HIS TO TAKE - Shayla Black
Wicked Lovers , Book 9
Berkley Trade
ISBN: 978-0-425-25125-6
March 2015
Romantic Suspense

Dallas, Texas - Present Day

Accustomed to going it alone, NSA operative Joaquin Muñoz is desperate enough to ask for help from the last people he'd ever thought to approach: his sister and her husband, Kata and Hunter Edgington.  When his private investigator best friend is murdered while investigating the disappearance of a client, Joaquin steps in to avenge his friend, and finds a horrifying crime spree.  Several women in as many states have been tortured and murdered, all with a similar appearance, and all of whom had been adopted at age five.  Joaquin finds out that he's dealing not with a serial killer, but rather an assassin looking for a specific woman, Tatiana Aslanov.  With the NSA unwilling to take on a case outside of their jurisdiction, Joaquin turns to the Edgington brothers hoping they can help identify possible targets and protect them from a sadistic killer.  He hadn't been prepared for how much help they could be.  The Edgington brothers are friends with the heiress, Callie Howe, whose father was killed by the same people who killed Aslanov. Because of the connection, the Edgingtons, as well as Callie's fiancé, Sean, believe they know who is looking for Tatiana and why, and with some help they are able to narrow down a list of what name Tatiana is now known by.

Ballerina Bailey Benson has been plagued by a nightmare her whole life, but waking up to find herself handcuffed to a strange bed is even more terrifying.  Her captor swears he's trying to save her from an assassin hunting her, but he also believes she's the lost daughter of a slain Russian scientist.  Sure, Bailey doesn't have any memories from before she was five, but Joaquin can't be right. Yet, when he knows details of her recurring nightmare, Bailey begins to question everything she thought she knew about her life.  As if the secrets of her past aren't enough to worry about, Joaquin is hiding her at Club Dominion, a Dallas BDSM club, and the things she is seeing and hearing have Bailey looking at her captor in a whole new light.

HIS TO TAKE is the ninth book in the Wicked Lovers series, and it brings back many familiar characters, continues a bit of Callie's story, yet is all about Joaquin and Bailey.  The previous book, THEIRS TO CHERISH, is the story of Callie, who has been on the run for ten years.  Her family was murdered by a separatist group, and she was framed for the crime.  Those same people also murdered the Russian scientist, Aslanov, and are now searching for the one family member who escaped, Tatiana.  While having this background is helpful in understanding some of what's happening, HIS TO TAKE is really Joaquin and Bailey's story.

After the loss of his father, Joaquin pretty much disconnected from his family and hasn't spent much time with them since.  He's always figured life was easier spent alone, but when he meets Bailey he begins to see the appeal of family again.  Holding her at Club Dominion is also opening his eyes to a world he'd never really considered before, but the more he talks with Master Thorpe, the more comfortable Joaquin feels about his dominant tendencies.  Bailey has focused on her career since her parents' deaths, and has had no time for men.  Her feelings for Joaquin are shocking enough, but when Callie shows her around the club, Bailey's even more surprised by her desire to experience submission at Joaquin's hand.  As she struggles with her feelings for Joaquin, Bailey also has to face the fact that her life has been a lie, and dangerous people are hunting her.

The romance between Joaquin and Bailey is filled with passion as well as action, as secrets of their respective pasts are revealed along with the hidden desires that neither has been able to admit to before.  A compelling tale that will give fans of the series a chance to look in on favorite characters and give new readers an intriguing introduction to the Wicked Lovers world, be sure to check out HIS TO TAKE.

Jennifer Bishop