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Hugo: The Mercenary & the Call Girl (Spies & Sinners Book 4) by [Martin, Annika, Crane, Carolyn]
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Hugo: The Mercenary & the Call Girl (Spies & Sinners Book 4) Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 444 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English
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Product Description

A steamy, stand-alone! (previously published as Behind the Mask by Carolyn Crane)
Zelda and her sister grew up with identical faces, but their lives couldn’t be more different—Zelda became a secret agent while her sister got caught up in drugs. Zelda will do this one last thing to save her sister. She’s handled lethal men before…she can do it again.

But things don’t go as planned. Zelda ends up getting traded deeper and deeper into South America. Suddenly she finds herself at the beck and call of a domineering and mysterious new captor. Is he just another criminal? Or is could this be the legendary killer she spent all those years hunting back in her secret agent days?

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1759 KB
  • Print Length: 444 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #24,635 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Format: Kindle Edition
Heart stopping, thrilling, intense and passionate; totally captivating from the first word to the last. I found myself on the edge of my seat and holding my breath throughout the book.

Hugo is a retired assassin and super mercenary, his created persona, mask wearing Kabakas, kills with knives and Barong blades. He is believed to be dead and has been wrongly implicated in a terrible massacre.

Zelda is a forensic botanist, retired CIA field agent, who now helps head up the powerful and secretive Association. She is protecting her twin sister whilst trying to gain information on a drug cartel. Things don't go as planned and she finds herself in a perilous situation.

They're two people who have a connection, a destiny together, who find each other in the most dangerous and deadly of situations.

The story starts in Miami, then quickly moves to Bueno Vista, Valencia, South America, with a few stops in between. The South American setting I feel, enhances the overall feel of adventure, excitement and danger of the story.
As with all the Undercover Associates books, it was an absolute pleasure to read. To say I loved this book, would be an understatement, as much as I love, it's companions this book is my favourite.
ARC kindly provided by author for an honest review.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Loved this book, so well written. Couldn't put it down!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.5 out of 5 stars 55 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kabacas 19 June 2015
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This series is one of my favorite in romantic suspense. I was hooked with the first book by the author's unique writing style, storylines and cadence. Each of the books are true standalones tied together by the agency. I highly recommend the series and this book.

In this book, Zelda, the behind the scenes co-owner of the Associates goes undercover for the first time since leaving the CIA years earlier. She was an expert on Kabacas, a deceased, masked vigilante legend of the civil war in the South American country where she is awaiting torture and death at the hands of El Gorrion, a powerful drug lord to whom she has been given. At the landing strip where she is being held, a masked Kabacas impersonator kills all but one of El Gorrion' s men, rescuing her then taking her hostage. Hugo takes her to his villa in the mountains to cook and tutor his ward, the orphaned Paolo, whom he rescued from a battlefield during the war. But after she gets away long enough to check in, Zelda begins to think she has fallen down a rabbit hole, especially when Dax, her partner at the Associates, begins to come across as more foe than friend, putting Hugo's life in the crosshairs.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully savage in its rendition. Spoke right to my heart! 16 August 2016
By MBR - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ever since I saw a tweet from Carolyn Crane about the release of the 4th installment in The Associates series, I’d been hankering to read it. Behind the Mask is written using one of my favorite tropes, a hero who is dark and edgy, living in isolation and the heroine who comes along, understands him for all that he is & shakes up his life while she is at it. Carolyn Crane is not an author who writes fluffy romances, well at least the books in this series aren’t for the fainthearted. There is only so much of the lighthearted variety of romances that I can take. With the romance genre becoming increasingly filled with fluffy reads, an author like Carolyn Crane who can still stand firm in delivering a read of the sort is a heaven-send for a reader like myself.

Zelda the heroine is actually the silent founding partner of The Associates. A forensic botanist who had served in the CIA, Zelda had retired from the field given how her last mission had gone awry. She returns to the field by her own volition, given that it is her twin sister who would take the fall if otherwise. But things don’t go exactly according to plan and Zelda finds herself confronted with the image of the very man she had spent a better part of her career at CIA tracking down – the infamous Kabakas; a near mythical assassin whose prowess had been legendary.

