Review: "Unexpected Gaines" (Scott Wolfe Series Book 2), by SL Shelton

Upon finishing the first book in the series, “Waking Wolfe,” I immediately purchased “Unexpected Gaines”. The book takes place a few months after Scott Wolfe’s rescue mission to save his girlfriend Barb from Serbian terrorists. Combine, the organization behind the Serbian mission to secure nuclear missiles has suddenly been exposed to the Department of Justice through a double cross involving their accounting records. The records are inadvertently put into the hands of ex-CIA operative Mark Gaines, who thought he was doing a favor for his DOJ friend. Their fact-finding mission turns deadly when Gaines is left holding the only information that can make sense of an attack on his life. In an effort to flush out, or intimidate Gaines, Combine attacks the only people Gaines cares about, his sister and her family. Gaines embarks on his own mission to find the people responsible for brutally murdering his sister.

CIA Agent John Temple decides to track down his former colleague, Gaines, to find out what kind of trouble he has landed in. Temple employs the help of Scott Wolfe, our “knight in shining armor,” or as the CIA refer to him, “Monkey Wrench,” to help him find Gaines before any other government agencies can track him.

I was surprised to find that the book takes place only a few months after Scott’s mission to save Barb and that he is having a hard time recovering from his experiences of being tortured and nearly killed on his personal mission in Amsterdam. He and Barb are living together, but there is tension between them. Scott believes that his “normal” life is too small after all of his experiences. He is suffering from PTSD and physically hindered from his injuries. While this was an unexpected turn in the series, I liked that it humanized Scott and grounded the story. This book could have easily glossed over all the details and turned Scott into a CIA Agent in the middle of hunting down terrorists in a foreign country, but instead it took the time to allow Scott to react like a real person, and not a cardboard character that doesn’t dwell on his experiences and runs off for another adventure. Scott has to decide for himself how these experiences have changed him and what the consequences of these changes are in his relationships, his work life, and within his own psyche. Is he still “tech support” or has he become something more than just the smart guy sitting behind a computer?

SL Shelton has redefined the action thriller for me by putting the characters at the forefront of the story. He tells the story through the emotions of the characters, as well as their actions. The reader can easily relate to the characters trauma, frustrations, and doubts. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an action/conspiracy novel with believable, likable characters. I am hooked on the Scott Wolfe Series and give “Unexpected Gaines” 5 Stars. I am looking forward to reading “Danger Close”.

 5 Stars - Hooked on Scott Wolfe!! 

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