Genre: adventure / romantic suspense
Sex scenes: hot
Troubleshooters: (1) The Unsung Hero, (2) The Defiant Hero,
(3) Over the Edge, (4) Out of Control, (5) Into the Night, (6) Gone Too Far .... (15) Hot Pursuit
John Nilsson and Meg Moore first met in the warzone of Kazbekistan: John was undercover at the US Embassy, and Meg worked there as a translator. The attraction was smoking between them, but Meg was older and married with a young daughter. Several years later and though they’ve lost contact, when Meg holds the Kazbekistani Ambassador at gunpoint, John is the one she calls for.
Meg’s daughter Amy and Grandmother Eve, have been kidnapped. If Meg doesn’t deliver Kazbekistani terrorist Osman Razeen, the two people she loves most in the world will die. Left with no other choice, Meg enlists John’s help, but in order to do things her way, she’s going to have to use the feelings he still harbours for her against him … what she doesn’t expect is his tenacity, nor that the feelings she felt all those years ago would come rising up to the surface …
Held captive with her granddaughter and terrified, Eve does what she can to reassure and comfort 10-year-old Amy. To pass the time, she tells the story of how she and her younger brother Nick were sent to England from America when her mother died, to live with the stepmother she had never met. Forced to grow up fast and be more mature than her fifteen years, Eve falls in love with Ralph Grayson, Nick’s tutor. Though she knows it’s wrong to keep her age from Ralph, they fall in love and continue their affair deliriously happy – until Ralph gets called to war and discovers that Eve isn’t nearly as old as he thought her to be. Furious at the deception, Ralph is also immensely guilty and runs off to war leaving both parties devastated. Their story binds together the past and present, and captures the interest of an enemy who slowly becomes as enraptured as the reader …
John was only briefly mentioned in Over the Edge, but otherwise I hadn’t read (or don’t remember) any other mention of him and Meg. To be honest, I was more entranced by the secondary romances – as per usual! Despite that, John and Meg’s romance is a trope I love: hero and heroine desperately in love (or on their way there) only to be prevented from being together by an inconvenient, already-existing marriage. Couple are reunited several years later when said marriage is no longer an inconvenience, and able to more-or-less pick up where they left off. It was slightly more complicated than that, and also wonderful to read as more of their past unfolded as the story played out.
My focus on John and Meg’s story was almost completely eclipsed by that of Eve and Ralph. For one thing, Ralph is British (such a wonderful name!) and their story is set in England, which pretty much wins me over completely already; what was not to love about bookish, yet smoking hot Ralph, who almost has a teacher-student thing going on with the sophisticated sister of his young charge? So hot. As always, these passages are told in the most beautiful and magical of styles, even when the characters are in a life-or-death situation. Suzanne Brockmann is a genius. Eve and Ralph are by far my favourite wartime couple, so far; they’re going to be a hard one to beat!
I don’t know how much interaction Sam and Alyssa had in book one, The Unsung Hero, but The Defiant Hero marks pretty much the first major event of their relationship. They already hate each other’s guts, with Alyssa thinking that Sam is a gutter-mouthed, red necked homophobe, a subject she’s particularly sensitive to because her fantastic new partner is gay. Sam thinks Alyssa is uptight and cold, and hates him because he’s a SEAL, and despite being one of the best sharpshooters in the country, she’s not allowed to be a member of their elite squad because she has a vagina. A lot of pent-up emotion there. Anyway, Alyssa is on edge because her youngest sister is due to give birth, and her family has a history of women dying in childbirth. Of course, Sam is the last person on earth she would want to find out, but of course he does. Cue a scene later on with a lot of alcohol, a pair of handcuffs and bottle of chocolate sauce, and you’ve got a scene that is almost akin to Jeaniene Frost’s chapter 32 of One Foot in the Grave.
As was pointed out to me when I started reading this series out of order, The Defiant Hero really is a pivotal book in the course of the series. Granted, with the Sam-and-Alyssa obsession that I have, I'm going to view any book where they have even the smallest amount of interaction, pivotal, but this was a fantastic book overall. It narrowly missed an 'A' grade because I was drawn more by the secondary characters, but that's an entirely personal thing. I'll definitely have my eyes peeled for more of John and Meg in other books.
Image courtesy of Book Depository