In Targeted (FBI Heat #2) by Marissa Garner, FBI Special Agent Marissa Panuska knows that the undercover assignment she's on could very easily end with her being shipped home in a body bag. Still, nothing is going to stop her from risking her life to bring down those that wish to set off a dirty bomb and kill hundreds of people. However, it's getting harder and harder for her to maintain her cover when the group she's infiltrating is so filled with hate, until the mysterious Ameen Ali comes to her rescue when she gets herself into a precarious situation.
Former Navy Seal Ameen Ali lost the most important people in his life when terrorists killed his family during an attack on American soil. He's determined to take down those that threaten people's lives, even at the cost to his own. Saving the life of the gorgeous woman that seems to be part of the group he's looking to take down, he's determined to take advantage of her gratitude. Except she's more stubborn than he could have imagined, and convincing her to join forces may prove harder than he thinks.
Having really liked the first book of this series, and being introduced to Marissa in it, I was looking forward to reading what Ms. Garner would put the strong and brave woman, through in this story on the road to happy ever after. And honestly, it was everything I'd hoped for and more. Right from the beginning, this book was highly entertaining and gripped my attention immediately with it's strong plot, solid characters as well as a narrative and dialogue that kept me flipping the pages wanting to see how this story would develop. Especially after what happens to Marissa in the opening chapter, and the danger than Ameen saves her from.
I really liked both the main characters as well as the secondary ones, even though I thought that there were too many characters narrating the story. However, in saying that, all those characters narrating was necessary, as it illustrated how big of an investigation Marissa was on was, and that she couldn't do it alone. The friendship the heroine shares with her friend, Ben, proves that she needs someone she can trust to help her. Besides, they have a unique connection that was beneficial to her when she needed him most.
Marissa is strong, brave, determined, and stubborn. Being back in the field, she seems more alive than what she would be like working behind a desk. Her determination to take down the terrorist cell, even though everyone believes it's too dangerous for her to keep going, was what I liked best about her. She couldn't allow for the bad guys to hurt innocents without doing everything in her power to make sure she was the one that would take them down. Especially after all that she's witnessed infiltrating the terrorist cell, which seemed to be having more of an effect on her than she thought it would. As if a virus coursing through her that may prove difficult to get rid of.
While Ameen, he's confident and determined. No way could allow innocent lives to be lost when he could do something about it. Yet, what I liked most about the hero is that he didn't allow Marissa's stubbornness to get in the way of what he had to do. He was going to protect her, no matter what she threatened him with. They also have an incredible connection, which is proven by the fact that it's hard for her not to trust him. Until eventually, the strong chemistry they have spills over onto the pages in scorching sex scenes. Marissa needed Ameen, so she didn't feel so alone and to make her realize that there was light at the end of the dark tunnel she seemed to be caught in, if he was willing to explore their connection more when the case was over.
Overall, this was a very good addition to the FBI Heat series by Ms. Garner, and I can't wait until the next one, considering one of the secondary characters lost someone important. The way this story ended was perfect, despite what happened to the main characters and the fact that I thought all hope was lost when it came to the hero. I would recommend Targeted by Marissa Garner, if you enjoy the mysterious strangers trope or romantic suspense.
BLURBFor San Diego's
elite FBI agents,risking their lives is standard procedure when it comes to
capturing the city's most dangerous criminals-but falling in love is the greatest
risk of all.
RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES . .
FBI Special Agent Marissa Panuska
facesthe most explosive case of her career when she impersonates a female
terrorist to infiltrate an al-Qaeda cell. Her dark hair, olive complexion, and
Arabic fluency make her the perfect imposter, but each passing hour raises the
risk of discovery. Can she stop the dirty-bomb plot-alone-when the Feds don't
even know the target? And should she trust the mysterious man who bursts into
her life when her cover is blown?
SO CLOSE TO REALITY . . .
Former Navy SEAL Ameen Ali has a
very personal reason for hating the terrorists and vowing to stop them. But
when a beautiful woman joins the sleeper cell spreading death-to-America
propaganda at his mosque, he doesn't want to believe she shares their evil
goals. Can he convince her to join forces before it's too late?
Night had fallen when
Samir parked the truck in front of the dilapidated house in the drug-infested
Tijuana slum. Once he killed the headlights, the moon provided the only
illumination along the crumbling asphalt road. Wedged between Samir and Omar on
the seat, Marissa Panuska scanned the neighborhood of decaying buildings,
hoping to catch a reassuring glimpse of the two agents who were out there—somewhere—following
her, watching her back.
