He's waiting out his prison term patiently for a good reason. When 20-something junior lawyer replaces his recently-injured lawyer on her first week at the firm, he doesn't take her seriously.
Getting in contact with his younger brother is his immediate priority, despite his brother's anger towards him.
His brother doesn't know that Hero's been in prison all this time for his & his young family's sake.
It doesn't take long for the mafia family Hero made the prison deal with to find them. Hero has to juggle all the various players involved, including the US government which let him out in exchange for his security knowledge of a Middle Eastern consulate where 2 kids are being held hostage. And heroine wants to be part of the solution.
Working together so closely increases their attraction to one another,
pushing them to further intimacy
with a future neither want to consider too much at the moment. However, when their well-made rescue plans don't go as planned
and puts heroine in the line of danger,
There was no need for this book to be 400+ pages long. It could've been at least 150 pages shorter and still get the same points across. It wasn't so much that there was sub-plots, secondary romances, and secondary characters all throughout the story. It was the nitty-gritty details of what the characters (yes, minor secondary characters included!) were thinking, doing, and planned on doing that made this book much longer than necessary. For example, the secondary characters who were driving towards another character's house counted down the address of the street they were looking for. As in, "We're looking for (blah street #). There's house (blah blah street #). And now we're passing (blah blah blah #). We're getting closer. Oh, there it is! There's (blah street #)!". I mean, really? Do we need these boring fillers to get the point that "(Secondary characters) were looking for (another character's) house."?
This book read more like an actor's tv-series script, except we also got descriptions that watching the show would've spared us (i.e., room descriptions, vehicle decriptions, Navy SEALS training program). These descriptions would be ordinarily fine in order to bring us into the characters' world. But all it did was add to the length and details of the book. There was just so much going on in this book. And it lacked the emotional pull that Brockmann's older books had. I became so bored out of my mind. I actually rather do laundry and clean my house than go on reading this book. I skimmed so many pages just because I wanted to get to the end already. As the characters repeated in the book, the "devil was in the details". It sure was. And I had a devil of a time plodding through this book.
The overall plot was decent and not altogether predictable though. And that's why I persisted through this book and didn't DNF it at 30%. I was hoping maybe the romance between Hero and heroine would become more exciting and something shocking/unique would happen later. Alas, no. The main romance (there were at least a couple secondary romances) and the action-suspense were average at best. No big sparks, surprise, or shock towards the end. Hero and heroine liked each other but it wasn't awe-inspiring or touching. They were strong, intelligent, and caring people who found that they worked well, especially under stress, together. Their romance gradually developed and there was no real angst. I think Brockmann tried to introduce some angst-inducing plotlines in their romance:
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1. heroine seeming to be more into Hero than vice versa for about 2/3 of the book & the temporal nature of their affair-during-high-stress made it seem like heroine's feelings for him were unrequited and their romance limited
2. Hero was vocal about never having an interest in a committed relationship due to his way of life and career
3. there were also big hints about Hero not being able to commit to heroine, even though he wanted to. And this was due to the potential of him going back to prison to trade himself again for his brother's life.
Unfortunately, none of them felt angsty to me. They may have been described as such words but I couldn't connect with them. The overall emotional tone of the book was mild, except for Hero's brother & his lover where the book plot centered on. There was more emotional engagement, pulling the reader to sympathize with their romance difficulties, than with Hero and heroine's romance. Hero and heroine barely took second place, emotionally-speaking, in this book. The pull to engage in and root for their relationship was really not that much more than the other secondary romances and other secondary characters.
The book's center focus on the romance of Hero's younger brother and his partner was shrewdly done. Hero and heroine's romance and Hero's attempt to ensure his brother's safety were the main concerns of the first parts of the book. When we finally meet Hero's brother, a subtle shift began. When the husband of Hero's brother physically shows up, a bigger shift in the emotional engagement of the book took place. There was a detailed account of when they met, fell in love, and separated when they were teens.
---------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details-------
Hero's brother and his partner met and fell in love during their senior high-school years. Their romance was a secret due to the anti-gay sentiments in their community and especially from his partner's mafia family. During one of their secret trysts, somebody filmed them and distributed it to people in their school. To protect him from his violent family members, his partner agreed to write him a terse note to end their relationship. A misunderstanding between them about it and Hero's brother's immediately leaving their town for the Marines caused years-long separation between them. A later reunion with both of them clearing their misunderstandings and pledging their love and life together ensued.
The book goes back and forth with their past and the present to convey how far they've come to be together and how important it was that they continue being so. By 50% of the book, Hero and heroine's romance were clearly 2nd place to his brother's romance. The whole action-suspense plot was about protecting Hero's brother's romance. As much as I appreciate Brockmann's writing skill and how she could cleverly shift the romance focus from one romance to another, I felt deceived and short-changed. I like plot twists. But the way she changed the main romance for another in this book felt more like emotional manipulation than a plot twist. And I didn't like that. I wouldn't have chosen to read this book if I knew that Hero and heroine's romance wasn't going to be the true main romance of the story. What was interesting was how it was done. Hero and heroine became sexually intimate & even became open to a longer term relationship with each other. But their emotional connection was flat &, quite frankly, boring. On the other hand, the emotional connection between Hero's brother and his partner kept developing and there weren't even any sex scenes between them. Unlike Hero and heroine, I could feel their love for each other and the poignancy from their separation in their teens & their reunion later. Moreover, the emotional pull for Hero's brother's romance was present in the whole book, while Hero-heroine's romance was limited to their intimate time together. The rest of the time Hero and heroine were pulling for his brother & his family's welfare. Like I said, shrewdly done. But the book blurb gives no indication of another primary romance other than Hero and heroine's:
Suzanne Brockmann’s seamless blend of heroic military action and intense passion inspired USA Today to call her “a superstar of romantic suspense”—and for years her award-winning Troubleshooters books have been must-reads for fans of sizzling stories of action and adventure. Now the New York Times bestselling author shoots to thrill again with Do or Die, an electrifying new novel that is certain to win Brockmann new readers and delight devotees.
Navy SEAL Ian Dunn went rogue in a big way when he turned his talents to a lawless life of jewel heists and con jobs. Or so the world has been led to believe. In reality, the former Special Ops warrior is still fighting for good, leading a small band of freelance covert operatives who take care of high-stakes business in highly unofficial ways. That makes Ian the hands-down choice when the U.S. government must breach a heavily guarded embassy and rescue a pair of children kidnapped by their own father, a sinister foreign national willing to turn his kids into casualties. Shockingly, Ian passes on the mission for reasons he will not—or cannot—reveal.
But saying no is not an option. Especially not for Phoebe Kruger, Ian’s beautiful and unexpectedly brash new attorney. Determined to see the abducted children set free, Phoebe not only gets Ian on board but insists on riding shotgun on his Mission: Impossible–style operation, whether he likes it or not.
Though Phoebe has a valuable knack for getting out of tight spots, there’s no denying the intensely intimate feelings growing between Ian and Phoebe as the team gears up for combat. But these are feelings they both must fight to control as they face an array of cold-blooded adversaries, including a vindictive mob boss who’s got Ian at the top of his hit list and a wealthy psychopath who loves murder as much as he loves money. As they dodge death squads and play lethal games of deception, Ian and Phoebe will do whatever it takes to save the innocent and vanquish the guilty—or die trying.
If I wanted to read a side romance with Hero and heroine or have it be equally important with another romance, then it should be made apparent in the book blurb. Or label as women's fiction or a mystery-thriller because it ended up reading more like an action-suspense women's fiction. Because it wasn't, I felt deceived. And I'm really disappointed.
I scarcely recommend this book.