Early Review, Blog Tour and Giveaway: Behind the Mask (Associates #4) by Carolyn Crane

Behind the mask
Behind the Mask (Associates #4) by Carolyn Crane
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
ARC provided by Author (thank you!)

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When her estranged sister is won in a card game by a brutal drug cartel, Zelda knows what she has to do: take her place. Save her. Focus on infiltrating the shadowy group–and try not to think about why she left the spying game years ago. She’s slept with dangerous criminals before; she can do it again.

Hugo Martinez is one of South America’s most lethal and wanted men, a legendary mercenary living on a windswept mountain. Even at the height of the war he wasn’t in the habit of taking women captive, but the American whore has seen his face. And he and the orphan boy need a cook. He shouldn’t want this woman, but there’s something so unusual about her…

Meanwhile, Zelda finds herself falling for her captor…but is he the killer she’s been hunting all these years?

Regina’s Review

Carolyn Crane writes personally and intimately. When I read her books, I feel as if I am talking to a friend. The characters she writes about, I grow to care about and love. I get them, not because they are familiar but because she writes them so well. This happened with me in Behind the Mask. The lead Zelda is not an average female protagonist, she has been through incredible trials, she is not waiting for anyone to save her. She is not a victim. She is a warrior. I loved her.

Romantic suspense can be a hard genre to do well. Some authors get it really right – Suzanne Brockmann comes to mind. What Brockmann does well Carolyn Crane does. They both develop this intricate world that is so far from normal life but because of how well it is built the world becomes believable. They both know how to write characters. I need slowly developed and deeply written characters. I want characters that are human beings that make mistakes and aren’t perfect. I want an intricate world that makes sense and is consistent. I want a lot, I know. This why the Associates is now one of my favorite romantic suspense series because it hits on all of my wants in a great way.

The Associates is part the Americans and part James Bond. Mix in some really good character development and great world building and story set up – and it works.

Behind the Mask is the fourth in this series. In the style of most romantic suspense series, each book centers around a new couple. The last three have been my favorite but they are all solid. Crane sets Behind the Mask first briefly in Mexico and then in South America. So many authors who move their storyline to other countries or even just subcultures stumble in language and setting. Not Crane. I have lived in Mexico and speak Spanish so I am always nervous or maybe weary of plot lines in Latin America. Crane gets the setting beautifully, the feel of the culture and the language.

The romance. After all – isn’t that why we are reading romantic suspense? The set up is a nice delicious slow build. Crane has two sex scenes in Behind the Mask that blew me away. These scenes are not your typical but fun romance scenes (she’s ready, he’s big) – nothing wrong with those types but that isn’t what these scenes are. There is true intimacy and the scenes play out consistent with who the characters are and what they are struggling with. The steam scenes in Behind the Mask must have been challenging to write but they are great to read. They cross lines and offer huge insight into the characters. The scenes are fun, but oh so much more.

I cannot wait to read what Carolyn Crane does next. She is such an artist and the stories she creates are so entertaining I love them. Write faster!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Thank you to Carolyn Crane for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Series Reading Order:

1. Against the Dark

2. Off the Edge

3. Into the Shadows

4. Behind the Mask (Publication date May 19, 2015)

AgainstTheDark-CarolynCrane-500x750Off the Edgeinto the shadowsBehind the mask

About the Author

Crane Author PhotoI am a RITA-winning author of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and other tales of love and adventure (and erotic & dark romance as NYT bestselling author Annika Martin). My books have been published by Random House and Samhain, and I also go the indie route. I work a straight job as a marketing writer, I love to read in bed and run, I’m passionate about helping animals, and I make my home in Minnesota with my husband and two cats.

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Giveaway Information

(1) $75.00 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice & open internationally)

(32)  Digital Copies of either Against the Dark, Off the Edge or Into the Shadows (winner’s choice & open internationally)

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Comments 2

  • I’m a sucker for the whole band-of-brothers type of romantic suspense. I also love when the heroine is just as butt-kicking as the hero.
    I adore Carolyn Crane’s UF, so I can’t wait to see what she does in this genre. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • This is my favorite series, so I´d have to say this is favorite type of romantic suspense story =D It´s the perfect mix of smutty fluff, suspense, action and *rawr* worthy Hero´s taking charge and protecting what´s his.
    Can´t wait for my chance to read!!
    Thanks for the giveaway & Happy Monday!