Review – One Minute to Midnight (Black Ops: Automatik #2) by Nico Rosso

Reviewed by: E

He was her safety. She was his backup.

Former navy SEAL Ben Jackson knows that sexy “Mary Long” is nothing but a cover; that beneath the stylish clothes and flirty smile is a stone cold super-soldier no one ever gets close to. Until her kiss hits him like one of her sniper rounds. But Morris Flats is no place for a hookup—menace hums through the town, and the more the two operators keep pushing for answers, the more deadly the current seems to run.

For former Special Forces sniper Mary Kuri, flirting with her muscular teammate feels like playing with fire. It’s hard to tell where the cover ends and the real feelings begin. What she does know is they can’t afford to lose focus. Their mission is to gather evidence, and with the gunrunners watching their every move, a single mistake could prove fatal. It’s two against the world, and Ben and Mary are about to discover that not only do the lives of innocent people hang in the balance, but they’re also fighting to save the rare connection they’ve found with each other.
This blurb came from Goodreads

As I said in my previous review of Countdown to Zero Hour, Book 1, I really enjoyed Rosso’s take on Romantic Suspense. I was very curious to see what he had in mind for the second installment and when I discovered the heroine was the team’s sniper, Mary, I was pretty excited. I thought Mary was intriguing from her time as a supporting character in Countdown to Zero Hour and I wanted to know more about her. I wasn’t as familiar with Ben but I looked forward to getting to know him as well.

The setting was a small economically depressed town very starkly divided between the Haves and Have-nots, with the Haves controlling the town by whatever means necessary. The children of those Haves enjoyed their privilege, abused their status, and knew better then to ask where the money came from. The Have-nots lived in fear; fear of bullying, abuse, and in some cases death without recourse from the local law officials. Then in walked Mary and Ben as a way too observant realtor and a nosy stubborn traveling salesman who proceeded to shake things up as they started uncovering how the town functioned.

Mary had so many secrets and she was very good at keeping people away without making it look obvious. At times I felt as if the flirtatious “Mary Long” was how Mary could have been under far different early circumstances but I really liked how complex and layered she was. Every piece of personal information and every millimeter of personal space she yielded to Ben felt like it was one step in an epic journey. As I got to know her I understood how she fit so nicely in with the team and had skills they could only dream about. I also understood why she tried to keep everyone at a surface level while still inspiring trust and faith in her as a team member.

Ben had his secrets as well but he was much more straightforward and in some regards more determined then Mary. I found it fascinating to watch as he slowly managed to get Mary to open up to him through both his persistence and his willingness to share who he was with her. I also really enjoyed how he respected and depended on Mary’s abilities even as he developed deeper feelings for her. I think this was one of the main things, which allowed me to believe in their relationship and a HEA because Mary’s skills and abilities were such an integral portion of her make-up.

One Minute to Midnight delivered on the romance, characterization, and suspense in equal parts for me. I found myself invested in not only the main relationship but also in the town and what shaped the situation Mary and Ben entered. Once again Rosso demonstrated why I enjoy his writing through a variety of subgenres and has made me look forward to seeing what he sets his pen to next in this series and across Romance in general.

I give One Minute to Midnight a B+

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