Lights Out – Natalie Walters

Lights Out Natalie Walters
Lights Out by Natalie Walters
Series: The SNAP Agency #1
Published by Revell on November 2, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Romance, Suspense
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five-stars

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 (SNAP) 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.

I believe I have mentioned this before in a review: “America is the best” novels are some of my favorites. The genre hooked me from the moment my mother introduced me to Brad Thor and Vince Flynn. Natalie Walters grabbed my attention with the back cover of Lights Out , and she did not let me down. Lights Out is among my top ten books of 2021. To put that in perspective, I had finished 116 books already by the time I touched Lights Out.

Eight years ago, Jack and Brynn trained together to be in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. Their paths collide with the disappearance of Remon Riad. Brynn’s boss assigns her to work with the Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency (SNAP) to locate him. After what happened when they trained together, Jack does not trust Brynn…but Americans’ safety could be at risk. He pushes past his misgivings because he must.

I loved the entire SNAP team. The lighthearted dynamic between the characters provided humor amid the stresses of the situation. While each character differed, they meshed flawlessly, demonstrating how differences can strengthen a unit. They kept each other positive, grounded, and accountable. I need a Kekoa in my life, please! He reminded me of a character from CBS’s Hawaii Five-O reboot. When you meet him, you’ll understand!

The novel also touches on a significant–but underestimated–national security issue: homegrown violent extremism. Though it sounds terrible, many of us fall victim to racial profiling. Lights Out stresses that anyone can be a terrorist. Internet content lives in perpetuity. Many platforms follow algorithms. If you watch a video or spend a lengthy amount of time reviewing certain content, you’ll probably be shown more of it. With no contact with a terrorist group, someone can self-radicalize. Align himself (or herself) with the group’s beliefs…and potentially affect countless lives.

Lights Out by Natalie Walters features a believable, heart-racing, and high-stakes plot. “We must stop this, or America goes down!” type of pressure. I found myself chewing on my fingernails, brows crinkled, whenever I lost myself in the book’s pages. With a good book, someone almost has to yell at me to get my attention, because I will be so engrossed. That has happened infrequently in 2021, but Lights Out demanded my full concentration. Not because it was overly complicated or hard to understand but because I became invested in the story. I also appreciate that the suspense part of the novel’s “romantic suspense” genre wasn’t secondary. The novel is very well balanced—comedy, intrigue, romance, and excitement, all wrapped into one.

Hold on to your hats and make sure your seatbelt is fastened. Lights Out by Natalie Walters is a wild—but enjoyable—ride into a national security nightmare. We will never know the threats from which the intelligence community protects us on a daily basis. Lights Out provides a fictional glimpse. A delectable and tempting taste that I want to consume again and again. Bravo, Natalie Walters! Bravo.

five-stars