I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Zero Hour by Megan Erickson
Series: Wired & Dangerous #1
Published by Forever on January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
The Fast and the Furious meets Mr. Robot in USA Today bestselling author Megan Erickson's thrilling new romantic suspense series.
Hacker extraordinaire Roarke Brennan lives each hour - each breath - to avenge his brother's murder. His first move: put together a team of the best coders he knows. They're all brilliant, specialized, and every one an epic pain in his ass. Only now Wren Lee wants in too, threatening to upset their delicate balance. The girl Roarke never allowed himself to want is all grown up with sexy confidence and a dark past ... and she's the wild card he can't control.
Roarke might still think she's a kid, but Wren's been to hell and back. Nothing and nobody can stop her - especially the tatted-up, cocky-as-all-hell hacker. But when years of longing and chemistry collide, Wren and Roarke discover that revenge may be a dish best served blazing hot.
Trust Megan Erickson to give me a best-friend’s-little-sister book that I don’t hate.
Roarke wanted Wren when they were teenagers, but she was too young, and the little sister of his best friend, so she was very off-limits. The feelings were mutual, but even so, he refused to act on them. It’s been about a decade since they’ve seen each other, and Roarke is in no way prepared for the woman Wren has become.
No longer the sweet homecoming queen Roarke remembers, Wren is determined to get onto the hacker crew Roarke is putting together. They’re going after Arden Salter, the man responsible for the death of Flynn, Roarke’s brother. Wren does want to avenge Flynn, but she also has her own reasons for wanting to take down Salter, and she’s not going to share those reasons with anyone.
Roarke is initially reluctant (there are no words to explain just how much of an understatement that is) to allow Wren onto the crew, but she manages to convince him. Arden’s son Darren has a thing for Wren, and the crew can use that to their advantage. Even Roarke, as stubborn as he is, realizes this is an opportunity they can’t pass up. (This sounds a little convoluted, but I swear it makes sense) Roarke’s objections to Wren being on the crew basically amounted to “I like you a lot, so you can’t be here”, which….. Nope. Wren tries to convince him that she can handle it, but he’s determined to continue to see her as the teenager he knew, and won’t even listen to her. Until she reveals the card up her sleeve and forces him to admit that she’s the only one who can help right now.
If I had one quibble with this book, it’s that I felt like I was dropped into the middle of the story. In fact, I went back to Megan Erickson’s site and made sure I hadn’t missed a previous book or a novella or anything that kicked the story off. There’s a lot of backstory for these characters and it’s just sort of mentioned and glossed over. It wasn’t an issue; I was able to follow along, but most of these characters had pre-existing relationships that the reader wasn’t privy to, and it left me feeling a little unmoored in the beginning. And to be fair, the backstory came up in conversations that read like actual conversations people would have. People with history speak to each other almost in code, and that’s how this read. I much prefer that to ridiculous info dump conversations that no human beings would ever actually have with each other.
But that’s a really minor quibble for what ended up being a fast and fun read. I’ve seen this book described as Hackers meets The Fast and the Furious, and I don’t think I can do a better job describing it than that. Our crew is determined to take down Arden and his son, and they’ll use their hacking skills and their sex appeal and anything else they need to in order to bring down Salter and his network.
Wren and Roarke’s relationship was a super-hot slow burn; if you’re looking for a quick payoff to a decades-long flirtation you won’t get it here. A lot of back-and-forth, a lot of near kisses and longing looks before they actually get down to it. I mean, this is Megan Erickson, so it’s fantastic when they do get down to it, but I could have done with a little less of the constant backing off by both of them.
And Roarke. At times, I wanted to reach through my Kindle and throat punch him for some of the shit he pulled. He really just has no idea how to be around actual people sometimes. I understand he’s spent most of his life behind keyboards, but there’s really no excuse. At one point, Wren accuses him of seeing her as more of an avatar than an actual person, and I think that’s how he sees most people. He has no problem interfering in people’s lives, whether they’ve asked him to or not, and rearranging things to what he thinks they should be. People are just chess pieces to him until Wren manages to make him see how that affects the very people he thinks he’s helping.
Wren wasn’t without her own issues. She has her reasons for wanting to take Salter down, but she won’t share those reasons with anyone else on the crew, and it leads her to take some really stupid, unnecessary risks. Both Wren and Roarke need to learn to communicate on a basic level before they can take their relationship anywhere, and it’s a really slow process. As it should be. No one changes at a base level instantly; it would have been ridiculous for Megan Erickson to write it as though they did.
This book was a lot of fun, and it sets up the rest of the series nicely. I’m really excited to move on and read the next book; Jock and Fiona are sure to be a fantastic couple. I generally expect a lot from Megan Erickson, both on her own or when she collaborates with other authors, and this book didn’t disappoint. I highly recommend that you pick this one up.