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Unsanctioned Eyes

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Her death was just the beginning.

Quinn Rogers doesn’t exist. There are no records of her name. Her DNA has no match. She is a ghost. A phantom killer no one can trace. The perfect assassin. Or so she thinks.

At the top of her game, Quinn’s no longer looking over her shoulder. Her master will protect her, save her, like he always has. But there are forces at work neither of them suspect.

Can Quinn find the truth in a world of lies? Or will her unsanctioned past catch up to her in the end?

416 pages, Paperback

Published June 27, 2017

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Brianna Merritt

1 book27 followers

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Displaying 1 - 26 of 26 reviews
Profile Image for Nate Philbrick.
Author 8 books107 followers
July 9, 2017
DNF. *This has nothing to do with the author's skill or the quality of the writing. The hard work put into this book is evident.*

I gave it a chance, and I pushed myself to keep reading because I knew that, eventually, the protagonist undergoes a change. When the first 30% of the book is the protagonist graphically torturing and murdering people (and showing NO remorse), I have to wonder what kind of earth-moving transformation this character goes through in order to be even remotely human.

That transformation may very well happen. According to the reviews, it does. And I'm a huge advocate of redemption arcs.

But I think the story crosses the line when Am I really the only one who has a problem with that? None of the other reviews so far make mention of it.

A scene like that would be horrifying even for an antagonist. But again, this is the protagonist. And I see reviews that say 'Quinn is awesome!' 'Quinn is so strong!' And that worries me. (Please no one feel targeted. I honestly don't remember who wrote the reviews, nor is that the point here.)

How desensitized are we?

I know this is the story of an assassin who, in as much as I can tell, eventually finds redemption. And I know the author probably wanted to show how depraved Quinn is at first. I understand that. But...no. This is too far.

I genuinely feel bad writing this, because I have mad respect for the author's writing talent as well as the evident effort (so much research!) she put into this story. But some content I just can't overlook, even when this is probably going to be an unpopular opinion.

This is just one flawed reader's opinion. Take it or leave it.

I wish nothing but the best success for Brianna Merritt moving forward with her writing career. Based on the portion of this book that I read, I wouldn't be surprised to see her name under some best-sellers eventually.
Profile Image for gabi.
999 reviews22 followers
June 28, 2017
It's been awhile since I read a book that I would consider a pleasure read, at least since before school ended. But this book was a great book to start off the summer with. I am really impressed.

Known as the Dragonfly in very few circles, Quinn Rogers is a killer. A shadow. A ghost. She believes that he life is as good as it could ever be. She’s safe behind her knives and skills. She’s protected by a master assassin and those who work for him. But when a assignment goes wrong, she begins to question whether she is as safe as she thought. Maybe, maybe she’s been deceived this whole time. Can she trust anyone around her? Has she been set up from the beginning? She doesn’t know any of the answers, but she must find them if she is to survive. In a world full of deceptions, will she be able to find the truth? Or will she drown in the lies?

These characters were so…alive to me. They had such dynamic personalities. There’s Quinn. First of all, I love her name. More importantly, I found her strikingly realistic. She believes herself to be a monster. She relies on that belief. It’s her greatest strength…and her greatest weakness. She’s a bad person, one that murders people without a second thought. This is her life, the only kind of life that she could ever have. She knows that what she does is wrong, but she doesn’t believe that she can change. She’s been down this dark and lonely path for far too long. It was really cool to watch as her perspective changes and grows. Then there’s Nathan, an unlucky artist who gets caught up in this world of assassins. He’s another character that I found really realistic. I don’t know how else to describe it. He’s scared, horrified even, by what’s he finds himself entangled in. He just wants to go back to his normal life, but finds himself waiting for his death sentence. While he is scared, he places his trust in God. It takes him awhile, but he begins to see that even the most evil people can change because there is still good in them. Jason is a very intriguing. You can’t tell which side he’s on. Those he aligns himself with seems to change whenever he thinks it is necessary. Like any normal human, his decisions are sometimes controversial. He is reckless, like a teenager, but he also gets scared quicker than some. But he’s never afraid to protect those closest to him. Matt doesn’t play as big a part in this story, but I really liked him. He’s kind and protective and willing to do what it takes for those he cares about. He’s not afraid to put his life on the life.

The world building was fantastic. I felt in love with it from the start, but that may be because it is set in London for most of the books. It switched to a few other places, but every time it felt so real and alive. I really feel like I’ve been to these places. I loved it!

The writing style was simple and elegant. In other words, perfect. I really enjoyed it. It was potent, powerful. It wasn’t overly dramatic. It felt very much like actual reality.

Wow. What a plot. What a plot. It draws you in from the beginning and it doesn’t let you go until the end. It was fast paced right from the start and I don’t think that it ever calmed down for a single moment. I mean, seriously, it moved fast. But the amazing part is that it never felt too fast. I don’t know how the author did it, but it was incredible. The action scenes were realistic. The car chases were thrilling. The assassinations were heartrending. It was beautiful to see how the author portrayed a main character that wasn’t a “good guy” without being morbid and very dark. I think that the author did an excellent job. It was quite incredible.

There was a little bit of language in this book, but it was only here and there. It’s also violent, but not overly so. Because of this, I’d recommend this to older teens and up.

So…I loved this book. It was such a refreshing read. If you are interested in thrillers, don’t pass this one up. Even if you aren’t interested in thrillers, try this. You don’t want to miss this one! I can’t wait to see more from this author!

