Against the Dark by Carolyn Crane (The Associates #1)
April 17, 2013
Reviewed by Mandi
I was a big fan of Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionist trilogy and I’m happy to say Against the Dark starts a new series and I’m excited about it. Unlike her first series, this doesn’t have any paranormal aspects, and there is a HEA at the end (future books are planned with supporting characters).
Angel Ramirez used to get a rush every time she stole jewels with her two best friends. But eventually the shame of what she was doing to the people she stole from and how her family viewed her outweighed the rush. So she quit the game, and opened her own interior design business which she loves. But, one of her thief friend’s aunt has been kidnapped, and they need some diamonds to meet the ransom. Angel decides to jump back in just for this one assignment to help her friends out. Angel is a master at breaking open a Fenton Furst safe, one of the toughest in the world, which is why she is needed for this job. The three of them arrive at a very wealthy estate owned by crime boss Walter Borgola, where a party is being held. He has these diamonds held in that safe, and the girls are ready to go get them. They go dressed as prostitutes, since every other woman really is one at this party. While mingling around until they are ready to sneak off and make their move, Angel notices one of Borgola’s security guys (he looks like a blonde Clark Kent – sexy!) who can’t keep his eyes off her. Needing to find out if he is on to her and her friends or if he just wants in her pants, she goes over and makes contact with him.
Cole Hawkins is a genius in math and logistics. He works security for Borgola, but he has been there for a long time undercover. Cole actually works for a group called, The Associates, a very secretive, spy type organization. Cole works for Borgola to eventually gather enough intel to break up his illegal trafficking of young children. Cole obsesses over equations, deducing everything around him into patterns and solutions. He is a nerd, but he is highly skilled and lethal too. Borgola has intel for the trafficking in a secret safe, and Cole is stumped as to where that safe is. When he realizes Angel and friends have pulled off stealing Borgola’s diamonds, he comes up with his own plan to have Angel lead him directly to the secret safe. Fun times ensue.
I enjoyed this book so much. Cole is such a super smart guy, who has to come off as sleazy to fit in with Borgola’s men, but deep down he is just super sexy and honest and wants to help these kids that are being kidnapped and tortured. Angel on the other hand doesn’t want to be dragged back into the thief business, at least that is what she tells herself. Her and Cole are forced to work together and the way they have this intense attraction to each other yet lots of secrets really plays out well. This book is light-hearted in a sense that Angel and Cole have witty banter and just an overall sense of quirkiness that Carolyn Crane excels at. When Cole and Angel have to come up with a cover story for being in love and dating, I had some laughs.
“So when we’re around Borgola, no talk of dartboards, okay? You have to act really into me.”
She glared at him. “Aren’t covers supposed to be vaguely plausible?”
He pushed up his shirt. “Girl, you just can’t get your mind off this action, can you?”
“Stop it.” She turned and grabbed a bag of rice cakes. It was a little bit true, unfortunately. Horribly so – she couldn’t get her mind off the way he’d slid his hand over his abs in her bedroom, pulled out her gun and set it down on the nightstand, then lowered his hand, sliding his fingers over his belly, letting them linger on his snaps – oh, it was insanely sexy.
But what really surprised me and impressed me is first, how sexy this book is. I’d say it’s the sexiest she has written to date. Also she makes Borgola SUCH an evil, evil villain. I love it when the bad guy is really bad and man – Carolyn Crane lets it all go. He is a very well done villain.
I also enjoyed the friendship Angel has with her two thieving buddies. We get some nice scenes with them at the beginning of the book:
Angel felt a pang of fear. Trapped. “No,” she breathed.
“Bitches?” Macy put up her hands and slowly lowered them, as though she was closing something. Their old signal for calm, something she’d been doing since they were twelve. “Who gets the best of us?”
“Nobody, bitches,” White Jenny said.
Macy fixed on Angel fiercely.
Angel frowned. “Nobody, bitches.” Their old mantra.
“That’s right, girls.” Macy pulled out her tube of lucky lipstick, pink with silver flecks, and rolled it around her lips through the lip hole in her facemask.
Angel and Jenny got out their lucky lipsticks too.
We meet a few of Cole’s associates, and I believe we will get their books in the future. We don’t get to know a lot about the Associates, or why it was formed or any background to it. I hope we get to dive into that more in the next book.
Action packed, sexy and lots of fun. I definitely recommend this one.