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Zodiac Tactical #1

Code Name: Aries

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My code name is Aries.The stars say I’m aggressive, dominant, first in line to lead.

The stars aren’t wrong.

Zodiac Tactical is my company. It’s run by those I’ve chosen for their skills and ability to outmaneuver adversaries. We guard, protect, rescue…assist on the side of the angels.

We eliminate the threat when nobody else can.

My pastime of putting bad guys out of business has created powerful enemies, but I’ve always made sure there was nothing in my life I couldn’t live without.

Until now. Until her.

She’s not a warrior, she’s an artist. She sees colors everywhere and greets the world—and me—with a smile. I knew I shouldn’t come near her from the beginning, but she’s everything I’ve never been able to be.

And now a monster has taken her, caged her, to get even with me.

My code name is Aries. And I will burn the world to the ground to get her back.

USA Today and Publisher's Weekly bestselling author Janie Crouch brings the long-awaited follow-up to her Linear Tactical series: Zodiac Tactical—the team of protectors who stand at the front line in the face of danger. Come meet Ian DeRose, the safeguarding warrior who will do anything to defend gentle Wavy Bollinger.

333 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 21, 2021

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About the author

Janie Crouch

224 books1,726 followers
USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author Janie Crouch writes what she loves to read: passionate romantic suspense.

After a lifetime on the East Coast—and a six-year stint in Germany due to her husband's job as support for the U.S. Military—Janie has settled into her dream home in Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. She loves engaging in all sorts of adventures (triathlons! 200-mile relay races! mountain treks!), traveling, and surviving life with four kids.

Heroes exist. Let a Janie Crouch book prove it to you.

Check out Janie's updates and more on her website at http://www.janiecrouch.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 345 reviews
Profile Image for Twinkle {hiatus}.
58 reviews31 followers
October 25, 2021
2.5 Wish-I-could-give-this-more Stars

If you plan on reading this book I would strongly suggest not reading any further.

I went in super excited with this one. I was dying to read a good grumpy-sunshine + Romantic-suspense. And I think that's what was wrong. I went in with too many expectations. Tbh, the start was great and I was sure I would be giving this book 5 stars. But by the time the book ended I was contemplating between 2 and 3 stars.

TOO MANY TIME JUMPS. There were a lot of them and if you read my updates you know how frustrated I was with it. And they would come at the weirdest times.
After the first time they have sex? Time jump of six weeks and now they are in a well established relationship. WHAT? When? How?
Wavy gets kidnapped? Time jump of 5 days and we don't know shit. Time jump of another week (Cant really remember what that one was for)
Wavy gets back? Time jump of 3 days.
Ian was saved from dying after being buried alive? Time jump of 1 year with a resolution of the entire suspense given to us with a pretty little bow.
Do you get what this did to me? No, I don't think so.

Imagine, I have a cute doggo and keep on yapping about how cute he is, how he is better than all men because he loves me for who I am, how he shits rainbows and has the face of an angel. But that's all I do. I keep on telling you about my great doggo but never show you any pictures of him or his rainbow shit. Even when you beg for his photos I say fuck you and continue yapping about him. That's what it felt like in this book. So much telling. No showing at all.
Just show me the damn doggo. Please!

I do have to clarify that the plot was in no way bad. In fact it was really good. I can see why people loved it, I do. But I need to connect to my characters to enjoy any book. Even if the plot isn't that great but I love the MCs, I'll be happy. The plot was good but the execution fell flat.
I understood why the author wanted a well established relationship well before Wavy got kidnapped. I get that she wanted to show that their love was not out of an intense and traumatic experience but they loved each other inspite of all that. But all that time jumping ruined it. You never showed me how they fell in love. You only told me that.

When I read about alpha military/special-ops men, I expect them to be intense. If their woman is taken or even has a scratch on her, they will go to fricking WAR for her. You can feel the despair, rage and torment they go through when their woman is in danger. Sadly, I never felt that with Ian. He even said the right things at times but I never felt that urgency or intensity.
Also, you're supposedly the best in the world and when you go to rescue your woman, the only evidence you find are a couple of dead bodies and a scrap of fabric with blood on it. You mean to tell
me that you didn't bother getting that tested by forensics even though you had nothing else to go on? Even though your woman has been gone for more than a week????
"What if—oh God, I almost couldn’t bear to let myself hope—what if she’d been trying to leave us some sort of clue?"
No shit, Sherlock. Wavy was smart enough to attack her kidnapper and draw blood in hopes that you would find her but you were sitting there twiddling your thumbs.

The only times I felt anything were the couple of chapters after Wavy was rescued. The emotions/thoughts of everyone related to a traumatic incident were well portrayed.
"They seemed so excited when I sat up by myself, when I fed myself, when I walked from the hospital bed over to the chair by the window, even though I couldn’t really see out of it.
... I was disappointing them. Or maybe not disappointing but hurting their feelings. No, that wasn’t right either. All I knew was they were worried about me."

I thought that since this was a new series, it would be easy to follow. But if you haven't read the Linear Tactical series I think you're going to feel like an outsider. I sure felt like one. I tried googling how many times at max a person can die, but I didn't get a definitive answer. But dying half a dozen times seems like a stretch to me, unless this was PNR which is definitely wasn't.
"Grant had killed me multiple times first, but I left that part out."