I got this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

You can check out this review on my blog too, at: https://aheartredeemed.wordpress.com/... Thanks!
Profile Image for Dominique.
335 reviews60 followers
July 26, 2017
This was one wild ride. And I loved every second of it! :-D

Quinn~ she was an amazing main character, she's fierce and strong, and just amazing! I loved her character development!
Jason~ he's amazing as well<3 I love how loyal he is to Quinn, and how he always tries to fight for her(even though she doesn't need anyone to fight for her ;)
Garrett~ I'm still not sure about him...*eyes him suspiciously*
Matt~ here we have another loyal friend, who is amazing as well<3
Nathan~ ok, so he was super strong and calm during all of this...me? I would've been freaking out XD and praying a lot as well lol ;)
Rourke~ evil. just. evil.

This book was so action packed and kept me on the edge of my seat!
It reminded me a little of Arrow, both Oliver and Quinn went through crap, came through it as a assassin, then tried to be better.

So yeah I loved this book, and I need the next book now *grabby hands*

I received a free ARC copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Rennie James.
Author 19 books22 followers
June 26, 2017
3.5 stars: Tea and Blood

**I was given a free ARC in exchange for a honest review.**

This is a debut novel in a genre I don’t typically read; however, the main character captured my attention. Whether in books, TV, or movies, I do love a kickass female lead. It is well-written, fast-paced, and complex. It is also Book 1 of a new series. There’s no cliffhanger ending, but there are unresolved issues (to be expected). It is written in first person which isn’t my favorite point of view as I’m always curious about other characters.

Now, a few more specific points and one spoiler marked below:
1. There are multiple plot lines set in the past and present. The flashbacks threw me off somewhat. You get the date and location, but no year. It’s not hard to catch-up, but it interrupts the flow of the story. This isn’t really a complaint as I do like getting the backstory and actually want more of it. Even with all of the action, I feel this is more character driven than plot driven.
2. I’m a rush through to the end kind of reader, so I prefer only the basics on descriptions, shorter sentences, and chapters. I skipped some of the longer descriptions in this one, but I do that in almost every book I read. There is some beautiful imagery. My favorite is “He was a storm – from far away he looked beautiful and breathtaking, but up close I could see the true havoc of his affection.”
3. I was surprised to find the main character is British. There’s some slang which I assume is correct since I don’t have a clue. It’s only splashed here and there, so it didn’t really concern me either way. Another thing that I’m clueless on is the use of guns. There were details given which made it feel real, but I wouldn’t know if it’s correct or not. I mention both because I know there are readers who will know if mistakes have been made.
4. There are some religious undertones in the book. My assumption is that it will come into play as part of Quinn’s redemption arc. Religion is a touchy subject for many, so I wanted to note that.
5. The heroine is a complicated character with a lot of contradictions such as craving tea and protecting her favorite shoes while not being concerned about murder or pain. At times, her thoughts seemed more flowery than I would have imagined for an assassin. The contradictions and complexities keep Quinn quite mysterious to me even after reading the book. In truth, I’m not even sure what she looks like physically. It is because of Quinn that I’m interested in more books and why I’m only giving the book a 3.5 stars. Until I see how the character develops, I don’t know I truly feel about the story.


There is a child target in Chapter 11. Take care if this will offend you. It’s not gratuitous violence (there or anywhere in the book). The violence does appear necessary to tell the story.


Overall, I feel it’s a great first book effort, and I look forward to the next one.

**I was given a free ARC in exchange for a honest review.**
Profile Image for Megan McCullough.
Author 1 book132 followers
August 31, 2017
Step aside, cliche thrillers because The Dragonfly series is coming to town! Brianna's incredible writing skills kidnapped my mind and threw it into the world of assassins, terrorists, and secret agents.

The Characters:
I fell in love with Brianna's characters, despite their murderous tendencies. Why? They are real, broke people. They work for (I don't want to tell you too much) who will kill them if they don't do as he says. This trains them to dim their consciences. But as the story goes on, stuff happens that reawakens those thoughts that what they are doing is bad. However, there is still survival stuff and characters interactions that get in their way and make them completely human.

Also, there is Nathan who is an adorable human. (He's not an assassin, but he's just precious.) Can we talk about the fact that he grows so much over the story, and the main plot isn't even about him?!

The Setting:
Unsanctioned Eyes takes place all over the world: London, Afghanistan, and other places. I've never been to any of those places before, but after reading this book, I feel like I have.

The Plot:
The Plot:
Masterfully written. I'm not going to say any more on this.

There was quite a bit of language, but none was "super awful". (It's not every other sentence either.) But it fits with the characters. Obviously, there was quite a bit of violence. The assassins aren't super moral people, so they don't do the most moral things. But this is NOT EVIL BEING GLORIFIED. The characters start to change by the end of the story. Quinn is presented with the idea of God and His saving grace. The author is not condoning the actions of her characters. I just wanted to make that very clear.

Basically, this is a fantastic book for people who enjoy thrillers like the Jason Bourne series, but are tired of evil being glorified. I recommend this book to older teens and above because of some of the content. 5/5 stars! This book releases TOMORROW so remember to get a copy!

