RELEASE DATE: 2nd November 2016
BLURB:Talon Valdez knew that when he transformed into an enhanced human, his life and his dreams were finished. Reviled, mistrusted, and often locked away, the enhanced are viewed as monsters, despised by the public, and never trusted to serve in the military or any law enforcement agency.
Years later he gets a chance to set up a task force of enhanced to serve in the FBI, but with one proviso: each enhanced must partner with a regular human.
Finn Mayer dreamed of joining the FBI since he was fourteen and made every possible sacrifice to make it happen, including living with his selfish mother and bullying homophobic brother and never having a boyfriend. But his undiagnosed dyslexia stopped his aspirations dead in their tracks. His last chance is to partner with Talon, an enhanced with fatal abilities who doesn’t trust regular humans with their secrets and wants Finn to fail.
Four weeks to prove himself to the team. Four weeks for the team to prove itself to the public. And when another group threatens their success—and their lives are at stake—four weeks for them to survive.
** EXCERPT **
“Just what exactly did you think was going to happen here?” Talon lifted a sardonic eyebrow.
“Talon,” Gregory said in a warning voice.
“No.” Talon looked Finn up and down. “He deserves to know why he’s here.”
Gregory subsided, and Finn looked back at Talon.
“Why am I here? Why am I here instead of Quantico?”
“Because you’re too dumb for Quantico,” Talon snapped.
“W-What?” Finn turned to Gregory. He could feel the angry, embarrassed flush work up his face.
Talon sneered. “You were a B-average student, and your physical merits barely made up for it. Your references were mediocre at best.” He leaned over Finn threateningly. “The hiring rate in the FBI is over sixty-eight to one. In what alternate universe did you honestly think you would get in the FBI?”
Finn leaned back and stared up at Talon, deliberately fixing a bored look on his face. “Well… you should know.”
Finn honestly thought the guy was going to explode.
“Sit down,” Gregory barked. “Talon, that’s an order.”
Talon whirled around, but Finn had had enough. “If you’ve finished with me?” He left off the honorific sir. “I realize there’s obviously been a mistake.” He bent and picked up his bag. “I’ll be out of your way.”
“Sit down, dammit,” Gregory fumed.
Talon stalked to the door. “You know where to find me.” He turned and gave Finn another pitying look and said, “I don’t do babysitting. When you find a real agent, give me a call.”
Finn’s jaw dropped as Talon swept out.
“I’m sorry. Finn, is it?” Gregory asked quietly.
Finn acknowledged his nickname mutely.
“Sit, please. That wasn’t how I wanted you to find out our plans. I’m afraid Talon has a very short temper.”
“I didn’t know enhanced humans had started working for the FBI,” Finn said, curiosity getting the better of him and his temper dissipating.
Gregory sighed. “Not officially. Not yet. The pilot scheme is underway to introduce them in gradually, and Talon’s training has been conducted away from the regular channels because of it. They are to be teamed with regular humans, as we both know there are some places enhanced humans are not only unwelcome, but actually barred.”
Finn nodded. The government made it compulsory that they were allowed in all public and government-owned areas. Unfortunately private businesses and homeowners were still under no such obligation. Finn supposed it wasn’t fair. He just hadn’t really thought about it. “But surely the FBI would be allowed anywhere?”
“Ever heard of the phrase ‘hearts and minds’?” Gregory sighed.
So that’s it, thought Finn. They wanted to persuade the public, not force them.
“I suppose he had a fair point,” Finn acknowledged. He’d just scraped by his courses. He struggled with the tests, and despite the hours of work he put in, he’d never managed better than a B average.
To be honest he had a feeling his English teacher maintained his B because he was diligent in everything—never a late mark, never a missed assignment. Diligent, and possibly she even took pity on him a little. She even urged him to get tested for dyslexia, which completely freaked him out and had him begging her not to write that in his record anywhere. He knew the FBI had no official policy that would discriminate against anyone, but Talon was right. Even in the years immediately after 9/11, they only hired just over two thousand new agents out of a hundred and fifty thousand applicants. He was convinced a diagnosis of dyslexia would have put paid to his dreams in the FBI straightaway, even if his coping mechanisms usually only failed now when he was really tired or stressed. They simply had too many perfect candidates to take a chance on him.
Finn sighed. “So what am I doing here?”
Gregory leaned back. “I will overlook your tone because I am aware that you have gone a long time without sleep and you have had a confusing two days.”
Finn swallowed his pride. “My apologies, sir.”
Gregory nodded in acknowledgment. “Succinctly, Talon was in a lot of ways correct. Your B average would never normally get you into Quantico, and while you had glowing reports from your tutors despite your grades, your brother, in particular, was less than complimentary.”
Finn fumed. He knew it. Why the hell the FBI had to insist on family references was completely beyond him.
“He went as far as to indicate that you were lazy and unsuited in his opinion for a job in law enforcement of any kind.”
Finn fisted his hands. He would kill him.
“However, you should know that we received a letter—or rather, one of our agents who wishes to remain nameless received a letter.” Gregory’s face softened. “From your father.”
“W-What?” Finn exclaimed. Then he hurriedly tagged on, “Sir.”
“Three years ago. I believe it was written the day before his death. The agent in question had been instructed to keep it should you apply for the FBI.”
Finn swallowed and stared unseeing at the floor. That was the last time they spoke about his dream of becoming an agent—the last time they’d spoken at all.
“The agent your father wrote to served with him in Vietnam. Normally that sort of thing won’t make any difference at all, and your dad actually didn’t ask for any special favors. He just said to disregard any reference your brother made concerning his opinions on your suitability.” Gregory leaned forward and laid his forearms on the desk.
