Saw the blurb on this one about a lady Marine sniper deep undercover and a SEAL stationed near her area of operation in Afghanistan and decided it was high time I tried this author’s books. The opening scenes were riveting and proved that my anticipation wasn’t misplaced. There is a bit of love at first sight going on and things happen fast, but the conflicts, both internal and external, kept it from being simple and too easy plus the book ended on a happy for now leaving room for a bit more story to be told. And a little note at the end indicated that there would be a follow-up novella so I don’t have to get upset about wanting more.
This book is part of a series, but it, like many of the others in the series, can be read as a standalone or out of order. The series highlights stories of women military warriors and the men who accept and love them. The stories don’t soften the extremely brutal life and environment they are in and the focus is even distributed between the action and the romance.
The story opens with Khat Shinwari, Marine sniper, settled in to observe Taliban activity and movements through the scope of her rifle. Soon after, there is an exchange of fire and a SEAL is injured. She gets the injured SEAL away to one of her cave hide-outs and patches him up.
Michael Tarik is in pain and disoriented when he wakes up in a cave with a beautiful woman. His last memory was staying back to cover for his team to get away. During his recovery time, he gets to know the beautiful enigmatic woman who operates right under the Taliban’s nose disrupting their activities and providing strong intel on their movements. He has to guess at most of it because Khat is circumspect since Michael doesn’t have the clearance to know about her. Mike is very observant and he is keenly aware of everything to do with Khat. He picks up on her Afghani roots and surmises about the work she does based on her ability with her sniper rifle and caring for his wounds. They connect on a basic level and share more than they have with anyone else in a long time. Before he is picked up, he makes a promise to Khat that he will find her after he gives her a scorching kiss.
Khat has been numb since her capture and torture by the Taliban and then her father’s painful reaction to it so that she refused to go home after that not taking the forced time for recovery away from her intense operation. Mike’s time with her and the kiss broke through her dammed up emotions and caused her to start feeling again and dreaming of something she thought that she’d never have. This terrifies her as does the prospect of seeing more of him when she is ordered to start receiving her supplies from Mike’s base and working with Mike and his commanding officer. Up until now, she had been determined to live and die for her people with no hope of a happy life of her own, but Mike presents her with an alternative and makes her see that it’s not wrong to take a chance on love.
At first, I was riveted to the story as Khat rescues and cares for Mike and they start to know each other in that cave. I think the beginning was the most powerful part of the story. Much of the book is taken up with Khat’s crisis of conscience because she knows she must choose between Mike and the village people she is protecting. She went through torture and capture and never got the time of healing that she needed and she never takes a break from her dangerous job so she is coming apart at the seams even though she can’t see it. Her mental state was what created the tension for both of them through the middle of the book. I was impressed with Mike’s careful handling of her. He balanced respect for her, for her work and treating her carefully with his own common sense and desires. Not once is he threatened by the fact that she is a strong woman. He is a true protector and Khat recognizes his strengths as he does hers.
Now while, I enjoyed this story; I did have some disconnect to it as well. It might be just my ARC copy- at least I hope so, but the switches in narration were not clearly delineated. It happened in the middle of a conversation and happened several times in a scene. I had confusing moments over whether it was Khat or Mike talking and it kept me edgy so that I wasn’t absorbed into the story as I had to figure out who was doing the talking. There was also a less than smooth feel to the writing that I’m not sure if it’s the author’s writing style or a need for polishing.
Those were relatively minor quibbles and didn’t prevent me from having an overall enjoyment of the story. The military world, descriptions, dialogue and actions all felt authentic for me. Most of all, I enjoyed these two people as a couple. The author had their feelings engage quick, but then she took the time to build a strong foundation for them being together. Their passion is raw and fiery when they come together. They spend a great deal of time together and even partner as operatives. I am very curious to see what happens with them when they go Stateside together in the follow-up story.
So in the end, this is an author and series that I will be happy to see more of. Those who enjoy military romance strong on the military setting and spicy on the romance should try this one.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #102 RS
Literary Pickers #103 Military Uniform
New to Me #54 Author/series
Cliché Klatch #37 ‘Going in Hot
Interracial Romance #14
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