I had not read this author’s books before and I was intrigued by the blurb so I picked up the book preparing for an emotional, gripping story. And it delivered from page one to the moment I clicked to the last page.
The story opens with news journalist, Connor Reagan, arriving in the Middle East. He has permission from the British Ministry of Defense to be inserted into an SAS team and follow them on their missions. Connor is as prepared as he can be physically to go through with this assignment that his paper and the government agree on, but inside he hopes that this will finally give him closure. Connor lost his older brother, James, to war and it has haunted him since that James’ life and death were an enigma. Now is his chance to see what James’ life was like and maybe it can let him have peace and closure. Or at least not peace, after one look at the hardened warrior, Nat, who mesmerizes Connor from day one.
SAS Sergeant Nat Thompson is beyond tired and now he has to babysit a journalist along with running missions with little logistical support, keep his guys’ safe, and hold it together after all the losses especially that of his best friend. The journalist turns out to be something of a surprise in that he isn’t bad or a big hardship. Connor makes points with the team and slowly begins getting past Nat’s emotional barriers. But those barriers are there for a reason. It’s how Nat survives. Things get hot as RPGs bombard their base, the streets hide a new group set to stir up more trouble, and Connor stirs up ghosts for Nat even as he comes to mean a shelter in the storm.
This story is gritty, tense, philosophical, passionate, and all around engaging. I loved everything about it and was deeply into it from page one. Connor and Nat take turns telling the story and I enjoyed both their narrative voices.
The setting and tone were well drawn. I felt I was really there amongst a SAS unit and there in the Middle East.
The author balanced the realism of the situation with storytelling and I appreciated that it didn’t slip into a platforming piece even though there is much to ponder from it.
The action was suspenseful and intense and I was right there in the firefights, on the patrols, and in the staging and missions.
It had a good flow throughout taking the time to develop the characters and the romance, but the author didn’t stint on the big scenes of the end that made it a page turner.
The romance came on gradually even though there was definitely early attraction. They become friends and first come together to give comfort and relief in a high-stress situation. I enjoyed how it subtly became more. I saw early on what was going to become the surprise twist- and maybe the reader is meant to since that would make sense in regard to Connor’s quest. But I was thrilled when it didn’t turn into one of those unnecessary angsty flare ups. It was just one more layer to a good emotional moment and came at a good point in the story.
On a side note, Connor is a journalist/reporter character, but he isn’t pushy, impulsive, stupidly stubborn, or only out for the story. I tend to find that is a pattern in fictional stories, but was glad to not see it here.
So, all in all, I found this a fantastic story. It tugged at the emotions and gave a rousing and intense story. I would recommend it for those who appreciate m/m military romantic suspense.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #97 LGBT
Literary Pickers #90 Military Uniform
New to Me #39 author