Bishop’s Endgame (Endgame Trilogy #3) by Katie Reus

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He kidnapped a princess to exact revenge.

Set up for a crime he didn’t commit, Ellis Bishop takes the law into his own hands to exact justice and clear his name. Unfortunately, that means he has to kidnap a crime boss’s daughter—a perfect mafia princess, set to become queen of a dirty empire. What he didn’t count on was falling for his mortal enemy’s daughter.

He wasn’t supposed to fall for her.

Arianna hates the man who kidnapped her, but soon she realizes that things aren’t what they seem. Ellis was framed by her stepfather and is trying to clear his name. If she helps him, it means betraying her family. But how can she turn her back on him when he’s innocent… when her stepfather turns out to be a monster she never really knew at all?

Rating: B-

After the rather disappointing Bishop’s Queen, the middle instalment of Katie Reus’ Endgame Trilogy, I confess I was on the fence as to whether I was going to finish the series.  But in the end, I decided to read Bishop’s Endgame because I was still interested in finding out what happened to the third Bishop sibling Ellis, a former DEA agent who went on the run after he was accused of murdering his partner.  The plot is suspenseful and the two leads are engaging and easy to root for, although the romance does move really quickly – which seems par for the course with a lot of romantic suspense these days – but at least the chemistry between them is evident, even if the ILYs feel rushed.

Bishop’s Endgame opens with Ellis witnessing the murder of his friend and colleague at the hands of Vitaly Rodin, a mid-level crime boss in Miami who has set his sights on making his way up to the higher echelons by taking out his boss and taking over his operation.  When Ellis meets with his DEA boss, he shows him the video he took of the murder  – only for his boss to take the phone and try to have him arrested.  Ellis bolts and manages to get away and into hiding; intent on clearing his name, he falls off the grid while he works out what his next step should be…  and who, if anyone, he can trust.

Arianna Stavish, a third-grade teacher, is Vitaly’s stepdaughter, although she has had very little to do with him since the deaths of her mother and stepbrother Max, who died of a drug overdose some years earlier.  Traumatic events in her past drove her to drink, but now, aged twenty-five, she’s been sober for three years and is committed to staying that way.  She’s in her car, about to drive home from an AA meeting one evening when a gun is pressed to her neck and a deep voice orders her to drive – but she’d rather be shot than endure another assault and tries to run.  Her attacker subdues her with chloroform and the next thing she knows she’s waking up in her own bedroom.

Ellis’ investigations into Vitaly have led him to the conclusion that Arianna may be the key to getting the information he wants in order to bring the man down.  He’s discovered a number of offshore bank accounts in Arianna’s name with millions of dollars in them and wants to use her – and the money – to get Vitaly’s attention.  He’s also discovered Vitaly’s plans to release several new – lethal – designer drugs across Miami, and is determined not to let that happen.

Not surprisingly, Arianna is furious and scared at the situation she’s in; add bewildered to that when the guy who’s kidnapped her starts talking about the Cayman Islands and her accounts worth millions.  But while he might be crazy, she finds herself starting to believe his assertions that he doesn’t want to hurt her –although she draws the line at getting on a plane to the Caymans to withdraw money and close accounts she doesn’t have.  Yet when the man shows her that the accounts do exist and that they are in her name, it’s hard to refute the evidence of her own eyes.

We know who the bad guys are from the start, so the story is really about Ellis’ quest to find enough evidence to bring them to justice. He had believed Arianna was involved in Vitaly’s criminal activities, or at the very least, knew about them and had agreed to his using her name on the bank accounts, but he’s forced to revise his opinions and discard his preconceptions when he does a little more digging and realises something about the set-up is off.  He and Arianna don’t get off to the best of starts, obviously, but I liked her determination not to be cowed by him or the situation in spite of her fears. Fortunately, it’s not long before she starts to realise that Ellis isn’t the violent criminal she’d assumed him to be and that there really is something to the story he’s told her about her step-father – and she agrees to help Ellis to get to the truth.

The plot moves at a fast pace as Ellis and Arianna – with the help of Evie, Evan and master hacker Lizzie, who originally appeared in the Red Stone Security series – work together to clear Ellis’ name.  At the same time Ellis and Arianna are fighting the steadily growing attraction between them, knowing they’re facing an uncertain future.  There’s a bit of insta-love going on, but the author allows the plot to take priority while keeping the attraction building and bubbling, so that by the time they do give in to it, the physical intimacy feels right and not as though it has been shoe-horned in for the sake of it.

Bishop’s Endgame is probably my favourite book of the trilogy, and it’s possible to read it without reference to the other two books, as the storyline is completely separate and self-contained.  It’s a quick, fast-paced read with a high-stakes plot and engaging characters and I enjoyed it, in spite of my reservations.

Bishop’s Queen (Endgame Trilogy #2) by Katie Reus

This title may be purchased from Amazon

He doesn’t believe in fairy-tale endings…

They used to call Evan Bishop the golden boy. He had it all and was about to close the business deal of a lifetime, then marry the woman of his dreams. But everything goes to hell when a faceless enemy wants to destroy his family’s empire and see him dead. Except the bomb meant to kill him fails. He wakes up from a coma to find his face scarred and his brother missing and wanted for murder. Now that he’s damaged, he hides away from the world—including the woman he loves. He refuses to be a burden to her, so even though it destroys him, he sets her free.