*Disclaimer* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for J.M. Sullivan.
Author 8 books149 followers
September 17, 2017
First, I would like to thank the author for giving me an ARC copy of the book to read! This was a fast paced action book that kept me guessing the entire time. I loved the thrilling world of the Dragonfly and watching as she navigated a world of danger and deception. The characters were well built, and the plot was solid, making for an engaging, interesting read! The way the book ends leaves lots of room for a sequel, so I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more! :D
Profile Image for Daisy Paquet.
Author 1 book20 followers
August 31, 2017

Can I start this book review off with my ONLY complaint, the ONLY thing that lost it a star?
Brilliant. See, it was the language. I found myself wondering if it was REALLY necessary.

This book is EXCELLENT. It gave me the same feeling a good action movie does- the same feeling Iron Man and Batman gave me, okay? Yes, I'm a nerd, now go about your business.

(Keep in mind, Jason has Batman socks in this book and...)


Plot = 4.5/5
Characters= 5/5 (Quinn kicks butt and Jason is the dorkiest most adorable thing, and Garrett is awesome and Nathan just needs all the hugs, okay?)

Basically, this book to me was BRITISH ASSASSIN DRINKING CHAI AND ROCKING OUT. I'm not sure if that's what other people get out of this book?? But.

I did like how Nathan was a Christian and how It was perfect, and THAT'S how Christianity in fiction should be done, kids. Nothing preachy, just the reality of it.

Also the descriptions of Chai and chocolate almost killed me because I don't have any Chai. Seriously. That stuff = perfection.

Now, I know this book has gotten criticism about the violence, and 'quinn showing no remorse' but to me, she showed the perfect amount of remorse each time. And when she describes killing the little boy, that was her emotions, her REMORSE, coming out in nightmares. She undergoes a HUGE change throughout the book, but it's done SO WELL and it's SO NATURAL.

The violence isn't terribly graphic, but it is more graphic than say... Harry Potter. Hand-to-hand combat is messy, kids. Use discretion, but as long as you're older than like... twelve, this book is fine.

Or maybe my standards are broken?? I dunno.

Before I entered the giveaway I won this book in, someone had told me that this book was 'brutal'. I was like, brutal as in terribly written? Brutal as in... harsh on the emotions? Brutal as in, only action, no violence?

Now I know that they mean brutal as in HARSH ON THE FEELS.

I'll be staring at the wall in a depressed manner, if anyone needs me before the next book comes out.
Profile Image for Natalie Summers.
Author 1 book9 followers
July 27, 2017
Some Spoilers!

This book is just incredibly violent with absolutely zero diversity. You're supposed to root for a woman who kills tons of innocent people. She goes into the Louvre after being preached and vouched for by a religious guy and still kills a room full of innocent people. She goes onto kill still more police so she isn't caught. There is just no way for me to stand up for the book. Beware of what you are getting into. Brianna Merritt can write, but whoa.
August 16, 2017
I read this book in one day!! It was a very engaging read. I didn't want to put it down. The characters explored deep emotions and themes without being predictable. Overall: a great novel!
Profile Image for Cynthia.
Author 3 books18 followers
December 8, 2018
It hurts my heart to give such a low star rating because the author is mega talented. Seriously--right after I'm done typing this, I will be checking out her other work. But not this series.

My issue is 100% with the protagonist, who ruins the fantastic story this would otherwise have been. She is weak and pathetic and is completely at mercy to her own emotional whims--but she pretends she's strong and capable because she'd good at killing people. Mostly innocent people, as best as I can tell. She never takes responsibility for her actions. She never even thinks about the consequences of her deadly, world-wide ramification actions beyond how it makes HER feel and affects HER.

For the non-spoiler bit, we are introduced to the protagonist while she is working as a sniper in Afghanistan. Except, she has abandoned her post where she is supposed to be providing cover and security for her team and has decided to go rouge to kill some bad guy. At first I was cool with this--I like a rogue anti-hero. They're fun to read. Someone outside the law who does what the bureaucracy won't for the betterment of others. Those are fun, and it's clearly how she sees herself. Awesome. She said that her team wasn't in any real danger and she wouldn't be missed. Except - [first chapters minor spoiler] she was missed, and even though no one got hurt, we're told that these scouting missions go wrong all the time. She left her team hanging, and then she didn't even confirm that the guy she was killing was guilty. Turns out her research on the other 28 "non-sanctioned" kills has been sketchy. So--does she feel horrified at this mistake(s) she's made? No. She immediately kills her commanding officer in cold blood, seriously considers killing her best friend when he doesn't immediately get out of her way, and arranges for her entire base to be blown up and everyone killed because she doesn't want to face trial or go to jail. She admits she was only going off and killing these men because she was kinda bored. Oh, don't worry--it gets worse.

[Major Spoilers after this point]

Keep an eye on this author because she is mega talented--but skip this series.
Profile Image for Susannah Metzler.
82 reviews29 followers
June 27, 2017
When Brianna Merritt, one of my favorite writers/bloggers/Twitter friends asked me to read and review her book Unsanctioned Eyes before its release date (which is JUNE 27: TODAY!!!!) I didn’t really know what the book was about, but the cover was beautiful and anything written by Ms. Merritt was bound to be good. I gave it a shot. And was held in suspense the whole time. When I finished it, all I could think about was “WOW. That was SOOO good” and “WHERE IS THE SEQUEL.”