On five previous
occasions, the terrorists had brought her to their hideout in Mexico, just
across the border from San Diego. Marauding drug gangs ruled the area where
crackling gunfire was as common as barking dogs. The constant smell of weed
permeated the air and stung her nostrils. The residents were rarely visible,
preferring relative safety behind walls.
Marissa’s gaze swept over
the run-down house, checking for any signs of change or trouble. Boards protected
the windows from prying eyes, and a padlock secured the door against thieves.
The electrical connection dangling from the sagging overhead lines was one of
the few in the slum, and the satellite phone antenna on the roof was definitely
After an anxious look
around, Omar jumped out to unlock the door before all three darted inside.
Samir switched on the lamp that sat on the floor by the door. Ignoring the
stench from the barely functioning bathroom, they hurried past it and the
bedroom on the left. A narrow archway separated the front room from the larger
back room, which included a rudimentary kitchen along one wall. The furnishings
consisted of six metal folding chairs, a wooden table, and three tall lamps.
Several boxes of electronic parts, including a new one, were lined up near the
rear door. The place was filthy, but no one cared.
The stifling heat in the
closed-up house stole Marissa’s breath. Sweat dampened her skin beneath the
long, black abaya and niqab, the Muslim robe and veil she wore
over her other clothes. While the men turned on the lights, she sank onto one
of the flimsy chairs, morbidly wondering if she was more likely to die from
heat stroke than at the hands of the terrorists.
Holding the niqab away from her face, she drew slow,
deep breaths and grimaced at the pain in her lungs and stomach. The stress of
impersonating Baheera Abbas, of pretending to be the female terrorist
previously unknown to the US intelligence community, gnawed at Marissa’s
nerves. If only she could determine Baheera’s role in the planned attack, she
might be able to finish the covert operation, might be able to survive. Every
passing minute held the threat of discovery and diminished that possibility.
Marissa wiped the sweat
from her face and watched the two men admire the sword-like knife Samir had
purchased in a shop along Avenida
Revolución on their way through Tijuana. On previous visits, Samir’s first
priority had been to unlock the metal gun cabinet bolted to the floor in the
bedroom closet and to confirm the delivery of additional bomb components. But
tonight, the sleeper cell’s leader and Omar were distracted by the massive
blade, which they took turns brandishing menacingly at each other.
Samir’s satellite phone
lay on the table. The phone never left his sight because it represented the
cell’s umbilical cord to the Middle East, the only method of communication
between the terrorists here and those at home. Homeland Security couldn’t
fathom why just one means of contact existed, why no alternate options were in
place. They suspected the men in charge didn’t trust anyone except Samir and
wanted to minimize the risk of the plot being traced back to the source. Unable
to determine the terrorists’ reasons, US officials decided the terrorist mind
was impossible to comprehend and worked to exploit the obvious weakness in the
cell’s strategy. The Bureau and other government agencies had simply taken
advantage of the situation and monitored the terrorists’ calls with ease.
Until two weeks ago,
Marissa had been one of the agents monitoring those calls, listening to and
translating many long distance conversations between Samir and his bosses.
Discovering the true identities of the people had been a frustrating, and often
futile, process. No one used a last name, and even the first names were suspect
as they were frequently aliases. Husaam was the name used by the man who seemed
to be at the top, but the common Arab name made it impossible to positively
identify or trace him.
The sat phone’s ring
interrupted Marissa’s thoughts.
Samir shot it a startled
glance. The call seemed to confuse him for a moment, suggesting he didn’t
expect to be contacted tonight. He grabbed the phone, answering warily in
Arabic. His face tensed, and his tone turned respectful when he launched into a
detailed status report. As usual, he lowered his voice and walked into the
front room so neither Omar nor Marissa could hear.
She prayed that someone in
Washington would be listening in real time—not hours later to a recording.
Only five minutes passed
before Samir, wearing a Cheshire cat grin, strolled back through the doorway
and held out the phone to her. Her stomach knotted. Only Samir talked on the
Saying nothing, he thrust
it at her again.
Hesitantly, she put the phone
to her ear and spoke in precise Arabic. “Allahu
The man on
the phone greeted her affectionately—as his wife.
wife, writer, chocoholic, and animal lover, not necessarily in that order. As a
little girl, I cut pictures of people out of my mother's magazines and turned
them into characters in my simple stories. Now I write sexy paranormal romantic
suspense, steamy contemporary romance, and edgy romantic thrillers. I live in
sunny Southern California with my husband, but enjoy traveling from Athens to
Anchorage to Acapulco and many locations in between.