome of class.

Said the pimp to his whore.   (Olivia, page 4)
= = = =  
Vince leaned down and planted a kiss on Olivia's cheek.   "Go on, babe, turn them on, get them nice and hard."

Said the honorable prince to the love of his life.   (Olivia, page 7)
= = = =  
"Can I see you again?" he burst out before she could leave.

"Said the lap to the dancer."   (Olivia, page 12)
= = = =  
"It's our six-month anniversary," Vince snapped.

Said the kidnapper to his hostage.   (Olivia, page 45)
= = = =  
He silenced her by pressing his finger against her mouth.   "It's going to be special," he vowed.

Said the rapist to his victim.   (Olivia, page 108)
= = = =  
"I've taken good care of you, haven't I, Olivia?"

Said the psycho to his captive.   (Olivia, page 165)
Kennedy applied a much-used method of keeping the suspenseful aspect of the story at a tension-filled level by including a mini-secondary romance between Trevor and Isabel and giving both of them voices during the telling of Luke and Olivia's story.   Just as events were heating up between Luke and Olivia, Kennedy would jump to the story she was telling about the relationship that was building between Trevor and Isabel, (a relationship that was introduced in Midnight Rescue).

Kennedy is seriously wetting the readers' appetites to read Trevor and Isabel's story.   Thankfully, Trev and Izzy's story is the next book in the series.   And after reading the cliffhanger regarding Trevor and Isabel at the end of this book, it will be quite impossible not to pick up Midnight Games, the next book in the series.

Midnight Alias takes place six months after Midnight Rescue and Trevor, who was featured as a man with a death wish after the loss of his fiancé, Gina, has decided to join the world of the living.   Trevor, who has so improved that Morgan made him the team leader of this assignment, attributes his change to Isabel, who took a bullet meant for him in the first book.   Trevor gets an opportunity to thank Isabel for not only saving his life and giving him back his will to live, but for enduring his tirade when he lambasted her for interfering in his life six months ago.

Much to the dismay of her boss, Noelle (who made a cameo appearance in this book), Jim Morgan hired Isabel to work undercover at the Diamond Mine as the dancer Candy Cane.   Because Isabel is so gifted at turning off her real feelings and can totally change her appearance, her manners and her mindset into the person she is imitating, she can work as a stripper without feeling the shame that Olivia felt.   Because Isabel is the connection inside the club and Trevor is the team leader, Trevor and Isabel found themselves often in each other's company as they worked the case.

Isabel is a bit distressed at how perceptive Trevor is because nobody else has ever been able to the see the real person underneath all her undercover personas.   Isabel finds herself attracted to Trevor and has no idea how to deal with the soft feelings he is generating inside her.
Isabel watched him go, wishing she could make sense of the odd emotions fluttering in her belly.   She couldn't remember anyone ever challenging her need to help people or questioning her motives for doing so, and it bothered her that Trevor was perceptive enough to see that her motivations might run deeper than she let on.

It was official.   Trevor Callaghan was definitely getting under her skin.   Six months ago, he'd intrigued her, appealed to her protective instincts, triggered the urge to help him.   (Isabel, page 186)
Several other secondary characters were included in the story that generated interest and added depth.   The first was a member of Morgan's Mercenaries and was called upon often to help in the case because of his amazing computer skills and his photographic memory.   Kennedy kept Holden mostly in the background as events unfolded simply because he was married and, thus, will not need to have his story told in a future book in the series.

Jim Morgan has contractors on the side that he calls in to help his men when additional numbers are needed on an operation.   One of Morgan's contractors that was called in to help Trevor, Luke, and their team on this assignment was Liam MacGregor, who was described as GQ model handsome and all warrior.   Kennedy gave readers just enough details about Liam and let him interact with the other members of the team in a manner that generated enough interest in him to want to read his story (if he is going to get one).

Another contractor called in to help the team in their efforts to capture Vince Angelo in the act of transporting drugs and to confiscate a massive amount of heroine was singled out by Kennedy for some reason.   Why did Kennedy single out Castle in his supportive role and make him real to readers?   Is she going to give him a book?   Is she going to make him part of the team?

One other secondary character, who was introduced in the first book of the series, was given a bit of page time and a moment of stardom in the book during the mission to confiscate Angelo's heroin from De Luca's Premiere Roast warehouse.   Kennedy shows readers that she has the talent to develop awesome characters by including noticeable little things in the story.   Like letting the young rookie, Ethan Hayes, steal the show during a particularly tense moment in the warehouse during phase one of the big finale.
Everyone followed his gaze and stared at the sleek bone handle of the hunting knife lodged in Dane's palm.