She’s about to prove him wrong…

Isla MacDonald isn’t walking away from Evan just because he’s decided to shut her out of his life. He blames himself for the bombing that got her father killed and nearly killed him—but he’s wrong. After all attempts to see him fail, with a broken heart she tries to resume her life and take over her father’s firm. Though it’s not her dream, she wants to honor his legacy. But when someone tries to kill her—twice—she needs a bodyguard. To her surprise Evan steps up and insists on protecting her, putting on a show as the caring fiancé. But he won’t let her back into his life or into his heart. To have any chance at a future together, they’ll have to resurrect the past and stay alive long enough to expose the man determined to see them both dead.

Rating: C

Bishop’s Queen is the second book in Katie Reus’ Endgame Trilogy of romantic suspense novels featuring the Bishop siblings, Evie, Evan and Ellis.  Book one, Bishop’s Knight, was a fast-paced, well put-together and sexy story that I called a “quick, satisfying read” in my review; Bishop’s Queen, however, suffers – badly – from what I call ‘middle-book-itis’, and merely treads water between the beginning and end, Bishop’s Endgame).

Please note that there are spoilers for Bishop’s Knight in this review.

The first book in the trilogy set up the series premise.  The wealthy, well-connected Bishop family has been hit with a double whammy of bad news.  Ellis –a DEA agent – has been accused of murdering his partner and has gone on the run and off the grid, and a recent explosion at Bishop Enterprises has left Evan critically injured and killed a number of employees – including his fiancée’s father.  Isla MacDonald is grieving her father and is also distraught because Evan refuses to see her and then breaks their engagement, allowing her to believe it’s because he’s badly scarred and thinks she’ll be repulsed by him.

When Bishop’s Queen opens a few months later, Isla is still hurting over Evan’s rejection, but is getting on with her life.  Her father’s death means she is now running his business, and she’s doing it well – but it’s not really what she wants to do with her life.  She’d never intended to work for her father for ever, although now he’s gone, she feels she needs to at the very least, complete the deals he was working on before his death before she hands over the reins to the very capable team she has working for her, and steps back from the day-to-day running of the company.

Evan, meanwhile, has turned into something of a recluse, believing himself to have been responsible for the death of Isla’s father – who was also a good friend – and trying hard to forget Isla and move on. He didn’t push her away out of vanity; it was misplaced guilt that prompted him to act as he did, and although he still loves Isla deeply, he’s trying to convince himself he did the right thing… even as he knows he made a colossal mistake.

 

When Isla is mugged, Evan’s protective instincts kick in, even though he has no right to feel that way any more.  But when there’s an obvious attempt on her life, he can’t stay away- Isla needs to be protected while the police and her security team work to find out who wants her dead, and Evan is the only person he trusts to keep her safe.

Bishop’s Queen is one of those romantic suspense novels where the suspense works a lot better than the romance.  Isla and Evan are likeable and I appreciated that they were able to approach their situation and discuss things in a mature way that showed the strength of their connection (Isla’s couple of slightly TSTL moments notwithstanding), but to be honest, their second-chance romance felt pretty flat. Evan did a hurtful, dumb thing by pushing Isla away and letting her think it was because he didn’t want her to see his scars, and Isla is right to be upset and wary of letting herself be hurt again, but there’s no real in-depth exploration of the reasons for their break-up or focus on the rebuilding of their relationship.  The threat to Isla’s safety becomes the novel’s driving force and the emotional aspect of the romance is neglected.

The suspense plot, however, is what kept me involved in the story.  We learn that although the person who actually planted the bomb that destroyed the Bishop Enterprises offices is in prison, his strings were being pulled by someone else, someone who is obsessed with Isla and who is becoming more and more unhinged as he sees her rekindling her relationship with Evan.  The author lobs in a couple of convincing red herrings here, so I wasn’t sure of the identity of the villain until the reveal (which is never a bad thing), although I was surprised that this plotline is wrapped up at the end; I’d thought the search for the person behind the bombing was going to be the overarching plot of the series, but it seems as though Ellis’ story is unrelated to the events of this and the previous book.

Ultimately, I’m awarding Bishop’s Queen an average grade because while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, and I was more invested in the suspense plot than the romance.  The novels work as standalones, so it’s perfectly possible to read books one and three without reading this one, unless you’re desperate to find out the identity of the bomber, of course, or don’t mind your romantic suspense skewed towards the suspense.

Bishop’s Knight (Engame Trilogy #1) by Katie Reus

This title may be purchased from Amazon

She needs his help…

Thanks to years of government training, Evie Bishop knows how to get into places she doesn’t belong—and she’s very good at it. But years of doing black ops work burned her out so she returns home—to unexpected chaos. One of her brothers is in a coma and the other is in hiding, wanted for murder. Then a fellow operative from her past shows up shot and bleeding with news that an assassin is gunning for everyone involved with a past op. She’s forced to turn to the one man she knows she can trust—the man whose heart she broke.

