May 25 2016 3:30pm

First Look: Anne Calhoun’s Under the Surface (May 31, 2016)

Anne Calhoun
Under the Surface (Alpha Ops #4) 
St. Martin's Press / May 31, 2016 / $7.99 print & digital

Sex on a stick, Lord, that’s all I need…walking, talking sex on a stick. If he can mix a decent drink, so much the better.

And so opens Anne Calhoun’s fourth installment (yet first full-length novel) in her Alpha Ops series. Eve Webber is the owner of Eye Candy, a bar/club in Lancaster, PA’s East Side where everyone behind the bar is exactly what the establishment’s name suggests—eye candy.

“Eye Candy isn’t just a bar. It’s an experience. Women come for hot bartenders, dance music, great drinks, and a chance to unwind with girlfriends.”

And Eve is in desperate need of a new bartender. Enter Chad Henderson.

His eyes darkened from hazel to mossy green, and a hint of color stained his cheekbones. Okay, they had chemistry, that heart-pounding, shallow-breathing feeling that meant the pheromones were surging.

Chemistry with me means chemistry with customers, she thought firmly.

Chemistry is great. Eve could use the kind of release chemistry (and then some) would bring, especially since she’d gone to the police about her old school friend Lyle Murphy who offered her some not-so-legal business. She’s determined to keep her business clean and to hopefully help clean up the East Side in the process, but that means putting Lyle behind bars before he figures out she’s on the side of the law.

Chad Henderson’s top priority is doing his job. The only problem? Chad Henderson is a lie. His real name is Matt Dorchester—Detective Matt Dorchester—and his real job is protecting Eve Webber, which means not blowing his cover.

Storefronts and chrome bumpers reflected the sun’s glare as heat and shimmer, much like the thick layers of Eve Webber’s black hair fell in her face as she talked, glinting against her jaw, her cheekbone. Intellectually he knew it would be cool to the touch, but that didn’t stop his hand from tingling with the desire to slide through the strands.

Get a grip, Dorchester. That wasn’t a job interview, let alone a date. You’re a cop. She’s an informant in danger.

And so begins the tension between Eve and Chad/Matt. Gah! If there is one guarantee when picking up an Anne Calhoun book, it’s that the sexual tension will be off the charts, and this is most definitely the case with Eve and Matt. In addition to being an informant, Eve has her family to worry about.  She and her family still worry about her father’s health after he’s survived a heart attack. Add to that her dad’s work as a pastor, and you can guess how her parents feel about her running a club like Eye Candy. Eve is intelligent and compassionate, but she has a lot on her plate. The one thing she needs is release, and she wants Chad to be the one to give it to her. Matt wants Eve just too, but he puts the breaks on as much as he can, knowing that if he gives in to his attraction before he can tell her who he is, she’ll hate him.

Your job is to keep her alive, not get her into bed.  

This is what he tries to keep telling himself even as his attraction to Eve grows stronger. Matt has a past too, one that involves time spent in the military only to be cut short by family tragedy. He’s learned to keep his emotions in check and his identities separate. But with Eve, he finds the lines are starting to blur. And when his restraint falters, the heat between them is nothing short of explosive.

Fear, confusing, longing, interest, attraction, they all flowed through her and therefore across her face until he pulled his hands from his pockets, closed the distance between them, and lowered his mouth to hers. The kiss didn’t even pretend to be sweet.

Eve is an open book. Matt can’t tell her who he is. This is a fabulous set-up for Anne Calhoun’s signature tension with some great external conflict added to the mix. And when Eve’s life is threatened and Matt is forced to blow his cover—well, just wait. That’s when things really start heating up.

Can a relationship that starts as a lie find what lies Under the Surface? Anne Calhoun explores this in her sexy, thrilling, romantic suspense. 

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Under the Surface by Anne Calhoun, available May 31, 2016:

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AJ Pine writes stories to break readers' hearts, but don't worry—she'll mend them with a happily ever after. As an English teacher and a librarian, AJ has always surrounded herself with books. All her favorites have one big commonality-romance. Naturally, her books have the same. When she's not writing, she's of course reading. Then there's online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes) and a tiny bit of TV where she nourishes her undying love of vampires and superheroes. You'll also find her hanging with her family in the Chicago 'burbs.


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