Hugo Martinez lives up on the crumbling mountaintop villa with the beautiful blood red savinca flowers around his property, with the young boy Paolo that he’d rescued on a mission for companionship. Hugo is a hard man, driven to lead the life he lives after he had been “forced” into retirement. But Hugo is prepared to protect his precious mountaintop villa and surrounding village at any cost, even if it means the infamous Kabakas has to make a comeback.

Taking Zelda as the “captive” who would cook for them might not have been one of his brightest ideas, but then again, the way his soul recognized Zelda from the very first moment is one that he cannot turn away from. Zelda has her mission’s agenda which needs to be fulfilled, but the very thought of turning traitor to Hugo makes her want to hurt someone. The slow awakening of Zelda and Hugo’s awareness for one another, the events that propel Hugo to claim her – those were aspects of the novel that I absolutely could not get enough of.

Romance writing has become such a competitive genre that authors seldom write on those tropes that actually made readers like myself fall in love with the genre in the first place. Everyone wants something modern, something relevant to the current times, something with an edge to be the book they come out with. But there is nothing wrong with using a trope that droves of readers love and adding a twist to it that would make it relevant in today’s circles. In my opinion, the best of romances are those that are able to withstand the test of time. And I wish there were more authors who actually wrote romances as such.

Behind the Mask was a novel that I immensely enjoyed; if you can’t tell that already from the gushy bits and pieces you’ve already read from the review, I’m just putting it out there – I loved Behind the Mask! Carolyn Crane is an author who writes well. Her books are highly readable, her heroes are of the dark and tortured variety and her heroines are ones who can take all that darkness and then some. Hugo and Zelda’s journey towards the happily ever after was filled with dark and horrific moments that most readers might like to forget – but that is in essence what gives this book the edge that makes it the awesome read it is!

I loved, loved, loved Hugo. He is so lovingly crafted that it’s almost as if I could feel the proverbial key strokes that created and wrote him down for this book. Fanciful, I know. Yet, that’s how Hugo’s character came off to me. Beautiful. Lonely. Lost. Hungry. Lethal. And even all those words barely does him justice.

When Zelda was first introduced in the book, I thought that I wouldn’t like her overly much. I like strong heroines, but not the kind that tends to overshadow the hero in her attempt to appear as his equal or more. I was totally wrong in my line of thinking because Zelda turned out to be just perfect. In her vulnerabilities, the way she couldn’t help but be affected by Hugo, the way she actually wanted to and needed to make a difference in Hugo’s life. All that spoke to me on a level that had me rooting for her in a big way.

I simply love the fact that Carolyn’s books are dark. The dark of the variety that I adore. Loved the moments of cocooned intimacy between Hugo and Zelda, the time that gave them the opportunity to be drawn towards one another. Hugo’s bewilderment about feeling so deeply about her was adorable. The way he couldn’t keep his hands off of her just outright hot. And as the reader, I just couldn’t get enough.

To finish up, Dax seems like a fine piece of work to contend with. Can’t wait to see what Carolyn puts his dark and tormented soul through to give him a happily ever after!

MBR's Rating = 4.25/5 [AWESOME READ]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think this is my favorite of her books (and I love all of her ... 10 January 2016
By Marcela - The Bookaholic Cat - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Behind the Mask is the fourth book in The Associates series by Carolyn Crane.

I’m a little bias about this book, because I helped Carolyn with the Spanish and Latin American cultural aspects of the story, so this book has a very special place in my heart. Apart from that, I think this is my favorite of her books (and I love all of her books). So I’m going to give you five reasons why you should read Behind the Mask.

