Edge of Truth

Brynn Kelly
Edge of Truth
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HQN Books
Release Date
May 2017
Romantic Suspense/Mystery

Rotting in an African dungeon is the last place journalist Tess Newell expected to find herself. As she's held hostage by the terrorist group she's investigating, Tess's salvation—and temptation—arrives in the form of another prisoner. A French Foreign Legionnaire with a sinful smile and too many secrets to be anything but dangerous. Yet she knows he's her only hope of surviving.

The Legion is the only family Flynn has. His sanctuary and his purgatory, after years spent in hell. When a mission goes south and Flynn is captured, it's not the enemy that worries him, but the brazen, alluring reporter whose prying questions threaten to bring down his world—and the walls he's built around his heart.

Yet after a daring escape, Flynn must risk it all and go on the run with Tess to retrieve the evidence she needs. The chemistry between them threatens to detonate but, with the enemy fast closing in, time is running out to unravel the truth from the lies in this deadly conspiracy…

Book Review by Delta (reviewer)
May 18, 2017   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
198 people found the following review helpful
Also posted at Reading Alley:

High-profile American TV journalist Tess Newell is certain that someone, anyone, will be searching for her after she's been kidnapped by a terrorist group in East Africa. When a French Foreign Legionnaire literally gets dropped into her hellhole, Tess is wary, but glad to have human contact again. Flynn doesn't mess around. After recovering for a few hours, he's busting them out of the underground dungeon and into that desert night, evading recapture, land mines, opportunistic thieves and a multi-government terrorist cell and mercenary hunt for them. Through several countries, landscapes and dangers, Tess and Flynn are on a mission to expose the truth about the al-Thawra jihadist group.

Daaaaaamn!! There was no sophomore slump for Ms. Kelly! EDGE OF TRUTH was a fast paced romantic action/suspense read that kept me engaged from beginning to end. This exciting read took us to African and Middle Eastern countries in a vivid and sometimes heartbreaking way. Ms. Kelly wove this fantastical tale about terrorism, conspiracy theories, human suffering, the resiliency of the human spirit and the will to live and to let love in.

The entire book takes place in the span of just a few days, and it's a whirlwind. From the moment Flynn is dropped into Tess' dungeon, it's a fast-paced race to get the evidence needed to take down the corrupt government officials in many countries. I loved every single thing about this story, about Ms. Kelly's writing style, about the vivid description of their surroundings and about the magnetic connection between the characters. Both Flynn and Tess are completely badass, hardcore survivors who I could've read another 100 pages on. I'm absolutely blown away by this author and highly recommend picking up EDGE OF TRUTH, but also her first book featuring an EDGE OF TRUTH secondary character, Deception Island.

Bottom Line: No OM/OW or sharing; condom use; no BDSM/kink; no sexual assault; violence/murder.
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Book Review by Pip (reviewer)
May 18, 2017   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
213 people found the following review helpful
A celebrity reporter is thrown into jail in some unknown location in Africa, presumably held by terrorists making a demand. But it appears that Tess has uncovered some secrets of her own, which will probably upend what most people categorise in their black-and-white-worlds of good vs. evil. Her only hope of escape, however, is an edgy, secretive soldier thrown into the same jail cell with her and until the truth emerges, it's best that they stick together since escape is their end game.

While I'd read Brynn Kelly's first book Deception Island with a dose of skepticism, getting an early copy of EDGE OF TRUTH made me excited once again for the shady, spooks and spies kind of story that promises heart-pounding action. To some extent, that is what the story offers.

But if it started out great for me, it fizzled out too soon, only picking up towards the end. Nonetheless, it's well-written, with many detailed, descriptive scenes that amp up the experience of Flynn and Tess making their escape and guaranteed to make your pulse speed up.

For the rest of the time though, I wondered where the narrative was going. There was loads of time spent in the deep POV, which made for exciting action, yet focused so much on sensory experience that I couldn't, after a while, make sense of what was really happening (and lost any sense of time like the characters did), or whether progress was really made in getting to the crux of the story. Dialogue—banter almost—is interspersed with periods of waiting and action, and it took so long getting to the part where Tess finally stopped looking at Flynn with suspicion despite his many attempts at saving her. I'd hope to see more of the fallout after the conspiracy exposed, but the story never quite got there in the end, focusing instead, on the steps that Flynn/Tess took to escape and give the bad guys the runaround.