Stunned silence descended on the warehouse.

"What the .   .   ." Trevor began, then trailed off.

Shrugging off his surprise, Luke turned around to see Ethan lowering his arm.

The rookie met his eyes and offered a sheepish shrug.   "I've been practicing with Abby."   (Luke, page 195)
Basically, Midnight Alias, the second book in Elle Kennedy's The Killer Instinct Series, is an enthralling, entertaining, enjoyable read.   It contains the following: {1} Luke Gustave Dubois, a sexy Cajun bad boy hero, who is strong enough to convince the heroine he is the right man for her; {2} Olivia "Liv" Taylor, a strong, determined, tender-hearted heroine who doesn't give up, no matter the odds; {3} Trevor "Trev" Callaghan, the secondary hero, a handsome, perceptive, leader, who began to pursue the secretive woman who helped him come back to life; {4} Isabel "Izzy" Roma, the secondary heroine, who hid her deep-seated fears behind a happy façade that was as fake as the personas she adapted when she went undercover; {5} plenty of action to give the readers a sense of adventure; {6} a definite emotional connection to Luke, Olivia, Trevor and Isabel to generate giggles and tears; {7} a wonderful romance that developed between total opposites, Luke and Olivia; {8} strong sensuality, heat, and spice when Luke and Olivia made love; {9} a strong, tense aura of suspense about {a} how Morgan's Mercenaries were going to complete their assignment, and {b} how Olivia was going to escape the clutches of her boss; and {10} extremely interesting, well-developed secondary characters, namely: {a} villain, Vince Angelo; {b} Derek "D" Pratt; {c} Sullivan "Sully" Port; {d} Holden McCall; {e} Kathleen Taylor; {f} Cora Malcolm; {g} Heaven Moore; {h} Liam MacGregor; {i} Ethan Hayes; and {j} Castle.   Now this is what a Military-Style Romantic Suspense book should be.
--Vonda M. Reid (Monday, February 16, 2015 : 6:02 p.m.)     [365]

Books In The Series: "The Killer Instinct Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.05-2012Midnight RescueKane Woodland: Morgan's Mercenary: ex-SEALAbby Sinclair: Noelle's Chameleons: assassin
  sub-plot:Trevor Callaghan: Morgan's Mercenary: ex-ArmyIsabel "Izzy" Roma: Noelle's Chameleons: master of disguise
02.02-2013Midnight AliasLuke Gustave Dubois: Morgan's Mercenary: ex-SEALOlivia Taylor: stripper, girl friend of mob boss
  sub-plot:Trevor Callaghan: Morgan's Mercenary: ex-ArmyIsabel "Izzy" Roma: Noelle's Chameleons: master of disguise
03.08-2013Midnight GamesTrevor Callaghan: Morgan's Mercenary: ex-ArmyIsabel "Izzy" Roma: Noelle's Chameleons: master of disguise
  sub-plot:Derek "D" Pratt: Morgan's Mercenary: deadly Noelle: Queen of Assassins
04.04-2014Midnight PursuitsEthan Haynes: Morgan's Mercenary: ex-MarineJuliet "Jules" Mason: Noelle's Chameleons: master thief
  sub-plot:Derek "D" Pratt: Morgan's Mercenary: deadly Noelle: Queen of Assassins
4.510-2014After MidnightKane Woodland: Morgan's Mercenary: ex-SEALAbby Sinclair: Noelle's Chameleons: assassin
05.11-2014Midnight ActionJim Morgan: Morgan's Mercenary: leader: ex-RangerNoelle: Queen of Assassins
06.06-2015Midnight CaptiveSean Reilly: reckless, rule-breaking IrishmanBailey Jones: Noelle's Chameleons: former CIA Agent

