‘Dying to Live’ by Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou

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.
Dying to Live
By Kim Baldwin; Xenia Alexiou
Bold Strokes Books
Paperback, 9781602822009, 382pp.
February 2011