Navy SEAL to the Rescue
Navy SEAL to the Rescue is the first book in a new series from Harlequin ‘regular’ Tawny Weber, marking her move from the now defunct Blaze line to Harlequin Romantic Suspense. It’s a fairly predictable story that makes use of classic character-types and tropes, and yet I enjoyed it (for the most part) for what it was, a quick, sexy and undemanding read – although the final section of the story goes in a direction I wasn’t keen on and the HEA is rather rushed.
Lila Adrian is determined to make her own way in life, out from under the shadow of her exacting father and perfect brother, who have always been dismissive of her opinions and ambitions. To this end, she’s started her own business called At Your Service, of which she’s brains, brawn and chief headhunter, finding specialist staff who are the perfect fit for all sorts for wealthy clients. She’s in Costa Rica in order to make an offer of employment to a chef whose food so impressed a rich, honeymooning couple that they want him to work for them exclusively, and is about to enter the disappointingly run-down restaurant at which he now works when she is temporarily side-tracked by the sight of the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen emerging from the ocean.
Travis Hawkins is in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for some R&R following the knee-injury that ended his Navy career. He’s completely adrift and has absolutely no idea who he is outside of his job and no plans for what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. He definitely likes the look of the petite, curvy blonde eyeing him up, but he’s not in Puerto Viejo to hook up with random women – he has life and shit to sort out.
Lila’s life is turned upside down when, after returning to the restaurant later that evening to negotiate with Chef Rodriguez, she witnesses his murder. Panicked, she gets the hell out of there and literally runs into the hot guy from the beach – and even though he clearly doesn’t believe her story, he nonetheless stays with her while she calls the police and then accompanies her back to the scene of the crime to meet up with them. But when Travis and Lila get there, there’s no body and no blood; in fact no sign that anything untoward has happened at all. And to add insult to injury, when the local police arrive, it’s clear they don’t believe Lila either which, with no body or evidence to support her claims, is not too surprising. But their unwillingness to even look into the matter sets alarm bells ringing – and Lila realises now why Travis had not been too keen on the idea of calling the police in the first place.
Not wanting to get involved with Lila’s problems, Travis sees her back to her hotel and departs, fully intending not to have anything more to do with her. But early the next morning something wakes him from a deep sleep and there’s no question in his mind that something’s happened to Lila (I have no idea how he knows it’s Lila in trouble – ESP? Spidey Sense? Crystal Ball?) so naturally, he swings into full protective mode and mounts Operation Rescue Lila.
After a successful getaway, they return to Travis’ apartment to find it’s been trashed. Having lost all her documentation and money when she was kidnapped, Lila isn’t going to be able to leave the country anytime soon, and Travis decides he’ll do his best to keep her safe until she’s able to replace the necessary documents and travel home. But it’s clear that whoever killed Rodriguez wants the witness to his murder out of the way – and will stop at nothing to make that happen.
Both Lila and Travis are pretty stock-in-trade characters. Lila is perhaps a bit more rounded-out than Travis is, but they’re fairly likeable and have good chemistry. The romance develops fairly quickly and the mental drooling got to be a bit intrusive at times, but the author does develop a connection between the couple and there’s a good dollop of humour and verbal sparrng along the way.
For all its predictability and sometimes excessive mental lusting, Navy SEAL to the Rescue was an entertaining read and one I quite enjoyed up until near the end when Lila – even though she knows full well it’s a bad idea – goes full out TSTL and gets herself into a(nother) situation from which she needs rescuing. The author has set up her character as one that struggles with authority as a result of her life with an overbearing father, so that when Travis gives what she sees as orders he rubs her completely the wrong way and she resents it. It seemed to me as though Ms. Weber was trying to excuse Lila’s actions by showing that she was aware she was being irrational, but to have her be completely honest with herself about her issues, how they affect the way she interprets Travis’ protectiveness, and of all the reasons why what she’s about to do is totally dumb when she then goes and does the dumb thing anyway, feels like the biggest of cop-outs.
The ending is rushed – the author crams in information about the set-up for the rest of the series (Travis is going to work for the high-end security company being set up by her brother – who turns out to be a former colleague) – and also has to address Lila’s fears over her ability to stand up for herself against strong men, which I don’t think she does successfully. Travis makes lots of promises to “respect your independence and value your choices”, but I wasn’t confident Lila would ever be able to throw off the mindset that told her she needed to push back at the first sign of anything she saw as a threat to that independence – whether it was or not – and that made their HEA feel a bit wobbly. While I can’t say Navy SEAL to the Rescue was an unqualified success, I can’t say it was a bad read either – just one I don’t plan to revisit.