SHE’S RUNNING FOR HER LIFE Framed for espionage, reformed hacker Valerie Sanchez has no choice but to run. Worse, when the proof of her innocence is destroyed, things turn deadly. Can she trust the sexy terrorist hunter who mysteriously turns up to protect her, or is he the real threat?
HE’S HOT ON HER TRAIL Former Marine sniper Scott Kramer’s job was supposed to be easy. Follow the hot computer geek who stole plans for classified weapons until she meets her buyer, then let law enforcement take over. But when Valerie becomes an assassin's target, Scott's gut says she’s innocent. Now, he must risk his life—and his heart—to keep her safe.
Growing up, Gwen Hernandez wasn’t brave enough to share the stories in her head with other kids, but they usually involved intrigue and romance. She was raised in the Army and Navy, and married an Air Force engineer, so it’s natural that her Men of Steele series features military heroes and heroines who must overcome danger to find true love.
The former programmer and manufacturing engineer also helps authors all over the world find the joy in Scrivener through Scrivener For Dummies, online courses, in-person workshops, and private training.
In her free time, she likes to travel, read, run/bike/hike, flail on a yoga mat, and explore her current home of southern California where she writes surrounded by houseplants. To learn about new releases and giveaways, join her newsletter, or find her online at gwenhernandez.com or ScrivenerClasses.com.
New-to-me author Gwen Hernandez has crafted a tightly plotted page-turner in Blindsided, the third book in her Men of Steele series. The heroes are all ex-military men who now work for Kurt Steele’s security firm, and even though this is the third in the series and some characters from the other books are referenced or make brief appearances, it works perfectly well as a standalone.
Valerie Sanchez is the daughter of an infamous ‘black hat’ hacker (i.e, someone who hacks into computer systems with criminal intent) but although she worked alongside her Papá when younger, she now works for Aggressor International – a government funded organisation that hunts down terrorists – as one of their team of ‘white hat’ hackers, people employed to identify and fix vulnerabilities and security holes in the computer systems of their clients. She’s an unashamed geek who loves her job and her current assignment is to hack into the servers of Westgate Defence Systems to find and report on any weaknesses in their online security. With her partner, Jay Suresh, she has finally managed to find a way in, but before she can file her report, she discovers something odd; all the companies she has been employed to hack over the past few months suffered security breaches following her investigations. Believing that this must mean the clients have not undertaken the security measures outlined in her various reports, she makes her concerns known to her boss, Duncan Hollowell.
Former marine sniper Scott Kramer, a member of the Steele Security team, has gone undercover as a new employee at Aggressor in order to undertake surveillance on a staff member suspected of stealing information from the company. The few times he’s spoken to Valerie Sanchez, she’s seemed flustered and tongue-tied; she might be a bit geeky but his gut is telling him that this woman isn’t guilty of anything. So he’s astonished when Hollowell tells him she’s downloaded several files relating to classified weapons systems and tells him to keep her under surveillance until the FBI team arrives to arrest her.
Valerie soon realises she’s been set up, but before she can make a run for it, the FBI is banging on her door. She’s being escorted to a car when shots ring out – one of the agents is hit and someone screams at Valerie to run. Watching all this, Scott heads after her, but does nothing to stop her getting away.
A couple of weeks later, and Scott has followed Valerie to Zachari, CA. She hasn’t dared contact anyone, but is hoping she can meet up with Jay, as he’s the only one who can prove that they were actually assigned to work on Westgate’s systems and help her to clear her name. She tracks him down at a local bar and he agrees – reluctantly – to help her, but as he leaves, he’s gunned down outside by a man Scott recognises as one of the FBI agents sent to arrest Valerie.
Realising that there is more going on than he knows, and because his gut is telling him that something isn’t right, Scott gets Valerie away. She doesn’t trust him and he doesn’t trust her, but it soon becomes clear that Valerie isn’t the only one of them to have been set up; Scott has been named as the sniper-accomplice who helped Valerie escape and there’s nothing for it but for them both to run until they can work out exactly what’s going on and how they can fix it. Fortunately for Scott, his friends at Steele have his back and are prepared to do what they can, but ultimately, it’s down to Valerie’s computer skills and his more traditional physical and tactical ones to keep them alive while staying one step ahead of the people hunting them.
