Stephanie Tyler’s second installment of her Section 8 series was an interesting read, but I believe that my enjoyment did suffer from not having read the first book in the series. Readers who enjoy Ms. Tyler’s books and have read Surrender, the first book in this series, might have a higher opinion of this story and fewer unanswered questions.
The heroine of this story is the daughter of a man who ran a mercenary camp called Section 8. After a showdown in which Avery’s father is killed, she attempts to revive Section 8 with the people who helped take down Richard Powell (the evil villain from the first book). After putting the idea in front of her brother Dare, his wife Grace, brothers Jem and Key and loner Gunner, the survivors decide to take a few weeks in New Orleans to think it over. Avery has a thing for Gunner and tries everything to get his attention during their sabbatical. She knows he is attracted to her, but he will not act on it and instead keeps pushing her toward a relationship with Key. Avery is understandably frustrated.
Gunner is the son of the infamous and now dead Richard Powell and feels guilty that his father is responsible for the death of Avery and Dare’s father. He also has big secrets he is keeping from everyone in Section 8. When he was still a child, his father gave him to international smuggler Drew Landon. After years of mercenary work for Landon, Gunner leaves and changes his name. He is now a tattoo artist in New Orleans. Gunner worries his presence puts them all at risk and when he receives a message from his former employer, that worry becomes a reality. Gunner thought that nothing could make him enter into his previous employment again, but when his friends are threatened, he disappears without a trace. When someone begins to target the Section 8 members as well as Gunner’s ex-wives, Avery and her cohorts know that Gunner is in danger and set out to find him. After six months of searching, they finally do and Gunner is a changed man. It will take love to bring him back.
Avery along with every other member of Section 8 carries some serious baggage from her childhood, but she is determined to turn that baggage into a positive by using Section 8 to do good in the world. She is the tenuous glue that is holding Section 8 together, but at the beginning of the book it is not clear if Section 8 will survive. She is stubborn and strong, but whether or not she has the skills to lead is in doubt. The one thing she does know is that she believes in Gunner. When Gunner leaves without a word, the events that follow do more to solidify the Section 8 team than any contemplation could have accomplished. The team mobilizes for Gunner and when they find him, his problem becomes their problem.
Stephanie Tyler does romantic suspense well and does a good job of crafting alpha males and strong heroines. The book is fast paced and filled with action. The bad guy is certainly not a caricature and Tyler does a good job of making him human without excusing his flaws. She also does a commendable job of misdirection so the reader is kept on tenterhooks throughout most of the book. I liked both the hero and the heroine, but Jem as a secondary character steals the show and this does detract from the relationship between Avery and Gunner somewhat. I was more interested in his story than I was in the main characters. This was enough to bring the grade down for me. Also, Tyler’s use of flashbacks to fill in the reader was a little disjointed and it took me a while to get into this book. I was able to discern enough about what brought the Section 8 members together to enjoy the book, but I still had unanswered questions on the last page. Still, this book is a solid read and worth the time for romantic suspense fans.