When I first started reading, I found myself diving headfirst into the story. All other factors considered, I think I was pulled in not because of the characterS, setting, or action in the first couple scenes, but because of the writing style. Each sentence was concise and yet jam packed with action, character development and plot progression, making up for a clear and fast-paced narrative. This style was kept up throughout the whole book. It was also told in first person, which I can handle just as well as third person, but it was masterfully done.

Let’s talk about the characters, though. The main character (Quinn Rogers) is a bloodthirsty monster. I found her unpleasant and horrifically dislikable. And yet there was something redeemable in her. Every main character had an arc, I knew, and I could just see an event that would soon take place that would eventually change her for the better. And yet what actually did happen to get her character arc to reach its peak was totally unexpected. During one of her assignments in which she was ordered to kill a dealer with the IFM, she received an unwanted witness: Nathan, an 18-year-old American artist and former homeschooler who was studying abroad in London. Letting a witness who had seen her at her deadliest run off would be the worse possible decision Quinn could make at the moment, and so Nathan was taken hostage.

Nathan was my favorite thing about the book. He’s the one who ultimately turned Quinn Rogers around and brought back memories of her first assignment that had turned her into the bloodthristy monster she is now. Over time, she becomes fearful of the memories she sees in the eyes of her victims and eventually becomes physically unable to carry out murder assignments. I also like how Christianity was portrayed through Nathan’s character. He’s a Christian and talks about God and how he’s not afraid of death because he knows where he’s going. At first, Quinn dismisses it as nonsense talk, but later on she begins to seriously consider the importance in the young man’s faith.

As for the other characters, none of them really seemed to be of much importance until about halfway through the book. Matt, Jason, and Garrett are Quinn’s co-workers who also murder and hack their way through life under Rourke, the most corrupt of them all. Half way through, Jason appears to fall for Quinn, and over time, both he, Matt, and Garrett work together with Quinn to save Nathan and quit their job with Rourke at the risk of their lives, forming a band of people who actually do care for each other. Quinn’s not the only one with the arc.

The plot though! It was emotion-packed, fast paced, driven, and heavy. We first see Andrea Abrams as a sniper in the military in Afghanistan; later, we see her as a guiltless, fearless murderer who seems to enjoy ripping souls from bodies. When a young, innocent young man appears in her life, however, she starts to see things from different perspectives. The hostage even causes her co-workers, who seemed just as callous and monstrous as the main character, to band as a team to save said hostage, planning together to destroy their boss and all the heartless plans he had in store. Whether or not they succeed or die in the end is a matter of spoilers. Another way of putting that is asking you to go buy the book and read it yourself.

At the end, you can see this as a contemporary action thriller, but beneath it all is the message that it is impossible to walk through this life alone, and that faith in Him will give you everlasting fearlessness and clarity through life and what it did to Quinn Rogers. I gave Unsanctioned Eyes a rating of 4 1/2 stars and please do check it out on Also, hop on Brianna Merritt’s blog and social media; did you know she’s a ballet teacher? Mash that with a writer of action-packed stories about assassins and there’s one awesome human.

If you'd like to read the whole review on my blog, click
this pretty blue font. You can find Brianna Merritt's blog and social links via her author profile.
Profile Image for C.E. Clayton.
Author 13 books245 followers
November 13, 2018
“Unsanctioned Eyes” was like watching an action movie, but you know, reading. It’s got flavors that reminded me of “The Bourne Identity” but also solid military drama. Except from the “wrong” side of the aisle. Our main character, Quinn, does not work for the good guys. She is, in fact, a terrorist. She has reasons (which are kind of teased at towards the end of the novel) but the first book in the Dragonfly series is about Quinn’s character arc. The synopsis doesn’t really give a great idea of what you’re stepping into when you pick up Merritt’s book, so humor me as I try to elaborate, while staying far away from spoilers. You see “Unsanctioned Eyes” is the story of how Quinn, a top assassin working for a radical organization, finds herself in the precarious position of no longer being able to trust her handlers and the series of events that lead to that distrust. It’s how when one bad mission has her taking a hostage she wasn’t meant to keep has her questioning if the people she works for actually care about her life, and if she can continue on in the organization once she starts remembering the person she was before she became the Dragonfly.

Before I get back into the story and characters, let me talk a bit about the writing itself. I’m usually not a huge fan of spy novels, and the types of thrillers I generally gravitate towards tend to be more on the detective/murder mystery side. That being said, Merritt is able to write an action packed spy thriller where, even for the novels length, everything flowed well, felt realistic, and kept a pace that left me constantly turning the page. Even in first person! Which is 1. Hard to write in and 2. My least favorite perspective. So kudos to the author for being able to do that and write in such a way where I wasn’t shaking my head and saying “no, that’s not how that would happen”. Is it 100% realistic? No. But nothing was over the top outlandish, either. It made it so the flow in action was never interrupted by me questioning how Quinn was able to accomplish all the death defying escapes she manages in this novel, which is always a good thing.

Now, back to the story. This is one of the first books I’ve ever read where the main character is actually a bad guy. And I don’t mean like an anti-hero, though I suppose that counts. I mean there’s a very clear line of the good team and the bad team and she’s on the wrong side. Merritt doesn’t really hide that, heck, Quinn’s arc is about coming back from that dark side. But you never really get the full story of why she’s with this organization to begin with, almost like it wasn’t supposed to matter for this book. But when you’re supposed to want the MC to be redeemed, I kind of needed to know why, or what, set her on this path to start with. Given where and how “Unsanctioned Eyes” ends, I’m pretty confident all these points are going to be in the next book, but it did make it hard for me to not just connect with Quinn, but to feel some level of forgiveness given all the awful things she’s done. Sorry, Nathan, your haunting eyes weren’t enough to make me feel like your presence was enough for Quinn to see the light! The book does spend a great deal of time focusing on Quinn assassinating people for the organization she works for, as well as on the run from the various people trying to get her, but I had a hard time always rooting for Quinn to get away when I didn’t think she deserved it.