I did like that Wavy, while she was a positive and happy person, wasn't naive or holier-than-thou and behaved maturely. She respected Ian and his work and vice versa.
“I like to laugh, to smile, to live. My life has a lot of color to it.”
They didn't fight for no reason and behaved how I'm assuming most mature adults do. Or even if they didn't I wouldn't fucking know because I was just told about it :)

Also, homegirl was very relatble.
“I do have a safety pin. It’s holding the back part of my bra together.” I’d changed into cute flats at the possibility of seeing Ian, but that he might get up close and personal with my bra had never occurred to me. Damn it, I had meant to get a new one for the past three months but had never gotten around to it.
Every woman has that one favourite bra that you never want to part from. The one that has been with you in your worst times and the best because it's just so comfortable. It's never come to a safety pin for me but I understand the sentiment.
I like how Wavy was a real woman that many can relate to.
"I could feel the calluses on her fingertips, maybe from waitressing, but undoubtedly some of it was from her painting"

I read romance, anything else is a bonus. So when my book doesn't have enough steam or chemistry between the characters, I am going to be disappointed. Very disappointed. This had okay-ish scenes with very little smut. Maybe just a step above fade to black. The lack of epilogue and abrupt ending made me pout like a petulant child. Did I mention how I couldn't feel anything? Yes? Okay.

Am I nitpicking? Probably. But RS is on the top of my favourites so I expect greatness. After reading the likes of Riley Edwards, Brittney Sahin, I've become used to a different kind of writing style and maybe that's the problem. I do see the potential of the entire premise but the characters didn't feel fleshed out enough and the pacing lost me.

"I focused on the rainbow paint on her wrist. My rainbow. She’d brought all the color into my life and changed me in ways I’d never known I’d wanted."

PS: I don't have a doggo but if you want to share your pet's pictures with me, I'll be standing here with open arms.
Profile Image for The Romance Book Disciple (Samantha).
1,871 reviews307 followers
September 21, 2021

Code Name Aries is a bit of a spin off from the Linear Tactical series, but with more danger! Wavy from Oak Creek meets Ian DeRose in a fairly funny meet cute. I knew from the start I was gonna really enjoy this book. I wasn't wrong.

There is serious danger right from the jump in Code Name Aries. It really gets crazy pretty quick. I'm not going to lie, it was so difficult read at some points because of what happens to Wavy. The relationship between Wavy and Ian is interesting. They start off rocky, then they slowly start to build something, then tragedy. What happens after that shows a lot of heart on Ian's part and I thought that really ups the romance.

Code Name Aries kicks off a seriously insane series as the Zodiac guys have to face a dangerous new group. There is a great cast of supporting characters, plenty of romance, and overall, a great start to the new series. I really enjoyed it and am excited for more!


  POV: 3rd
  Tears: YES!
  Trope: opposites attract
  Series/Standalone: standalone

authors like Katie Reus, Susan Stoker, Kaylea Cross...then you will probably like Code Name Aries!

Code Name Aries
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code name ariesSee full review on The Book Disciple
Profile Image for Denise H.
918 reviews50 followers
May 21, 2022
Code Name: ARIES is the first book of a new series by Janie Crouch and it’s beyond amazing! Be prepared to lose sleep and get nothing else done when you pick up this book. I have been eagerly awaiting Ian and Wavy’s story and it does not disappoint. They are definitely two of my favorite characters of all time and their journey to their happy ending is both heartbreaking and beautiful. With Crouch’s descriptive writing style you can feel the love these two share and visualize the scenes as they unfold, as well as the emotions. It’s a powerful read!

If you’ve read the Linear Tactical series then you are familiar with Wavy Bollinger, as she is Finn and Baby’s sister and appears throughout the series, and this is finally her story – YAY!! Ian DeRose also makes appearances in some of the Linear books but this book is where we get to learn all about him and his company - Zodiac Tactical, and their mission to eradicate Mosaic once and for all. Like the LT series, Zodiac is set up with the same brotherly bonds and camaraderie between the team members that helps the flow of the story stay strong and creates a comfortable atmosphere for the characters.

Wavy’s kaleidoscope of colors and how she sees the world is beautiful in itself. She’s drawn to Ian with an artist’s eye and also wants to help soothe his soul and bring him out of his darkness into her light. Ian, on the other hand, is an alpha-protector. He’s also broody, guarded, and has secrets. He’s immediately drawn to Wavy because of her goodness, gentle nature, and smile but does not want to pull her into his dangerous life. When these two get together, it’s explosive. Their chemistry is off-the-charts. When a catastrophic chain of events occurs and Wavy is danger, there is nothing Ian won’t do. He’ll burn everything down in his path to get her back.

ARIES is an outstanding story of resilience, perseverance, strength, determination, and soul-deep love. It’s full of suspense, danger, action, tragedy, romance, sexy times, humor (some great scenes), friendship, and heartbreak. Settle in your comfy chair, grab a drink, some tissues, and get ready for an unbelievable story that will wreck you and put you back together while leaving you wanting more.
Profile Image for 1-Click Addict Support Group.
3,749 reviews444 followers
September 23, 2021
All the colours in the rainbow….

