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Book Review of Down to the Wire (Toure Security Group, Bk 1) (Harlequin Romantic Suspense, No 2250)

Down to the Wire (Toure Security Group, Bk 1) (Harlequin Romantic Suspense, No 2250)
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Good combination of second chance romance and suspense. The story opens as Grace, a medical researcher, opens an email that immediately hacks into her files. Several files are stolen, which could be dangerous in the wrong hands. She also learns that her mentor, Dr. B., died in a fall the night before he supposedly sent her the suspect file. Grace sets out to discover who hacked her computer by doing the same thing in reverse.

Mal, one of three brothers who own the Touré Security Group, was hired that day to discover who hacked into a defense contractor's computer system. He's stunned when the hacker he's chasing sends him a message accusing him of being the hacker. After an unsatisfactory exchange of messages, they agree to meet. Mal is shocked when the hacker who shows up is his ex-girlfriend.

Mal and Grace have a history together. They met in Chicago four years earlier and had an intense relationship. But when Grace's older sister Pam died of diabetes-related complications, Grace was riddled with guilt. She felt she'd allowed her relationship with Mal to interfere with her diabetes research, so she walked away from him. They've never forgotten each other, and now they are thrown together as they race to find out who stole Grace's files.

There were many times I wanted to grab Grace by the shoulders and shake her. The attraction and connection between her and Mal is still there, but she refuses to believe that she can do her work and have a relationship at the same time. Whenever she and Mal seem to get closer, she pushes him away. Grace also has significant trust issues, which become more apparent as they look for suspects.

Mal is a good guy who is reluctant to risk his heart with Grace again. Her departure four years earlier devastated him. He has closed himself off from people, preferring to do his work with the company via email and texts rather than face-to-face.

The rekindling of their relationship was complicated. Both are wary of getting involved again. However, the sparks and connection are so obvious that everyone around them can see them. I liked Mal's protectiveness as the danger intensified, and I appreciated that Grace trusted him enough to accept his protection. As their feelings for each other grow stronger, they must consider whether they are willing to risk their hearts again. It takes straight talk from their loved ones to let go of their fears and take that leap of faith.

The suspense of the story was good. The number of suspects grew as Mal and Grace dug deeper into who would benefit from the theft. The twists and turns of the investigation kept me hooked as the body count went up, and they got closer to the truth. The final confrontation came as a surprise and turned intense very quickly. I loved Grace's coolness and presence of mind as she faced off with the killer. The resolution was well done and believable.

I enjoyed getting to know Mal's brothers, Zeke and Jerry. The dynamics among the three brothers were interesting and showcased each one's personality well. Mal is the quiet one and the peacemaker who finds himself refereeing the arguments between Zeke and Jerry. Zeke is the oldest and tends to be a little bossy. Jerry is the youngest and appears to have a great deal of resentment toward Zeke. However, they put aside their differences to keep Grace safe. They also extend their protection to her grandmother. I loved Melba, a feisty old lady in an assisted living center in Florida. She has a great relationship with Grace and is blunt in advising Grace about her lack of a life outside of work. I laughed out loud when Jerry was sent to be Melba's guard because she got into the cover story with so much enthusiasm.


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