Honestly, Quinn’s questionable character arc along with how late in the book her backstory of how she became the Dragonfly started to pop up—including introducing new characters with a huge role in Quinn’s life—were the only less than stellar parts of this book. It was an incredibly fun page turner! Merritt clearly put in the work and research to write an awesome suspense thriller. There is some language and obviously there is violence and murder, but it’s not a gore fest where the author just spends way too much on the blood as a way to make something suspenseful. There is a bit of a cliffhanger, but enough was answered and taken care of in the first book to where I feel good about where things left off, and can wait for the next book (though I don’t want to)! Still, I do wish that more about Quinn was addressed so I could have liked her as a person more. She is a formidable woman in a male dominated profession and more than holds her own, something I am always all for, but she’s also not a “good” human being. Not yet, anyway, but she’s getting there! But with that in mind, I’m giving this book 4.5 stars and am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series!
Profile Image for Jack Vaughn.
Author 3 books10 followers
June 21, 2017
I received an advanced copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

First off let me say this book is well written overall and that this genre is really not in my wheelhouse. If I was rating this purely on Brianna's writing ability it would be 5 out of 5 stars. I desperately want to give it 3.5 stars and was on the fence on how to rate this book for the longest time. I like stories that take me out of the real world, but this one could be very much grounded in it.

******SPOILERS AHEAD*********

Quinn Rogers doesn’t exist. There are no records of her name. Her DNA has no match. She is a ghost. A phantom killer no one can trace. The perfect assassin. Or so she thinks.
At the top of her game, Quinn’s no longer looking over her shoulder. Her master will protect her, save her, like he always has. But there are forces at work neither of them suspect.
Can Quinn find the truth in a world of lies? Or will her unsanctioned past catch up to her in the end?

The reason I ended up at 3 stars instead of 4 was because overall I would have liked a slight warning. There are religious themes, which is completely fine, but I didn't see them coming. I would have liked the description to read that Quinn begins to question everything, down to the core of who she is as it would have prepared me a little more for what I was reading. Mostly because of one character.

Quinn is very well done and very human which I can appreciate. As the story progresses she second guesses herself repeatedly and still falls into the same mistakes. But the character of Nathan left a lot for me to be desired as I couldn't follow his arc very well. He starts off as a nice guy who gets kidnapped and starts crying a lot, which is a very realistic as most people would probably do the same. However, he kind of turns on a dime, getting preachy and even saving his kidnappers life from the FBI which I wasn't able to make heads or tails of. He claims to see good in his kidnapper which is why he did what he did, but ultimately he ends up getting a bunch of people killed for helping. It would have made more sense, to me, if he had tackled her and the FBI agent at the same time and helped to take her into custody. But that would cut the story off or change it dramatically. Basically I felt that Nathan and his part in the story came off as a little overhanded.

The other characters are great and I was able to separate them as Brianna built them up well. I would have liked to see more female characters overall as it is strongly a male propelled book. The conclusion was also slightly drawn out as I was able to know where the author was going early on and wanted it to get there. This could just be me as I'm not a thriller expert.

My other criticism is that one story repeatedly popped up, but is never resolved. I realize there is a sequel to this book, but as it plays a driving force over and over again in our main characters life, you would like to know what happened by the stories end.

Overall it is a very well written book and I'd recommend it to adults as there is a lot of violence/terrorism. The characters are well built, and while not always likable, very human which is what I love about books. There was enough for me to relate to which allowed me to enjoy the story.
Profile Image for Faith Rivens.
Author 5 books45 followers
June 29, 2017
First, I'd like to thank Brianna for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

It's been a while since I read a thriller -- it's really not my go to genre -- but I still enjoyed this book!

At its core, this is the story of Quinn who has left behind a dark past to embrace an ever darker future. From soldier to assassin, her life is a killer's. But does it have to be?

Quinn makes for a very intriguing protagonist. She definitely falls into the antiheroine category in my opinion. She is very good at what she does and her moral compass is rather screwy. But there were some things she did (one thing in particular) that really turned my stomach. For me (and I'm not specifying to avoid spoilers) this action turned me off from her entirely.

However, Brianna focused this story on Quinn's regret and remorse for this action which softened the blow that I felt. Quinn's perspective is changed by the introduction of a single character, Nathan, who reminds her of that dark deed and inspires her to want to be better. While I enjoyed the idea of this change, Nathan's character fell a little flat for me and the motivation did not carry the weight of the narrative.

That aside, let me commend Brianna on her writing skills. Her prose was simple and gripping, her writing an absolute joy as it pulls you from scene to scene and action to action. This book is extremely well written and if I was just marking on that, I would easily give this book full stars!!

Another highlight was the setting/worldbuilding. It was effortlessly revealed through Brianna's words and as a reader, I was drawn into every location. Not an easy thing to deliver on.