Blindsided is a thoroughly entertaining, fast-paced romantic thriller that makes excellent use of the cyber-crime plotline, although I confess I often felt like Scott when all the technical stuff went right over my head! (Fortunately, there isn’t too much of it). The attraction between Valerie and Scott builds believably and at a good pace, and they are well-rounded characters whose flaws and insecurities make them seem that much more real and easy to relate to. They come from very different backgrounds, but neither of them have had it easy and I liked the way that the gradual revelation of their pasts leads to a deeper understanding between them and brings them closer together. Valerie’s Dad was murdered in front of her, and his lover, her Papá, went to prison for fraud, while Scott grew up with an abusive father who constantly belittled him and insisted Scott was a runt who would never amount to anything. It’s a refreshing change in this particular sub- genre to discover a hero who isn’t your typical big, macho, muscle-bound ex-military type. Scott is good-looking, he’s ripped and he’s hot, but he’s five-nine and wiry; he still suffers from a bit of an inferiority complex about his height and slight build which isn’t helped by the scars he now bears as the result of serious injuries incurred while on active duty. And while Valerie has beauty to go with her brains, she’s spent most of her working life hiding it behind geeky classes and baggy clothes because as a woman in a very male oriented profession, she wants to be appreciated for her brains and not her boobs.
This is the first book I’ve read by Gwen Hernandez, but it won’t be the last. The first book in the series, Blind Fury is now waiting for me on my Kindle, and I will certainly be checking out the other books in this series as and when they come out.
How could he not admire a woman who understood camouflage?"
A Marine scout sniper working now as a security expert and a hacker who has tried to go white hat from her childhood black hat days.
I loved this heroine, she was smart, not only in her computer abilities but understanding how the hero was better equipped to handle certain situations and listened to him. However, there wasn't a lot of that happening as she was the one who dictated a lot of the efforts to help them out of their bind.
The gist of the story is that her employer has clients that hire them to find security leaks in their computer systems, except the employer is lying about the companies hiring them and takes the weaknesses the heroine gives him and uses it to steal information from the companies. The hero is hired by the employer in a set-up situation as he tells him he thinks the heroine is the one stealing from the companies but is really a big set-up to make it look like the hero is helping the heroine.
I promise you, it makes sense in the beginning and you'll think the employer is an evil genius but the reader doesn't get much insight to the villain and the suspense side gets pushed to the side too much in the middle. Basically, the suspense side started off very strong but faded away and rushed at the end.
This couple was great in that the hero and heroine meshed super well and it was understandable that such an accomplished guy like the hero would be a little rattled about how competent the heroine was and how her skills were more important in this situation, he gets rattled but he also found her hot because of this and I find him hot because of that. Along with the suspense side, I thought their romance stalled a little in the middle, even though the story slows to focus in on it more. I thought the middle meandered or slowed too much overall.
I'm definitely going to find the other two in the series and read them as this author intrigued me with her suspense writing and different characteristics to her characters.
I love Gwen Hernandez's writing. This series is fantastic and this book is just as fantastic in the series.
Former Marine (I know once a Marine, always a Marine) scout sniper, Scott is on a surveillance job for one of Steele's customers when he meets Valerie, a white hat hacker.
Valerie has a past and it wasn't always clean and above board. She loves her new job and the challenge it brings. She just didn't count on it being used to frame her. When she realizes what has happened the only thing she can do is hide the evidence that it wasn't her and then call the FBI and tell them what has happened. She doesn't count on her boss getting to them first.
Scott reports in to Kurt and lets him know that he doesn't think there is anything real about the allegations toward the woman he is watching. But he is told to stay on the job anyway. Not a problem since he enjoys watching Valerie. But he really doesn't believe she's guilty.