Characters Found In "Midnight Alias"
Character Description
Luke Gustave Dubois[Hero] former Navy (1) wasn't made for indoors; needed action; excitement; smoked Malboros (2) Morgan recruited him 6-y-a, luring him away from the military to join Morgan's team of soldiers; loved his job; reveled in the risk, the jolt of adrenaline from a particularly dangerous op; saving lives part a great adrenaline rush (3) 30-y-o (10) New Orleans, born and raised; Cajun boy; spoke French (11) SEAL (13) chocolate brown eyes; messy dark hair; ruggedly handsome face, drop-dead gorgeous; broad chest and bulky shoulders radiated strength and masculinity (23) big hands; a man's hands, rough and calloused and warm to the touch (24) jagged white scar on forearm from rescuing Bear (29) incredibly intelligent; funny as hell; charming without even trying; blatantly masculine; huge; 6'2"; without an ounce of fat anywhere on that big, sexy body; thick forearms; unruly dark hair that curled under his ears; thin white scar bisecting his left eyebrow; sensual mouth (34) friends with Isabel (41) charm and intelligence; a bad boy from head to toe (82) lost father 6-y-a in Katrina; spoke French, Spanish (83) dark stubble covering his strong jaw; broad shoulders; golden skin, perfect sculpted muscles; a few scars, a puckered one under his right nipple, a long white one on the curve of his hipbone, the one he'd acquired on his right arm while fighting off that pack of dogs; tattoo covered his left bicep, an old-school clipper ship with billowing sails (100) parents who loved him, older sisters who protected him, a nice house in a quiet neighborhood; had it easy growing up, never had to work very hard, and when he'd joined the navy at eighteen, he'd had an easy ride there too (109)
Olivia "Liv" Taylor[Heroine] danced as Livy Lovelace at the Diamond Mine; a goddess; the sexiest woman Luke ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on; wavy chestnut brown hair spilled down her regal back; high, firm breasts tipped by dusky nipples; endless legs; bottomless moss green eyes; vulnerable and sexy at the same time (3) a friend from NYU had hooked her up with job last year; considered it temporary; mother's cancer came back and the bills started piling up; waitressing salary simply didn't cut it anymore (5) eyes reminded Luke of the Spanish moss growing in the bayou back home, a lush earthy green that left you feeling calm and sated; incredibly long eyelashes (8) beautiful face; heart-stopping body (9) smooth golden skin; movie starlet face; tall; swaying hips; husky, throaty voice, with a musical lilt to it; surprisingly sweet, with a hint of lemon and quite possibly strawberries scent (10) wanted to be a teacher; loved working with kids; majoring in poli-sci; lot of pre-law courses to prepare for law school (11) Vince replaced her rusty old Impala with a new BMW with heavily tinted windows; elegant (17) 25-y-o; born Arlington, Virginia; at 16, dropped out of high school during her junior year and got a job at a fast-food joint to help out her mother (18) got her G.E.D., applied to NYU (19) dazzling; sexy; funny; serious; smart (27) cosmetic-model cheekbones; lush mouth; dark brown eyebrows were stunning, thanks to that graceful arch (71) spoke French, Spanish (83) strong-willed (85) smart, funny, sweet; strong as hell; too cautious; too serious (103) her face was technically flawless -- high cheekbones, full lips, straight nose, and smooth skin; her eyes were full of shadows (123) resilient; dry, subtle sense of humor (148) too smart; too serious (152)
. . . . . .
Trevor "Trev" Callaghan[Secondary Heroine] [Book 3 / Midnight Games] Luke's teammate; former Army; rejoined team 6-mo-a; looked like a zombie, scruffy, moody, dead inside; had taken him a year and a half to get over the loss of his fiancée, but he was finally on the right track; cut his hair, burned the beach bum outfits, taught his facial muscles how to smile again; leadership skills annoyed Luke; always preferred the cautious approach; known as the boring one (1) brown eyes (3) close cropped hair (12) tall, muscular frame; bulkier now, had definitely been working out since he'd been dragged out of retirement for that Colombian job; looked really good; dark hair in a short style, wool coat snug against his broad shoulders, black trousers emphasizing his long legs; whiskey brown eyes were completely devoid of the overwhelming grief; chiseled face; baritone voice (30) world's last remaining gentlemen (40) strong, corded throat (55) whiskey brown eyes; spicy masculine aftershave (56) when it came to females, the man exuded a quiet strength that women went wild for (71) radiated strength and warmth, subtle sensuality and quiet power (205)
Isabel "Izzy" Roma[Secondary Heroine] [Book 3 / Midnight Games] worked with Trevor on Luis Blanco job 6-mo-a; had saved Trevor's life; made him face his issues (13) warm, melodic voice; a pretty blonde with big blue eyes (26) thought often of Trevor past 6 months (30) straightforward; warm; never cared much for material things, and her apartment showed it (31) posing as Candy Cane; a seasoned operative (32) 32-y-o; thought she'd reached a point in her life when nothing and no one could hurt her; family's Mafia background had made her childhood unorthodox, not to mention unbearable, and she'd lived through too much heartache, too much bullshit; her easygoing charm was nothing but a practiced façade, inside she was hardened (33) e-mail buddies with Luke; pretty damn impressive with a rifle (41) worked for Noelle 7 years; possessed a skill set that couldn't exactly be considered normal; excelled at transformation; could alter her appearance with whatever means necessary -- makeup, padding, clothes -- but becoming a different person was more than just using the tools at your disposal; it meant a new way of walking, talking, thinking; facial gestures, body language, changing your entire mental outlook to convey a distinctive persona; nobody had ever really trained her for that; stepping into a new role came as naturally as brushing her teeth in the morning; she was good at it (42) 32-y-o; played everything so cool; daughter of a former mobster; once told the bureau, she'd love to try to bring down the people who'd sold her dad up the river; would love to punish those who'd had her brother murdered (55) straight white teeth (81) always been a loner (185)
. . . . . .
Adam[Brief Appearance] one of Morgan's Mercenaries contractors; took over guard duty of Olivia (183) bulging biceps and army fatigues (196)
