By Cari Z
PO Box 1537 Burnsville,
“Elliot McKenzie is the king of reinvention. Five years after losing his job and his lover and almost going to prison, his self-help program, Charmed Life, is more successful than he’d ever dreamed. He thinks he’s put his sordid past firmly behind him, until he starts receiving cryptic threats . . . and realizes it might not be as over as he’d hoped.
Security expert Lennox West has been lost since a deadly skirmish in Afghanistan led to his forced retirement from the Army. His PTSD makes helping his ex raise their daughter a challenge. When his ex’s sister asks him to set her boss up with a security system, Lennox isn’t expecting anyone like Elliot McKenzie— a man who captures his attention and makes him feel relaxed for the first time since leaving the service.
But Elliot is dangerously stubborn. Even as the threats against him escalate, he refuses to involve the police, and Lennox fears that stubbornness could kill him. A battle of wills ensues that brings them closer to each other than either man expected. But if the threats turn real, they might not live long enough to get their future together.”
Friendly Fire. Cari Z. When I first saw this book and read the blurb I was like, huh?! Cari Z? Not her usual kind of story, still… and then I dove in. Wow! This is one of those books I couldn’t put down, seriously. I wanted, no – I needed! – to know how this story developed. I was invested in Lennox and Elliot. Yeah, good stuff boys and girls.
Lennox West –
“Damn. Damn, get him a martini and a recliner, because he could watch this guy for hours. He was about Elliot’s height, maybe slightly less broad across the shoulders, but his bare forearms were whipcord lean, and darkly tanned. He had golden-brown eyes under low brows, a sharp jaw covered by a closely trimmed beard, and thick, dark hair just long enough on top to be stylish, which was probably accidental given the worn state of the man’s clothes. His face was a little hollow to be strictly handsome; it made him look too intense for a simple handsome. The lines of his muscles under his shirt were cut, compact. All in all, he was about the last person Elliot had expected after being warned so vehemently not to be rude. If Elliot was rude, this guy would likely bend him in half and tie his limbs in knots. Which might be fun . . .”
Lennox West, wow. What a great character this is. Hot, sexy and flawed beyond belief. Former Army Rangers, he’s still dealing with his PTSD from a friendly fire incident with his troops and just trying to deal day to day and do right by his daughter, Lia – or Lee, as she prefers to be called.
Oh yeah, he’s in touch with himself and knows he’s a dude that prefers dudes. Bonus!
Elliot McKenzie –
“Lennox didn’t think he’d ever seen a prettier man,… The suit, the shoes, the sleek chestnut hair under the ridiculous hat he’d made work, and the square jaw that should have made his face seem blocky but somehow made it chiseled instead. Then there were his eyes. Lennox couldn’t quite get over those eyes: one brown, one green, both completely devilish. He didn’t make a habit of checking men out, but honestly, almost anybody would have spared the time to check out Elliot McKenzie.”
Elliot McKenzie, disbarred lawyer that represented Redback Industries, which was more like a holding firm for various, profitable patents and products, and no he wasn’t above overlooking nefarious dirty work that his employer used on those willing to cross him. It’s the result of one of these dark activities that gets him disbarred after being shot along with his boss, Sheridan Pullman, when one of the targets of their intimidations decides to even the score.
After his legal troubles are over, Elliot starts his self-help/networking company for high profile folks that have gone through serious episodes in their lives and need a fresh start, and not in low, menial jobs.
What a great story this is and a fantastic whodunit. This isn’t your regular Cari Z story, either. She is stepping out and branching into other story lines and wow, did she ever do a good job with this one.
The hot, sexy, ex-military Lennox, working to get over his PTSD and right the relationship with his daughter. Lennox’s ex-wife, who is his friend now, and his sister-in-law are fantastic characters woven into Lennox and Elliot’s story. What phenomenal characters. The alluring, mysterious, sexy Elliot with a sordid past, working to help others who have gone through similar trials and tribulations. And just who is trying to kill Elliot?
This story pulled me in and I just couldn’t get enough. A truly enjoyable read!
The story line may be something new for Cari Z, but her impeccable writing sure isn’t. The pace of this book is just right, it comes along steady and delivers as it should, when it should. It’s not carried out. The characters are well developed and the suspense level crescendos at just the right time. The sex scenes are smokin’ hot and the twist at the end? Awesome.
THREE QUESTIONS FOR LISA
- What did you think of Lennox?
- What heat level would you give Friendly Fire?
- What do you think of this new for Cari story?
I’m impressed. I’ve been reading, and enjoying, Cari Z’s works for years now, but this was an exponential leap. Tight, solid, gripping, likeable and very readable. There is no way to say this without sounding negative to Cari’s previous books, but I realized about twenty percent in that I’d forgotten who I was reading. There is that much of a change. Maybe it’s the contemporary nature of this work compared to her other fantasy based writing, I’m not sure, but whatever magic happened here I am whole-heartedly recommending this read.
Elliot McKenzie –
“One of the up-and-comers in the psychospeak community, a self-made, self-help guru of the modern kind.” Elliot is charming, elegant and trying to make a comeback from a long, hard fall from grace.
Lennox West –
Staff Sergeant, Army Rangers, Lennox fights his demons both past and present. He’s a wonderful guy trying to do right. He’s not super dad, but he tries. He’s not super boyfriend, but he tries. He may be super lover though. Whew! And when it really matters he’s got it all together.
Additional Characters –
It’s good to see these female characters so well drawn and complete in their own right.
Serena – Friend and personal assistant to Elliot. Love her! Wanna be her.
Lea/Lee – Lennox’s teenage daughter. Great, realistic thirteen year old.
Gaby – The ex. Handled very well, and again, realistically.
Charmed Life is being called the Facebook for felons. Elliot, its founder, uses his past misdeeds to improve the lives of others through guidance and encouragement. But as his star is once again rising there are those who want to see him fall, again. If he can just keep it together a little longer his life will settle. He can do it. He just can’t ask for help. But he sure needs it.
Luckily, Serena, Elliot’s hip-thrusting assistant introduces Lennox to help create a security system for Elliot. Through a series of action-packed incidents the two become close and involved. Between life and death threats, family gatherings, and a precocious teenager Lennox may just be able to help Elliot reach his golden moment securing the future of his company and possibly their relationship. But first these two have to learn how to forgive themselves and realize that they can’t live for others.
Fresh, clean and enticing. I raced through this read because I couldn’t put it down. I found myself drawn forward because Elliot was like an open book, but with hidden chapters. And I’m a sucker for military men, especially those who are caring and dependable. But it was the action scenes that really worked for me. They were done very well. And you could include the sex scenes in that sense of action. They held a nice intensity and good helping of sincerity which grew over time. Plus dirty talk. I’m all for the dirty talk.
So, all in all, this was just something really special for me. The happy-for-now ending left me satisfied but I would certainly read more with these two.
THREE QUESTIONS FOR OJ
- I felt there was enough backstory for Elliot sprinkled throughout the book, but I’m wondering if you felt like you got enough of Lennox’s backstory. Or, do you think there’s room for more in a follow up book?
- Hot smexy, or meh?
- Sooo, how about that poor Porsche, car guy?
We would like to thank Cari Z and Riptide Publishing with providing Gay Guy/Straight Girl Reviews with a copy of this book in exchange for our honest review.
Cari Z is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She likes edged weapons, prefers books to television shows, and goes weak at the knees for interesting men and exciting explosions (but not at exactly the same time— that would be so messy). You can find her at carizerotica.blogspot.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com, or on Twitter as @author_cariz.