All in all, a very strong debut from Brianna Merritt, that glimmers with potential. This is only the start of the series and I look forward to seeing where she goes from here. Keep an eye on this author!!
Profile Image for KayCee K.
325 reviews90 followers
June 27, 2017
First, I have to say that I don't read a whole bunch of thrillers, suspense books but Brianna, the author of Unsanctioned Eyes - the first book in The Dragonfly series- has pushed that door a little more open for me. This story is a fast but still balanced plot. These pages are filled with action, few twists and a dash of romance.

Brianna character fills her world up with sparks. Witty and danger dance between the pages of this book. Quinn is filled with mixed emotions but when it comes down to it she knows what she has to do. She's a tea drinking, butt-kicking woman, and I love that! These a line in this ARC that goes, “No matter how wicked I am, my one true weakness is a good cup of tea.” I hope it made the final cut because in a weird way it sums up the book well.

I don't want to talk too much about the characters so I don't give away anything, but Brianna know her characters and that makes them feel so real, they aren't perfect, they have push and pull relationship, trouble, and drama, likes and dislikes. They feel like everyday people, other than the fact that some of these characters are assassins.

I don't want to give anything because this is an amazing read!

I have to give a little note about the writing style of this book because it flows, paints the world brightly and that's the best skill an author can have. I am even more of a fan of Brianna's after reading this, and I can't wait to see where she goes and to read the next book in her series!
Profile Image for K.J. Chapman.
Author 10 books103 followers
June 24, 2017
This Review is featured on my blog: Writerly Bookish Stuff.

Quinn is not only an assassin, she is the best of the best. Being heartless helps with this. When an assignment goes wrong, and she has to go on the run, her memories and her new relationships set her on a journey of self- preservation and self-discovery. Maybe there is a beat in that swinging brick of a heart.

An action packed narrative that is led by an anti-heroine to root for. You shouldn’t like Quinn, but you do. You shouldn’t be rooting for her, but you are. The author has given Quinn enough inner monologue and backstory to help the reader associate with an otherwise deadly assassin. Her character development from start to finish is spot on and progresses at a fast, yet believable pace.

The sub characters keep the narrative moving smoothly. Their skill set, relationships with Quinn, and backstory tie in well with Quinn’s story, and add realism to world of terrorism and assassins, and give credit to Quinn’s change of heart.

Thrillers are not my usual read, but I found this novel a real page turner. This book is extremely well written and I’d highly recommend it.

Profile Image for Aria Maher.
Author 4 books54 followers
July 18, 2017
This book was SO intense. On the one hand, it really makes you care about the characters, and on the other... most of the characters do not start out as very good people. Quinn Rogers is an assassin. She kills people for a living, and she's learned to disregard her feelings... until now. Quinn finds herself suddenly unsafe and on the run, with reminders of her dark past dogging her heels. Will she choose to continue her dark life on the wrong side of the law, or will she choose the light?

The author of Unsanctioned Eyes, Brianna Merritt, knows beyond a shadow of a doubt how to keep her readers on the edge of their seats. This thriller is over four hundred pages long, but it almost feels too short. I found myself racing through the book, unable to put it down. There is a slow, subtle, and extraordinarily well-done redemption arc woven throughout the entire story, and tons of action and plot twists to keep you flipping pages well past your bedtime ;P

There is a fair amount of violence in this book (it is dealing with assassins and terrorism, after all) and there are a couple descriptions of that violence which make it definitely not for the squeamish, but I felt like the author did a good job of not going over the top with her subject matter. The book is fairly dark in parts, but there are always bright glimmers of hope or humor to lighten it up. I would highly recommend this novel for older teenagers and up, and I can hardly wait for the sequel!
Profile Image for Sarah White.
Author 7 books82 followers
June 30, 2017
Unsanctioned Eyes is an ambitious novel with a compelling protagonist. The author doesn't shy away from dealing with difficult issues as her complex and conflicted antihero navigates the dark underworld of London and faces her own past. Quinn's growth as a character is deeply satisfying, giving a strong core to the action-packed story and setting up future books in the series nicely. I did wish that certain parts of Quinn's backstory had been explained more/sooner, as this would have made the plot a little tighter. Hopefully, though, the next book in the series will answer the lingering questions. Overall, this is a solid debut novel that hits all the right notes. I'm excited to see where Quinn's journey takes her next!
1 review
October 21, 2017
Unsanctioned Eyes is amazing. I got lost reading it, at times I forgot it was a book and mistook it for reality. Then someone in real life would interrupt me and I’d be unpleasantly brought back to earth. The attention to detail is unparalleled. Quinn’s character is virtually the perfect character- because she herself is not perfect by any means. She’s calloused, full of anger, and possesses a hair trigger temper. She does horrible, unspeakable things, and feels no remorse for them. The thing about callouses (and calloused people) as all dancers know, is callouses can be removed with a little friction- for Quinn, the friction was Nathan. He disrupts the usual fear people show when they look at her and instead shows that he knows she can be better than how she is. She’s broken, but still able to stand. Her love of tea and chocolate gives a playful lilt to the deadly sharpness of her mind and blades. This is a re-reader, and an instant favorite. It's definitely going on my bookshelf and my recommendations list. Book two can't get here soon enough for me.
Profile Image for Kait Spangler.
Author 1 book6 followers
July 5, 2017
Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense is one of my favorite genres to read. I love how the stories keep you guessing with twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. Unsanctioned Eyes is no exception to this. Throughout the story I kept wondering what would happen next, and how the characters would get out of the situations they were in.

