MAKE YOU MINE – Jackie Ashenden
Nine Circles Novel,
Book 2
St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN-13:  978-1-250-05177-6
May 2015
Romantic Suspense

New York and Monte Carlo - Present Day

Katya Ivanova is a former Russian special forces member who has cut all ties with them and is now a bodyguard for Alex St. James.  Alex can't sleep alone, always has one or two women spending the night, and now is involved in a secret poker game in Monte Carlo.  Katya is ready to quit her job because she has just received information that her friend, Mikhail, from her Special Forces team has been spotted after supposedly dying during a mission several years ago.  Katya's father is a general in Russia, but he refused to look for Mikhail, even though at one time he wanted them to marry.  Katya wants to return and help rescue Mikhail, but Alex won't let her leave, and says he needs her in Monte Carlo.

A pair of dice are an invitation to an exclusive poker game in Monte Carlo, and were given to Alex by his best friend, Gabriel Wolf, who got them from Alex's stepfather; but how his stepfather came to have them before he was murdered is unknown.  Gabriel and Alex's friend Zac, who owns a security company, and friend Eva call themselves the Nine Circles Club, where people are banded together by power, secrets, and wealth.  The host of the poker party is Conrad South, the man who raped Alex nineteen years ago, an attack that changed Alex's life forever.  He doesn't know why his stepfather was given the dice, but he knows showing up at the poker game unexpectedly will finally give him the revenge he longs for.  But will that revenge heal the damage to his life?

Katya and Alex go to Monte Carlo after Zac promises to use his connections to rescue Mikhail, and with Katya pretending to be Alex's girlfriend, they go to the poker game, and Alex tries his best to act normally around Conrad and the other weird players.  Only something is wrong; none of the players are real poker players, and Katya notices one of them is a mercenary.  When Alex and Katya finally figure out what is going on, Conrad is ready to confront Alex and cast doubt on his father's suicide shortly after Alex's attack.

Jackie Ashenden introduces us to two strong characters, mentally and physically, yet with hidden secrets and tragedies in their past that confronting doesn't seem to erase.  Written from Alex's and Katya's points of view, each of them reek of strength, yet they live everyday with the ghosts in their life.  Alex has lived with his attack for nineteen years while trying to come to terms with what happened.  Katya lost her faith in her father and the military after he refused to rescue Mikhail from a dangerous mission.  These are two damaged people just looking to get through each day as best they can.

Secondary characters include Gabriel, his best friend who is now with Alex's sister Honor, Zac Rutherford, and Eva.  They call their group the Nine Circles, the “fed-up billionaires club”, where the motto is “don't ask, don't tell.”  The man with the biggest influence on Alex is Conrad South, his father's old friend, and the person who took his innocence from him nineteen years ago.  And certainly in Alex's life are all the women he has used over the years to try to keep away what Conrad did to him.  Daniel St. James, Alex's late father, committed suicide after the incident, and Alex was sure he didn't know what happened, but perhaps that isn't true.

MAKE YOU MINE follows Alex who is living with the aftermath of the attack that is still a central part of his life.  Katya is a former Russian Special Forces, now a bodyguard, but her father the General and his response to his wife's suicide has also lived with Katya all these years.  Two more damaged people with their tragic pasts would be hard to find.  Fortunately, Katya is gifted with wisdom and discernment about Alex and gradually cracks the shell that has protected him all these years.  MINE TO TAKE (November 2014) tells the story of Gabriel, Alex's best friend.  Next is YOU ARE MINE, featuring Zac and Eva, and the secret connection between them.  Full of emotion and suspense, MAKE YOU MINE is sure to engage all your senses as Alex and Katya confront his past.

Carolyn Crisher