When things get dicey it's a really good thing he did. He may be the only thing that saves her life. She however, has talents that he doesn't have, and it's going to take both of them to get everything cleared up. When it becomes life or death Scott ends up protecting her the only way he knows how. He just hope it works.
When they realize that they have more in common than each of them thought, feelings start to develop and Scott doesn't do feelings. But with each passing day he thaws a little bit more. Will he change his mind?
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I owe Gwen Hernandez an apology. I had a review copy of Blindsided sitting on my desktop from before I went away in February, and then forgot to review it!
Behind this generic Torso-Man cover is a VERY intelligent, detailed and complex romantic suspense book. Hernandez has done her research and put together a plot that involves hacking, espionage, and a whole lot of distrust.
This is not your generic romance.
You would never know this was part of a series; it’s a complete story in its own right, and because hero and heroine are on the run for most of the book the focus hardly shifts to secondary characters.
I go on about books with “more” quite often; this is one of them. I don’t know how it works, but some authors pack so much more plot, characterisation, more everything into the same word count as authors who use a lot of exposition as padding. I appreciate books like this one so much more.
I have no idea how the author knows so much about computer hacking, but the knowledge made the scenes involving it much more realistic. I really believed this was a heroine who was at the top of her game.
This is one of those romantic suspense books that is proper suspense, with each scene moving the action forwards, and things not being wrapped up until the very end (so no waffling scenes at the end to up the word count).
One thing I didn’t love was the way the hero kept referring to the heroine’s tits, and her rack, and all of that. It’s probably pretty accurate for a guy’s mind, but it made me think a little less of him. However, this did change as the book went on and his feelings towards her grew, which was a nice touch.
On the other hand, I loved that he was just average-sized. Not every hero has to be a hulking great giant. Another thing I loved about him was that his “I don’t do relationships” attitude that drives me totally insane in most books had an actual background and valid reason here, and he didn’t fight it too much when he realised things were changing.
I really enjoyed this solid suspense story that had a lot more depth than most in the genre. It’s nice to be reminded what’s so great about romantic suspense.
With multiple intriguing elements, this story pulled me into the world of dark web, espionage, and betrayals, holding me in there with the captivating, lovable characters and the developing romance in between them. The crimes committed circle around the computer world, the internet, and its dark web with all the dangers and the possibilities. The work done on the computers to find the evidence of the true criminals are well explained. It challenges the reader's knowledge yet doesn't underestimate their mind. I loved how I was pulled into this world I had no knowledge of before, yet I could navigate there and follow what was going on. And there was a lot going on, the action is deadly and constant. The possibilities to escape from the false charges seemed impossible. The flow of the tale is seamless and natural, the continues plot twists kept me on my toes and the intensity elevated. Valerie Sanchez and Scott Kramer both were fantastic characters, it was easy to like them and relate to them with the imperfections they had. The more I got to know them the more I admired them and it seemed they had a lot in common. Their childhood wounds both in their bodies and minds, the scars life had left in them, the healing that was ongoing effort to be able to move on, it all gave a great perspective to the development of the characters and their bonding with each other. The connection they have was precious and admirable. They worked well as a team, they complimented each other's talents and gifts. Adding to that the palpable, growing romantic feelings they had for each other and they seemed like two parts of a whole. The passion they had for each other was tangible, yet their insecurities and old wounds made it so real and true, giving a tender and delicate touch to their relationship. Blindsided turned out to be a story impossible to put down until 'the end'. The action is fatal and treacherous, not knowing who to trust, questioning every move they make while on the run for their lives, the ferocity of the actions against the characters gave the tale special kind of vigor and energy. The severity of their past experiences mirroring the present events gave a rare, enticing depth to the characters, witnessing their development and growth was gratifying. I'm loving this author's voice and the wounded characters she has created that has completely charmed me over. ~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
“Your calm is one of your greatest strengths. It’s one of the reasons I love you.” – Valerie Sanchez
OK, I gotta say, Gwen Hernandez is quickly becoming one of my favorites in the military romance genre. And how could she not? The third book of this series proves it and has managed to drive the point home - she's here to stay in my top list!
