Author: Natalie Walters
Series: The SNAP Agency #1
Release Date: November 2, 2021
CIA analyst Brynn Taylor developed a new program to combat terrorism, and she invited members of foreign intelligence agencies to America to foster cooperation between countries. Now one of them, Egyptian spy Remon Riad, is missing.
Jack Hudson has been working for the Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency for almost nine years and takes the lead in hunting down the missing spy. But he isn't at all pleased to find out Brynn is involved. It's hard to trust a woman who's already betrayed you.
Every lead they follow draws them dangerously deeper into an international plot. Kidnapping, murder, explosions, poisoning--the terrorists will do anything to accomplish their goal of causing a digital blackout that will blind a strategic US military communications center and throw the world into chaos.
Can Brynn surrender control to a man who doesn't trust her? And can Jack ever get over what she did to him? The fate of the world--and their hearts--hangs in the balance.
Reviewer: Marie Edwards
“Thank you in advance to the publisher, Revell (a division of Baker Books), for providing a complimentary review copy through not only the author’s launch team, but also Interviews & Reviews. A positive review was not required nor requested, and all words are my own.
Having read Natalie Walter’s HARBORED SECRETS SERIES, and knowing in advance what this series was going to be about, I JUMPED (figuratively) at the chance to read it. The eye-catching, intriguing cover also was a good draw.
Those who read Silent Shadows met Colton’s friend, Kekoa. I had a a feeling he would be back and I am SO glad he is. For fans of Jason Momoa, you might enjoy Kekoa’s character.
A note before I get to the heart of this review –
While most publishing companies do not publish the novellas of the author, that does not preclude the author and publishing company from reaching an agreement for the author to do it independently.
This has been done with other Revell authors such as Becky Wade (her Misty River romance series has a 2nd one out), Tari Faris (she has a 3rd one coming out for her Restoring Heritage series), among many.
The “freebie” eBook ones are what I call bonus or filler material, stuff I would think the author wanted to include in the book, but obviously couldn’t for whatever reason. Those usually range 25-50 pages. It’s not that they’re any less important, but not essential in my opinion.
In the case of Walters’ SNAP Agency novella, Initium, that is entirely different. I know this review is about Lights Out, but, is worth noting that Initium REALLY stands up as a starter book for the series.
Which brings up the “do you NEED to read Initium prior to Lights Out” question. YES! In my opinion, Initium is an ABSOLUTE MUST READ prior to Lights Out. It gives the background and origins of the team members that are in this book:
Director Tom Walsh
Jack Hudson (2013)
Lyla Fox (2015)
Nicolás Garcia (2016)
Kekoa Young (2020)
Despite some of the encounters being extremely short, by reading Initium, the reader gets to know a little bit about Jack and Brynn’s backstory, along with how and where the other team members came from. It also helps the reader step right into Lights Out without too many questions.
I think it is pretty obvious that I did indeed read Initium. I waited for (and bought) the paperback version. So, right off, I knew the backstory of Brynn and Jack. Her name is not mentioned in Initium, but the incident is alluded to in it when Tom approaches Jack. There is a reference to the “potential romance” between Garcia and Lyla, and readers get to know where Kekoa comes from.
To be honest, every character is great and well rounded (no puns for Kekoa). I try not to have favorites, honestly, Kekoa is definitely a scene-stealer though not in the conceited “look at me” way. He is honest and genuine, definitely the heart of the whole agency. He was my favorite part of the book, in addition to the story.
Jack has his moments of seriousness and levity. I know some people didn’t like Brynn, but given her role at the CIA, it was understandable she is the way she is. Her motivation for her work stems from 9/11. There are DEEP references to 9/11 here. As a result, it took me a while to move through the book since I remember the day and have my own “connection” (this is mentioned more in my blog). As a result, I definitely understood her drive all too well and it made me more sympathetic to her character.
Each character/team member has a significant role in this book and Walters expertly balances them all giving them a full appearance and not a blurb. There are some minor characters that, while short with their appearances, had an impact.
In addition to a STELLAR cast, Lights Out’s plot is exciting, fast-paced, and action-packed with a terror plot eerily similar to 9/11. I didn’t know what was going to happen next or where the story was going.
This, like the prequel novella, had serious J*A*G/NCIS vibes to it, especially with the mention of the U.S.S Carl Vinson (Kekoa’s old ship). Recycled footage of the ship is shown on the first two seasons of NCIS. The footage was originally featured on THE PRESIDIO (1988, also starring Mark Harmon).
