Title: War Games
Author: Jess Anastasi
Series: Valiant Knox #4
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
When one of her pilots is shot down behind enemy lines, Lieutenant Theresa Brenner will stop at nothing to save her before she’s captured and tortured, even if it means being part of the dirtside team led by Colonel Cameron McAllister. Bren might respect the way the colonel commands his men, but she’ll never trust Cam—no matter how charming he is—because he was responsible for her brother’s death.
Colonel Cameron McAllister has a covert mission behind enemy lines to team with the Ilari rebels and overthrow the bloodthirsty dictator who’s torn their planet apart. The last thing he needs is to get sidetracked searching for a downed pilot, especially since it means having Lieutenant Theresa Brenner tag along. Not only doesn’t the frosty pilot have the ground game to keep up with his seasoned group, she’s a potential distraction with all those gorgeous blond curls of hers—and she might be just like her brother, whose foolhardiness got his men killed.
Source: ARC from Entangled: Amara via NetGalley
This fourth and final installment from the Valiant Knox series closes everything off in fine style, with an action-packed antagonistic romance. I love a good enemies to lovers tale, so this was great. Especially when there’s a good reason for them to dislike each other. Bren is a fiercely competent woman and Cam is excellent at what he does, but when it comes to each other they have a massive blind spot, thanks to the death of Bren’s brother ten years before.
I really liked Bren. She’s been a side character for a while, quietly getting on with the job while her friends fall carelessly in love around her. Despite being a woman who lives for her work, she’s deeply loyal and will do anything to protect her pilots. Cam is a strong, almost stoic sort who goes out and gets the job done. He’s fast and efficient and Bren really gets to him. I know it was just her that made him act the way he does at the beginning, but my word, he came across as a real misogynist jerk at times. Thankfully that does fade away, but I never liked him as much as Bren, mostly because of certain reactions that happen later on.
Then again, considering the short time frame this takes place over, Bren’s own change of heart happens really quickly and risked seeming a little shallow. But this is not a book that delves too deeply into things or adds in detail where it’s not strictly necessary. Which is kind of usual with Anastasi’s writing. For example, we don’t waste much time or thought on peripheral characters – so the downed pilot is more of a plot point than a real person, and Cam’s team are lucky if they get names (and there are only three of them!).
Which I suppose fits in with the fast, furious pace of these books. There is action, there is romance and the characters will end up in danger. But it never delves particularly deep. It’s meant to be fun and escapist, and even in the darkest moments I never felt too emotionally invested in anything that was happening. This isn’t a bad thing particularly, as long as you’re looking for an easy, enjoyable sci-fi read that will entertain. If you want gritty, dark and bleak, you won’t find it here, but for fun sci-fi with romance and action, then this author is usually a good bet.
War Games is Out Now.
Visit Jess Anastasi for more details.