Scott Kramer is tasked to follow former hacker Valerie Sanchez and confirm her guilty of aiding terrorists. But when he realizes the woman might actually be a pawn without her knowledge and a victim on top of that, he decides to protect her. Too bad he can't protect his heart from the inevitable attraction he feels towards her...
This one was truly a work of art. The pace almost never slowed down once the bad guys got moving, and the suspense was off the charts! Danger was closing in on our main couple from everywhere, and it really kept me on the edge of my seat. Well, that, and the sexual tension. Boy, Scott and Valerie were easily compatible and could burn everything around them with all those smoldering looks and sinful thoughts - which only intensified the intimate moments even more than usual!
Both characters were realistic and quite relatable to me. Which only made me like them more. Valerie was a geek through and through, and her brains were really something else, not only on the technology part, but also when it came to being street smart. And poor Scott was not exactly your everyday tall military hottie - the man was on the short side, and was not only aware, but also insecure about it! Which was adorable, if you ask me - and I usually like my men to be tall, but man did Scott make me rethink my choices!
There was also the fact that they fit each other quite well as a couple. I'm not talking only about the sexual attraction. I'm talking about how, despite everyone and everything around him telling him not to trust Valerie, Scott knew it, deep in his gut, that she was innocent. And he was willing to risk everything to prove that. And Valerie stood up for him. She defended him, when no one had ever fought for him before (when Scott himself told her that, I swear I nearly cried!).
The only downside in this story was stupid Jay - god, what a traitorous prick!
I'll soon review the next book in the series. I can't wait to see what happens with the other guys in the Steele agency! Also, there's Tara, people! I refuse to believe that woman's HEA is the guy in prison, even if he redeemed himself in the end!
“No matter what happens, I love you. Nothing changes that.” – Scott Kramer
Blindsided is the third book in the Men of Steele series by Gwen Hernandez. I have read the first book, Blind Fury, but did not read the second book, Blind Ambition. I don’t feel like I was missing anything from either book that was necessary in this one so I would consider it to be a standalone. I am very much a fan of books that can pull off a good love story while doling out some serious action and this one did not disappoint. It’s the story of White Hat Hacker Valerie Sanchez and former Marine sniper turned security consultant Scott Kramer. At first Scott is sent to secretly keep tabs on Valerie as she is being investigated for illegally breaching network security networks for multiple companies. He soon realizes that they both have been set-up and their lives are in danger. Valerie and Scott end up working together to clear their names and bring the real perpetrator to justice.
As opposed to other books that I have read, the action occurs over the information superhighway as Valerie has to use all of her hacking skills to figure out who framed them and stay alive in the process. Generally, matters of life and death are dealt with by using brute strength. In this case, the guy with all of the sniper training who is adept at killing is pretty much left on the sidelines while the supposed damsel in distress ends up doing most of the heavy lifting. This was a welcomed twist and allowed the reader to see how emasculating it can be for someone who is generally in control. Scott takes several blows to his ego while trying to do what he can to assist Valerie and keep her safe at the same time. On the other hand, Valerie had to allow herself to open up and let Scott use his instincts to guide them while they were on the run. At times, it was painful to watch as they worked their way through a sudden partnership on to a romantic relationship. Scott and Valerie were good for each other and definitely had some chemistry between the sheets. More importantly, their time spent on the run had several close calls and was not predictable at all.
Gwen went to great lengths to make Blindsided emotional. Scott and Valerie both had some painful experiences in their pasts that they had to stare down in order to make a better future with each other. Nothing about the outcome came easy and there was some serious casualties along the way. It was no doubt that fate somehow brought the two of them together.
**Received a copy from the author and reviewed the book voluntarily.**
Wow! So many twists and turns that I was kept on the edge of my seat as I waited to find out what happened. Deception abounds throughout this book as we discover Valerie Sanchez was set up and is being followed by former Marine Scott Kramer who is there, he thinks, to help apprehend her. They find they must team up and run for their lives while trying to prove they were both set up and we are witness to the chemistry between these two which is off the charts. I really enjoyed this book and how each character's background was what made them the perfect scapegoats. This is Book 3 in the series and I had not read the first two but that did not cause me any issues with the story as each book can be read alone.
