Reviewed: August 5, 2012
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Elite Force, Book 3
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 384 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosures: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Sourcebooks Casablanca publisher Sourcebooks via NetGalley.
This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Staring down the end of his career as a pararescueman, Major Liam McCabe is feeling his years and thinking of retirement. At thirty-eight, his body just can't do what it used to without feeling punishing pain, and he won't put his team at risk should he start to slow because of it. In two weeks he and his elite force will be providing external security at an international summit, then he's done. Though that cold reality isn't exactly a comfort.
Neither are Liam's memories of Rachel Flores, the woman who stole his heart as they worked together on a rescue mission in the Bahamas six months ago, then refused to answer any of his calls when they both returned stateside. Sad thing is, Liam can't really blame Rachel for leaving him hanging.
That's one of the reasons why, when Liam gets in his Jeep after an exhausting training exercise and finds Rachel huddled in the back seat, her arm around one of her dogs and a haunted, hunted terror in her eyes, he's both intensely surprised and unavoidably affected. Until she tells him she's in danger and why, and surprise morphs into a fierce determination to protect her.
If she'd had anyone else to turn to for help, Rachel wouldn't have dragged Liam into the confusing mess she's landed in. It was hard enough keeping away from him for six months. They had forged a connection that had scared the hell out of her when they were in the Bahamas. Now he is her last resort, her only hope, and the only man alive who can make her feel even a little safe with the knowledge she has. If Liam doesn't believe her or can't help her, Rachel is convinced...and terrified...that she'll be killed to keep someone's dark secrets hidden.
There's no way Liam will let that happen...not to Rachel. But a disturbing question torments him and he wonders if he'll have what it takes to stop it.
This third installment in the Elite Force series is my second book by Mann and I have to say, I really enjoy how she writes. Of the ongoing, military-themed romantic suspense series I'm reading, this is definitely one of my favorites. Even though I was a little disappointed that the plot of this one focused more on the military than the rescue-heavy plotline of its predecessor, this is a solid read with great characters who have awesome chemistry.
I fell for the lovelorn Liam in Hot Zone and was happy to see him again in his own story. He's older than the rest of his team, and the impact of a long, high-risk career on his body, as well as the subsequent feelings about reaching the end of his career, were realistically portrayed and sympathetic. He's a well-rounded character with foibles and flaws he wryly acknowledges, and a steely determination that pairs well with his protective streak.
Oh, yeah...and he's hella sexy.
Rachel is also great in her role, but I did like her better in the latter half of the book. She was such a tough chick in the previous book, no nonsense and focused on her job with her Search and Rescue dog. I respected the hell out of her fortitude and loved the chemistry she had with Liam. This book starts out with her in a situation out of her control, and the fear that drives her to Liam for help defines her character long into the book. Though I understood why she was afraid, it didn't appeal to me as much for her character.
The bond between the two of them, though, and the sexual chemistry they have, is rock solid and smoking hot throughout the story. I love how Mann built off what had occurred between them six months ago, and factored in the emotional landscape the two characters found themselves dealing with. They fit together so well and their relationship was such an organic extension of what had come before, I found it completely believable and more realistic than many in the genre.
The external conflict was taut with suspense. It wasn't my favorite element of the book, but it was executed very well throughout most of the book. I wasn't crazy about the climax, where I thought the storyline went off the rails a bit. It just seemed to go a little too far, passing plausible (if disturbing) and treading over the line into unbelievable. The Bad Guy did some things that smacked the face of logic and didn't make a whole lot of sense to me towards the end.
Stronger story elements like the romance arc, the main characters, and the page time with the Elite Force team members combined with the rest of the plot of the book to generate a thorough, layered romantic suspense that I heartily gobbled up. I enjoyed the secondary romance quite a lot, too, though it didn't get quite as much depth and development as I would have liked to completely flesh it out. All told, I was left feeling pleasantly entertained by this third book in Mann's popular series. I hope there's much more to come.
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