Speaking of characters, I have to be honest and say that I really didn’t like Quinn at first. She is a killer, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I couldn’t connect with her, and really, I didn’t want to connect with her. When Nathan arrives, a new side of Quinn starts to emerge and by the halfway point I could see how her character was starting to change. Quinn’s changes felt very natural to the story, and I do love a good redemption arc, so I’m curious to see where this character will go in the next story.

The other characters were interesting too. I think my favorites were Nathan and Jason. Jason was entertaining to read about, and I really sympathized for Nathan. He was not in a good situation in this book, but he was able to make the best of it and really helped Quinn to start seeing the light.

Overall, Unsanctioned Eyes was a great read and I’m looking forward to seeing where the next book will take these characters. If you’re looking for a good thriller, I recommend checking this book out!
Profile Image for Soleil.
Author 1 book5 followers
July 19, 2017
So much happened!
I really enjoyed 'Unsanctioned Eyes'. It's been a while since I had read anything from this genre, and I loved it. There is some language, and violence as the main character is an assassin. (some of her missions, you're like "WHY?!") But even though Quinn's past is dark, she come's to realize what she's done is wrong. And when she makes the decision to save someone's life instead of take it, it will change her more than she'll realize.
I look forward to reading the next Dragonfly novel!
Profile Image for Michael Chrobak.
Author 6 books31 followers
May 20, 2018
I have to say, I’ve been really, REALLY enjoying the phase of books I͛ve been reading lately. There are some amazingly talented Indie-Authors out in the world, and Brianna Merritt is definitely one of them. Her style of writing absolutely pulled me in, and this was the first book in a while that I didn’t want to read just the section of pages I assigned myself to read each day. I wanted to read and read and read and read…so I did. I finished it two days before I had planned, which says something about how much I loved it.
Merritt reminds me of some of the greats in the Action/Thriller genre. Clancy, Ludlum, and Fleming come to mind. There is a specific pace and unfolding of events that make for a truly great thriller novel, and Merritt produces that in spades. I absolutely loved the story and can’t wait for the sequel. Plus, the somewhat of a cliff-hanger/surprise twist ending left me dying for more!
Here͛s the synopsis.
When the book opens, it opens huge. The reader is thrown right into the action, which never really stops. We find the hero, Angela Abrams, on a mission in Afghanistan, where she is a sniper in the British
Army. The only thing is, the mission she is on is one she created herself. She’s taken it on herself to do a few unsanctioned missions. Her unsanctioned assassination gets her in trouble, she gets herself in more trouble, and she winds up in the brig.
Enter Rourke Andres, super-assassin and head of a secret cadre of assassins that operate ‘off the books’
under the auspices of an international advertising agency. He recruits Angela as part of his team, which
means she has to leave her old life, identity, name, etc. She becomes Quinn Rogers, a.k.a. The Dragonfly,
one of the top—and most feared—assassins in the world.
Let’s talk about what I liked/disliked about Unsanctioned Eyes. First, the likes. As I already mentioned, the style of writing is amazing. Merritt provides imagery and depth to each scene without getting flowery or wasting time describing things that don’t need to be described. She truly trusts the reader to get what she’s trying to say, and there was never a point where I was left doubting or questioning her words.
There are also droplets of intrigue and hints as to some of the protagonists backstory throughout, but Merritt doesn’t just drop it all at once. Each new reference of Quinn’s history gives just a little more information about who she is and why she’s become The Dragonfly. Though, this doesn͛t get fully explained. Some of it is left for Book Two. (Can’t wait!)
The main conflict of the book opens up fairly early, and at first I was worried that there would be a ton of filler or action-for-the-sake-of-action throughout. I’m glad I was wrong. Each scene develops with near perfection, and though there are some scenarios that seem a bit far-fetched, I reminded myself that James Bond once drove a tank through St. Petersburg with a statue of Tsar Nicholas on top. Nothing that Merritt writes is as far-fetched as that.
The few parts that I didn͛t like truly didn’t draw away from the enjoyment of the book. Trust me, they are small stuff. I’ll try to not give away too much of the story or spoil the plot here, but if you͛re sensitive to that, skip the rest of this review. For the first part, the main antagonist isn’t as developed as I would have liked, nor did they have that large of a part in the story, at least for the first ninety percent of the book. I didn’t even realize that the antagonist was the antagonist until deep into the story. Quinn’s battles are all against a variety of sub-characters with no relation to the true antagonist.
Also, during a mission-gone-wrong, Quinn kidnaps an eighteen-year-old named Nathan. He was my least
liked character in the way he seemingly accepts the fact that he was kidnapped and never really tries to escape, even though there are parts of the novel where I would have liked to have seen him try. There are also multiple characters all vying for Quinn as a romantic partner (there’s no romance in here at all, maybe one kiss?) and they all seem to make their interests known at the worst time.
Outside of those few items, as I already mentioned, I absolutely LOVED this book.
Overall, I gave Unsanctioned Eyes 4.75 stars.
Profile Image for Jesse Smith.
Author 7 books1 follower
November 23, 2020
I received an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of “Unsanctioned Eyes” by Brianna Merritt, and I promised her that I would write an unbiased book review to the best of my ability.

