32y.o. journalist doesn’t know that the Navy SEAL who rescued her 2 years ago from her 18-month abduction in the Middle East is the man she spent a torrid no-strings-attached weekend with 2 months before she was kidnapped.
38y.o. Hero has never forgotten heroine since their weekend affair 4 years ago and especially after he found out she was not only still alive but back to safety after he & his Special Ops team rescued her from her terrorist kidnapper.
Seeing her again by accident now gives him another chance to be with her, even temporarily. The attraction is mutual and even more intense than ever as they value their second chance together.
But the sexual and emotional trauma heroine suffered during her abduction demands for Hero to romance her with sensitivity and patience. He also becomes her personal bodyguard when her abductor publicly declared the need for her demise to other terrorists, placing her life in constant danger.
It's the secrets they’re keeping from each other, however, that may make or break their relationship.
As much as I don’t like reading about rape & abuse in my romance novels, Clare made this book about how Hero and especially heroine transcended their past adversities. Heroine’s abduction & various abuses were generally mentioned in the beginning but not with specific details, which I’m so grateful for. From there, it became about how heroine transformed her broken & fragile self into this powerhouse of a woman who bested those who tried to bring her down. It was done in this unassuming but sure way through her previous therapy, support from her family, & her strong survivor attitude. We see her inner strength and will to not be terrorized by her perpetrators and the public that was avidly watching her. This was already set in motion before she & Hero reunited.
Being with Hero only boosted her will to live an even better life. Hero understood her, protected her, and supported her choices. They might have only spent 3 days together 4 years ago and he may have his secrets and she, hers.
------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details-------------
Hero kept his identity as the Navy SEAL leader that personally rescued her from the Middle East. He also had difficulty divulging his past as a teen involved in street gangs which caused his younger brother to be shot accidentally. He still felt very guilt-ridden over his indirect cause of his brother's death, even though he's more than made up for it with the lives he'd saved in the Navy SEALS for the past 14 years. He was increasingly awed by heroine's heroic survival attitude that it made his irresponsible past worse in his eyes, deeming himself unworthy of her.
Heroine's big secret was the baby she left behind in the Middle East unintentionally. Her pregnancy and birth of her baby was a shock to her. She didn't even know she was having a baby until she saw the baby squirming when it was outside of her body. Her baby was whisked away and she was then told it died. She didn't believe it and knew that 1 of the other wives of her abductor had her baby. She was in such a fragile emotional and physical state (she almost hemorraghed to death after her baby's birth) when Hero found her that she had a hard time even remembering her name, let alone that she had a baby. When she finally remembered about her baby once she was safe, she tried her best to find her and get her back.
But they had a deep emotional connection and got each other. Hero was also awed by how she had eclipsed the degradation done to her just 2 years ago. He may have stirrings of love for her before but, knowing the person she was now, he was a goner. He was a strong man with a strong sense of responsibility. And her inner strength was a turn-on for him. I loved that he was a strongly sexual man but that he went at her speed because he just wanted to be with her. It was a while before they went past kissing. It took another while before they fully consummated their reunion. Trust in herself and in him had to be built before she was finally ready for the full sex act. He was patient with her without putting any pressure. In fact, he made it into a great sexual adventure which likely helped ease heroine’s sexual fears.
The action-suspense part was thrilling and the mystery wasn’t predictable. I had no clue who was staging the attempts at heroine’s life until the villain was revealed. The deaths and injuries weren’t written in gory detail. The main focus was finding out how the various murder attempts were related and who the villain was. The multiple government agencies involved and how they connected and contradicted each other were intriguing.
I recommend this book.