Vince Angelo[POV] [Major Secondary Character] not easily impressed (4) silky-smooth voice; dark eyes; mere sight of him made Olivia nauseous; actually quite handsome; mid-thirties; Italian to the core, with slicked-back black hair, shrewd brown eyes, and a gym-toned body forever clad in tailored suits; constantly on the receiving end of appreciative female attention (5) full, sensual lips; lips were the only soft thing about him; everything else was hard, sharp; eyes like a hawk, handsome but cold features chiseled out of stone (6) overpowering cologne (16) considered himself a perfect gentleman, not a brute, a patient man (17) smooth lines and dark, reptilian eyes (27) 15-y-a, a twenty-year-old punk selling drugs on the street corner; son of a pair of piss-poor losers, smarter than everyone around him yet unable to climb out of the gutter he'd been born in; changed when Ric De Luca had taken him under his wing; started off as a drug runner, the lowest on the totem pole; at 35, cash to spare, another one of those blessed to be part of the inner circle; number six man for the head of one of the Five Families (37) Lincoln Town Car; wore trademark black pin-striped suit, paired with a wine-colored dress shirt and burgundy alligator loafers that probably cost more than Olivia's tuition (63) brown eyes (145) preferred careful planning, meticulous assessment (146) insecure (203)
Bear[Animal] Luke's dog (19) Luke faced down a pack of wild dogs with nothing but a stick to rescue (28)
Marco Bianchi[One Appearance] an enforcer for Ric De Luca; a trusted player in De Luca's inner circle; assigned to monitor the private party that had taken place in hotel room last night (36) a bodybuilder/steroid type who crammed his huge body into expensive suits and packed enough firepower to start a small war; had killed Isabel's brother (94)
Luis Blanco[One Appearance] held 13 little girls in his Colombian prison; rescued by Morgan's Mercenaries (13) {see: Midnight Rescue}
Candy Cane[Secondary Character] (Isabel Roma) newest dancer at the Diamond Mine; wore a red-and-white-striped bustier with lace cups and a sheer mesh body, dental-floss G-string, and a garter with red lace trim; wore crimson lipstick and pink eye shadow, which made her appear both innocent and erotic at the same time; working for only two months, but she was already a big hit with the customers; impressed Vince (4) concern in blue eyes; long blond hair; seemed like nice woman (5) not the sharpest tool in the shed (32) blue eyes were far sharper than Olivia realized; shrewd; warm; 30/31-y-o; exuded a maternal aura (47)
Castle[Brief Appearance] one of Morgan's Mercenaries contractors; stood out in group of men; brown eyes; a buzz cut and thick stubble on his square jaw; piercing blue eyes (183)
Carter Dane[One Appearance] an undercover DEA agent who'd gone off the radar; Morgan's mercenaries hired to find him (3) average features and short black hair (74) Mandy was his high school sweetheart, she died in a DUI before he joined the agency; got Mandy inked on his butt on the one-year anniversary of her death (118) pair of metallic gray eyes; lanky man in his early forties; square jaw, faint wrinkles around a thin mouth, familiar angular features; longish black hair fell onto narrow forehead; black wool suit draped over his lean body looked mighty expensive (193)
Dante[One Appearance] waiter at Bistro Alessio (144)
Rick De Luca[No Appearance] the DEA's real target; used the Diamond Mine to launder his money and run his drugs (8) possessed razor-sharp intelligence (20) operates in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens (84)
Dominic[No Appearance] Vince sent him to take care of guards arrested at warehouse (120)
Paloma Dominguez[No Appearance] Isabel's alter ego; a Brazilian heiress with a lust for life, oozing sex and mischief and without a single inhibition; Isabel was so convincing in the role that Trevor had been certain she was Paloma (79)
Ellen[No Appearance] Luke's older sister; stayed in New Orleans (38) wound up in an abusive relationship that lasted for years (73)
Fiona[One Appearance] little blond girl Olivia met at Laundromat; wore 2 adorable braids (22)
Erik Franz[Rare Appearance] called Vince to tell him they'd moved Dane (86)
Georgia[Rare Appearances] stripper at Diamond Mine; willowy brunette (133)
Gina[No Appearance] Trevor's fiancé (25) dead (33) had been gone for nearly two years (119)
Lisa Hamilton[No Appearance] Luke had dry humped with her in ninth grade on her parents couch (10)
Ethan Hayes[Brief Appearance] [Book 4 / Midnight Pursuits] Luke's teammate; the rookie, had joined mercenaries 3-y-a (3) the boy next door; he practically oozed "normal guy" (20)
Dr. Hopkins[No Appearance] Kathleen Taylor's doctor (21) the chief oncologist (180)
Larry[No Appearance] worked in records at St. Francis (189)
Lewis[No Appearance] Carter Dane's handler (194)
Lloyd[No Appearance] ex-Mafia; housekeeper for Morgan's Mercenaries (103)
Lou[One Appearance] Vince Angelo's tailor (61)
Liam MacGregor[Secondary Character] contractor Morgan's Mercenaries used last year in Haiti; former DEA, Boston field office (130) looked like a GQ model; handsome; had a chiseled male-model face, piercing blue eyes, thick black hair, a dimpled chin; crisp white dress shirt, fitted faded jeans, and leather loafers, the dude looked like a walking cologne ad; military precision of his eyes, the predatory way he moved -- he was a warrior to the core; a gold mine of information; blue eyes (135) faint Boston accent; thick black hair (136)
Cora Malcolm[Secondary Character] dancer at the Diamond Mine (4) danced as Coral Holliday; pretty redhead who sat beside Olivia in nearly every lecture hall; the one to set Olivia up with this job (7) freckled face; blue eyes (36) a dumb single mom with a pile of student loans; breathtaking (37) small breasts, long legs; a single mom, NYU student, kept her nose clean (48) had Katie when 16-y-o; spent the next six years working her butt off to balance job, school, and motherhood (62)
Katie [Malcolm][No Appearance] Cora's daughter; mother watched her (17) big blue eyes (68)
Maurenne Malcolm[No Appearance] Cora's mother (124)
Beth [McCall][No Appearance] Holden's wife (18)
Holden McCall[Secondary Character] Luke's teammate (2) magic on the computer (14) as serious as the boss; black hair; intense charcoal gray eyes; married; older than other mercenaries; worshipped the ground Beth walked on; possessed the most impressive set of hacking skills on the planet; had a photographic memory (18) had place in Montana (114)
Melinda[Rare Appearances] Diamond Mine manager (15)
Mikey[Regular Appearances] one of Vince Angelo's personal guards; Italian; tight-lipped; scowl-faced; always armed; scared Olivia (15) Vince's number one bodyguard; straight-up thug in his dark suit, the bulge of a weapon beneath his coat, a goatee circling his unsmiling mouth (95)
Heaven Moore[Secondary Character] dancer at Diamond Mine; applying makeup to her gaunt face, no amount of beauty products could rid the girl of that gray pallor; a junkie; Olivia couldn't figure out why Vince kept the girl on (5) one of the prettier girls at the club, tall and willowy with layered ash-blond hair and enormous blue eyes; could have been a model, probably would've been crazy successful too, but the track marks on her arms said it all; too far gone, a junkie with dead eyes and hollow cheeks and no way out (95) real name: Laura Monroe (207)