I was provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A sexy thrill ride of action and suspense. Blindsided takes us deep into the world of both the white and black hat hackers.
Scott Kramer was assigned to follow and gather proof that Valerie Sanchez stole plans for classified weapons from her employer, Aggressor International who hunt terrorist via the web. Problem is she doesn't look the part of a person that would do that plus he finds himself very attracted to her. But he's there to do a job and is a true patriot and no matter her sex or looks if she's guilty he will turn her over to the FBI.
Valerie grew up with a father who was a black hat hacker. In her adolescence years she helped him with his scams. Once she grew up she wanted to use the skills she learned from her father for good. She thought she found the perfect job working at Aggressor helping to find security leaks. Her current job was a hard one to crack but once she did she was feeling proud of her accomplishment not realizing it was a set up to frame her of espionage.
The action ramps up from here when both Valerie and Scott are accused of multiple crimes which sends them on the run trying to find proof of their innocence. Along with the suspense both Scott and Valerie have to deal with the scars from their past both internal and external as they give into there strong attraction to each other all while trying to stay alive and one step ahead of the authorities.
OK...WOW...this is my first read by this author and it definitely won’t be my last. The story of Scott and Valerie had me on edge from the first pages. The story was flawless with heart pounding scenes as Scott and Valerie race against time to clear their names and during the process fall for each other. Not only that but the heartfelt scenes as both of them confess their pasts and vulnerabilities had my heart breaking at times. Scott is hands down the perfect book boyfriend, a protector who has some self esteem issues, he may not be tall with muscles like a body builder but in my eyes and the way the author describes him...he’s perfect. I also loved the attraction and affection towards Valerie...swooning big time. Not only that but with the drama all around them, there was minimal drama between them...refreshing. An AMAZING read with suspense, action, steamy sensual scenes that took my breath away and the way the author explained Valerie’s skill set and what she does and did with ease and being able to follow w/o being confused....impressive. A read that I am so HAPPY I didn’t pass up and now I CAN’T wait to read more from this author. *I voluntarily read a copy of this book and expressed my honest opinion*
Valerie is a reformed hacker and is framed for espionage. She goes on the run and heads out west. Scott is a former Marine sniper and is hired to follow Valerie when her boss suspects her of selling secrets. He catches up to her and he becomes an accomplice. Both are running for their lives and trying to prove their innocence. Can they find the evidence to prove them innocent before the bad guys find them?
I know this is short but I don't want to say too much and spoil it. This will keep you on the edge of your seat. Plenty of action. Sex. A man who's afraid of turning into his abusive father. A woman who's past will never go away. I believe this is the first book by this author I have read and it's awesome.
This is another one that will capture you especially if a fan of danger and heat. Valerie will get you into the story with Scott by her side at first watching. When the drama hits you are then like a deer stuck at their sides because you want it all not missing a detail. It gets deeper in danger you think there is no hope but with heat and love they will show you what you need. You learn all about trust in this one too from both sides. Nice way to let us down at the end on the wrap up.
The action was well paced and the information about cyber-security and hacking was interesting. I wish the romance between the hero and heroine was spread out longer instead of the typical "love of my life" results after a week. However, their romance was believable.
This certainly works as a stand-alone, but I would like to go back and read the others in the series.
I am awed by the technical details of this book. It's fast paced to. The point of warp speed at times. It's hot and never flags to keep your interest. Just bought another Gwen Hernandez novel. Reviewed by Heide Katros, Winter Haven News, Florida
Espionage, betrayal,and love makes for an interesting story., March 28, 2017 By HD Edit Review Delete Review This review is from: Blindsided (Men of Steele Book 3) (Kindle Edition) Fast paced corporate espionage and a romance thrown together. Cyber crimes with white and black hats in the dark web, betrayal, and finding love makes for an interesting story. I voluntarily reviewed this book after receiving an advanced reading copy. This is an adult read.