Every colour of the rainbow was represented by every emotion in the sun in this action-packed military-esque romantic suspense. Aries had demons he kept under lock and key, repressing so much of his past and what he felt behind a driven façade. His teammates were his family and supported him, his company and his focus on taking the bad guys down. Wavy, on the other hand, was a force like he’d never encountered…

This story was full of black and white and all shades in between as the humour and light was balanced by unthinkable treachery. The twists were non-stop and the surprises, well, they were good and bad, too, weren’t they? From the comical meet cute to a solemn bond forged in pain and blood, this was a love that would be tested over and over…

Entertaining for sure, this was a not light read that held me captive to the end. Some loops closed but so many remain open, I can’t wait to find out what comes next… ~Diane, 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Ashleyjo.
826 reviews413 followers
November 10, 2021
Another one bites the dust. My losing streak is really starting to make me want to play roulette with book choices.


This is scattered, smothered, and covered in confusion and forced plot points. Author has no idea how to seg into plot transitions and changes. Jumps around trying to do too much and ends up doing nothing. Too much tell and not enough show. Not for me. DNF @ 36%.
Profile Image for Tanja OMGReads.
1,794 reviews44 followers
September 17, 2021
What's a girl to do when her favorite series comes to and end?!? Well she picks up a new one and falls in love with it. Book 1 and I just know this "new" group is going to be giving the LT a run for their money.

The whole way through my heart was breaking for all the things that Ian and Wavy went through. But the steel resolve and the strength they both had to get past all the bad was astonishing and you can not read this and not feel empowered by it.

I've been a fan of Janie Crouch since 2018 when I read my first book and this one just pushed her even more to my favorite author spot.
Profile Image for Lira.
246 reviews6 followers
September 12, 2021
I had the opportunity to receive an advanced copy of the first book in this new series from Janie Crouch. And knowing it's her book, I automatically know it's going to be 5 ⭐.
This book will be available on September 21st.

Here's my opinion:
Ian is the powerful leader of a group dedicated to difficult missions that the government and authorities are not always willing to undertake. He and his group are looking for a human trafficking network that doesn't look for ways to achieve its ends, and uses what it has at its disposal, from genetic modification to brainwashing.... You can understand, right? 🤯
Ian's biggest and most important mission will be to protect Wavy when a threat from his past reappears.

I don't want to spoilers but I definitely enjoyed this book and look forward to reading Sarge and Bronwyn's story.
I loved the fact that I read about the characters from the other series again.
I loved Landon and I want to know his story too.

A book full of action, friendship, passion, self-discovery and love.
I recommend it, especially if you enjoyed reading Ghost from the previous series.

"I’m afraid I’ll lose myself again.

If you lose yourself, I will find you. No matter what it takes. No matter what it costs. The same way you did for me. At some point you’re going to have to believe that, or we can’t go any further. (...) may have stolen parts of your past, but you’re the one handing over your future."

Follow me 👉🏻 https://www.instagram.com/abc_da_miuda_/
Profile Image for Julie Booklover.
1,048 reviews22 followers
September 21, 2021
4.5 stars

New Series, a new team, and I read it too fast. This new team has a little more edge, and this case is darker than Linear Tactical might handle, but a good series start nonetheless.

While Wavy and Ian had cameos in the previous series, this is their book. I loved the push/pull and denial of feelings before they figured things out. Be warned, this book is a thriller first, with a side of romance.

I am looking forward to the next mission.

Thank you to the author for the advanced copy; this is my voluntary review.
Profile Image for Julie Miller.
Author 319 books321 followers
March 24, 2022
I wanted to love it. But I struggled with the first person narrative. I'm not sure why--I felt it changed the pacing a bit from Ms. Crouch's Linear Tactical books (which I loved!). Oddly, I felt a little distanced from the characters.
Plenty of action, steam & mystery. Villains you want to see get their comeuppance (and they do). And I'm intrigued by getting to know the other characters in the Zodiac Tactical universe.
I liked it. I'd recommend it. But perhaps not my favorite.
Profile Image for April Symes.
4,999 reviews405 followers
September 20, 2021
Code Name: Aries is book 1 in the new series " Zodiac Tactical Rescue Unit" by Janie Crouch. This is Wavy Bollinger and Ian DeRose aka 'Aries' story. In order to understand this book, I recommend you read the Linear Tactical series. This is a spin-off of those books. I have been dying to read Wavy and Aries's story!!! Wavy is Finn & Baby's sister. We got to meet Ian when he came to help LT crew in " Blaze". In this story, we finally get to see who he really is- Aries/Ian is the leader/head honcho of Zodiac Tactical- private company that provides security, hostage rescue, and other things that the government(s)/LE refuse to/, are unable or just unwilling to get themselves officially or unofficially involved in. Aries has gotten involved professionally and personally with Mosaic. It's his mission to expose and completely, totally rid the world of Mosaic. In what he can. During this chaotic time, Wavy ends up getting drawn into this mess. She is this amazing person who has a beautiful talent. Mosaic seeks out Wavy, to hurt to hurt Aries. From there it's twists and turns, angst, secrets, twists, turns, secrets, high intensity, heat, feels, attraction, secrets, attraction, romantic suspense, intrigue, action , romance, and ends on an emotional HEA. Great new series by Janie Crouch with good, exciting characters! Looking forward to book 2 in this new series.

