Friday, April 1, 2016

Book Review for Stranded with the Cyborg by Cara Bristol

The daughter of the Terran president, Penelope Aaron resented the restrictions imposed upon her, but that was no reason to take it out on the man assigned to protect her. She regrets how she got Agent Brock Mann booted from the security force. But now that she’s an interplanetary ambassador about to embark on her first diplomatic mission, she still doesn’t want him tagging along. Especially since he seems to be stronger, faster, more muscled, and sexier than she remembers. And pretending to be her husband? This mission couldn’t get more impossible!
Ten years ago Penelope Isabella Aaron had been a pain in Brock Mann’s you-know-what. Much has changed in a decade: “PIA” as he code-named her, has grown up and is about to attend her first Alliance of Planets summit conference, and Brock was transformed into a cyborg after a near-fatal attack. Now a secret agent with Cyber Operations, a covert paramilitary organization, Brock gets called in, not when the going gets tough, but when the going gets impossible. So when he’s unexpectedly assigned to escort Penelope to the summit meeting, he balks at babysitting a prissy ambassador. But after a terrorist bombing, a crash landing on a hostile planet, and a growing attraction to his protectee, Operation: PIA may become his most impossible assignment yet.


After recently reading the second and third installments in the Cy-Ops series I thought I'd go back and see where it all started.  I'm happy to report that this series starter is just as entertaining as the others, with action-packed sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat.  With a strong-willed heroine out to prove herself, and the one-time bodyguard she betrayed who's still rebuilding his life after a mission gone wrong, the sparks fly in a sensual tug-of-war as they struggle to stay alive on an inhospitable planet.

Growing up the daughter of the Terran president meant a life under constant scrutiny and constant guard for which Penelope was left chafing and doing her best to run from.  As an adult she's not proud of how she acted in the past, particularly when her lie about Agent Mann got him fired.  She was attracted to him the moment she saw him and it had her acting out in hopes of gaining his attention.  It all went wrong though and she's felt guilty ever since, hoping to make amends.  Now that she's made ambassador their paths once again cross with her feelings for him just as strong which has her running.  This time, when he catches her, the results will be more erotic yet hazardous after an assassin strands them on a planet full of danger.  Since Brock last saw her she has matured a bit, but there were still a few incidents where she jumped to conclusions.  Considering all the threats leveled against her I wish she'd been a bit more cautious too.  When everything goes wrong though she rises to the ocassion, staying calm in the face of near-death, more than once.  She and Mann finally communicated as adults and it makes for a bond forged amidst fear and desperation and is steamy yet sweet for what it means to Brock.  Though she's not a perfect heroine she was an entertaining one with more to her than what you see.

Brock's dedicated to his job, sacrificed himself for it, which is why PIA's lie angered him so much.  Looking at her back then had him thinking of the future, but her lie sent him straight to the mission that almost killed him and left him a cyborg to save his life.  Expecting PIA to be just as spoiled and careless as she was years ago, he's pleasantly surprised by the composed and intelligent woman she's become.  He fought his attraction to her back then, but now she's a delicious distraction that leaves them vulnerable to attack by a faction seeking to take over the galaxy.  With so many changes to his body he doubts their connection will last beyond her need for him to keep her safe.  With cyborgs thought of as less than human he worries that she'll turn away from him if she discovers the truth which leaves his heart warring with his mind.  No matter what though, he'll die to protect her.  Brock is a wonderful hero who's not too arrogant to acknowledge Penelope's smarts.  He may be extremely strong too but it's his moments of vulnerability that endeared him to me and ultimately show a man with mechanized parts who still has the power to love.

From start to finish this is an exciting story that has acquaintances giving in quickly to their attraction when facing danger to add sizzle to an already combustible connection.  Both Penelope and Brock are strong-willed in a crisis with sweet and playful interactions that are balanced with danger from a bloodthirsty faction that takes them from one heartpounding moment to the next.  It's a fast-paced story overall that gives an exciting taste of what's to come in the exotic and erotic world of the Cy-Ops where the threats from an increasingly crazed faction become deadlier.

My rating for this is an A-

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

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