What also helps the pacing – the short chapters, witty banter, the team’s family (Ohana) closeness, and the engaging story that drags readers right in and holds their interest right until the very end. There are a few cultural and pop references. Some of them I wasn’t too familiar with, others I dearly enjoyed. One? The Princess Bride. Be still my heart.
For the most part, the story is told through Jack and Brynn’s POV. However, Walters also has about 3-4 minor character POVs if only for a chapter here or there. I actually enjoyed knowing what some of the minor characters were thinking and how they wound up connected to the major plot.
I have a “hang-up” about rating a book “best-ever”, “standout”, or things like that. I feel like I am saying that the author’s previous works are not that great. When, let’s face it that’s not at all what it means. However, Lights Out is definitely a must-read, and must re-read for me. I do consider this one of Walters’ best works. This was a “don’t put it don’t until you have to” kind of read for me. It wasn’t all drama, suspense, and terror though. There were also several light-hearted moments throughout the story courtesy of the team members.
This was a fantastic read and really delivered on the anticipated promotion up to the release. This is why I HAD to get my hands on it.
As Revell is primarily a Christian/faith-themed publisher, there were references to God and prayer. It was a clean overall read with no bad language, but many “near-miss” kisses.
Fans of the author, Elizabeth Goddard, and Patricia Bradley shouldn’t hesitate to pick this up. And, don’t forget Initium either.
I definitely cannot wait for Fatal Code (book #2) to come out.”
Reviewer: Paula Shreckhise
Wow what an up-to-the-minute, suspenseful story.
I loved getting to know the gang at SNAP Agency as they team with CIA analyst Brynn Taylor. The problem is that Brynn has a history with team member Jack Hudson and when they last saw each other, it wasn’t pretty. They agree to work together to find an Egyptian spy who is missing on US soil. Oh the scary and subversive things they discover. And it is more widespread than they thought. While they are tracking down suspects and uncovering clues, Jack and Brynn are forced to confront their awkward parting. They are both Christians but still find it difficult to connect. Jack: “When our trust lies in the control we think we have, we are saying we don’t trust in the One who is completely in control and completely good.”
When it came down to a critical time, Brynn realized that God was her anchor and held her firmly in His hands. The addition of a Princess Bride Movie birthday party was a great break in the tension.
Dramatically told story of everything I like in modern suspense: Danger, romance, faith, a quirky but lovable cast of characters and a what-if that could certainly happen today!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
"You put your trust in yourself, trying to control what was never meant to be yours to control, and they sink you. And they will. You surrender that control, trust God, and no matter the size of the waves, you will be safe."
This is the first book I have read by Natalie Walters and I am completely wowed. How have I not read her books sooner? Combining international intrigue and unforgettable characters with valuable faith lessons and second chance romance, this book is the perfect autumn evening read that will grab you from the first page. The complex and intricately woven plot will have you on a journey of a lifetime as you become a part of the SNAP Agency with Brynn to stop a terrorist plot.
I loved getting to know Brynn and Jack. Their history is complicated but that made it more satisfying when Brynn allowed herself to break out of her independent self-reliance and Jack allowed himself to trust again despite his past pain. There is never a dull moment in this fast-paced plot and each detail plays into the overarching plot like pieces of a puzzle. The other members of the SNAP team - Garcia, Lyla, Kekoa - are just as delightful and I cannot wait to read the next book to learn more about them.
If you enjoy romantic suspense, this book has to be on your must read list.
I received the book from publisher via Interviews and Reviews and was under no obligation to post a positive comment. All opinions are solely my own.
Reviewer: Laura Thomas
In this first book from “The SNAP Agency” series, international intrigue and the fight against terrorism play out in nail-biting drama.
Brynn Taylor is a driven CIA analyst determined to find out what happened to a missing foreign intelligence agent from Egypt. Jack Hudson is the leader of SNAP (Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency) and has a painful history with Brynn.
When they are forced to work together for this time-sensitive project, there is more than a possible rekindling of their relationship at stake—the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
This smart, snappy, action-packed story majors on trust and terror—yet also introduces us to some wonderfully rich characters in the SNAP team, giving glimpses of what is yet to come in this series. I, for one, can’t wait!
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group, Revell Division, through Interviews & Reviews. All opinions in this review are my own.
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