My Rating: 4.5 stars *********
183 reviews2 followers
September 21, 2021
Wow ! What can I say !
I think this maybe the best book yet from Janie Crouch.
I was very apprehensive about this book, as it is written in the first person and normally I cannot read these. If you are like me and don't read first person books, give this a try. I found it very easy to read.
I loved the Linear Tactical books that this new series is a spin off from, but this book, 'Aries', is a bit blacker and grittier and a real page turner. When you start it, make sure you have plenty of time to read, as you won't want to put it down.
Characterisation is brilliant as usual. You will fall in love with Wavy and Ian, and cry for them in their most helpless and painful moments.
We get glimpses of Landon and Sarge, Ian's right hand team members, who will no doubt feature in future books. We also have a brief glimpse of some old favourites from the Linear Tactical books.
This is most definitely a romance but it is also a thriller with plenty of action.
Janie will definitely be winning more awards with this one.
342 reviews22 followers
October 16, 2022
This was my first Janie Crouch book and it was a real mixed bag for me. The writing was okay but didn’t reach me on any kind of emotional level…just like the main characters’ romance.

All in all, it just doesn’t really hang together. The premise had the potential to be great, but the execution just wasn’t there.
Profile Image for Sarah.
524 reviews19 followers
January 26, 2023
I was really excited about this book. I loved the Linear Tactical series, and Wavy (heroine of this book) showed up a lot in that series, so I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, it didn't hit the mark for me.

Now, after reading the 14 book Linear Tactical series and the Instinct series before that, I fully expected the heroine to be kidnapped or be attempted to be kidnapped at some point. But SPOILER ALERT, I did not expect her to be kidnapped not once but twice. Not only is she kidnapped, she's tortured and brainwashed. She then gets trapped in her own mind twice, in two different ways. And then, to top it off, the hero gets kidnapped, too. She has to save him, which was a great twist, but then in the epilogue, it's a year later, and she's been emotionally and physically running from him! I was like UM, WHAT? I wasn't into that ending. I mean, she's now decided that she's done running, but why even put that in there in the first place? How about after all that torture, they just get to be happy?

It's well written, as usual. Two sex scenes, one pre-torture, and the other post-torture. Both are medium in length and moderately detailed. There's a little bit of language, but not a ton.

I'm hesitant to read the next book. It's about another heroine who was kidnapped, tortured, and brainwashed. I don't mind the kidnapping and even a little torture. It's the brainwashing that I dislike. I'll read it eventually, but I'm definitely gonna read a few lighter books between now and then.
Profile Image for Sally.
284 reviews4 followers
September 26, 2021
As always this author has delivered with another great start to a new series!

Ian DeRose is in charge of Zodiac Tactical, and in book 1 we are introduced to some of his team, we also have a few crossover characters from the author’s previous Linear Tactical Series, with Wavy Bollinger being the main crossover, sister of Finn & Baby.
I loved Wavy’s character, she is the light to Ian’s darkness.

This is a fantastic romantic suspense story full of intrigue, suspense, and a romance that gives you all the feels.

Great start to the series!
Profile Image for Vicky.
1,998 reviews22 followers
May 17, 2023
A decent start to the series. Very happy to finally have Wavy's tale... seems like we have been waiting forevvvveeeerrrrr!!

Liked Ian well enough... liked that he had some flaws. Really liked that Wavy held her own ( apart from the silly silly thing that she did!! ).

19/08/22 Bumped up by a star on this read. Felt very much more immersed into it. I would've liked more... it all felt all too neat... but, ya know... mebbe that is what we're supposed to think! 😉😉
Profile Image for Susan.
4,336 reviews93 followers
September 12, 2021
Wow. Just wow. Outstanding start to the new series. As an avid fan of Janie Crouch's books, I couldn't wait to read this book. Wavy is a familiar character from the Linear Tactical series, where she is Finn (Eagle) and Baby's (Baby) sister. Ian popped up in Blaze to help the LT crew.

Ian is the owner and leader of Zodiac Tactical, a private company that provides security, hostage rescue, and other things that the government/law enforcement can't or won't get involved with. At the core of his mission, personal and professional, is the need to wipe out the group Mosaic once and for all. Ian is an intense man, brooding, guarded, and super-protective of those he cares about.

Wavy is an artist. She sees the world through a kaleidoscope of colors and brings that light to everyone she knows. She is cheerful and friendly and occasionally a bit mischievous (Electric Smurfs).

Code Name: Aries grabbed me from the first pages and didn't let go until the end. Between the suspense of not knowing what would happen from one moment to the next and the romance between two incredible people, I was glued to the pages from start to finish. I loved the first meeting between Wavy and Ian. Who else but Wavy would take on a suspected Mosaic operative with a tray of pie? Ian's reaction was pretty mild considering the circumstances, and I laughed out loud when Baby and Zac showed up. Even better, I loved the effect Wavy had on Ian, "Especially when I didn't understand it myself. It was something about her smile." Right there, you know Ian is toast. Wavy isn't much better. After dreaming about painting him and remembering the feelings he stirred the day before, Wavy decided to "accidentally" encounter him in the city the next day. She never expected to get caught up in his latest op and end up rescuing him.

I loved watching the relationship between Ian and Wavy develop. Ian tries to resist, but it's impossible. Something about Wavy, her smile, and the way she sees the world brings out a softer side of him. At the same time, Wavy sees Ian the man, not the wealthy, dangerous operative. She senses his torment and does what she can to relieve it. The chemistry between them is off the charts, but so is the sweetness of some of their time together.

