Title: Exploited (Zero Day #1)
Author: A. Meredith Walters
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Rating: 4 Stars!
Expected Publication: July 25, 2017
Fueled by her need to avenge her family and to protect others, Hannah Whelan is an IT specialist by day and a hacktivist by night. With her revered cyber reputation as Freedom Overdrive, Hannah must ensure her identity remains anonymous, so when another hacker warns her about the FBI cracking her case, she decides to do her own reconnaissance.
“The angel on my shoulder was officially silenced. I hated the preachy bitch anyway.”
Mason Kohler is an esteemed FBI agent in the computer crimes unit who recently relocated to a new office. After unintentionally creating some discord among his peers, he’s assigned the impossible case file of Freedom Overdrive. In addition to his career being on the line, Mason has his own recent loss he’s trying to reconcile, so focusing on work offers some reprieve until he meets an awkward but kind stranger.
“Sometimes it just takes a little patience to get to the heart of a person.”
For Hannah, playing the alluring type is a bit out of her wheelhouse but being with Mason is much easier than she ever imagined. Guarding any clues about her alter ego, Hannah continues to play a certain role in order to gain access to Mason’s files but she soon realizes that being herself has never been easier. As for Mason, Hannah turns out to have the right combination of shyness and coyness while he discovers they have much more in common than he could have expected.
“She gave me jus enough to draw me in. And at this point I’d have gladly jumped off a cliff to find what she was hiding at the bottom.”
Knowing what is at stake emotionally, Hannah’s sense of self-preservation is great but her heart is starting to ache knowing how she feels about Mason. Despite Mason’s innate sense and FBI training to question everything, he doesn’t second guess Hannah until he can no longer ignore facts that are presented to him. Once Hannah’s motives become clear, Mason knows what he must do.
“This wasn’t all an act, was it, Hannah?”
For some time, I’ve been wanting to try this author’s work and Exploited seemed like it would be a happy medium with its focus on romance suspense. Told in dual POV, getting the voice of Mason and Hannah adds dimension and also tension because Hannah’s plan is known from the beginning and I didn’t want to see Mason get hurt. While Mason should have questioned things a little sooner, I can understand why he chose otherwise.
Likewise, I empathized with Hannah’s conflict until she starts to make some rookie mistakes. As for the buildup and theories about Toxic Wrath’s identity, I have a couple of theories and hope the obvious one is a distraction and there’s actually a twisty reveal in the conclusion.
I would recommend Exploited to those who enjoy romantic suspense with characters that have vulnerabilities and conflicts that need to be resolved.
*A copy was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*