Reviews: Dying to Live

Thanks for all your fantastic reviews and appreciation!

What Reviewers Say:

Reviewed by RLynne for Just About Write

Baldwin and Alexiou have given their fans a gripping read that's difficult to put down. Dying to Live has a complex plot with a pandemic created by an arch villain, and a rescue from Columbian guerrillas. Zoe Anderson-Howe, the daughter of the owner of an English airline, has been captured by a Columbian guerrilla group and is being held for ransom. In a fortunate coincidence, Fetch, an Elite Operative, has infiltrated the group in an effort to rescue their hostages. What follows is a hair raising adventure as Fetch and Zoe try to escape from their brutal guards. Meanwhile, the descriptions of the deadly virus which is sweeping the globe are truly frightening, and the Elite Operatives help is needed in determining how it started.

Dying to Live is the fourth book in the Elite Operatives Series. One of the enjoyable things about this book is that all of the Elite Operatives from the previous novels play a role in this story, and readers have a chance to catch up on what's happening in their lives. In addition, Baldwin and Alexiou just get better and better at creating exciting action while at the same time they fully develop their characters. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I can't wait for their next adventure.

Reviewed by Pamela Bigelow for Lambda Literary

This the fourth in the authors' Elite Operatives series. Here, Baldwin and Alexiou tell the tale of Zoe Anderson-Howe, the spoiled child of a business mogul. She is kidnapped by Columbian guerrillas, known as FARC, who want to ransom her for millions of her father's money.

She is taken deep into the Columbian jungle to a camp where she meets other hostages who are awaiting release. In her arrogance, she demands to be released, refuses to eat, and continues acting like a spoiled princess who is used to getting her way.

Elite Operative Fetch has been deeply uncover as FARC's "medica." Her mission is to effect the release of the hostages. Her assignment is complicated when Zoe is added to the list of hostages she needs to free. Fetch knows about Zoe's pampered life and wants nothing to do with the likes of Zoe.

Unbeknownst to those living in the jungle, a madman has released a deadly virus upon the world. The virus kills its victim within days of coming into contact with it. Very quickly, millions of people are dead or dying. Two of the camp's guerrillas come down with the virus after returning from a visit into the nearest town. The virus begins spreading through the camp.

Fetch has no choice but to get the hostages, including Zoe, out of the camp and on their way to freedom. However, matters become complicated when it becomes apparent that three of the hostages, an Italian couple and their daughter, have been infected with the virus. Fetch has no choice but to leave them behind in the jungle to die. Zoe thinks its too cold hearted and verbally attacks Fetch.

As the two women run for their lives, a mutual respect grows between them as they each begin to understand the other better. It doesn't take long for them to realize that while Zoe should have become ill with the virus because of her proximity to the Italian hostages. However, she remains healthy.

When, two guerrillas from their camp find them, Fetch is forced to kill them, Zoe doesn't understand how Fetch could do that, but is willing to listen. As they near the pickup zone, Fetch realizes that Zoe is the answer to stopping the virus' spread even as she realizes she is infected by the virus and will die within five days. Luckily, Zoe's blood holds the answer to the cure and Fetch and another operative are saved.

No sooner do they consummate their love than Fetch leaves on another assignment - to find the man who set loose the pandemic.

Baldwin and Alexiou have written a barn burner of a thriller. The reader is taken in from the first page to the last. The tension is maintained throughout the book with rare exception.

In the last chapter, the authors re-introduce characters who first appeared in earlier books in the series. Readers new to the series are warned to slow their reading or face the possibility of getting lost in trying to figure out who these "new" people are. However, by reading slower, the reader will easily see that authors do explain who these people are and their relationship to one another.

Baldwin and Alexiou are defining the genre of romantic suspense within the lesbian genre with this series. You'll find yourself rushing to purchase the first three books in the series if you haven't already read them, or, if you have read them, wishing the authors would write the fifth in the series faster.

Reviewed by The Rainbow Reader

Note to self: When suffering from a high fever, pounding headache, and severe chest congestion, do not read a book about a genetically engineered uber virus with a near 100% mortality rate, no matter how hot the women are between the covers.

Dying to Live is book #4 in the Baldwin & Alexiou Elite Operatives Series. It's 384 pages of hot, humid, flea-infested, gut-wrenching, tilt-a-whirl action that holds you hostage until the final word.