A revenge-seeking man from Ian's past sets his sights on using Wavy to get to Ian. The terror Ian felt when Wavy disappeared broke my heart as he threw everything he had at finding her. Seeing what Wavy endured brought to mind Ray's story in Ghost and emphasized Wavy's determination to survive. The twists and turns of the search kept the intensity high as every minute counted to get to her before it was too late. I cried at her condition when Ian found her and felt his heart ache for her. The author's description of Wavy's "bubble" existence vividly showed the depth of her trauma. Ian's experience made him the perfect person to help Wavy recover, and I loved seeing her respond to him.

I loved how Wavy eventually calls Ian on his excessive protectiveness. She fights hard for her recovery and pushes herself, desperate to provide the information Ian needs. A stunning twist puts Wavy back in danger. I loved watching Ian unravel the clues that Wavy unknowingly left behind and know exactly what they meant. I ached for Ian, who had to face the nightmares of his past to rescue her. The intensity of his confrontation with his nemesis kept me glued to the pages straight through to its fantastic resolution.

I ached for Ian and Wavy because they still had some obstacles to overcome. Ian won my heart with the depth of his love for Wavy and his understanding of all she endured. My heart broke for Wavy as she struggled to regain the ability to trust herself and pushed Ian away while she did it. Their reunion at the end was fantastic. I laughed when Wavy threw everyone into chaos by ditching her security so she could finally face Ian. I loved how Ian showed, once again, that he understands her: "They're all pieces of you" and "these allowed me to feel like you were with me, even when you weren't." I loved seeing Wavy finally see that their love and trust will see them through anything as long as they are together.
Profile Image for Ara.
111 reviews2 followers
September 22, 2021

Waverly Bollinger is a small-town girl, an aspiring artist making a living as a waitress. Surrounded by family and friends, most of them all with military background, she feels the safest in her hometown. But lately, her hometown is also the place she feels somewhat suffocated.
Ian DeRose is not a stranger to danger. To him, danger is just part of his daily life. But the minute he meets Wavy, her having mistaken him for the bad guy and having almost knocked him unconscious with a pie tray, life for the both of them changes abruptly.
But even though the feelings between them are ones not to be ignored, the dangerous life he leads is one he doesn’t want Waverly to be involved in. And this, unfortunately for everyone in their lives, is proven right the minute he gives into his needs, his desire for her to be in his life. Because just as things between them seem to be going so well, his past comes back to snatch everything he cares about. And this time, his enemies know exactly what, or in this case who, his weaknesses are.

This was my first ever book my Janie Crouch, although it certainly will not be my last. Fortunately, this genre, and/or the tropes or basic plotline, of this book are definitely something I’m familiar with.
The writing was amazing and it flowed well. That was one of the first notes I made while reading this book, seriously. No complaints whatsoever about Janie Crouch’s writing.
The storyline/plot was fantastic as well. It’s basically a millionaire x struggling artist trope, but minus the alphahole characteristic the H usually has.
I really liked the characters as well. And not just the main ones, but the secondary ones, too. Landon especially has a special spot in my heart. But honestly, I can’t decide which one of the two right-hand men I’d rather read about first; jokester Landon or grumpy Sarge.

As it is with military-ish romance, the attraction is instant. And it's something I only like in these kinds of books. Wavy is the sweetest character, literal sunshine incarnate, so I'm not surprised that Ian instantly gravitated to her. Ian, too, someone whose life revolves around work, couldn't resist the literal rainbow that she is, and he was immediately smitten. Smitten, something he tried to fight against, because he doesn't want her to be anywhere near the danger he's constantly in. Ian is a serious person, work-oriented, and a literal hard-ass, but he's absolutely weak for Wavy. Something that I LOVED.

This is unlike any military-romance or suspense I've ever read. Yes, there is lots of action and suspense, but that's not all. A very traumatic event came to somewhat of an end at 60%, after that, a very big and very important part of the storyline is about healing, about the recovery. Wavy had to endure a lot of torture, she suffered immensely, and most likely wound up with a form of PTSD. In her own words, it was like she was living in a bubble. Going through the motions of everyday life, but not living. Everything seemed blurry and sounded hazy to her. But slowly and surely, with the help of Ian, who had also gone through something similar, she works through it.

This is definitely a book that I enjoyed, and would recommend.
4 stars

I received an advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are truthful and mine.

RTC this man tracked down EVERY SINGLE PERSON who bought her paintings, just to buy them from them, because he wants to be surrounded by her feelings she puts on canvas, because he wants to be the only one surrounded by them.

