It’s been years since I’ve read a military romance mixed with romantic suspense that kept me glued to the edge of my seat. This novel, with its SEAL hero, FBI heroine and non-stop action did exactly that.
We first met Navy SEAL Derek Vaughn and FBI Agent Elizabeth (Liz) LeBlanc in Griffin’s Exposed. At that point in time the two were on opposite sides of a case and in spite of the serious attraction both of them felt they didn’t become a couple.
This story begins when a group of aid workers is attacked and taken hostage and Derek and his team of SEALs launch a rescue operation. The mission is primarily successful – they are able to retrieve all but one of the hostages and they find some important intel that could prevent a serious terrorist attack on American soil. However, that success is not without cost. They lose a key member of their team and are sent stateside to both debrief and catch some much needed R and R.
The intel captured leads to Liz being invited to a joint tax force between the FBI and Homeland Security that’s dealing with the information Derek and his fellow SEALs found. She isn’t surprised when her boss, known for his “go to the source” attitude, interviews the SEALs to find out if there is any information missing from their report. She is surprised by her visceral reaction to seeing Derek again and finds it hard to keep him at bay when he makes it clear he is ready to take their acquaintance to the next level. She knows Derek is most definitely not what she wants – she’s looking for someone who actually lives in the same section of the country for starters. But Derek makes it clear that he plans to spend his leave in pursuit of both her and the Al Qaeda suspects who may be planning an attack on Houston.
Derek soon proves to be a far more valuable resource than Liz would have expected. Through bypassing official channels and calling in some favors from friends he is able to turn the tiniest leads into solid intelligence and methodically begins to tighten the noose around the terrorists. Soon he and Liz are spending all kinds of time together chasing bad guys. Their relationship slowly but surely deepens. But is that a good thing when he will soon be going wheels up and leaving her once more?
Griffin does a fantastic job of pacing her story so that we have the just right mix of action and adventure and downtime for a romance to develop. I found myself anxiously turning the pages to find out what would happen next in both the romance and the mystery.
I thought Griffin did a great job of pairing up her hero and heroine too. Sometimes a couple just seems to fit together and these two did. Derek’s tendency is to see a target, take a target. Liz needs that. She seems very passive and clueless in the romance department. I could buy that – the author did an excellent job of showing that her job was both time consuming and exhausting and that a recent mission she had been through had left some emotional scars. It was clear that Liz needed someone who would help her revitalize the sensual side of her nature and Derek’s sincere interest helps her achieve this. On the work side, both of them are thorough, hardworking people who know how to get the job done. They are also people consumed with the idea of justice. They don’t have a Pollyanna view of things – they realize that reality isn’t always just – but they strive for it and it is a key part of their makeup. I also enjoyed where the author left the relationship – steps toward a future and commitment but no epilogue with babies and puppies.
I liked the other characters in the novel a lot too. I’m pretty sure the conclusion to the secondary relationship between a hostage and one of her SEAL rescuers might be coming soon to a romance novel near you, which would be awesome.
You don’t need to read Exposed to enjoy this novel. For my part, I’ve been liking but not loving Ms. Griffin’s recent works. This book made me feel the love again. I’m happy to heartily recommend it.