I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Sydney has gotten herself into a dangerous situation and it is starting to look like she is in way over her head. When the cartel leader she is doing business with realizes she may not be adhering fully to their agreement, he pays her a little visit. Fearing for her and her son's safety, Sydney makes a call to the one man who can save her. Every time Maksim is in a room with Sydney he can't wait to get his hands on her but so far, she has kept her walls firmly up. When he receives a call asking for his help, he doesn't hesitate but he does prepare himself to keep business strictly separated from pleasure. The possibility of the Russian mafia and Mexican cartel going to war is almost as dangerous as Sydney and Maksim's feelings for one another.
You know how people say they "Dropped the mic"? That sentiment and action is how I visualize the author dropping off this manuscript on her editor's desk; this book is on point. From the characters, to their relationships, and to the world building (oh my readers, the world building!), I was engrossed into this story. This is the way books in a series should be interconnected, shaping and adding to the overall world but still focused on the couple that is supposed to be the star of the particular book. No info dumping but rather branches flowing out of the trunk that take the reader here and there, sometimes wrapping up a thread and sometimes leaving you lingering on where the story or characters are going to go. The Wanted Men universe felt real to me, this is no quick story but an experience.
This is the third in the series and if you want the full overall story arc and not feel left out at times, you'll want to read the previous two books (A Love of Vengeance & The Salvation of Vengeance) but if you just want to read Maksim and Sydney's story, you could comfortably start here. I was a fan of her first book and thought she tapered off in the second but am now recommending reading this whole series if only for the emotions that will hit you when you read how Vincente has to leave the room when Sydney's son hugs his "sister".
After getting a glimpse of Sydney in the previous book, I wasn't sure I was going to like her but she quickly developed into a woman I found myself cheering for. She first met Maksim when the club she owns had video footage his organization needed in book two of the series. They had an instant attraction but because she had been on her own so much, due to getting pregnant at age 17 and being abandoned by her parents and the baby's father, she has major trust and control issues. I would have liked a little more expansion on her struggle and past, especially on who her parents were since it was alluded to that they were very rich and powerful but this is a small complaint. Maksim was a character that made a big impact on me from the previous two books; the author delivered and gave me everything I wanted and more for his character. He had the darkness that comes with growing up in an extremely harsh environment but also the vulnerability of trust issues. Along with the trust issues, he also matched Sydney with the need for control. These matching issues provided some fantastic push, pull, and eventual giving in moments. Maksim and Sydney's playfulness had a great sexual vibe that managed to be both light and dark at turns and also sexy.
It isn't until later in the story we get a bedroom payoff but that felt right for this couple. Their situation is dangerous and while they are both sexually attracted to one another, they are emotionally leery. As they spend more time together and get to know one another, their attraction expands beyond the physical. We then see Maksim slowly overcome his trust issues while Sydney loosens the grip on her need for control; this couple really does come together beautifully. I was chomping at the bit for them to get their bedroom scene and wished it had happened a little earlier as I thought the middle slowed slightly with a few sexually charged starts and stops and I definitely thought it took way too long for Sydney to tell Maksim about her child. Maksim is in Sydney's life because he is pretending she is his girlfriend/lover in order to give her the protection of his name/brotherhood so the cartel can't touch her, it was a little maddening how she kept quiet about her son, essentially not providing him with that same protection.
Even with those small complaints, I greatly enjoyed this book. The beginning with the build up and establishment of the story created a solid foundation for a truly absorbing story. I loved the deeper look into Vasily, the Pakhan or leader of Maksim's Russian mafia group, and all the other side characters. Past couples and future heroes are not merely trotted out for future book bait but are truly part of the story and world the author has created. The epilogue has me really looking forward to Alek's book and I'm really dying to read Micha's..no wait…Dmitri's…umm, wait…Lorenzo/Tegan's…yeah, let's just say I want to read about them all. This author has really hit her stride with An Obsession With Vengeance and with the world and characters she has created, I'm excited to see what she comes up with next.