Pamela Clare is one of my auto-buy authors and she did not disappoint with her latest romantic suspense offering. While I personally prefer the lush descriptive writing that seems to flow through her historical romance novels, I have come to love the characters that surround the I-Team as well.
In 2009, Javier Corbray spends one weekend having wild and crazy sex in Dubai with Network War Correspondent Laura Nilsson, aka “The Baghdad Babe.” Though they both agreed that their affair was only for one weekend, Javier was tempted to break that pledge and contact Laura again. Before he gets the chance, Laura and her crew are kidnapped and executed in Pakistan while reporting about women suffering under the Taliban. Javier is a Navy SEAL and when the book opens, his unit is preparing to strike the Al-Qaeda terrorists who murdered Laura. For Javier this secret mission is extremely personal.
Laura Nilsson was on the top of the world in her profession when it all came crashing down. After building her career as a network news correspondent in Iraq, she takes on the Taliban of Afghanistan and their treatment of women. While taping from an undisclosed location, Al-Qaeda terrorists attack and kill her entire crew. Most of the world believes she was also killed in the attack, but her sentence may be even worse. For two years she has been tortured, raped and brutalized by Al-Nassar. When she is finally rescued from the camp, she barely remembers how to speak English and almost misses her chance at a rescue. After the rescue, she slowly begins to build her life and finds that while she still wants to pursue her journalism professions, she no longer wants to be in the spotlight. This takes her to the Denver newspaper that features the I-Team.
Javier was sworn to secrecy concerning his part in the Black Op that resulted in Laura’s rescue from Al-Nassar. Though tempted to contact her, he has had his own issues to deal with since the rescue. Because of a decision he made, a number of his fellow SEALS were killed in an ambush. Javier was severely wounded himself and is on leave to heal both physically and emotionally. Coincidentally, he also has a connection with the I-Team and when he takes Nate West up on his offer to recuperate at his Denver ranch it is inevitable that he and Laura will reunite. After a couple of prologues, the main part of the story opens with Laura testifying against Al-Nassar in court. Al-Nassar curses her and makes her a target for worldwide terrorists. When a bomb goes off at the newspaper office, and a former head of her security detail begins to stalk her, it becomes apparent that Laura needs protection. Naturally Javier must come to the rescue.
Pamela Clare does an excellent job of taking two wounded warriors and fleshing them out. Both Laura and Javier are extremely sympathetic characters and Clare peels off the layers of their personalities with a deft hand. Neither want to face their darkest fears and their greatest shame, but together they are able to help each other through the process of healing. I have read all of Clare’s I-Team books and while they are all enjoyable reads, with a six-book series (along with 3 novellas) the prospect of series fatigue can set in. The plot was well done, but not brilliant. It takes a bit of stretching to place both the hero and heroine in the same geographic location at the same time and that makes the plot just a tad contrived. There is a HEA of a sort, but probably not the HEA the reader might wish for. It is more of a Happy As Is Humanly Possible given the circumstances.
While this book did not reach DIK status for me, it is still another solid book and a good read by author Pamela Clare. The book also works well as a stand-alone, so readers need not have read the previous books to enjoy this one. I give it a thumbs up for romantic suspense fans.