But it will come with a price…

When Dylan Blackwood proposed a year ago, Evie turned him down flat and walked out of his life. He’s stunned when he finds her on his doorstep covered in someone else’s blood, needing his help. He always knew there was more to her than met the eye—that Evie was never simply the pampered society princess she wanted people to believe she was. But he never expected this. If she needs help, he’ll give it. Even if he can’t forget her betrayal. Even if he isn’t sure he can trust her. But his protection will come with a price—her heart. Before they can have a chance at a future, they’ll have to work together to take down a faceless enemy who has Evie firmly in his crosshairs.

Rating: B-

Bishop’s Knight is the first book in the new Endgame Trilogy of romantic suspense novels from Katie Reus which features the Bishop siblings – Ellis, Evan and Evie.  It’s a fast-paced, well-put together story full of secrets, lies and betrayals featuring a sexy second-chance romance and an engaging central couple – and the author sets up the other stories in the trilogy in a manner that feels organic and doesn’t detract from the principal storyline.

The book opens fifteen months before the commencement of the story proper, as Evie and her crack team of CIA operatives is in the final stages of their current assignment to take down a Russian mob-affiliated arms dealer.  Although things don’t quite go according to plan, the mission is successful, and they’re told their next job will take them to Miami – Evie’s home town.  Nothing more is known about it at this stage, other than it’s big, they’re teaming up with the Feds and their target is someone named Jensen.

When we meet Evie again, she’s retired from the CIA and has been back home in Miami for a month, where she’s temporarily living in the apartment belonging to her brother Ellis.  Her wealthy, well-connected family is reeling from the news that Ellis – a DEA agent – has been accused of murdering his partner and has gone on the run and off the grid; and as if that wasn’t bad enough, a recent explosion at Bishop Enterprises has left her oldest brother, Evan, critically injured and necessitated a medically induced coma.  Evie is taking a short break from her vigil at the hospital with her parents and Evan’s fiancée, Isla, when she receives a text from her friend and former CIA colleague Samara Sousa announcing that she’s outside – which is where Evie finds her, bleeding from a gunshot wound to her hip.

She does what she can, but her friend needs more medical attention than is to be found in Evie’s first-aid kit.  As Evie works to staunch the bleeding, Samara tells her what brought her to Miami – the news that two of the people they’d worked with on the Jensen operation have been murdered and the desire to warn Evie that she might also be a target. Samara doesn’t want to go to a hospital and leave a trail for whoever shot her, so Evie has to think fast – and reluctantly comes to the conclusion that there’s only one person she knows in Miami who is likely to be able to help.

Dylan Blackwood – a former marine turned property magnate – and Evie met over a year earlier when Evie had targeted him as a way of getting an introduction to Rod Jensen, a Miami real estate mogul in who’d been involved in human trafficking and many other criminal activities. Her relationship with Dylan was only supposed to be a casual thing – a few dates, at most – and would end after Dylan had got Evie the introduction, but she hadn’t been able to end it. From the first moment they met, there’d been an intense attraction and sense of connection zinging between them, and Evie wasn’t ready to give it up, even though she’d known, deep down, that one day she would have to.  And that day came around a year previously when Dylan proposed – and Evie had to do one of the hardest things she’d ever done and walk away.

Knowing Dylan is a decent man – and that he retains the services of an on call, concierge doctor – Evie takes Samara to his mansion in the exclusive South Beach area. Dylan is surprised to see her, but as Evie had hoped, he agrees to help.  Being close to him again brings her ruthlessly squashed feelings for him back to the surface and into sharp focus, and she tries hard to shove them away again, knowing that by asking him for help, she could well have put him in danger, too.  But Dylan is far from stupid. He’s worked out that Evie must have worked for one of the alphabet-soup agencies, and suspects that her past employment is somehow tied to the danger she’s in now – but he can handle himself and he’s not going to let Evie face it alone.

The story moves quickly with plenty of twists and turns, and the author does a good job of showing that Evie and Dylan have never really fallen out of love with each other.  What I didn’t like so much was Evie’s constant bemoaning to herself that she and Dylan can never have a future together, so convinced is she that he’ll dump her once he finds out the truth, that she’d used him as part of an op.  I’m not a big fan of that whole ‘I-can’t-tell-you-because-then-you’ll-hate-me’ thing; Dylan and Evie are adults, not little kids, and she should have thought enough of him to allow him to make his own decision.  Luckily for her, Dylan is the better man; he’s determined not to let her go it alone, and he respects her abilities and her decisions, so while he wants to protect her, he never tries to take over or to push her aside for the sake of her safety.  He’s a great guy, prepared to help the woman who broke his heart simply because she needs it; and although he’s hurt when he finds out what Evie has been hiding from him, he handles his disappointment in a mature way.

Bishop’s Knight is a quick, satisfying read and as I said at the beginning, the author has set up the next two stories in the trilogy very well.  I’m looking forward to reading them.