Tony Moretti[Regular Appearances] one of Vince Angelo's personal guards; tall; Italian; tight-lipped; scowl-faced; always armed; scared Olivia (15) filed police report on Olivia's attacker (49)
Jim Morgan[No Appearance] [Book 5 / Midnight Action] made Trevor team leader of current assignment; ran mercenary team (1) team's boss (2) always paid you back; all about honor, which was one of the reasons Luke had signed on to work for the guy; legendary former Ranger; ran team of soldiers (3) prickly, unsmiling boss, mercenary extraordinaire; intense blue eyes (18) words like hello and good-bye weren't part of his vocabulary (21) played his cards close to the vest, always had and probably always would (25)
Noelle[One Appearance] [Book 5 / Midnight Action] queen of assassins; Isabel's boss (13) had an arsenal of weapons and tools underneath her clothing, although it certainly didn't show; tight leather pants encased, an even tighter black tank hugging her torso, tight leather jacket; blonde; beautiful face; blue eyes; red-manicured fingernails (42) graceful; heartbreakingly beautiful; had grown up to be a ruthless killer; the most secretive person on the planet (43)
Juan Ortiz[One Appearance] Moreno rep, started singing like a canary (204)
Detective O'Shea[No Appearance] in the seventh precinct; in Vince's pocket (120)
Paul[Rare Appearances] Vince Angelo's driver (63) meaty hands (65)
Sullivan "Sully" Port[Secondary Character] Luke's teammate; Australian accent (1) huge body; 6'3"; broad shoulders and a heavy chest; he constantly seemed to be strolling around half-naked -- maybe it was an Australian thing; had the greatest appreciation for the female form; no matter where he was, always managed to find a hot, eager girl ready for a lay; a whole different league of player; a prostitute in Amsterdam offered to pay him to go upstairs with her; a cocky rub-it-in-your-face type (1) went off grid for 6 months; light gray eyes; obsessed with his yacht; name tattooed on his back (2) hired around the same time as Luke (5) wore pair of black trousers and a snug long-sleeve; strapped on shoulder holster, with nine-millimeter Beretta, black trench coat (4) the consummate ladies' man, but it was no secret he'd done dudes too (102)
Derek "D" Pratt[Secondary Character] Luke's teammate (2), apparently recruited himself by simply showing up on Morgan's doorstep one day and reporting for work (3) alert as a hawk; Trevor didn't know very well, what he did know was kind of terrifying; Delta at one point, then moved on to some covert agency that didn't seem to have a name and of which D never spoke; training was top-notch, his instincts spot-on, and he could kill a man in the blink of an eye; everything about the guy screamed lethal; shaved head, coal black eyes, huge shoulders, and abundance of tattoos; Trevor had never seen the man smile, but Kane and Luke both swore that he was capable of it; gravelly voice (25) paranoid; gotten even more volatile (40) coal black eyes that glittered with danger; cold gaze and predatory way of moving; capable of scaring anybody shitless; massive arms coming out of his black muscle shirt were covered in tats; guy was a head-to-toe menace (70) normally the guy was as still as a statue, unblinking, expressionless, exuding calm strength (115)
Sean Reilly[No Appearance] [Book 6 / Midnight Capture] information broker; Isabel met while with the bureau; twin brothers, full of themselves; pretty damn charming; born in Dublin, moved to America in his teens; father was -- probably still is -- involved with the IRA; trained him, mercenary at one point; now deals in information; contacts all over the globe; can pull information out of thin air; head of blond curls; a lot of scruff on his face; amused green eyes; Irish brogue (155)
Oliver "Ollie" Reilly[One Appearance] information broker; Isabel met while with the bureau; twin brothers, full of themselves; pretty damn charming; born in Dublin, moved to America in his teens; father was -- probably still is -- involved with the IRA; trained him, mercenary at one point; now deals in information; contacts all over the globe; can pull information out of thin air; head of blond curls; a lot of scruff on his face; amused green eyes; Irish brogue (155) complete and utter confidence (156)
Rocko[Rare Appearances] one of Vince Angelo's men; assigned to watch Olivia (60)
Bernie Roma[One Appearance] Isabel's father; had always been lanky, but now he just looked gaunt, and his dark brown hair, once thick and lustrous, was beginning to thin; turned fifty-four last month, but he looked a decade older, and his eyes were cold and impassive (212)
Joey [Roma][No Appearance] Isabel's brother (133)
Sal[Rare Appearances] one of Vince Angelo's personal guards; Italian; tight-lipped; scowl-faced; always armed; scared Olivia (15) Vince wanted him to take care of Bruno (121)
Abby Sinclair[No Appearance] [Book 1 / Midnight Rescue] neither sweet nor a lady; tough as nails (2) still had contacts in the CIA; the former assassin who'd left Noelle's employment to join Morgan's team; Isabel was close to her (103)
Eddie Taylor[No Appearance] Olivia's father; a marine; died in a car accident when Olivia was ten; going way over the speed limit, lost control of the car, and slammed into a telephone pole; made several bad investments, then the house in Virginia burned down (18) a rash fool; blown all their money on high-risk investments and get-rich-quick schemes; reckless, diving into dangerous situations without a single thought for the family waiting for him at home (36) enthusiastic; spontaneous; full of laughter, passion and love (175)
Kathleen Taylor[Secondary Character] Olivia's mom; cancer in remission; required the epoetin injections to help her produce the red blood cells that her damaged kidneys denied her body (6) was a teacher, moved them to Brooklyn when Taylor was twelve; taught junior high at a private school in New York for four years, until diagnosed with breast cancer; had a mastectomy (Olivia 16 at the time) (18) remaining breast was removed; Olivia held three jobs to pay a second round of hospital bills; 13-mo-a cancer made an appearance for a third time (19) chemo had really taken its toll; bald head looked painfully grotesque, covered with brown stubble as her hair began to grow back; cheeks were hollow, green eyes sunken in her skull; thin; frail; only 46-y-o; looked two decades older (21) had married Eddie Taylor after knowing him for less than a month (99) sharp green eyes the same shade as her daughter's; had Olivia's features, though face was hollow and gaunt; a survivor to the core (150)
Vanessa[No Appearance] Luke's older sister; stayed in New Orleans (38)
Kane Woodland[Brief Appearances] [Book 1 / Midnight Rescue] Luke's teammate; Luke was closest to him; more levelheaded than Sullivan, and he had a lot of experience with stubborn women (128) the team's second in command and Abby's soon-to-be husband; sandy blond hair and vivid green eyes, incredibly appealing, not to mention strong and capable (183)

