Raging Fire (Guarded Secrets, Book 4) by Sara Schoen
Review by Cora Kenborn
It’s hard to go into the tail end of a series and not feel like you’ve jumped into the deep end of a pool with ankle weights tied to your feet. Unless the author is a master storyteller, it’s usually impossible not to draw some of the previous storylines from earlier books into the plot. I went into this book wondering if I’d drown in acronym hell. I knew of the CIA and FBI, but CIRA was a new one, and I had no clue why the main characters all had names that sounded like Gremlins (Spit Fire, Night Stripe, Whip Lash…) However, the prologue hooked me with the cool, collected, and somewhat robotic “Spit Fire” girl, who sat in front of a handcuffed high-ranking cartel member and calmly shot him up gangster-style.
I love mafia/cartel books, so I dove right in—Alphabet soup and all—and let Schoen draw me into her intricate tale of the fictitious “ghost” organization, CIRA that operates outside the laws of the CIA. Their main focus? Take down organized crime—mainly the murderous Cardoza cartel, which Spit Fire has multiple personal vendettas against. Rather than risk any more agents’ lives, she decides to go on somewhat of a suicide mission when she finds classified intel of the cartel’s new location and leader. Lying to her superiors and colleagues, Spit Fire sets out with one clear goal in mind—find and eliminate the new head of the Cardoza cartel. She makes sure to say a meaningful goodbye to the agents who have become a surrogate family since the slaughter of her own—she knows in her heart that she won’t be returning.
As a romantic suspense writer, I’m used to reading a love story that goes along with a thriller/intrigue tale such as Raging Fire. Usually, at halfway through, if there isn’t some love connection being made, I’m stomping around the house like a pissed off toddler, feeling a little cheated. Surprisingly, I felt no such way reading Schoen’s book. Her fast-paced writing style and smart dialogue kept me engaged and reading more to find out what happened. She layers her world building with details and intricacies that have me swearing she’s some kind of ex-government spy.
Yeah, she’s THAT good.
The weirdest thing? I found myself caring a lot about these characters with no real names. And although some infused backstory had me scratching my head at times, it didn’t bother me enough to stop reading. Schoen crafted Spit Fire into a multi-layered character who was the epitome of the onion heroine. Every time you peel back a layer of her psyche, there’s another one to discover. She’s vulnerable. She’s ruthless. She’s emotional. She’s an ice-queen. She’s every contradiction you can think of, but it works flawlessly for this character.
While, I won’t give away spoilers, the romantic in me pulled hardcore for two characters to get together. Maybe in the next book? (Hint Sara Schoen…hint, hint—not so subtle—hint)
I actually liked reading about the good guys for once. Usually the mafia/cartel books have the reader rooting for the underworld. In Schoen’s series, you keep fingers, toes, eyes…pretty much everything crossed that they all make it out of the mission alive.
Why? Because you care.
I’ll definitely go back and read the previous books in the Guarded Secrets series, because now I have to read about other missions mentioned in Raging Fire. You can’t dangle a carrot like that and NOT expect me to bite the crap out of it.
Plus, you have to love a series that has a character named, Rum, with purple hair.
Amazon Book Link: http://amzn.to/2aSPeI9