Trust Me
Grade : B+

Trust Me, Rachel Grant’s second book in the Evidence: Under Fire series, will run you through the emotional wringer and spit you out on the other side with a book hangover and hankering for some comfort food and chocolate. It’s intense and passionate and totally enthralling.

Dr. Diana Edwards is an archaeologist and visiting professor leading a dig in Amman, Jordan – and basically living her best adventurous life – when she’s abducted on her way to meet a contact deep in the winding maze of the souk. She’s fortunate to have a side hustle working with the Friday Morning Valkyries (FMV), a group that tracks intel on the sale of artifacts from the Middle East, since the FMV coordinates with the Army’s Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab. That means she’s got an direct line to advanced safety protocols, and with as much trouble as she’s in, she clearly needs it. Diana is intelligent, accomplished, and too headstrong for her own good – especially when she declines rescue to serve as bait to bring down a terrorist. The stakes are high, and the tides inevitably turn against her.

Lieutenant Chris Flyte of the Navy SEALs is on his first op with a new team when he intersects Diana and her captors on the King’s Highway. The rescue attempt quickly slips into FUBAR territory, and it’s clear his team must quickly pivot. Fortunately, pivoting is Chris’ modus operandi, following a year of change in both his personal and professional lives. Despite his failure to complete his first attempt at rescuing Diana, he admires her grit and determination. It’s probably the only thing that keeps him firmly entrenched on her side.

There is a lot going on in this book. Repatriation is important in the world of art, culture, and antiquities, and to an archaeologist like Grant and her characters, not stepping in to prevent the plundering of antiquities is tantamount to participating. Grant’s characters often struggle with the balance of protecting antiquities versus the safety of the human element. They’re as richly developed as usual, but I’ve noticed that the further in her career she gets, the more her protagonists have become ‘characters with purpose.’ Her plots are high concept, and the tension is ratcheted through the roof. You’re going to learn something in a Grant novel, whether it be historic facts about archaeology and antiquities, or cultural responsibility and gender equitability. It’s an interesting conundrum.

My only reservation about Trust Me is that at some point the archaeologist needed to listen to the soldier trying to save her life and trust him to get them both out alive – just like she needed the soldier to rely on her expertise with antiquities and trust her. It’s a two-way street, and Diana’s constant bucking against Chris’ help at the beginning wore thin after a while. There are other ways she could’ve shown her independence without endangering him because she’s headstrong. It made her seem like a reckless, petulant child rather than a seasoned archaeologist accustomed to working in the field in dangerous environments with dangerous people.

As usual, attention to detail is what transports the reader to faraway lands, where Friday mornings ambling through a souk and life-threatening escapes through ancient kingdoms are commonplace. Travel is expensive and so many of the dreamy places Grant writes about are just not easily accessible by regular people like us. It’s like reading National Geographic for the wanderluster, but with romance and emotion and danger.

I’m here for it all, but I’m also here for the romance and the danger.

Reviewed by Dolly Sickles

Grade: B+

Book Type: Romantic Suspense

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : July 19, 2023

Publication Date: 06/2023

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