I read an earlier book from this series and I was struck by how well the author blended backdrop, plot, and development. I got a military romance that told the home-side and the mission-side that stayed with me beyond the last pages of the book and had me comparing other military romance books to that one. With that in mind, I saw this one and was enthusiastic to read it. I am pleased to report that this one was equally engaging and more so in some ways.
This is the third book in the West Coast Navy SEALs series. It can easily function as a standalone or out of order. There are a few familiar faces that pop in, but not even enough that a new reader would even feel that they were missing something.
The story opens with Master Chief Declan Swifton enjoying a relaxing swim in the waters just beyond his apartment complex, but a storm is rolling in so he packs it in. Declan notices his neighbor, Maura, but as usual she barely gives him the time of day. He doesn’t get the standoffishness, but he doesn’t have much time to puzzle her out with his job as a SEAL and his active life keeping him busy.
Maura Maxwell knows she is practically stalkerish the way she spies on Declan. He is one hot guy and she is interested, but based on the honeys that he brings back to his apartment, she figures he’s not for her. Maura has to focus on her gym, Froggy Squats, that she is transitioning in as owner and she has a bucket list. Right now, she plans to paddle her standup board out into the surf and master this sport. But Maura didn’t notice the storm and Declan has to rescue her when she gets into trouble on the water. Maybe this is her chance.
Declan enjoys the start up of whatever this is he has with Maura. She isn’t like any of the women he has been with. He is attracted to her, but for the first time, he wants to know a woman outside the bedroom. Maura is fit, enjoys sports, and is interesting. They talk, date, and begin to share lives as he works his missions and she, her gym, but then she gets cold feet and doubts that he can be into her.
A mission goes sideways for Declan and meanwhile, Maura hasn’t had the chance to tell him that she messed up and let fear pull her away. She is determined to make things right when Declan gets home. But when he is there, she realizes that she has a bigger choice to make. Declan is changed by his mission. Can she accept this man- this SEAL- or will she walk away for something easy and safe?
The story isn’t some action-packed page burning thriller. Oh, there are exciting moments when Declan and his SEAL brothers are out on a couple trainings and missions, but for the most part, it is the story of two people falling in love and then supporting each other through their trials and triumphs. There is passion and sizzle, but there is ordinary everyday time and dialogue.
Declan is a confident man and he is salt of the earth. I enjoyed him as a hero as he fought through the tough times that come.
Maura has to get past her hang-ups, but she, too, has quiet strength. Something happens that makes Maura realize that she is exactly who Declan needs beside him. Declan knew it and told her, but she had to get there on her own. I loved that she was a Parkour instructor and gymnast and I had fun being along on the activities these two did together- yep THOSE activities, too. Haha!
All in all, I loved this even-paced romance and can easily recommend it to those who enjoy authentic, but mild military romance.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #413
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