It's the story of Fetch, an Elite Operative who's strength is going deep undercover on Search & Rescue missions. She's embedded and serves as a Medic with the FARC, a radical guerilla group that kidnaps and ransoms unsuspecting folks. Her mission is to rescue three Italians and two Kiwi's, but ends up being asked to include Zoe, a seemingly self-centered, immature, socialite who picks up the wrong girl in a Columbian gay bar. Our jungle girls square off, first against each other, then against the guerillas, the jungle, and then the uber virus. We're reintroduced to Domino, Allegro & Lynx, heroines (and their respective gal pals) from the first three books, Reno (the token male agent who sits at a computer in Colorado and hacks things on demand), and Monty Pierce, Joanne Grant and David Arthur, EEO's Kerberos.

The book starts off a tad slow, as we're introduced to the dastardly scientist that creates the uber virus; and Zoe, her fall from Grace, and her kidnapping.

There was, admittedly, a little blip of life as Zoe gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "head of the table" . . .

I digress, nothing wrong with a slow building up, I was just excited to get to know Fetch.

I know that probably sounds whiny, but I have a crush on every one of the Elite Operatives (except Reno, of course), so for me, the book started when Fetch slipped her sunglasses on and thought lovingly of the drugs the EOO slip her to make her a better machine. Thump. Thump.

The villains in this book truly display the pock-marked faces of evil. From the sicko Dr. Andor Rozsa, to the smelly Diego Barriga, and almost every male in between.

Well, except for Reno . . . he's not much fun at parties, but he knows how to sit, stay, roll over, and transfer money from Swiss bank accounts.

We're reintroduced, in fairly great detail, to Domino and Allegro - some of the best dialogue in the book comes from the interaction between these two Operatives. Domino is still fairly focused and serious, but Allegro is on a roll and delights the reader by baiting Domino at every opportunity. Of course, it's all in jest, since they see each other as 'sisters' and best friends.

Speaking of 'sisters', just a point here: The EOO discourages the Operatives from developing personal ties to anyone. Yet, Domino has Haley (and her baby bump), Allegro has Kris, Lynx has Phantom Jack, Fetch was going to marry Sam, until she got flattened in Afghanistan (but now she has a reluctant thing for Zoe); Monty is getting it on with Joanne, but sees both Lynx and Phantom Jack as 'daughters' (maybe?) . . . oh, and David Arthur has a special spot for Fetch, his perfect little automoton soldier.

I wouldn't change a thing, but it seems to me that Kerberos needs to reevaluate the fraternization section of it's Employee Handbook . . . just sayin'!

Okay, I loved, loved, loved this book (and before I read it, I reread the first three to get me into the mood) . . . but with the good, comes a few things the authors need to think about . . . any maybe they have, but I'm being impatient: They give hints of back story for each of the Elite Operatives, but never really fill in the blanks. For instance, why does Fetch and a few other Operatives need to take Provigil, Propranolol, Electroporation, and Biafine? Perfect soldier? Sounds like perfect addict to me . . .

(is anyone else humming Michael Jackson's 'The Way You Make Me Feel'?)

Likewise, in Missing Lynx, Book #3, the authors allude to some sort of long lost, special relationship between Phantom Jack and Monty Pierce, but by the end of Book #4, we still don't know what or why. Anyway, I guess I just want to know 'the rest of the story'.

I don't want to give the ending away, but I'll tell you that we have the requisite nipples straining against t-shirts and appreciation of firm asses in camo. I bawled my eyes out and did a happy jig all in the space of thrity minutes - the ending is slippery, fast-paced, intense, and painful. It keeps you on the hook until the final word, which made me almost angry, but only because I want to know what happens next.

I'm not normally a fan of collaborations in literature, but make no mistake: Baldwin and Alexiou are an unparalleled, dynamic duo that can write the heck out of these characters, while dropping them in and plucking them right back out of the deepest, darkest heart of Bigbadville.

I'm already tapping my foot loudly for Book #5, Demons are Forever.

On the Rainbow Scale, I'll give it a 5.8 out of 6.

What Readers Say:

By TerryB "Lesfic fan" (Truro, UK) 2011-03-17

Zoe Anderson-Howe is a spoilt rich British socialite. Her father has always given into her every last desire, now he has had enough, disinherits her and fires her from his airline business. Zoe has one last trip to Bogota to fulfil, then she will be unemployed.
Unfortunately, Zoe is kidnapped by FARC guerrilla's. She is beaten and abused, but begins to show a surprising strength to survive.
Fetch, an Elite Operative, has been in the Colombian jungle undercover for six months. Her task is to infiltrate the FARC and rescue their hostages. This now includes Zoe. Fetch has read all about the spoilt Brit and she feels nothing but contempt for her. Adding to Fetch's burden is a fatal virus that is spreading fast across the world, even reaching their remote parts in the jungle, where it hits some of the hostages and some of the FARC. When it becomes apparent that Zoe could be the answer to a cure, it becomes a race against time for Fetch to get her and the other hostages to safety.
This book is fast paced, exciting and so hard to put down. The plot is so intriguing and so believable, it had me turn the pages as fast as I could. Oh and the romance is an added bonus, but does not over shadow the story in any way. The best of both worlds here. The whole series just keeps on getting better. The ending was so surprising, I can't wait until number five is published now.