The setting
Carolyn really surprised me with this installment. She created her own country to set this story, she created its own people, culture and food. As a Latina I was astonished with the amount of research she did for this book and how accurate her setting was. *applauds her*

The Action
OMG! The action! The fighting scenes, the confrontations, the… I can’t say more without giving spoilers away, but everything was so vivid that reading this book felt like watching a high-octane movie.

People Hugo is my new book boyfriend! OMG! He’s the epitome of tortured hero. He thinks he doesn’t deserve anything good and is afraid of caring/loving others because of all the pain he suffered growing up. He is tough on the outside and soft on the inside, just how I like my heroes. Hugo is what I call a swoon worthy hero.

Zelda also has a tortured soul and many regrets that don’t let her be happy, but she is a fighter and will go the extra mile for those she cares about. She is the perfect match for Hugo.

The Smexiness
The chemistry between Zelda and Hugo is off the charts, the sexual tension steams the pages, but that’s not all… Behind the Mask has one of my favorite sex scenes. OMFG! I think is one of the hottest sex scenes I have ever read. Hot! Hot! Hot!

Behind the Mask has the perfect balance of suspense and romance. Behind the Mask is what romantic suspense should be. If you are fan of the genre this is a book you need to read and even if you are not a fan of romantic suspense read it anyway, Carolyn Crane is a master storyteller and an author you should read. I guarantee you you will love it. Although Behind the Mask is part of a series, it can be easily read as a stand-alone.
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense, action packed, suspenseful, book 1 December 2016
By Danielle Taylor - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Associates isn't a series you read to be entertained or to escape reality and it isn't a comfortable read either. It's dark and gritty and there are a lot of dimensions of gray in the characters and their actions. It's also really well written (Although I wasn't that fond of book 3). The characters are well developed and extremely complex.

This book centers around Hugo a retired and infamous assassin/mercenary knows as Kabakas and Zelda one of the co-founders of The Associates. Although it could be read as a stand alone I recommend starting with book 1. Zelda isn't a field agent anymore and hasn't been since she was tortured and the result was the death of another CIA agent. She hasn't gotten over the guilt of that and is no longer confident in her skills in the field. However, when her twin sister winds up in a situation with a drug cartel, Zelda takes her place to help her sister and to get information the Association needs. Unfortunately, things go wrong immediately and Zelda ends up being rescued by Hugo who believes she is an American prostitute. Zelda was part of a team that was hunting Kabakas and she has been obsessed with him from the beginning so when she is rescued by someone clearly acting as Kabakas she decides she has to find out if Hugo is in reality the mythical assassin.

This book is full of action, betrayal, suspense, emotional growth, hot sex, healing and much more. It's an intense book that I had a hard time putting down. Although I did feel it ended with a HFN and left a few open questions about Zelda's continuing roll in The Associates.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book! 28 May 2015
By AvidReader220 - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have a problem with Carolyn Crane's books. I try to read them slow, to savor and enjoy them. I try so hard because when I've finished I'm sad because it's over and I'll have to wait for a new one! I gave it a good shot this time, but . . . well . . . I guess I'll try again with her next book.

Anyway, I won't do a rehash of the synopsis, you can find that yourself. I will tell you why you need to read this book. The plot is enthralling, intense and very fast-paced. It is a bit dark (although after reading a few reviews before starting it I guess I was expecting darker) but the characters have such depth that you can see the lightness in them as well. I have no idea how Ms. Crane can continually creates these intensely, severely flawed and DAMAGED characters that you love and root for and want to find peace. Perhaps it is because she not only shows us their darkness, but the terrible pain behind it. I dare you to read this and not root for Zelda and Hugo. These main characters are well matched in inner-strength and in pain. She is beyond brilliant and insightful, and he is fierce in battle and in the few relationships he allows himself to have.

"Say more," you say Hugo? Very well then I will. I do not generally go for the full on caveman types. Yes, I like a strong alpha (who doesn't really) but the domineering, grunting type? No. Well, I suppose I can't say that any longer because I just adored Hugo in all his Neanderthal glory.

So, read this book. Try and savor it. If not . . . well, there's always next time.