Locations, Organizations Found In "Midnight Alias"
Location / Organization Description
Arlington, Virginiawhere Olivia Taylor was born (18)
Aspen, Coloradowhere Trevor had a condo tucked away in the mountains, far from the noise and people and bullshit; had been Gina's home too (26)
Bethesda Fountainwhere Trevor and Isabel were meeting Oliver and Sean Reilly (154)
Bistro Alessiowhere Vince Angelo had dinner on Sunday night; a low-key but expensive restaurant in Little Italy (143) where Vince's mother had one been employed washing dishes (144)
BogotáTrevor tried to apologize to Isabel for his behavior there (31)
Brooklyn, New Yorkwhere Kathleen and Olivia moved when Olivia was 12 (18)
Canal StreetTrevor headed west on this street (26)
Colombiawhere Luis Blanco held 13 little girls in his prison; rescued by Morgan's Mercenaries (13)
178 Concord Avenueaddress Vince wrote on pad; where Dane had been moved (90)
Diamond Minestrip club where Olivia danced; where Luke's team was working undercover (4) was nothing more than a glorified washing machine -- De Luca laundered his money and ran his drugs through there (8) known to employ only the most beautiful girls (37)
EvangelineSullivan Port's yacht (2)
Johannesburgwhere Morgan's Mercenaries had rescued a kidnapped executive (13)
Katrinahurricane that hit New Orleans (30)
Lou's Bacongreasy spoon; Luke's favorite haunt back home; Lou did fry up some damn good bacon (37)
Premiere Roastone of De Luca's business; Angelo using it as cover to transport his heroine (179)
St. Francis Hospitallast April Olivia was admitted; got beat up pretty bad; one of her cheekbones was fractured and collapsed in her face; surgeon came in to fix it, put some plates and screws in there to repair it (49) Kathleen admitted for exhaustion (178)
St. Joseph's Churchwhere Cora Malcolm's funeral would he held (124)
St. Mary's churchwhere Olivia went to meet Luke (68)
St. Matthew's Catholic Academywhere Kathleen Taylor taught when she was healthy (68)
Sixth AvenueTrevor headed north on this street (26)
TijuanaMorgan's Mercenaries compound is just west of Tijuana (113)
Manhattan, New York[book setting] where Luke, Trevor, Sullivan Holden, D, were on assignment (3)
Moreno cartelVince brokering large drug deal with them to climb higher in the ranks (121)
Morgan's Mercenaries(1) as a team, they worked like a well-oiled machine, and their reputation for getting the job done had spread over the years (3)
Riverside Roadwhere Rocko was to bring Luke (153)

