Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BLOG TOUR, REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY: "Behind the Mask" by Carolyn Crane

Behind the Mask
by Carolyn Crane
The Associates, Book 4

Welcome to the Blog Tour Carolyn Crane's latest, Behind the Mask.  This is book 4 in The Associates series.  To say that I am excited about this book is like saying that The Voice is a nice, little singing contest.  The best part?  Behind the Mask exceeds my expectations. So, enjoy the review and don't forget to enter the Giveaway!


When her estranged sister is won in a card game by a brutal drug cartel, Zelda knows what she has to do: take her place. Save her. Focus on infiltrating the shadowy group--and try not to think about why she left the spying game years ago. She’s slept with dangerous criminals before; she can do it again. 

Hugo Martinez is one of South America’s most lethal and wanted men, a legendary mercenary living on a windswept mountain. Even at the height of the war he wasn’t in the habit of taking women captive, but the American whore has seen his face. And he and the orphan boy need a cook. He shouldn’t want this woman, but there’s something so unusual about her…

Meanwhile, Zelda finds herself falling for her captor…but is he the killer she’s been hunting all these years?


Zelda Pierce
Hugo Martinez

Behind the Mask is a rich, complicated story with Carolyn Crane’s most memorable characters yet. Mind you, this is the author who brought us a heroine whose strength is based on her hypochondria (Justine Jones, Mind Games) and a man whose super power is linguistics (Peter Macmillan, Off the Edge). 

This story is a study in contrasts.  It is earthy and fanciful, primal and elegant, and raw and sophisticated. 

– Savinca flowers are featured. They flourish in this particular place, a special piece of earth. They become almost a physical part of the village and our characters.  

Fanciful - Yet, these flowers are fanciful. They come from Carolyn Crane’s imagination. They are unusual.  They have to be harvested and treated just so, otherwise, the crop is useless. 

Primal – the author says that Hugo may be the most “caveman” of all her characters. I couldn’t agree more.  Hugo is a caveman, but not kind that grunts and drags his knuckles. This caveman distills everything down to the essentials where emotions are on the top, right on the surface, primal. 

Elegant – Hugo has an elegant way of fighting.  He doesn’t use a mundane, blunt instrument such as a gun, but prefers blades and swords.  

Raw – Zelda is raw.  She is a passionate woman.  She loved being a CIA operative until a tragedy took her out of the field. She is mired in the guilt and it impacts almost every area of her life; it drives her. The wounds are still raw. She has lost her joie de vive. 

Sophisticated – Zelda studies botany, a sophisticated natural science. It’s taught her to seek balance. Plants thrive through the balance of elements. 

In this complex tapestry is a story of two lost souls finding each other. Hugo is a retired and renown mercenary known as Kabakas, a near-mythical assassin, and the object of Zelda’s obsession when she was in the CIA.  After years of terrorizing the enemy and being wrongly accused of a terrible massacre, Hugo retires with his adopted son to the mountain top house in his deceased mother’s village. 

Zelda is one of the founders of The Associates.  She left the CIA after being tortured and forced to make a horrific decision.  She has to live with the guilt and consequences ever since.  She closes herself off so tightly that she is almost a machine.  When Hugo and Zelda finally find one another, their coupling is essential. It is as if they need each other to breathe. They learn to open up and feel again. After being wound so tight throughout the book, even I felt their relief coming off the pages.   

I must admit that I am a little unsettled by the Epilogue.  I want my HEA, and things between Hugo and Zelda were not completely resolved.  Is Zelda going to go back to The Associates?  If so, in what capacity?  Will Hugo be fully satisfied being a savinca farmer?  Is Kabakas really laid to rest? Then I decided that this ambiguity was a good thing because it leaves the door open for Zelda and Hugo to come back in another book, right? 

If you are looking for a straightforward romantic suspense, this may not be the book for you.  If you are searching for something twisty and curvy, something truly unique and interesting, you are going to want to get this book pronto. 


I am a RITA-winning author of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and other tales of love and adventure (and erotic & dark romance as NYT bestselling author Annika Martin). My books have been published by Random House and Samhain, and I also go the indie route. I work a straight job as a marketing writer, I love to read in bed and run, I’m passionate about helping animals, and I make my home in Minnesota with my husband and two cats. 

(1) $75.00 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble 
(winner’s choice & open internationally) 

(32)  Digital Copies of either Against the Dark, Off the Edge or Into the Shadows 
(winner’s choice & open internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join us for the rest of the blog tour stops:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Straight Shooting Book Reviews 
Romance Junkies 
Ramblings From This Chick
Under the Covers Book Blog 
Lush Book Reviews
Badass Book Reviews
Urban Girl Reader

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Happiness is a Book
Reading by the Book
That's What I'm Talking About
Cricket's Chirps
The Romance Dish
The Book Review

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Em & M Books
Ex Libris
Herding Cats & Burning Soup
The Book Nympho
Long and Short Reviews
Love Affair with an E-Reader

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Paranormal Haven
Becky on Books
Amy's Blog 
So Many Reads
Angela Quarles Blog
Goldilox and the Three Weres

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Blogging by Liza 
Bring Your Own Book Club (BYOB)
Peaces of Me 
Ariesgrl Book Reviews
C. K. Crouch


  1. Great review:) My favorite type of romantic suspense story is when everything turns out okay. I like when the romance slowly builds and they eventually fall in love, I think it's better.

    1. I couldn't agree with you more. I'm not a huge fan of insta-love, unless there is a reason behind it. Unfortunately, seems like that is the default. This one is a slow burn and I can guarantee you it has a happy ending! I hope you enjoy the book!

    2. Thanks, Sunny! and I agree on insta-love. It is super hard to pull off on the writing end, and often hard for me to believe when I wear my reader hat, yet sometimes I like when the couple is strangers. It's kind of exciting at the same time as less believable.

  2. Behind the Mask is a perfect example of my favorite romantic suspense. The slow burn, the edge of my seat ride. Love it.

    I'm not a fan of the insta-love in suspenseful situations either. It just doesn't feel natural.

    1. Insta-love seems to rely on something magical - finding "the One" and falling in love at first sight. I don't doubt it happens, but probably not as often as we see in these books.

    2. Paris, thank you for the kind words. Yeah, insta-love is especially hard in RS because the timelines are really tiny. Oh, I just realized this one is kind of insta...yet not. LOL maybe I finally found a way to have my cake and eat it too!

  3. Amnesia themed books are a favorite.

    1. Lauren - you are so funny. Maybe you watched the same soaps as I did! I was thinking about an amnesia plot with one of these books. But we'll see. I trash ten ideas before I stick with one.

  4. Sunny!! Thank you so much for having me and reviewing my book. Look at the flowers you found for the savincas. That is super close to how I imagined them. Which, okay, doesn't seem all that rare of a look for a flower! Anyway, you totally helped make my release week special. xox

    1. You know it's my honor and pleasure! I'm planning to drop in on your FB party next week. I'm thrilled you are hosting with Toni Anderson and Rachel Grant. I LOVE their work, too!