However, Tess's self-righteous behaviour (mostly consisting of pushing away) annoyed me, as did her insistence that things had to be done only her way while accusing Flynn of having a hero-complex. I hated how she never listened but did things on her own because she was only convinced that only her way would keep everyone safe. Grateful much? This saviour-complex and the secrets she stubbornly strove to keep, supposedly for the good of everyone, crossed the line into TSTL for me long before I could even think of it as bravery. That her willfulness ended up in her also breaking the one thing Flynn asked of her—to leave his past the hell alone because it left him in a world of hurt—made it hard for me to like her at all. It screws up clearly, her efforts gone to waste as Flynn rushes to her rescue…yet again. A hell of a lot happens in 2 days—as though time has been compressed—and there's clearly instant-love at work here, with Flynn seeming to have more of a revelatory experience than Tess and I never quite got the feeling that she returned that sentiment with as much force as he did—that much she prioritized the 'story' above all else.

For me, the long and short of it is, I wished I were more convinced by this story, as well as by a pairing that should have made more sense but didn't. Flynn/Tess weren't entirely believable (or compatible) as a couple but if you're in it more for the suspense and action, then EDGE OF TRUTH would work perfectly.
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Book Review by Administrator (author,reviewer)
Jun 14, 2017   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
173 people found the following review helpful
Originally posted by rjsummers at Reading Alley:

First off, let me say this is not my normal genre; being a military/action/suspense/romance. It takes place in Somalia and I don't normally travel far from the US or Europe in my readings. So I went with an open mind, wondering where this new adventure in reading would take me.

This is a 400 page book that spans about two days. To say the book is riddled with action is an understatement.

Tess Newell, strong willed and devoted-to-the-cause American journalist, is about to blow the lid off the story of a lifetime, incriminating governments, politicians, and leaders across a few countries. She is kidnapped and sentenced to be executed. Before that happens, a French Foreign Legionnaire is tossed into her cell.

The chemistry between Tess and Flynn, the Legionnaire, is sudden and swift. Thanks to Flynn's skills, they escape and flee, dodging their captures as their passions slowly escalate.

What I liked most about this story is how the author did not give Tess and Flynn any easy outs. When presented with a vehicle during their on-foot escape, many writers would be tempted to give them the vehicle and let them ride for a while. Ms. Kelly did not make things so easy on our hero and heroine. She refused to let them have the vehicle, and instead used it as a distraction as they continued on foot. The saga of their escape is full of such devises where the hunter--and reader--would expect them to do something, and the author takes them another way. Kudos on some splendid writing.

Because this is an action/adventure story, there is also some sex. Their relationship, though fast to bloom, also seemed organic. Neither Tess nor Flynn want to trust the other, yet the gradual--grudging?--trust does form. And so does the sexual interest. Though they only make love two or three times, it is as explosive as the runaway action is. Warning--there is also a lot of profane f*ck language used throughout the book.

When help from Flynn's squad arrives, about 3/4 through the book, the other Legionnaires add plenty of spice with their own stories and personalities. If you like action-packed stories, with an international flair, told through a military lens and your romance as loaded as an M-16, you will enjoy EDGE OF TRUTH.
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Brynn is here to talk about her latest book, Edge of Truth, book 2 in her Legionnaires series.

Q: What's your inspiration for this story?

The character of the hero, Flynn, was the starting point for Edge of Truth, because he appears in Deception Island, my first book in the Legionnaires series for HQN. The challenge was to create a story that did him justice. He's a brusque, potty-mouthed, guarded Australian legionnaire, but he's also witty and swashbuckling—a reluctant hero but very much a hero. He's the rough but likeable boy from the wrong side of the tracks you secretly had a crush on at high school, even though you knew he was a little dangerous. Like many of us, he looks in the mirror and sees only his flaws and regrets and secrets, and in Edge of Truth he's forced to confront these.

Q: Tell us more about Tess Newell. What makes her a heroine we would root for?

Tess is the kind of reporter I always admired during my twenty-year journalism career—fearless in pursuit of the truth. Journalists are so often disparaged but I wish I could introduce those critics who lump all journalists into a homogenous fiction called the "mainstream media" to some of the everyday heroes I've had the privilege to work with in (yes) the "mainstream media." It's humbling to see the hours these people put in, the crap they put up with and the risks they take, usually for modest financial reward. Yes, there are gutter journalists out there, but also incredibly courageous people who genuinely want to help people, keep our leaders honest and see justice done.