Hey God, it's me again. When will it be my turn?
Profile Image for Alexandria  Redmourn.
132 reviews9 followers
September 17, 2021
4.25 ⭐
2 🌶

a good solid read, which i thoroughly enjoyed. this is a unique story, one that i haven't read or seen the concept for before and definitely something i would re-read. i can't wait to read the rest of this series, and i'm definitely signing up for sarge's story next.

wavy, bit of a weird name, i won't lie but i'm in love with her. her endless rambles, passion of painting, bright smiles and pure spirit, she's such an endearing character. after her abduction, it's clear to see that her light has dimmed, but it doesn't change anything about her, only shows how much strength she has.

ian, urgh, i love myself a good alpha male. at the beginning, he was this grumpy expressionless man, but his walls slowly came crumbling down until his smiles weren't such a rarity anymore. i squealed more than once over his actions. he is the type of man you swoon over. he was literally going to die just for wavy. ooh and when he kissed landon on the forehead, i swear my soul left my body. i loved his character so much and after what he'd been through, all i wanted to do was give him a hug.

okay, but the amount of alpha males in this book, jeez. one of my favourite things, haha.

i loved wavy and ian's relationship. i melted every single time he called her his rainbow. i loved how he tried to stay away from her, but couldn't, loved how he would turn into a love-sick fool around her, how he would tease her. AND THE ENDING WHEN HE REVEALED HE BOUGHT ALL OF HER PAINTINGS, OHMIGOSH, THIS MAN.

i most definitely recommend this one. beside the lovable leads, the side characters are *chefs kiss* i'm in love with landon and the twins, and i'm definitely reading baby and finn's books.
my only issue would be the end. those two chapters were rushed and the one year time-gal sucked and the whole thing felt a little stilted. maybe if we got an epilogue, things would've been better, but overall, great read and i highly recommend.
Profile Image for Sarah.
313 reviews
May 9, 2023
Won this audio book from StoryGraph, very exciting.

Enjoyed this story. Bit different from some of the other romance books I’ve read, it had more action but I really didn’t mind that.

Ian and Wavy were a cute couple and I liked how they interacted with each other. Liked how we saw their relationship develop and change over a longish period of time. They way they dealt with trauma and healed each other was really refreshing.

I liked the plot of the book, bit different from some other suspense books I’ve read, where the main male character works more alone and out side the law. This book there is a whole set up, history and multiple people. The only thing I would say, is that I did sometimes feel like I was a bit lost when it came to backstory. I felt like I needed to read the other books that feature some of the these characters (or rather I’m guessing that the other series does) in order to really understand what was going on. This was not a major problem though, more like it would have been useful but I wasn’t too lost and I could mostly fill in the gaps if I wasn’t sure.

Another slight niggle was that there were two voice actors in the audio book, liked them both, but I wish that they could always do the speaking for their character even when it wasn’t their pov chapter. Both the actors changed their voice to do the dialogue for the other one but it (of course) was different. So that slightly pulled me out of the story as they didn’t always show the ‘same’ character, as in their intonations were different (not just the actual voice being different). But again, this was only a slight problem.

All in all, a cute story that had some nice grit to it. Definitely, will pick up books from this author in the future.
Profile Image for Cathy Geha.
3,656 reviews67 followers
September 21, 2021
Code Name: Aries by Janie Crouch
Zodiac Tactical #1

Another thrilling romantic suspense story from a wonderful story teller ~ enjoyed reading how Ian and Wavy ended up together. I have a feeling that some parts of the stories written by this author overlap but only to allow the reader to place them within the various series she has written previously.

What I liked:
* Ian De Rose(Aries): strong, quiet, intelligent, scarred, claustrophobic, leader, focused on taking down evil people and especially the new Mosaic group. He falls hard for Wavy.
* Wavy Bollinger: artist, waitress, creative, open, caring, charming, protective, enduring, strong, giving, willing to do what it takes. She falls hard for Ian but has a few things to work through, too.
* The Zodiac team – eager to read Sarge’s story next
* Getting to see some of the Linear Tactical team from a previous series
* That the bad guys, Mosaic, were so easy to hate and wish gone from the earth
* The relationship between Ian and Wavy and getting to watch it develop
* Ian’s patience and understanding
* The way various groups worked together: Zodiac, Omega, Linear Tactical
* Wavy’s used of color and how is played a part in the story as it reflected how she was feeling
* That Ian and Wavy communicated openly and as one adult to another.
* That there was an eventual HEA for Ian and Wavy
* Knowing that there are more books in the series to look forward to

What I didn’t like:
* Exactly who and what I was meant not to like
* Having to wait for the next book to be available.

Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Would I read more in this series? Yes

Thank you to the author for the ARC – This is my honest review.

4-5 Stars
Profile Image for Ellen YS.
329 reviews3 followers
September 22, 2021
A book for a true escape from the ordinary

This is the first book in the new series, Zodiac Tactical. This is a spin-off from the Linear Tactical series, also by Janie Crouch.

Ian and Wavy meet when Ian is in town to get evidence on Mosaic (the bad guys) from Linear Tactical. While Ian wants to stay aloof, given his focused mission to destroy Mosaic, Wavy worms her way inside his heart. That Ian carries a heavy burden due to his history with Mosaic is clear. Wavy brings colour to his life, and I love how her art is used as a representation of her emotions throughout the book.

As this is romantic suspense, you can easily guess what happens next. Wavy is taken. This part of the book and her subsequent recovery is quite gritty. The suspense and action elements are well done and you have a great, if rather farfetched, twist almost at the end.

The end of the suspense, however, does not mean that we have an automatic HEA. Our characters still have to work towards this. Both characters have to overcome tremendous trauma, and it is clear that they are good for each other. I loved that Ian connected so strongly with Wavy's art. You have brilliant characterisation in this book.

