This was an exciting story to begin an action-packed, passionate new romantic suspense series. I’ve listened to the author’s stories before, loved them and was eager to give this series a go. The book leaped out of the gates and stayed strong throughout with an ending that had me deeply satisfied.
The story opens with English language teacher, Eryn McClellan, barely escaping death at the hands of a revenge-minded terrorist only because one of her students was a traitor to the terrorist group’s cause and warned her, losing his own life in the process. Eryn is taken into custody by the FBI only to run afoul of an ambitious lead agent who wants to use her as bait and land the terrorist for a huge career move. Fortunately for her, General McClellan has a much better idea for her protection and she lands in the capable, if disgruntled, hands of former Navy SEAL, Ike Calhoun. She recognizes a serious case of survivor’s guilt when she sees it, but she is determined to force the man to get past it and see him the way she and others see him.
Ike escaped to his mountain retreat high in the Blue Ridge after his leadership of his SEAL team got most of his guy’s killed and another in the hospital. He failed his team and now he has to live with it and the only way to do that is to withdraw and just go through the motions. All that is shot to pieces when the one man he can’t say no to, asks him to protect his daughter. Ike grudgingly dusts off his lethal skills and uses them to extract Eryn from the FBI, hide her on his mountain, and try to teach her how to protect herself. The woman is a huge temptation and she persistently picks at him to open up and share. She is also his mentor’s daughter and his charge to protect so he pushes aside the temptation of Eryn and works to keep her safe.
The terrorist is frustrated at every turn to gain his vengeance against the man who killed his son by his plot to kill the man’s daughter and take the war to a whole new level. The FBI are equally frustrated by both the terrorist’s cunning plotting and the skill of the unforeseen Ike Calhoun. Ike and Eryn become the center of a dangerous storm swirling around them. Keeping Eryn safe becomes even more complicated really fast.
I found the progression of this story very interesting because of the strong balance between the romance and the suspense. The action sequences are breath-stealing and exciting. I loved that it was two-pronged with the terrorists and the ambitious FBI agent after Ike and Eryn. It just heightens the danger element and I loved that.
The personal and romance journey that Ike and Eryn are on as their relationship begins and deepens is equally exciting. I loved the build of tension as hostility gives way to sexual desire and understanding. Eryn is one who wants a reciprocal sharing of feelings and information, but finds herself in the company of a man locked up tighter than Ft. Knox who shares on a need to know basis. I appreciated that while they didn’t see things the same way; they both made attempts to understand where the other person was coming from and do a little compromising. And Winston the dog, what was not to adore about him! I also liked that while she is terrified and uncertain, for the most part, Eryn trusts to Ike’s lead even when he isn’t giving her a lot of reason to trust him with his cranky attitude and gruff demeanor (what is there about a crabby lethal male in a snit that had me smiling?). Ike finds her spirit of understanding and her inner strength under the circumstances a surprise and she unsettles him in a good way as a result.
I really liked this story and was engaged the entire time. I had a few questions leftover at the end, but it’s possible that they will be addressed as the series progresses so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. The main plot and character development was wholly tied-up nicely so it’s not like the story had an incomplete ending. I was just curious about a few other things.
There is a sense near the end that a switch is flipped and things suddenly go into hyper-drive, but I liked the idea that after all the build up that it quickly comes to a head on collision. The barrier to the romance near the end was also not a surprise as it made sense and was foreshadowed if someone was looking for it. Ike needed that resolve to unfinished business even if it was hard on Eryn. Interesting and fun way to bring it all to the finish line for the romance at the end when Eryn’s father stepped in and took things in hand. Loved it actually.
As to the narration…Oh yes, very nice! The narrator, David Brenin, was an excellent match for the story. His take on the characters seemed spot on. His voice variations, conveyance of emotion and tone, and pacing were spectacular. In short, the narration added a whole other layer of strength to the story.
All in all, great start to the series. Loved the exciting thriller-ish plot, well-drawn characters, and spicy tension-filled romance. I would recommend this one to lovers of thriller romance, romantic suspense and military romance lovers who love a lot of action, long-developing passionate romance and a blazing hot hero.
My thanks to the author for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
Marliss Melton has kindly offered up the opportunity for one lucky commenter to win an audio copy of the book I just reviewed, The Protector. The giveaway will run for one week and then we will draw a comment at random and pass the name and contact information to the author who is handling the giveaway.
If you are interested in the giveaway, leave a comment on my review. If you need a comment prompt, tell me a favorite Romantic Suspense book or your favorite audio book/narrator.
Remember: the giveaway is for an audio book through Audible so be sure you are able to access Audible.