1st in the Last Chance, Inc. Trilogy
Author: Dee Davis
ISBN: 0-373-77036-7 (HQN Books)
Finished: 14 June 2007
Who: Madison Harper, FBI profiler, and Gabriel Roarke, CIA operative
From the back: FBI criminal profiler Madison Harper understands dangerous minds. Tough, tenacious, with nerves of steel, she’s the best of the best. So is her new partner, Gabriel Roarke, a crack CIA operative who likes to do things his way. When the two are forced to jointly head up a task force investigating murder in high places — it’s no surprise that sparks begin to fly.
Comments: About a year ago, I idly picked up my room mate’s copy of this book and read several pages. It held my interest, so I purchased a copy of the trilogy for myself. I will certainly read the remaining books in the trilogy, and I’ve added the author’s most recent HQN book to my TBR pile.
We are introduced to Madison first, as she’s helps the local PD wrap up a murder investigation. She’s an FBI profiler, good at what she does, and happy with her job. Then she’s told that Cullen Pulaski , a very wealthy and influential business man — and her godfather — needs her expertise. Cullen believes that there is a conspiracy to derail the US trade accord with China. Several key players have died — some deaths were ruled accidental, others natural causes. He has failed to convince the police, the FBI, and the President that some one is sabotaging their efforts. Cullen takes matters into his own hands and forms a task force. Madison is far from happy. She’s worked hard to prove herself, that she didn’t ride the coattails of her father and godfather.
Gabriel Roarke is a CIA operative. He knows Cullen because the businessman had need of his services before. Gabe is someone Cullen trusts. Just like Madison, he isn’t happy about being pulled from his mission. Cullen give Roarke carte blanche to hire whomever he deems necessary, however, he must share command with Madison.
Naturally, Gabe and Madison clash. He doesn’t believe her skills as a profiler will contribute anything useful — which is funny, considering he uses a form of profiling on his missions: both get into the minds of an enemy. Furthermore, he thinks Madison is window dressing — Cullen’s mistress — and her presence on the task force is a favor. Once again, Madison finds she must prove herself to another man. Both are thrown off-balanced by the fact that they are attracted to one another.
Regardless of his initial opinion of her profession, Gabe learns to appreciate Madison’s abilities. She’s strong and she can hold her own in every situation. The urge to protect her stems from his growing feelings for her. Gabe’s been a loner all his life and falling in love is a new experience for him. He thinks he’s found the one woman who understands him and he is willing to take a chance with her. For her part, Madison has bigger issues to overcome. The last serious relationship she had with a man ended very badly. She doesn’t need another domineering male trying to run her life, no matter how much she loves him (i.e, her father and godfather). Both have their moments of doubts about a relationship. Fortunately, the author doesn’t make them drawn out and angst-ridden. Interestingly, their careers are never considered insurmountable obstacles to a relationship of any kind.
The book kept my interest all the way to the end and I was never tempted to flip ahead. I did not guess the culprit early on, but a scene – innocent seeming enough – made me pause and wonder if there was more going on with the character. My hunch was correct. To say more would be too revealing.
“You going to shoot the waffles?”
— The astonished Gabriel to the armed Madison