Locked and Loaded

Mandy Baxter
Locked and Loaded
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Publisher
Zebra
Release Date
September 2016
ISBN
9781420141078
Series
Book 5 of US Marshals
Genre
Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense/Mystery

SUMMARY
With a rock-hard body and steel blue eyes, Mason Decker is about to become the U.S. Marshals' newest recruit. But one last undercover job with a straitlaced attorney will test him to his limits . . .
Charlotte Cahill intends to take down an infamous diamond smuggler on the FBI's Most Wanted list—and she intends to do it by the book. That won't be easy with the cocky new temporary deputy on her task force. Mason Decker feels like trouble, especially when his cool gaze wanders across her hot body . . .

After his time as a Customs officer, Decker has enough experience hanging out with criminals to know that working undercover means following your instincts, not the rules. It doesn't take long for him to lock horns with Cahill. But when the sexy assistant U.S. attorney is accidentally dragged out of her orderly world and into the turn-on-a-dime tension of Decker's deceptive games, she'll find that nothing is as seductive as playing a new role . . .

Book Review by Delta (reviewer)
Sep 16, 2016   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
127 people found the following review helpful
Thanks to Ms. Baxter's U.S. Marshal series, I've officially promoted marshals to a sexy pay grade ahead of FBI agents. Sorry guys. Nothing personal.

When Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlotte Cahill is asked to head up a task force to bring down the Faction Five group, she doesn't expect to have to work with a man who personifies the word arrogant and bossy. Mason Decker and his sketchy family history have all the potential to be a major problem when it comes to bringing down one of the most wanted diamond smugglers, Kieran Eagan, especially when she finds out Mason is essentially the dude's brother.

Mason and Kieran grew up together, both being taught by one of the world's most notorious criminals but landing on either side of the good/bad coin. Mason has sworn never to go after Kieran, but if it'll get him on the short list for employment with the U.S. Marshals, he'll do what he has to do. When Charlie becomes involved on a deeper level than he anticipated, he'll not only have to teach her everything he knows about running a con, but he'll also have to keep her safe. Easier said than done.

I absolutely adored LOCKED AND LOADED, book 5 in the U.S. Marshals series by the awesome Ms. Baxter! Mason was all growly Alpha badass goodness, and Charlie was definitely a badass in her own right. They had killer chemistry, and I loved the two of them working together to take down Kieran's organization (though I kind of loved him too and hope there's a "Guys Who the U.S. Marshals Hunt" spinoff so we can get more of him). Kieran stole the show as the ultimate gentleman thief, a charming, good looking and dangerous criminal mastermind who played by nobody's rules but his own.

The suspense was well written and exciting, and I flipped pages furiously, excited to find out what would happen next! Would Mason finally be tempted to follow in his illustrious father and brother's footsteps or would he actually take down the man he grew up with? The ending was excellent, very satisfying all around. And the sex scenes were just fabulous…although I so wouldn't have minded a yummy threesome between Mason, Kieran and Charlie…just sayin'.

Bottom Line: This is a terrific romantic suspense series featuring a group of law enforcement officials that are almost mythical in their history and abilities.
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Book Review by Pip (reviewer)
Oct 03, 2016
108 people found the following review helpful
The unusual plot of diamond smuggling, cons and undercover work in ‘Locked and Loaded' has been entertaining from the get go - and is possibly the best of the U.S. Marshal series to date. It's currently my antidote for listless, clichéd-ridden summer reads and a perfect choice for a high-octane action flick in narrative form, to the extent where I was sorry when it all ended so quickly.

What starts out as a man sidelined in law enforcement for his infamous family and a prickly U.S. Attorney turns into an elaborate con with twists and turns I didn't see coming. Mandy Baxter has written a sufficiently complex plot to keep the action going, with very strong lead characters who are compelling in their own right without crossing the line into smarmy or super-human…along with a cast of shady secondary ones who themselves aren't caricatures. But it's also a showing of diamond valuation, the stones' shady origins and the bloody politics involved from raw material to production and selling - a complex minefield that Mason Decker and Charlie Cahill find themselves in with their necks barely above water. That the story covered issues like the moral grey areas of going undercover - and betraying one's own family and principles while doing so - dramatised the plot and the main characters more sharply than ever and frankly, was a treat to read as Mason walked these painful steps to dissociate himself once again, from a life he'd never known.

Watching Mason's and Charlie's relationship grow degree by degree as their interactions turned from hostile to wary and finally to scorching was beyond entertaining and enjoyable. I liked seeing how their mutual admiration of each other grew through a situation that neither could get out of and how they managed to find common ground together.

It's definitely a plot that could keep going on - even if all the books in the series are standalone books - and I hope it does. With an ending that seems a little rushed and a loose end that isn't quite so tied up, maybe…just maybe…we'll see Mason and Charlie again.

It's too soon to say goodbye.
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