So why only a hesitant 4 stars if both the suspense and romantic elements separately were excellent? The book let me down as it felt long and drawn out while reading. I even checked and the print length is only 333 pages. Maybe the story just hit too many elements, which on their own made for great reading but put together was just a tad overwhelming. Still a solid romantic suspense recommendation with a medium heat level.
Profile Image for Kathryn Linke .
2,117 reviews22 followers
September 21, 2021
I’ve been a fan of Janie Crouch, since discovering the Linear Tactical series, and as Ian and Wavy, were side character in the series, I was eager to start to Zodiac Tactical series and it didn’t disappoint.
Code Name: Aries is a fast paced, heartfelt, and suspenseful read full of intrigue, action, and drama. Wavy is the light to Ian’s darkness in this opposites attract romance.
Ian is the own of Zodiac tactical, who have a mission to eradicate Mosaic. Ian is a brooding, gruff and stoic hero, who is powerful, intense, and incredibly protective of those he cares for most.
Wavy is the sister to Finn and Baby Bollinger and is in no way naïve to the evils of the word, but it doesn’t affect her cheery and friendly disposition. She’s a fun, sweet and loving young woman and talented artist.
This title has a similar feel to the Linear Tactical series, with characters that share a strong bond of brotherhood, with amazing loyalty and camaraderie between them. This instalment was an engaging and captivating read and I look forward to future addition to the series, and getting to know more about the side characters introduced in this title.
Profile Image for Michelle.
313 reviews4 followers
March 13, 2022
Where to begin with this absolute disappointment of a book? I generally like Janie Crouch. Even if I’m not feeling the romance at least there is usually an interesting plot to focus on - the big bad that needs to be defeated. In this case the romance was ‘meh’, and the 'plot' was either mind-numbingly boring, or so full of coincidences and lazy writing that it was super frustrating.

Basic summary:
Our hero is Ian DeRose, aka Aries. He runs Zodiac Tactical, allegedly a “best of the best” security company (although you wouldn’t know it from the events in this book). He’s trying to bring down an organisation called Mosaic, which he actually did once before but unfortunately it didn’t take because of reasons. Ian has personal reasons for destroying Mosaic beyond them just being really, really evil. We’ll get to that. Maybe. Anyway, Mosaic are involved in human trafficking and stuff so that should make for an interesting antagonist/subplot. Right? Right??

Ian ends up in Oak Creek following some Mosaic related lead regarding an encrypted recovered hard drive. It’s not really clear why he has to go to Oak Creek - he’s not a technical genius by any means so he really doesn’t add any value by being there. But luckily it allows him to meet our FMC - Waverly (Wavy) Bollinger. She enchants him by mistaking him for a terrorist, spilling pie all over him, then whacking him over the head with her tray. The stuff of romantic dreams.

Actually, I shouldn’t mock. That was one of the few scenes in the book I actually liked. Ah how naïve I was back then.

Of course the scene is almost immediately ruined by Wavy’s ridiculous reflections just after she clocked him:
“My fingers itched to run through his dark hair behind his ear. A touch to sooth. To connect.”

A description to make you vomit.

You may be wondering how a highly trained security professional gets overpowered by a waitress with a tray. Well never fear because that is covered in the next chapter:
“I didn’t know why, but on some instinctive level, my body hadn’t wanted to do what it had been trained to do. And in the split second I’d realized it was her, I’d stopped myself.”

Again - they don’t know each other at all at this point.

Ian goes to check out a suspicious warehouse in a nearby city. How do they know it’s suspicious? Magic probably. They don’t say. Of course the operation goes south, Wavy magically appears to save him from Mosaic guards chasing him and although they have a car, they end up running through the woods to get free. Why walk home? Purely to show how cool Wavy is under pressure and how tough she is to be able to walk with blisters without complaining.

We’ve just finished the 6th chapter and basically nothing has happened.

2 more chapters to basically reveal that a guy they thought was dead is part of Mosaic. And a very brief and very stupid Ian/Wavy interaction which pisses Wavy off but only in her head because if she ever expressed how she was actually feeling then her head would explode. This whole book is Wavy completely ignoring her own feelings to make sure Ian is ok. Not a healthy role model.

To sum up why I disliked this book so much:

1. NOTHING HAPPENS! Considering the subject matter this should be an edge of your seat kind of story. Nope. Any action happens “off page” and characters just talk about it later. It is soooooo boring! I would say that this book makes a promising first draft rather than a published novel.

2. I didn’t buy into the romance. No idea what they saw in each other. Other characters talked about how great the FMC was but you didn’t really see it. It irritated me beyond belief that she would reflect on being hurt or disappointed by the MMC, but would push it aside because his feelings were more important. The MMC just reflects on how he doesn’t want to get into a relationship but then forgets all about it as soon as he’s in the FMC’s orbit.

3. Zodiac Tactical just seem like the most incompetent organisation ever. They mess up a couple of operations, the MMC actually ignores logic at some points to do what the FMC would like instead (i.e. he thinks with his dick), they only ever react to things happening - not proactive at all, one of the agents goes missing and the MMC has to be talked into letting another agent go and look for her.
And the blood thing. Oh. My. God. If you read the book you'll know what I'm talking about, but that was the point where I was literally screaming "Are you fucking stupid?!?!" at the MMC.

4. There are multiple coincidences and logic leaps. Look I don't necessarily expect realism, especially in these kinds of stories, but it should still make sense in the world of the book. It really just comes across as lazy writing when clues magically appear or things happen defying all logic.