Tess is one of these everyday heroes, but she's flawed, too. The flipside of her character is that she can get a little too curious and dogged, which puts her into explosive conflict with Flynn, who is desperate to keep his big secrets hidden. But she just can't help picking at his wounds…

Q: Please share a fun and intriguing fact or experience during the research of writing this book.

One of my biggest research challenges in this Legionnaire series is setting, because I love throwing my characters into exotic settings that are beautiful but extreme and unforgiving and unfamiliar (to them). I like to yank them out of their comfort zones to ratchet up the intensity of their journey. Edge of Truth is set in Ethiopia, a magical and diverse country where I once volunteered as an aid worker for the UNHCR, so I loved the chance to revisit that incredible experience, at least on the page.

Q: How do you come up with emotional scenes that tug at the reader's heartstrings?

I find these come organically, if you as a writer know your characters well enough and have dug far enough into their psyches and histories and conflicts, and set them on the right collision course, both with their internal conflicts and flaws and their external journeys. (And in the case of Edge of Truth there are dual external plots, the suspense and the romance, so there's plenty of conflict.)

Tess and Flynn are very different people chasing the same goal. Plus, they each have a history that (they believe) precludes a relationship between them—and in fact, he believes her to be downright dangerous for him. So, although they have the same overall goal of defeating the villain, and there's a strong chemistry between them, they're also opposing magnets.

Once you've created strong, authentic tensions and applied the right stress, the sparks tend to come out of that. And once the sparks have a healthy glow, I believe it's best to duck out of the way and watch them explode. I know I've done my job right if the magic comes without being forced. If the emotional scenes don't flow, it may be because the foundations aren't there, that I haven't excavated the characters deeply enough (and that includes the villain), so those may need some work before I can come back to the scene in question. The best moments in writing are when I feel more like conductor than composer, more director than playwright, just letting these fully formed characters loose, with each bringing to the scene their flaws and their fraught histories and their battling agendas.

And of course, with romantic suspense, you can use the romantic plot to crank the suspense plot, and vice versa, challenging your characters emotionally and physically and mentally, and building tension in all sorts of ways. Usually, to win the fight, they have to confront not only the villain and their feelings for each other, but their own shortcomings and flawed beliefs. The tougher that journey, the greater the character growth—and the greater the resulting emotions.

Q: What's up next for you?

I've been working on two more Legionnaire stories, about two other soldiers in Flynn's commando unit—Texas and Doc. They appear in Edge of Truth (and they do get real names in their own stories!) Texas's story was a blast to write because I set it on a wild, isolated river in New Zealand's South Island—real Middle Earth territory. He's a risk taker and loner who is forced to pair up with a risk-averse Kiwi helicopter pilot to outrun (out-kayak, to be precise) a mass murderer. It's a novella called Forbidden River, and it'll be out later this year in ebook, and next year in paperback.

The story about Doc, the Scottish medic, is a full-length novel to round out the Legionnaires series. In it, he returns to the UK with fiercely smart hacker Samira, who is also in Edge of Truth, to bring down one of the world's most powerful men. Introverted Samira intends to battle this villain from behind a computer screen, but she and Doc are forced into a series of ever-deadlier confrontations. This is due to be published next year.

In both these stories, like in Edge of Truth and Deception Island, the mistakes and regrets of the soldiers' pasts catch up with them and they're forced to conquer their demons before they can overpower the villains and win their happy endings.

About the Author

After an award-winning twenty-year career as a journalist, Brynn Kelly has abandoned fact in favor of her first love, fiction.

She's delighted that she gets to spend her days in a bubble of delicious words and fiendish plots, turning all those stranger-than-fiction news reports into larger-than-life romantic thrillers for HQN Books, a Harlequin/HarperCollins imprint.

Brynn has a journalism and communications degree and has won several prestigious writing awards, including the Valerie Parv Award and Pacific Hearts Award. Her acclaimed debut novel, Deception Island, was nominated for a Golden Heart Award® by Romance Writers of America. She's also the bestselling author of four nonfiction books in her native New Zealand, and a mother of two.

In her (guffaw) spare time, she murders Italian arias studies classical singing, indulges her theatre geek tendencies, and doesn't do nearly as much yoga as she should.

She is working on a third novel and a novella in the Legionnaires series, to be published in 2018.

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