“But even if you decided to give me a chance and ignore what my brother said, that still doesn’t explain why I’m here and not at Quantico,” Finn argued.
“Because we want to keep this quiet for the time being. Your physical training will take place both in the gym downstairs, which will be closed for your private use, and in various locations around the city. Normal agent training is nearly eight hundred intense hours of academics, firearms, case studies, and operational skills. Skills that include everything from behavioral science to safe-driving techniques.”
Finn knew all that. He’d read and memorized every bit of every training document he was able to get his hands on.
“You, however, will miss all that,” Gregory said with a hint of disbelief. “Your training will be completely private and will last only four weeks. You will then take part in some joint operations with experienced agents for a period of three to four months. If you prove that the partnership—hell, the whole idea, even—is worth the gamble, then a whole new unit will be set up and staffed with equal members of regular and enhanced, and you will then receive your full FBI training.” Gregory paused. “But we have a lot of people to convince before then.”
Finn shook his head. He was beyond tired and not completely sure he understood everything being said to him. “So, sir, what you’re saying is, we’re basically guinea pigs?”
Gregory laughed shortly. “Essentially, yes.”
“That still doesn’t explain why you wanted me. Setting aside the request to ignore the bad reference, why, if this is so important, do you not want someone already trained?”
“Because Talon has had three partners already trained. The longest any of them lasted was six days,” Gregory said dryly. “Our final option is getting someone he can train himself. However, we are so far behind schedule that you are the last chance to make this work. I should also warn you that he is a complete bastard to work with and has a chip on his shoulder the size of the Empire State Building.”
Finn chewed his lip. It had been a disaster since he walked into the office. Talon had taken nearly an instant dislike to him.
“What are you thinking?” Gregory asked.
“Respectfully, sir? That I’m completely screwed. Talon made it clear he’s not interested in working with a B average.” Finn used his fingers as quotation marks.
“And how do you feel?”
“That I have a hell of a lot to prove, sir.” Finn looked up and noticed Agent Gregory’s smile.
Agent Gregory laughed. “Forgive me. I was reacting to you not saying your biggest problem would be in working with an enhanced.”
Finn shrugged. “It makes no difference to me, sir. I just want a fair shot.” He knew the papers were full of whatever dirty laundry they could get, but it never bothered him.
“I will try to keep it quiet for as long as I can, but even my superiors are agreed we won’t be able to keep this under wraps once you are out in the public eye.”
Finn thought furiously. “Sir, even wanting someone untrained still doesn’t explain your willingness to take a chance on me.”
Gregory’s lips thinned. “We wanted someone who would be eager to meet the challenges of the irregular entry system.”
Finn parted his lips soundlessly, and his heart thudded. They wanted someone who wouldn’t ask questions. They wanted someone who was so desperate, they would accept everything. They wanted someone who knew this was his only chance.
He stared back, trying to communicate silently his understanding to something he knew Gregory would never publicly admit to.
“Am I allowed to know Talon’s specialty?” Finn asked.
All the enhanced were different. They all had different abilities, and some had more than one. Abilities were discovered as they transformed—one child had burned his house to the ground in complete panic after waking up with the mark. Others didn’t come to light until years after. Some of the abilities just weren’t something any adolescent would normally do, and there still weren’t that many of them. In fact, at one point, one of the papers had suggested there were barely enough of them country wide to fill a maximum security prison. It had been a veiled suggestion as well as a comment. That much Finn knew.
“Talon demonstrated his ability for you,” Gregory said, seeming relieved at Finn’s acceptance. “I think I’ll let him discuss it with you further.” He stood and offered his hand. “Welcome to the FBI, Finn.”
Victoria Sue … wow… I was asking to read this ARC because I’m an MM paranormal fan, but I didn’t expect it to be this good. This is a definite 5 stars, or more …
Finn, you must love Finn, is a small town boy with big city dreams, the dream to become an FBI agent and he does everything to achieve his dream. Fighting with his dyslexia with his bitch of a mother, and his dumb awfully close-minded brother. So guess how he feels when he gets the letter form the FBI informing him that he wasn’t accepted? His world seems to crush, but a few hours later he gets a call from A-SAC Gregory who invites him for an interview.
Talon, you must love Talon and kick his ass couple of times, is enhanced. What? You don’t know what is that? Ok, so lemme explain … enhanced are people whit supernatural powers. They wake up one morning with a silver lightning bolt on their face and develop those powers. It happens between age 8 and 13. How? We don’t know that, so stop interrupting me with your eager questions! Read the book duh…! So when Talon finds out that Finn is his regular partner, he kinda loses it (happens a couple of times) and he says to their A-SAC that he can’t work with an average B.
Now I know I should say what happens in the book, but I will not. Why? Because after you read it, I don’t want you to go and say to your friends: “Oh did you read Levi’s review of the Victoria’s new book? He so didn’t cover the plot, because this book is so great and … “ You see? That’s why! Because there are no right words to describe the story … it’s just freaking amazing!
Ok I want book 2! I want I want I want…!!!
**** The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book****
Victoria Sue… Wrote her first book on a dare from her hubby two years ago and he says he has regretted it every day since. Loves writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best—especially with either a paranormal or a historical twist. Had a try at writing contemporary but failed spectacularly when it grew four legs and a tail. Loves her wolves! Is an English northern lass but is currently serving twenty to life in Florida—unfortunately, she spends more time chained to her computer than on a beach. Loves to hear from her readers and can be found most days lurking on Facebook.
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