By luvshoes 2011-03-15

These two authors have created a very exciting series! I thought that it could not get any better. Book 5, Dying to Live, is AWESOME! This is by far the best series that I have read by any author. I love strong woman and how all of the ops have their own expertise. Book 5 introduces us to Fetch and her name suits her. She searches and recovers hostages. She is a true soldier and is totally committed to the EOO. I like her character and how her view of Zoe changes as they become closer. Zoe also has a transformation after she is kidnapped. This book will keep you on edge and I could not put it down.

I also loved Luka's and Misha's involvement, as well as Lynx and Jack.

Can't wait until the next book!

By Tq "Tquack" (Seattle) 2011-02-11

Kim and Xenia are simply amazing. In many book series, the first and maybe the second are usually the best. Sometimes you get lucky and another in between brings back the original spark from the first book. In this Elite Operative series there is never a disappointing or dull moment. Let's face it, Lethal Affairs is a great read. It leaves you wanting for another. Thief of Always, well, it enhances the series with new characters and another fascinating plot. Missing Lynx, wow! Just when you thought it couldn't get any better. The third book in the Elite Operatives series will keep you turning pages for sure.

Dying to Live, however, has raised the bar. This book is beyond a page turner. Like the first three, there is always a hot romance to be told. But the non-stop action and intrigue will leave you with the need for more. This well written addition will blow your mind. Get ready to be captivated on an emotional high and low roller coaster from the first word to the very last. You too, will be dying for book five.

By Philologus 2011-02-06

Can a series get even better in the fourth installment? Yes, it can! Dying to Live is a fast paced thriller where two equally strong story lines are woven together. Kim and Xenia do again a marvellous job highlighting some of the worst threats of our times. This time it is the ruthless and mind boggling kidnapping business in Colombia and the threat of a wordwide pandemic they put into the spotlight. It is certainly a book you would want to start only if you have the chance to continue undisturbed ... it's definitely a page turner. The characters, esp. Zoe and Fetch are thoroughly believable and thinking about the FARC rebels gives me even now goosebumps (thank God those guys are far away). The development of Zoe is masterfully done - the layers of her former life are pealed away in captivity to show at the end what she is truly made of (during the process you want to strangle her at more than one time ). The book gives chills many times and one would wish that nothing like this could come to pass, alas it is thoroughly realistic. Both authors are to be commended for pace, plot, characters, research, for involving some of our favourite characters from the series in this plot, for the reality of their description of different locations worldwide and for the sheer "wordmanship". The end is wicked and I already look forward to the next installment.

By Washington, J "booklover" (Washington DC) 2011-02-04

Alexiou and Baldwin did it again. Every time I think this is their best book yet, they manage to surprise me.

Dying to live touches on topics that have been filmed and written about, many times over (viruses and FARC kidnappings) but combined they make for a very original and complex story. Although all ops have a similar background the writers have managed to create very different and unique characters in every op. Special op Fetch is no exception. Probably the most altruistic of all, she does what she does because she likes to make others happy. A true soldier at heart, she is dedicated to protecting and saving lives with very little regard for her own life. She doesn't care for anything materialistic and prefers a detached existence so that others won't have to suffer in her absence or demise. The way the authors describe her way of thinking and living is absolutely beautifully well written. Exceptionally well written are also Fetch's thoughts on how she views the world and her place in it.
Zoe is also an altogether different character. Spoiled, overprotected, arrogant and almost naive about the real world. Her attitude is frustrating as it is funny. All that changes in the course of trying to stay alive and learning to love. It was rewarding to see her change from selfish and self destructive to self-sacrificing and self-respecting. The romance was sexy but realistic under the circumstances with a very wicked waterfall scene, which I read three times before I moved on. The bad guys are well written and 3 dimensional and the huge added bonus to this book was the whole cast of previous ops and their partners. It was amusing and touching to see Allegro and Domino interact and witness the strength of their friendship. So touching in fact that I teared up.
Jack and Lynx are also back in the game and although I don't want to give anything away, I'm almost sure Jack is going to kick some ass in the next book.
The ending of Dying to live is powerful and emotional and I can't wait to see where the authors go with the next book. A very complex and strong addition to the series with lots of emotional highs and lows and an ending I really DID NOT see coming.
I highly recommend this series to anyone interested in good story telling, original characters, powerful plots and rewarding romance.

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