A spiral of bad decisions sends a British soldier down a dark path of bloody nihilism in this action-packed war story by Brianna Merritt. Merritt weaves a complex tale of intrigue, spies, assassins, and undercover agents who turn out to be double agents. In this nebulous world, allegiances shift and disappear. To these characters, nothing is sacred: not laws; not bonds of friendship; not even loyalty to teammates, comrades, or country. Quinn has no qualms about pursuing her objectives wholeheartedly. As long as her job involves killing people, then she is happy to do her job. We are given to understand that an unspecified tragedy from her past is the reason for her nihilism: that she has abandoned widely accepted moral codes (and human decency in general) because of something terrible that happened during her formative years. Quinn commits unforgivable crimes; but as her memories continue to resurface, she begins to feel kind of bad about some of the things she does.

Unsanctioned Eyes is a well-written, lively adventure story. Merritt has clearly done a lot of research into the finer points of firearms, explosives, and hand-to-hand combat. The action is fast-paced and exciting. If you like to be kept on the edge of your seat, this book will definitely keep you engaged.

However, as another reviewer discussed, the ethical lines crossed by the central character prior to her redemption arc are so repugnant and anathema to all human decency that the reader is filled with an uneasy doubt as to whether redemption is warranted in this case. Can her new choice at the end of the story really make up for all that came before? It's a dubious proposition. To her credit, Quinn does eventually seem to arrive at a renewed understanding of free will; but generally, I felt that the details of her psychology were not explored nearly as thoroughly as the details of her fighting style.

I came away from the read feeling that this story is a sort of military heist romp: an adventure where for the most part the act of doing bad things is self-justifying. This makes it a very different kind of spy caper from, say, James Bond, who has an overarching sense of duty, and who repeatedly reminds us that even when he breaks the rules, he does so for the sake of “Queen and country.” Quinn Rogers feels no such bond of loyalty to Queen, country, or anybody else. Overall, this left me feeling more than a little uneasy. Perhaps that was the author’s intent. I leave it for the reader to decide.
76 reviews
June 14, 2018
I wish I could give half-stars, because "Unsanctioned Eyes" deserves more than 3. But there is also a bit of rust present, so I cannot quite give this 4 stars.

Brianna Merritt does a lot of things well. "Unsanctioned Eyes" is packed with action and is a genuine page-turner. I read the entire thing in about three hours as I rode the bus to and from work.

Fair warning: This book may not appeal to everyone. The protagonist is very well developed (in fact, I would say that is the absolute strongest part of the book, in that Merritt has made an interesting character that has a real arc). In comparison, most of the supporting cast did not have any character development and felt more two dimensional. (This actually fits Merritt's style well here, as it gives the book a very Elmore Leonard feel.)

There were a few areas that tread toward cliche, but on several of these points Merritt does a pivot and goes in a direction that I had not expected. I definitely enjoy that in a book, so bonus points for that.

In terms of the mechanics of writing, it was solid. There were no typos or poorly phrased sentences anywhere to be found, and there were actually quite a few gems that tell me Merritt will be a formidable force to be reckoned with when she really hits her stride.

To briefly mention a few of the cons that go along with the pros, some of the transition scenes felt a bit rushed, and it took a while to understand which of the supporting characters were which. Finally, there are some details of the backstory that I would have loved to see examined more deeply, although I don't take points off for that since this is marked as "The Dragonfly, #1" so I assume there will be more books that will delve into that in the future.

All in all, this was well worth the admission price, and I will definitely pick up the next one when it comes out. If you like action, clever turns of phrase, and need something to read for a day at the beach, you would definitely do far worse if you choose Dan Brown over Brianna Merritt.
Profile Image for Azelyn Klein.
Author 8 books12 followers
August 6, 2017
Disclaimer: I don’t like assassins. I don’t support what they do, who they are, et cetera. In no way do I support the actions or words of the characters in this novel.

This book is what a thriller is supposed to look like. Merritt’s Explosions: The Novel—I’m sorry, I mean Unsanctioned Eyes—is an action-packed story filled with assassins and agents, cross-country travel, chase scenes, blood, death, guns, and of course, explosions galore.

The story was so dark, I felt like I was reading from the villain’s point of view. After all, Quinn Rogers is no hero. She’s an assassin. And yes, there are plenty of assassinations throughout the book. I didn’t count, but I’m pretty sure there are at least three brutal murders not counting deaths from gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, or explosions. Quinn is brutal, and the novel counters the common trope I’ve seen of the glorification of assassination. Seriously. There’s nothing pretty about death.

But of course, all the action was balanced out with plenty of down time. Then there’s a bit of snark and humor peppered throughout the story to counter the dark tone.

“Garrett chuckled. ‘It’s worse that that I’m afraid. I placed a camera on the front porch so that I can see who comes by. It sends a message to me if someone rings the doorbell.’ He showed me his cell phone so that I could read the message. It read: Mailman. 4:13 PM. One package delivered.

“‘You really need to get yourself a hobby.’”

The themes were excellent. Though I definitely can’t empathize with the main assassin, she’s a well-developed character who starts to question the difference between grief-and-fear-driven necessity and free choice.

I gave this book 3/5 stars for excellent action scenes and some developed characters, but I’d seen some of the dialogue in writing prompts before and felt like some of it could have been more original. That and the book took me longer to get through than I feel like a thriller should have taken. Because of perspective, the violence and gore, and some language, I would recommend it for those 13+ who are interested in a fast-paced novel that keeps you guessing what will happen next and who, if anybody, will survive.
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