Faith Morrissey is overdue for an adventure. After 20 years in the same small town, she sets out on a yearlong study abroad trip, fully expecting to fall in love with the wonders of Budapest. She certainly doesn't expect to fall for Wes, the mysterious stranger who sweeps her off her feet mere days after her arrival. It seems almost too good to be true. Weston Abbott is a ghost. In service to his country, he's done unspeakable things, the kinds of things that make settling down or falling in love out of the question. That's never been a problem - until he meets Faith. No matter how many times Wes tells himself that she's just a mark, he can't deny that she rattles his composure like no one else. And he can't seem to shake the forbidden feelings that stir to life whenever he's with her. Wes knows better than anyone that the line separating fact from fiction is almost as fine as the one between love and hate. And if the truth comes out, it may erase their love along with all the lies.
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Faith's from a small town - she's discovering the world and herself for the first time in Budapest where she's studying, has made a best friend who helped her get her job as a Bike Courier and they lived together, worked together and were loving life. Faith was a bit naive, loved everything, saw only good and was a ray of sunshine..... until she accidentally fell into a handsome and sexy strangers arms. Oh, she wasn't going to realize her world would spin, crash and topple from it's axis straight away, no it was going to come after a beautiful confusing romance with Wes.... the stranger that caught her that fateful day, the stranger who showed her love, taught her strength and with him she experienced so much joy - the stranger who had stolen her heart and soul. Then, like an apparition, he suddenly disappeared leaving behind someone else to uncloak the truth and Wes' lies would shatter her heart, reshape her future and leave bitter painful memories behind.
Wes is an Operative for the CIA, he has a mission and Faith was just going to be an easy mark - collateral damage in the ruthless cold world he survived, thrived and inhabited. He never really had a childhood, no good memories to stick into an album and no one to love or be loved by and that was good because in his job you didn't, and couldn't, afford the luxury of feelings. However, the more he watched the beautiful, full of life, intriguing redhead, the more he became infatuated and then, when he finally touched and spoke to Faith, the deeper he fell.... until the day his Orders changed.
Yes, he knew he had a job to do and he'd to do but he was forever fighting his conscience over not hurting Faith which resulted in an off-on hot-cold relationship and that opened a crack in his defences which let in, for the first time ever, light, feelings, empathy, warmth, happiness, compassion, desire, love.... and Faith. There was no putting the Gene back in the bottle, no starting over again to pick a different mark and no way of turning his feelings off but he had a Mission to finish.... he just didn't know that it would end in bloodshed, tears, heartbreak and two broken hearts. Apart for three years they would both mourn and cope in different ways, they had touched souls and found Heaven but Fate, Destiny and Kismet wasn't clouding Faith's eyes anymore and Wes couldn't forget Red or let her go.
Right from the Prequel you knew the future but not the outcome - the story then goes back in time unfolding one enticing and enjoyable Chapter after another and the more they each revealed the more captivated I was as the clues, lies and emotions peaked. The storyline was deep - there was suspense, secrets, emotional turmoil, smooth banter, dry humor, sex, danger, twists, passion, romance, heartbreak and redemption as two soul mates very different worlds spectacularly collided and the fallout was dramatic, gut wrenching, explosive..... and beautiful too. Dual POV's, standalone, a HEA ending and SY and AA brought Julie Johnson's descriptive, well written, riveting, emotional, multi-layered and devious storyline out from the pages of a book and turned them into mental images where the characters breathed, lived, loved, lost and then found each other again.
Worth a credit? Yes, Wes called her Red as in Little Red Riding Hood because he thought of himself as The Big Bad Wolf and he wasn't wrong.... but this is no Fairytale. If I had to criticize it - then it could of been hotter (but that's just my taste) and it cried out for an Epilogue but other than that, IMO, it was very creditworthy.