Sunday, March 27, 2016

Review: Risk No Secrets

Risk No Secrets

by Cindy Gerard
Book 5 of Black Ops, Inc. series

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

I just can’t get enough of this world of Black Ops boys and the action, the suspense, and the heartwarming friendships and the hot and steamy romances.

And Risk No Secrets had a nice abundance of feels (I know, no emphasis or anything this time, but the feels are there nonetheless) in some of the right places. And I blame all of that on the great, cuddly, good man who is Wyatt “Papa Bear” Savage. He’s not only a good man, but he’s a good man in spades. The nickname given him, “Papa Bear”, fits him to a ‘T’. With his genteel southern charms and his lovely, caring personality, it was hard NOT to fall in love with Wyatt Savage.

And for a while, I even felt like his OTP partner, Sophie Baylor didn’t really deserve him, and that she needed to step up the romance if she was going to claim him. Of course, I grew to like her too, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hold Papa Bear on his own pedestal. He comes in a close second to being my favorite BOI--but only because I’m still irretrievably in Johnny Duane’s eternal fanclub.

You know how, in a romance such as, say, a K-drama, there’s always a broody, antagonistic man with a secret heart of gold, and then there’s the stock-standard good man through and through? And you’re always rooting for the good man who is always the second lead because he’s the one who never gets the girl? Because he’s always the one who wants the girl to be happy even if he has to let go and walk away? And because these girls are always drawn towards the broody, rude man who manages to light up their Bickering Romance fires?

Well, Wyatt Savage encompasses that exact good man persona. Except, thankfully, the girl sees his all-sacrificing, noble idiot self, calls him out on it, and falls in love with him for it. And this is exactly why I probably need to stop watching K-drama.

Far be it for me to judge who gets to be the OTP in the end, but sometimes you just wish that the good guy could end up getting the girl for once.

Anyway, back to the book...

Risk No Secrets follows the same action-packed, page-turning formula as the rest of the Black Ops installments, with a new story, a new set of characters, and the same exciting and suspenseful story progression. And because of these new stories and new plot devices and new romances, I’ve enjoyed every single one of the BOI books so far. It doesn’t hurt that the characters are forever making me feel giddy and proud.

Wyatt Savage and Sophie Baylor knew each other twelve years ago when Wyatt fell in love with Sophie and stood back to watch her marry his best friend, Hugh Weber. Fast forward into the present and we get a Papa Bear who is war-weary and ready to re-evaluate his life as a shadow warrior. But even as he’s contemplating living out the rest of his life quietly in his home state of Georgia, he receives a call from Sophie with an urgent distress message: Sophie’s daughter was the target of a kidnapping, but another little girl was mistakenly taken in her place. And now Sophie, though relieved that her own child is safe, is wracked with guilt over the other little girl’s abduction. And she can’t think of anyone else who can help her.

Without any hesitation, Wyatt picks up and shoots to El Salvador to be Sophie’s support and do what he can to help her bring the other little girl home. It’s a crazy, chaotic mess in the Central American country when corruption reigns high and no one else is doing anything to help retrieve or prevent the recent string of kidnappings for ransom. With so much danger openly challenging them, the mission to find and rescue the missing little girl is a much more difficult task than even the BOIs all bargained for.

The concept of Risk No Secrets is a good one and I actually enjoyed this particular storyline a lot. There was a concrete mission that wasn’t a too vague “save the world from terrorist attacks” ordeal. And thanks to Papa Bear, Sophie, and the ex-husband (Hugh Weber), there was a lot of emotional tension sitting in the room like that proverbial elephant waiting to be addressed, but needing to be ignored in favor of other priorities.

Even without the deadline of a kidnapping ransom, the little relationship triangle was so high strung that even I had to hold my breath for a few beats. And then my heart also broke for Papa Bear a couple times too when it seemed like he just kept giving everything he had with no expectation of Sophie even acknowledging his altruistic selflessness.

So forgive me if I came up with a few moments where I kind of wanted Sophie to leave Wyatt alone if she wasn’t going to be able to be there for him, despite silently asking him to be there for her time and time again. Then Sophie DID step it up and between the tragedy of watching a little girl be abducted, having to watch her own little girl be taken away for safe-keeping, and then witnessing a few blood baths, I kind of slowly accepted her for Papa Bear’s sake.

The romance was a sweet one, if also a bit one sided for the twelve year old flashbacks and the present day rekindling. It’s not my favorite love story in the world, but it’ll do.

It’s just that, Wyatt Savage wrenches the heart with his noble idiocy, you know. And it’s a good kind of bittersweet angst that makes women all over the world swoon for his sweet, caring, and loving character.

The excitement of the suspense story was in full force; and despite the fact that our heroes were working on absolutely no leads and a ticking timeline, there was still action all over the place. The ultimate conclusion turned out rather predictable, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the ride while it rolled on.

Meanwhile, my dearest Johnny Duane Reed had to sit this one out:
At four in the afternoon, after Sophie had joined Hope next door at Carmen’s, Wyatt answered the door, and there stood Reed, balancing on a pair of crutches; his right knee was trussed up in a brace.


Wyatt glanced from Reed’s injured leg to his face. “And?”

“And even Superman can have a bad day.” Reed grinned [...].

“He tore his ACL day before yesterday trying to do a stunt on a skateboard,” Crystal said with a roll of her eyes that didn’t quite hide the concern she felt for her husband.

“Mendoza dared him,” Luke Colter--a.ka. Doc Holliday, the team medic--put in, shaking Wyatt’s hand as he entered the house.


“No one held a gun to the fool’s head,” Mendoza pointed out defensively.

Wyatt just looked at Reed and shook his head. Reed gave him a stupid grin, but Wyatt could see that he was embarrassed by the circumstances.

And so help me, I was a grinning fool when he made his appearance, all goofy with his pretty boy charms and his insipid grin despite being incapacitated. I couldn’t help it even though this is not Johnny Duane’s book for Johnny Duane fangirling.

But even with him delegated to babysitting duty with Tinkerbell in Argentina, keeping an eye on Sophie’s daughter and keeping her safe for the time being, his presence was still felt. And the rest of the BOIs still managed to wrench smiles from me with their typical boyish, dark humor and their heartwarming love for one another.

As I said, I never get enough of this world and the characters Ms. Gerard has created. Like when I finished The Bodyguards series, I have a feeling there’s going to be some form of gaping empty void in my heart when I finally reach the seventh and last book. I can just feel it coming.

Final Thoughts: Risk No Secrets was entertaining, exciting, enjoyable, and every bit as suspenseful and action-packed as I’ve come to expect from a Cindy Gerard novel. Tack onto that the loving, peaceful friendships between the BOIs and their extended family and friends, it just makes these books so much harder to resist.

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in January 2015.

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