Phantom by Barbara Meyers (Manuscripts Under the Bed, Vol. 1)
ABOUT THE BOOK
Zoe Bradford will do anything to find her brother Ben, a missing missionary in Latin America. Even if it means sleeping with an anonymous stranger in order to finance a rescue mission.
Covert operative Aaron Manning doesn’t believe a “normal” life is possible for him. But the bizarre arrangement he creates with Zoe makes him more determined to step out of the shadows permanently in order to achieve his dream.
Zoe wants to believe in Aaron’s promise to save Ben, but she finds it impossible to fully trust him. When she blunders into the carefully orchestrated op, her interference nearly kills them all.
Aaron must fake his own death to start a new life, but Zoe still needs answers. And when her phantom lover makes contact again, a pregnant Zoe knows the only way to move forward is to learn his true identity.
When she discovers the man she’s in love with and the phantom who duped her are one and the same, will she be willing to forgive them both?
I read my first Barbara Meyers book, If You Knew, last July and I enjoyed her strong characters and interesting plot. So when I received a request from Ms. Meyers to read a book she penned 15-20 years ago and was just published in December 2019, I jumped at the chance. Phantom is a fast-paced romantic suspense about two strangers missing something in their lives who find a connection and a dangerous mission that means life or death for those they love.
God took. He took and took and took. Everything and everyone she’d ever cared about. Her mother, her grandmother. Her husband, her child. And then her brother. She didn’t have much left for him to take. Her dignity, her pride, maybe. Her self-respect. Herself.
Zoe Bradford has lost so much in her life and she is not about to lose the only family she has left. Her brother Ben, a priest and missionary, was kidnapped by dangerous men in Guatemala and she will do anything to save him. Even give her body to a stranger for money in the dark, no speaking, no identity. But the longer she has the clandestine meetings with the phantom, the more she feels a connection that will not amount to anything. Then she meets Aaron Manning, another stranger who insists on pulling her out of her misery, hopelessness, her pain. His kisses are passionate and she feels safe in his presence, but even though he works for the government for a secret unnamed department, he refuses to help her save her brother. So it’s time to depend on no one, but herself. She will attempt to save her brother, or die trying.
Agent Aaron Manning is alone and tired of working all of the time. He wants a house, a wife, a family, a normal life. But working for Level One destroyed any hope of that happening. He is obsessed with Zoe Bradford ever since he saw her at her husband and son’s funeral. He feels responsible for their deaths because he was chasing the terrorist that ran them over. He wants to help Zoe and also have her in his life, but how could he pay her without her asking questions?
Zoe and Aaron’s relationship is complex at best. Aaron’s unorthodox way of being in Zoe’s life is skewed, but he has good intentions that could backfire. He is a competent and hardcore federal agent who has never had a normal relationship and his need for love and companionship is heartrending. And then there is Zoe’s tragic life. She has lost everyone she loves and barely exists. If not for her friend, Drew, she probably wouldn’t have survived the deaths of her son and husband. But her meetings with the phantom and Aaron bring her out of her shell and one sees the strength, courage, and faith she builds on to rescue her brother and change her life.
I’m so grateful the author decided to publish this “manuscript under the bed”. It is filled with loss, torment, hope, action, and suspense that this reviewer could not put down. Recommend highly!
Thank you to Ms. Meyers for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A few of my favorite things: My family and my dear, dear friends.
My addictions/vices: Books; wine…white zin or pinot grigio; coffee…an every-morning must have; popcorn.
What I do when I’m not writing: I read or I might be working at the local Starbucks, hanging out with the above-referenced friends and family; bicycling around my neighborhood; taking a nap.
I’m originally from Southwest Missouri, but I grew up in a bunch of tiny towns in Illinois and Idaho before I arrived in Florida where I currently reside.