FORCE OF ATTRACTION - D.D. Ayres
A Canine Rescue Novel , Book 2
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Maryland - The Present
The Drug Enforcement Administration's SWAT K-9 Division Agent Scott Lucca is still in love with his ex-wife, Nicole Jamison, who is now a police officer with the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland. They met when both worked together for the D.C. Police. Then Scott went undercover with the Pagans, a West Coast gang moving east, and Nikki discovered him in a sexual encounter during a police raid. She left him, ending their marriage. Now his partner is the drug-sniffing dog, Izzy. While drowning his sorrows on the road in Georgia, he calls Nikki, but hears her voice saying, 'Wrong number,' and hangs up. Worse, leaving the bar, two bikers drive into the parking lot. One recognizes him as a cop, the other Scott recognizes as the Pagan member Dos Equis, who marks his victims by carving double Xs into them. Regrettably, Dos Equis later remembers and recognizes Scott.
Nicole, now going by 'Cole,' also works with a K-9 for a partner, Hugo, a Bouvier des Flandres, an unusual breed for police work. The DEA contacts Cole and asks her to come in for an interview. She soon learns they have a complete dossier on her background, so she suspects she underwent a security check. Because of her experience in training dogs, they want her to go undercover to discover who is using puppies as drug mules, gutting the poor animals afterward. She will take Hugo into agility training competitions. Her backup agent will act as her boyfriend. The problem is that Scott is her backup agent and task force leader. Their suspect is the wife of a hip-hop artist who has served time, and now the wife stars in a reality TV program.
Things are bound to go wrong. One is the instant sexual recognition and attraction between Scott and Cole. They have to keep their undercover identities loving and separate from their true situation. Then Cole must train Hugo in running an agility course, one aspect of which Hugo dislikes. The home of Scott's parents is ransacked and a pig's head with a carved X in the forehead is found in the refrigerator. Also, Cole has to build rapport with her suspect target. All of this leads to emotional and sometimes frightening situations. Included in the suspense are several explicit sexual encounters, at least one for the job, so fun all the way around. Hugo is a great addition with many canine talents and quirks, but overshadows poor Izzy completely. Both lead characters' families and Scott's handlers also play important parts. The final confrontation is terrifying, but the conclusion entirely satisfying. Great believable characters, interesting plot, dogs and competitions, despicable evildoers, and fast-paced, unobtrusive writing, what more could a reader ask for?