Strategic Entanglements by D.E. Knightley
In a brutal and lonely world, how do you get the human connection that you NEED from the person that you CRAVE but cannot TRUST? A deceiver like you. As ruthless as you. The ENEMY. On an alternative Earth called Terra, the empire of Basur rules the roost. Gargantuan in size, second to none in commercial might, it has long abandoned military conquest in favour of cultural and economic domination. The DSS, the most powerful intelligence service on Terra, is its sword and its shield. It guards its peace, promotes its interests, and eliminates its enemies. By any means necessary. Basur calls the shots, and everybody falls into line. Everybody but the Askar… Kendra Veiss is a young woman, but one to be reckoned with. She is as complicated as her life has always been. After a difficult childhood and a turbulent coming of age, she has found purpose, a sense of belonging, in the ranks of the DSS. Times are complicated too. The rebellious, belligerent Askar were crushed by the Basur in a vicious internecine war nearly a century ago. They have picked themselves up off the ground and are making trouble again. Trouble that comes knocking on Kendra’s door. For one night, the unprecedented, the unthinkable happens. Kendra is abducted for interrogation by the Askari secret service, the Imhas, from the streets of the Basuri capital. She should be dead. But Kendra is a survivor. She walks out of an Imhas black site without a scratch on her. A modern-day miracle, some might say. Not Kendra. She knows her guardian angels are all too human. Aran Reiner, for one. Six-foot-four-inches of arresting good looks and bad, bad news. He seemed determined to ensure her release. Now he is hanging around her like a hungry stray. What does Reiner want? Sex? Absolution? Or to recruit her as a double agent within the DSS? He is untrustworthy, dangerous, a professional rival. Common sense demands that she should keep him out of her life. Trouble is, Kendra wants things too. He stops her breath. Makes her ache to surrender to temptation. Just this once… But she thinks she can resist the lure of forbidden fruit. With all that bad blood between them, it should be simple. Except that, in the murky world of espionage, nothing is simple. She should know that by now. This racy, high-octane thriller grapples with fascinating dichotomies: inexorable attraction between enemies, the building of trust in an atmosphere of deceit, the showing of mercy in the course of ruthless pursuit of imperatives. It is the first instalment in a thought-provoking series that explores human relationships in all their complex glory.