Rules of Engagement
reviewed by Pam Guynn
Rules of Engagement has risk, danger, and suspense to grab readers in this romantic suspense novel written by Stacey Abrams using her pen name of Selena Montgomery. When she adds trust, forgiveness, and romance, the novel is elevated to an intriguing story that keeps one turning the pages.
Dr. Raleigh Foster is an operative for a top-secret intelligence organization. When she’s asked to infiltrate Scimitar, a group that has stolen environmental technology that can be converted to a weapon, she is quickly on board. For this assignment, she needs a partner, Adam Grayson, to pose as her lover. He used to work for the same organization, but left after a botched mission.
Raleigh’s character is well developed. While she can come across as vulnerable as times, she is also brave, intelligent, and capable. However, she can be perceived as cold. Adam has a strong core of honor, loyalty, and integrity, but can find it hard to trust and forgive. Their attitudes and outlooks change and grow as they respond to events as the story unfolds. The dynamic between the two changes as well. Should rules always be followed or are they guidelines to be interpreted as a mission unfolds?
An impactful and memorable opening scene will immediately pull most readers into the book. However, it takes a while to see how this prologue fits into the story. Several needed flashback scenes adversely affected the overall flow. Nevertheless, with exciting scenes as well as plot twists and turns, the story gradually builds momentum to an action-packed mission end. The final chapter takes place four months later and wraps up the loose ends. However, it felt tacked on rather than a smooth continuation of the story. Additionally, I wanted a little more world-building of the fictional island of Jafir in the Mediterranean Sea to satisfy me.
This novel is creative and complex, and it will keep readers guessing. High stakes and an all-too-real situation kept me engaged throughout the story. The people in the story came to life and the pacing is brisk once the mission is underway. Themes include friendship, loyalty, betrayal, attraction, trust, deception, lies, subterfuge, power, and much more.
Overall, this intriguing thriller with romance and suspense has intense moments and action that kept me turning the pages. The story kept this reader on an emotional rollercoaster. Those who enjoy romantic suspense or thrillers with some romance may want to check out this series. I’m looking forward to reading the author’s next romantic suspense novel.
Berkley Publishing Group and Selena Montgomery provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for September 6, 2022.