"Midnight Alias" Quotations
99"How's this for honesty?" Luke said abruptly.   "I want you."   (Luke)
99This was a man who knew precisely what to do, whose toe-curling kisses promised that the hottest sex of her life was on the horizon.   (Olivia)
101He laughed, slow and sexy.   "Darlin', the only way this is ending is with me buried inside you."   (Luke)
129He'd never been in love before, and truthfully, he had no idea what being in love entailed.   Was he supposed to buy her a gift?   Start referring to their sex life as lovemaking?   Crap.   He was totally out of his element here.   Didn't know how to handle this in the slightest.   (Luke)
175"That when the man you're meant to be with comes along, you'll be so busy searching for someone who's not like your dad that you'll let the right one slip away."   (Kathleen)
181"Relax.   I'm not pushing you to commit, okay?"   His deep, sexy voice held a note of defeat.   "I get it.   I don't fit the perfect little life you picture for yourself."   (Luke)
182"Yeah, you did." He hesitated.   "You also told me not to fall in love with you, but I'm afraid that didn't quite work out the way you planned."   (Luke)
187"I do this work because it makes me happy.   Because my skills are best used for military operations and extractions and blowing shit up."   To his dismay, his voice cracked.   "I love it, Olivia, not because of the adrenaline high -- though that plays a part in it -- but because I sleep better at night knowing I did some good.   That I stopped a bad guy today.   Or saved a life today."   (Luke)
205Seeing Luke so distraught and determined to rescue the woman he loved had made Isabel long for . . . for something.   Something more.   Just once, she wanted someone to feel that way about her.   She wanted someone to look at her and see her, not the mask she wore, not the disguises she put on.   (Isabel)

