Release Day Review: Beneath This Mask (Enhanced #3) by Victoria Sue

Gael Peterson has spent years hiding behind the enhanced abilities he wears like a mask, even though he is an important, confident member of the FBI’s exclusive H.E.R.O. team. The hurt and betrayal of his mom’s abandonment and his father’s fists are secrets buried deep beneath the ugly scars on his face, and he doesn’t trust Jake, his new regular human partner, with any of them. In a world where those with special abilities like Gael’s are regarded as freaks and monsters, it won’t be easy for him to rely on Jake to have his back, especially when the abilities of a vulnerable, enhanced, nonspeaking child make that child a murder suspect.

Tempers rise and loyalties are challenged, and when the serial killer targeting the enhanced finally sets his sights on Gael, not only will Gael have to trust Jake with his secrets, he might have to trust him to save his life.

Once again, Victoria Sue has hit it out of the ballpark. I loved this episode of the Enhanced series! Gael and Jake were an unlikely couple who, even with all the drama and mayhem surrounding them, fit together seamlessly.

I’ve wanted to read Gael’s story since I first got to know him in Five Minutes Longer. He had an air of mystery about him and I could tell his story was going to be heartbreaking.

Jake was a bit of an unknown going into this book. We didn’t really meet him until later in the second book so, although intrigued, I had no idea what to expect from him. Jake also had the extra stigma of coming from ENu, the police’s enhanced unit and the team’s number one archrival. It wasn’t easy for him to acclimate, but he slowly won the guys over after proving himself to be a good cop and even better human being.

I loved the slow progression their relationship took. Yeah, there were some ups and downs, but not more than what you would find in any budding relationship. Gael was averse to having a partner; he didn’t really feel that he needed (or deserved) one. Jake, not one to shirk any duty, put forth a lot of effort in breaking down the wall Gael had erected around him. First, in an effort to fit in with his partner and the team and then, after getting to know Gael a bit more, because he found he liked the guy. He liked the guy a lot. Some would say he may have even developed a crush on the mysterious man with the scarred face. Some would be correct in that assumption. ;)

Their relationship felt natural. It felt easy and genuine. I liked that the author avoided the dreaded Big Misunderstanding Due to a Lack of Communication trope that is prevalent in the genre nowadays, instead offering a natural progression to their relationship that felt real and more true-to-life.

The underlying theme to this book seems to be family and all the differences in each one you may find. There are good families and bad. Families that support you and those that hold you back. Happy families and toxic families. Ones that you are born to and new ones that you form. It doesn’t matter what type of family you come from; only what you make of yourself and the one you create. It was a strong yet subtle message that really resonated within me and made me think.

I can’t leave here without mentioning the villain in this story. What a wonderfully despicable character they were. I was fully invested in their demise. I loathed them fiercely and anticipated their comeuppance with an unholy glee. Fabulous job on the villain!

Recommended for lovers of exciting, action-packed urban fantasy that is heavy on the romance. These ain’t your mama’s superheroes!

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