This book reminds me of good, really good, tequila. Good tequila has an essence, taste smooth, goes down easily, and gives you a nice little jolt. This book is easy. It is easy to love the story, the characters, and the drama. But it is not a simple story and very few people can pull off a romantic suspense featuring a dry Djibouti desert, a filthy mouthed fairy, a soldier’s soldier, and an archeological find of the century, like Rachel Grant.
The storyline is filled with adrenaline inducing action and suspense. There is also a dose of intrigue around an emerging nation dealing with power-hungry warlords and terrorist threats. Djbouti is in a strategically desirable location which is why both the U.S. and China are trying to get a foothold in the region.
Dr. Morgan Adler is in the country at the invitation of the Djibouti and Ethiopian governments to locate and clear sites for a railway expansion. Her project is also connected to a U.S. military base expansion which puts her on the radar of the U.S. Navy. She is also of note because her estranged father is a two star General in the Army. Her work ultimately puts her in the crosshairs between a warlord, the Djbouti government, and a power struggle between the United States and Chinese interests. Yup, just another ordinary day in the life of an archeologist. I like Morgan because she is both strong willed and poised. She is grace under pressure and is skilled enough to take care of herself in a fight. She is not an agent, but by golly, she is trained like one.
Master Sergeant Pax Blanchard is a career soldier through and through. The military is his life and he is fully committed to the service. Ironically, he is raised in a free-loving, hippy family. They encourage him to fulfill his calling and so he does as a member of the Green Berets. I love Pax because he is upfront and straightforward and yet, not boring, but admirable. But what really seals the deal for me is his description of himself:
His type was the shy, bookish nerds, which was exactly what he’d been until he joined the Army. He’d been a late bloomer, hitting a second growth spurt after nineteen, when he’d shot up six inches in two years and packed on the muscle that made it possible for him to do his job. But the external changes hadn’t changed who he was inside, and he was still the sci-fi and fantasy loving guy who read scientific journals for fun.
A Special Forces nerd who reads fantasy? Check. Check. Check. Check those boxes off my fantasy hero list.
Morgan meets Pax during a mad dash to Camp Citron. She is running after being threatened by a Ethiopian warlord, Etefu Desta. She narrowly escapes a car bomb with the help of Pax and his partner, Cal. The romance between Morgan and Pax is refreshing. It is not fraught with misunderstandings, but rather a deep frustration of not being able to be together because of circumstances. He is her bodyguard and getting involved can lead to mistakes. I learned early on in my own romantic life the frustrations of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the right person. Because of this tension, I think this is one of Ms. Grant’s sexiest books. The energy between the two is always on the surface.
Ms. Grant’s writing is excellent with creative dialogue that kept me glued to my Kindle and laughing out loud. I love Morgan’s creatively filthy mouth. The girl could make a sailor blush and impresses even these salty Green Berets. Her put downs are clever and witty: “Arugula served with goat spunk on moldy toast is too good for that pig-faced dung beetle.” I’m stealing that one.
One aspect I unexpectedly enjoyed is the role Morgan’s dad plays in developing her character. She feels that she is perpetually disappointing him by first, not being a boy, and then by not going into the military and being one of the first female Special Forces soldiers. She spends the better part of her youth training in shooting and martial arts. As soon as she finds her own voice though, she rebels against him. Morgan’s dad is an asshat. He publicly berates her and is highly critical. However, there is usually more than one perspective to every encounter and the author gives us a poignant moment between the two. I wish that there were more interactions between Morgan and her dad. This part of the story feels a little rushed and I really wanted more depth. Yes, I want an HEA between the daughter and dad, too.
One of the benefits of good tequila is that you usually do not end up with a hangover. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarities end because this book is certain to cause a book hangover.
Hugs,Tags: 4.5 stars, Flashpoint series, military themed, Rachel Grant, romantic suspense, Sunny