5. Lots and lots of self-reflection and internal monologuing by the characters. Exceptionally repetitive and dull. And a bunch of stuff that serves no purpose to the story but only take up time that could have been spent progressing the plot. For example…

6. The polka dot dress. This one is a little petty but at one point in the story the FMC is wearing a polka dot dress. What’s wrong with that you might ask. Nothing per se, but the fact that it’s mentioned 4 times for absolutely no reason really irritated me.
“The first thing I saw was a photo of Wavy wearing a red polka dot dress and smiling”.

“Wavy was all excited. Had her red polka dot dress on.”

“My red polka dot dress had never let me down.”

“And my polka dot dress was gone.”

With so many mentioned it must have been an important plot point right? Nope. I honestly think the author lost a bet or something.

All in all, a very disappointing beginning to a new series. One day I may give the second book a chance to see if things improve, but that looks to be an age gap romance (not a fan) so it will have to wait until I run out of other books to read.
Profile Image for Sophie Ruthven.
1,715 reviews103 followers
September 11, 2021
I've said this since I first fell in love with this author, but she is a GENIUS with what she creates. I could never get enough.
I knew barely a few chapters in that this book would be going on my top reads of '21 list, it is well deserved and I wouldn't be surprised if this wins the author more awards.
For long time readers this book was a long time coming with hints of the events within having been sprinkled through some of the books in the LT series, but if you think you know what actually transpires, trust me, you don't.
This book is a special book, as it wraps up one series while starting another and the author has definitely given the justice that both series deserve.
Whether you're a new or old reader, you'll find yourself absolutely captivated from cover to cover. This couple has set the bar high for the rest of his team. They are perfect for each other and their strength both together and apart is inspiring.
I'm shutting up now as if I keep on gushing I'll start giving things away, but do yourselves a favour and one click immediately.
Looking forward to the next book in the series after all the tidbits in this one.
September 19, 2021
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Trope: Protector
Angst: 😰😰
Smexy: 🔥🔥
Triggers: none

A great start to a new series! Code Name: Aries is the first book in the Zodiac Tactical series by Jamie Crouch. The series is connected to her Linear Tactical Series and is the first in a series of standalones.

What a ride! A great storyline, tons of twists and turns, and lots of suspense - what more could you be looking for? The characters are wonderful. Ian is the consummate protector, a man that will stop at nothing to rid the world of Mosaic and protect his girl. Wavey is artist/waitress that catches his attention while on an operation. It’s definitely a case of opposites attract. She’s super easy going and he’s constantly on edge, wound super tight. Her light helps ease the tension within him. They have tons of chemistry that adds to this wonderfully suspenseful tale. A great read and I can’t wait to see where Janie goes next with the series!
Profile Image for Gladys.
10.8k reviews118 followers
September 11, 2021
I thought this book was wicked good and a superb way to kickoff this new series. Ian and Wavy's tale is a pure shot of adrenaline with a chaser of feels and swoon! I loved These two together. The sparks and raw chemistry were off the charts. Trust me when I tell you that you are going to fall fast and hard for this couple and boy, oh boy is your heart going to ache for them. As the skillfully crafted story takes your emotions for a ride it also keeps you on the edge of your seat. Tension and suspense flow thickly throughout the book and you can expect plenty of action and thrills along the way. This book offered up the perfect blend of irresistible romance and electrifying excitement. It was amazing and I absolutely loved it. I can not wait to read future entries in this series. I am freely posting a frank review.
Profile Image for Heather.
174 reviews
September 29, 2021
Zodiac Tactical Rescue Unit

Once again Janie Crouch gave a story that involved me from the first page. Not only that, but at the last page I was thinking about what other stories are going to be involved in this new series. Having read Linear Tactical series and Omega Sector series I have come to know that it is like Janie Crouch is taking her readers on a road trip. Along the way will meet many diverse and interesting characters. Visit all kinds of places. Feel the tension as the team endeavours to sort through problems. All using their special talents and abilities that makes the answers come together. Janie Crouch makes her characters work hard for their ‘happy ever after’. Which, of course, makes it all the more worthwhile. Excellent first book in this new series. Looking forward to reading the rest of them.
Profile Image for Macey Page.
6 reviews4 followers
October 13, 2022
I was SO excited to read this after I saw how many great reviews it had because it sounded right up my alley. But I’m just confused by the glowing reviews now. I’ve read many many books of this niche genre and this was by far one of the most scattered and unrealistic books I’ve read. We’re talking catastrophic injuries and mental trauma described and all of a sudden they’re fine 1 page later and it’s never addressed again. What? No. I also had trouble just following where the plot was supposed to be going. Then a super abrupt ending that, in my opinion, didn’t hold any substantial resolution. I really looked forward to reading every book in this series at first but I just can’t after this.
Profile Image for KDRBCK.
5,645 reviews17 followers
September 3, 2021
Code Name: Aries by J. Crouch is the first book in the Zodiac Tactical Series. ZT are a team of protectors and Ian DRose is the boss and owner. He's already through a lot and has the scars to prove it.
Wavy Bollinger - no joke - is a good woman, an artist and about to learn what happens when she falls in love with the wrong man.
Code Name Aries is a gripping thriller, fast paced, action packed with a storyline that grips you with both hands and doesn't let go.
This series is a follow up of the Linear Tactical Series and there are quite a lot of cross-overs. I recommend to read the LTS first.
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