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The Unexpected Hostage by Allison McKenzie is a Spring Break Bookapalooza pick #thriller #mustread #giveaway

Title: The Unexpected Hostage


Author:  Allison McKenzie


Genre: Thriller


Book Blurb: 


Nothing in her life has been stable since Tess’s beloved fiancé Kyle died in a tragic accident. She’s spent the past year hell-bent on outrunning her grief, jetting between high-stakes meetings and the rock clubs where she can disappear. Avoiding her pain was working—almost—until she and her colleagues are taken hostage by a violent Eastern European terrorist group.

With no means to escape her captors, Tess and fellow captive Mark must rely on one another to survive. Together, they’ll risk their lives and endure a brutal journey toward freedom as they forge a bond that neither can forget.

The mysteries of the past refuse to lay dormant for long as Tess is thrust into the center of another international cybercrime and uncovers the shocking truth about Kyle’s death. This time, she’ll need Mark’s help to avenge her losses as she races across the globe to save her company…and their lives.




Chapter One




In a dodgy club in North London, Tess Bennett was hiding in plain sight.


The punk rock beat ricocheted roughshod through every cell in her body, and her heart rate accelerated to match its driving tempo. Drums pounded and electric guitars wailed in riffs so angry she could taste rebellion in her parched mouth. A kaleidoscope of purple-hued beams swirled around the club stage like warring light sabers. The mosh pit throbbed in time with the beat, and the crowd melded into a sweaty, pulsing amoeba which seeped into the bar area.


Noise crackled through her brain in quarter-time rhythm, crowding out everything else. Spilled beer coated the floor, adding a fresh, sticky layer of grime to ancient wood. The dance floor shook like an anarchist uprising, thundering vocals approaching primal screams. She needed this to forget.


As senior vice president of Kingsley Tech, she relished her anonymity here, far from the techies, investors, and sensibly dressed Londoners who populated the cybersecurity world. She’d spent the last year running from grief, circling the globe until her passport overflowed with stamps: Tokyo, Bengaluru, Seattle, Berlin. No matter—the loss always caught her. This club was the one place loud enough to block out her grief and shake her back to life.


Tomorrow marked one year. Somehow, she’d survived a full journey around the sun without her fiancé, Kyle. A car accident. Instant. Upon impact, the police had said, like those facts would console her. They didn’t. Around her, the club-goers rocked and swayed like a wheat field bending in a windstorm. With their feet planted on the ground, they waved their arms back and forth. The crush of revelers failed to cure her loneliness.


Someone tossed a pitcher of water over the dance floor, splashing dancers alongside the stage. Frenzied howls erupted. Sweat dripped down her cheeks, and she pumped her hands in the air, pulsating with the crowd while the song bulldozed to a deafening climax. Obliterate my every thought. Make this pain stop.


Before the song ended in a crash of drums, Tess snaked her way to the bar. She squeezed into a small opening with her elbows to stake her spot in the queue. The barkeep’s Mohawk spikes formed a line of neon-green swords, which were outnumbered by the metal piercings adorning his face. His tattooed arms strained his tight gray T-shirt, emblazoned Torque.


The barkeep ogled her Goth outfit. Tonight, she sported tight leather jeans with a lace-up corset layered over a sheer mesh top. A metal-studded dog collar and heavy rock-star makeup completed her ensemble. Except for her perfect pink nails, an aura of angst surrounded her. Here, she allowed herself to surrender to the darkness she carried every day, even wallow in it, without apology.


“Double vodka, right, bird?” he asked in a thick Cockney accent.


The subwoofer thumped so loud it drowned out her own heartbeat. “Make it strong.”


“What’s your name, American Goth chick?”


“Jinx.” Happy to abandon her corporate persona for the night, she embraced the freedom of nothing left to lose—no past, no future, just the present. She surveyed the swarming mosh pit while he poured her cocktail.


“Right. Jinx. You’ve been here before.” His metal-laden eyebrows rose at her lie. After he slid her drink across the bar, he leaned toward her. “I know a guy who’s got snow, ecstasy, anything you want. Interested?”


She drained her glass in one sip and, judging the vodka’s curative powers lacking, slammed the glass onto the counter. A dizzying array of bad choices enticed her toward recklessness. No one at work would ever find out. In the morning, she would depart for Paris to spend the weekend with her best friend, Sophie.


“If you want, talk to Frankie, the bloke in the red leather jacket, by the door. Discreet.” The barkeep polished a pint glass with a white, terry cloth towel.


She glanced over at the pock-faced man with a shaved head and wondered how many people he’d led straight to addiction, like innocent sheep to slaughter. While the devastation of losing Kyle eroded her sanity at times, she wanted to survive. Perhaps someday the grief would lift, although tonight she couldn’t imagine a future free from the weight of loss. “No. Just make it a double, please.”


“This one’s on me.” The bartender poured her third vodka tonic and winked. “You fancy partying, bird? I’m off at two.”


He couldn’t be further from her type, and the odds she’d go home with a stranger ranged somewhere around one in three trillion. Still needing to numb her grief, she accepted the drink and downed it. Her phone vibrated against her hip, interrupting her train of thought. The familiar pulsing sequence meant one thing: work. “Give me a minute.” Digging into her leather pants pocket, she withdrew her slim satellite phone, grateful for the convenient interruption. The screen flashed the time, almost two in the morning, before displaying David Kingsley’s text message.


—Stuck in Berlin. Need u to lead Timberline security summit for me. Tilly booked u next BA flight to YVR. Potential $20-30 million in venture capital if u convince Bouchard to go with us for medical acquisition. Sorry to ruin your Paris weekend.—


Without hesitation, she typed rapid-fire on her screen.


On my way.—


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):






If money were no object, where would you go for a Spring Break vacation and why?


I’d love to spend a week skiing the Swiss and Italian alps! Skiing gorgeous mountains all day and eating wonderful Italian food every night sounds like heaven. I’d also want to sneak in a visit to Lake Como.


Why is your featured book a must-read this spring?


The Unexpected Hostage is a smart international thriller filled with action, suspense, and twists set against vivid international backdrops. Personally, I love complex, high-stakes plots which interweave an emotional journey with current topics like cybercrime and terrorism. When grieving American exec Tess Bennett is taken hostage during a terrorist attack, her fight for survival leads her further into danger, but ironically helps heal her personal demons so she can find love again. There is hope beyond the darkness.


Giveaway –


One lucky reader will win a $25 Amazon gift card.



Open internationally.


Runs April 1 – 30, 2024


Drawing will be held on May 1, 2024.


Author Biography:


Allison McKenzie has never shied away from adventure. She is at home skiing Canadian glaciers and exploring Scottish castles as she is at her writing desk. After graduating from Wellesley College with honors in English literature, Allison spent most of her career in the software industry.


Allison’s debut novel, The Unexpected Hostage, is the winner of the 2023 Best Political Thriller from She is also the winner of PNWA’s 2020 contest for Romance/Women’s Fiction and a 2021 Finalist for RWA’s Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.


She lives in Seattle with her husband and daughter. An avid skier, she loves theatre, travel, and New Wave music. Visit her at or follow her on Instagram @AllisonMcKenzieAuthor.


Social Media Links:


3 comentarios

Miembro desconocido
28 abr

My dream vacation is to Hawaii. I'm commenting under Michael Law.

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16 abr

I’d love to take my family to Italy or Greece

Me gusta

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
12 abr

Thank you, Allison, for sharing your book in this event!

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