"Elle Kennedy -- Midnight Alias" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Elle Kennedy's WebsiteAuthor
----Elle Kennedy's FacebookAuthor
----Elle Kennedy's TwitterAuthor
. . . . . . . . .. . .
----Fantastic FictionList of Elle Kennedy' Books
----Fict FactList of Books In The Killer Instincts Series
----Fiction DBList of Elle Kennedy' Books
. . . . . . . . .. . .
4.00 / heat: 312-11-2014Adria's Romance Reviews--Adria Reyes // made some valid points {gr10}
4.33 average{33 ratings}Amazonas of: February 17, 2015
4.50 average{15 ratings}Barnes & Nobleas of: February 17, 2015
4.0002-07-2013Book Binge--Judith // different: compared book to real life {gr15}
--02-07-2013Book Binge--Holly // Author Interview {short, but interesting}
--02-18-2013Books n Kisses--Kelly // Elle Kennedy Interview about this book {gr14}
4.0005-29-2014Dark Faerie Tales--Kristie // pretty good review, nice quote{gr8}
C-02-06-2013Dear Author--Jane // a comparison between Luke and Vince
5.0002-xx-2014Fallen Angels--Tammy // PR review // given perfect marks
--06-11-2013Fresh Fiction--Amy Remus // pretty god
4.10 average{788 ratings}Good Readsas of: February 17, 2015
4.0002-04-2013Happily Ever After - Reads--Jess // good synopsis and review {gr3}
3.83 average{3 ratings}Library Thingas of: February 17, 2015
B-02-19-2013Love To Read For Fun--Ellie // okay / liked thoughts about Luke {gr18}
4.50 Top Pick02-xx-2013Night Owl Reviews--Addysgammie // question validity / PR review
4.00--Once Upon A Romance--Lori Graham // [qv] sounds PR-ish
4.30 average{5 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: February 17, 2015
4.0002-20-2013Ramblings From a Chaotic Mind--Pam // story synopsis, brief review {gr17}
4.0002-01-2013Romance Junkies--Kimberly // a few good points, but kind of PR-sounding{gr4}
4.50 Top Pick--RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviews--Jim M. Smith // PR Blurb
3.80 average{5 ratings}Shelfarias of: February 17, 2015
4.5002-xx-2013Single Titles--Amelia Richard // good points, but run-on thoughts
--07-06-2013So Many Reads{see: Fresh Fiction}
A02-14-2013That's What I'm Talking About--Deelylah Mullin // excellent review {gr21}
4.0002-06-2013The Book Pushers--MinnChica // great review, good points {gr20}
--08-14-2012The Book Pushers--MinnChica // Elle Kennedy Interview
5.0011-24-2013The Romance Studio--Bec // so-so // vague-ish
4.5002-04-2013Wit and Sin--Lily {see: Romance Junkies}
4.7502-17-2015Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Borrowed This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating

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