Desire is the most dangerous sensation of all.
With tensions between the Federation and Imperial ‘Verses rising, one woman may hold the key to victory. The dangerous mission to smuggle her out of Imperial Territory falls to Daniel Haws and his team, the ultra secret Phantom Corps. This elite squad of the Federation Military is the only one trusted and skilled enough to remove her from under the watchful eye of her father, the Supreme Commander of the Imperial ‘Verses.
Carina is used to wearing a mask. Her father and his men think her little more than a pretty prize to be won by a man more ruthless than the rest. When he announces his intention to marry her to one of his henchmen, a man known for his cruelty, Carina knows she has to move as soon as possible to get out. But getting secret information to the Federation has served her well for years and she appeals to them for help.
She expected rescue from a man who’d been her enemy. But she wasn’t prepared for just how intense her attraction to Daniel Haws would be. Born as adversaries into different ranks, and on the run for their lives, they now need each other to survive–by holding on to the only thing they have in common: a growing desire that is dangerous, irresistible, and insatiable…
Thank you to Lauren Dane for allowing me to read this book early. Insatiable is Dane's next entry in her Federation series (and the beginning of the Phantom Corps). Daniel is the brother of Abby, the heroine in Relentless.
This book takes place as the Federation is preparing for all-out war. Secrets are revealed, spies are needed, and enemies are targeted. Daniel is a trained assassin. His team does whatever is asked of them. Normally you wouldn't think that an assassin is a good thing, but it's an interesting juxtaposition of Daniel's true good spirit and his job as a soldier that can accomplish almost anything by doing whatever is necessary. It's always an interesting thing when your hero (or heroine) does something traditionally out of 'hero' roles. We see almost immediately how good Daniel is at his job, when he completely changes himself for his first introduction to Carina. She is in possession of files that reveal her father's illegal actions against the Federation. Daniel's team's job is to get her back to Ravena, where the information can be analyzed.
I loved how Daniel was so surprised by Carina - he was expecting a pampered, spoiled princess, and what he got was anything but that. She was strong, but not afraid to admit when she needed/wanted help. Daniel was sensitive, but also kickass. I loved the interactions of Daniel's team. They were in turn funny and compassionate, and above all else, extremely competent... no... excelling completely at their jobs.
This is at heart, a road trip story, where Daniel and Carina learn about each other as they go. At times implausible, and at times heartbreaking, like when a team member is killed in the line of duty, this book is always engrossing. Daniel comes to admire Carina's strength, intelligence, and compassion. She in turn, admires his courage, protective nature, and his caring, despite his need to suppress that part of himself.
While Dane is known for her erotic romances, there is a sex scene that stayed with me so much, and Daniel and Carina aren't even in the same room. A little voyeuristic, and a lot sexy, Daniel is masturbating while Carina watches, unbeknownst to Daniel. Rather than to titillate, it serves to strengthen their emotional bond.
During the course of the book, we get the sense of Daniel's feelings of... not inferiority, but unworthiness for Carina. Not because he is unranked, but because of his job. He feels he is too tainted for her. Daniel needs to come to terms with who he is, and where that puts him in the grand order of the universe. He's a good, family man at heart, but the nature of his job has forced him to be tough and inscrutable. He's a hardass, but he adores his family. He's completely in charge, but feels unable to take charge of his personal life.
Carina is one of those people who is just naturally nice. She tries to see the good in people, and 100% believes in Daniel and his team. Believes he will take care of her, love her, and protect her. And at the same time, begins to see herself as a strong, independent woman who can make it on her own, despite being raised to be none of those things. Her heartbreak when she realizes she will likely never see her mother again is palpable, yet she stoically perseveres, and strives to do the right thing in a world gone awry.
As with Relentless, Dane effortlessly incorporates her world-building into the story. Modes of travel, differences in the many 'Verses, ranked vs unranked. They all are effortlessly woven together to make a world that seems natural, not contrived.
The hallmark of Dane's writing is her amazing heroines, that could seemingly get lost because of her yummy heroes. Dane heroines are strong women, who come to be confident in their abilities, recognize their strengths, and love completely. Her heroes are strong, caring, manly men, who want to take care of their women, but always help them to see their strength and inner beauty. They are family men, dedicated to doing right for the ones they love. The way that her heroes and heroines teach each other to recognize and embrace their strengths is one reason why I always enjoy reading a Dane book.
Although this can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading Relentless first - for background and because it's just such an awesome book.