He was a haven in the midst of Hell…
Temporarily assigned to the Shadow Squadron in a troubled region of Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer and pilot Leah Mackenzie is no stranger to conflict—even if most of her physical and emotional scars are courtesy of her vicious ex. Still, she’s got a bad feeling about picking up a team of stranded SEALs. A feeling that’s all too justified once enemy fire hits their helicopter and all hell breaks loose…
SEAL Kell Ballard’s goal was to get the injured pilot out of harm’s way and find shelter deep in the labyrinth of caves. It’s a place of dark intimacy, where Leah finds unexpected safety in a man’s arms. Where prohibited attraction burns brightly. And where they’ll hide until the time comes to face the enemy outside…and the enemy within their ranks.
Here’s the thing about Lindsay McKenna: she can write military suspense like nobody’s business. I get sucked in every time I pick up one of her books because she really, really knows her stuff (a career in the US Navy will do that to a person!), and she creates some really exciting scenarios.
But here’s the other thing: the suspense is usually only the first chapter or two of her books, and then it’s straight romance. And that romance always (or at least in every book I’ve read by her) includes a heroine who has been brutalised. Every heroine of hers I’ve read has suffered at least one brutal rape, or in the case of this heroine, three years of brutal rape and physical assault from her ex-husband.
I really, really find the level of brutality in this series disturbing. The vast majority of this book takes place with our hero and heroine trapped in a cave in a warzone, but a very small amount of military work is actually mentioned. Mostly, the heroine tries to hide her pointy nipples, the hero tries to hide his erection while trying to puzzle out why she’s so traumatised, and then she spends a lot of time talking in great detail about her sexual assaults.
The heroine also lost her brother and mother close together at a young age, was ignored by her father, and doesn’t know what an orgasm is (until the hero gives her one while simply kissing her) because her life has been so hard without her mum…
And the hero spends time thinking about his friend’s sister, who is not even a part of the book, and we hear about this non-character’s beating, rape and the fact she needed surgery to put her genitals back together(?!) in far more detail than was needed.
All of this while there’re terrorists surrounding them.
None of this had to be in there. The focus could and should be on the action in the present. These people have only just met each other, and he has just dragged her from the wreckage of a helicopter crash. They’re surrounded by Taliban. There’s so much going on in the present. So. Much.
Once again this talented author has strayed from what she does best in order to obsess over horrific abuse of women.
I thought I’d give McKenna another chance, after the last two books focused on the same woman and went into great detail about the rape and torture and assault she suffered. I thought: new heroine, fresh start.
Unfortunately, instead this series continues to create (melo)drama with overly tragic backstories.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.