Her Perfect Mate by Paige Tyler
When Special Forces Captain Landon Donovan is pulled from an op in Afghanistan, he is surprised to discover he's been hand-picked for a special assignment with the Department of Covert Operations (DCO), a secret division he's never heard of. Terrorists are kidnapping biologists and he and his partner have to stop them. But his new partner is a beautiful, sexy woman who looks like she couldn't hurt a fly--never mind take down a terrorist.
Ivy Halliwell is no kitten. She's a feline shifter, and more dangerous than she looks. She's worked with a string of hotheaded military guys who've underestimated her special skills in the past. But when she's partnered with special agent Donovan, a man sexy enough to make any girl purr, things begin to heat up...
Another winner from Paige Tyler. She has quickly added herself to my auto-read list of authors! In this first installment of the X-OPS series, we meet Landon Donovan, a man who is not happy to be pulled out of Afghanistan just as his team has laid eyes on the tango they have been asked to target. Being told he is to head back to the states, without his team, to be reassigned does not make him happier. Nor does the twenty-four hours of flights he endures before being shown into a mysterious office located in the parking garage of the EPA. When he is told that he is now one member of a two member team and that his primary role is to make sure he kills his partner if they are ever captured he doesn't get much happier. For a man whose core principals mean that you do everything to bring your men back alive, this is not something he is willing to do.
When he meets his new partner, his confidence does not increase. Ivy looks like the girl next door, until they start sparring and she proves almost impossible to put down. Once he finally does, after a lot more effort and trickery than he would have thought necessary, he realizes that perhaps his new partnership won't be quite so bad. The more he gets to know Ivy, the more he is sure that this new chapter of his life has some great upsides. He still misses his old team, but the resentment is no longer there for having to leave them.
Ivy is not looking forward to another muscle-bound military guy who will go out of there way to make sure she knows she is inferior. She has had two previous partners and neither worked out well (serious understatement there!) so this new special forces guy is not getting much benefit of the doubt on Ivy's part. Ivy finds herself pleasantly surprised by Landon's willingness to put his trust in her skills during team building exercises and when she reveals her shifter side to him, he handles it maturely and respectfully--a first for Ivy when it comes to her partners.
When a weasel in the DCO who wants the shifter program to fail puts Ivy and Landon's new partnership to the test with an op in Venezuela not everything goes smoothly. How Ivy and Landon handle it were once again wonderfully mature. I have come to rely on Paige Tyler's consistency in not allowing festering emotions or misunderstandings to develop between characters when simple, open communication can by deployed to allow the characters to deal with issues and move on stronger than before. This is a breath of fresh air that is oh so appreciated.
Things really heat up as Ivy and Landon begin to develop feelings for each other that go beyond what team partners require. With the DCO having a strict non-fraternization policy, this makes things complicated. When they act on their feelings, there is no regret, just an honest knowledge that if word gets out they will need to resign their positions to find other jobs. On top of this, they are sent on a new mission to find out what is happening to missing biologists--and when they discover the answer things only continue to get more complicated. The action ramps up for the last quarter of the book leaving this reader flipping pages as fast as possible to see how it would all play out. While issues were resolved, enough loose strings remain to have me chomping at the bit to read the next book in the series. The male lead of that book was rather an arse in this book, so I am interested to see how Tyler redeems his character.