Romantic suspense holds a very special place in my book reader heart. Some of my comfort reads are written by Suzanne Brockmann, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Cindy Gerard, Roxanne St. Claire, Stephanie Tyler, Marliss Melton, HelenKay Dimon, Elizabeth Lowell, Tami Hoag, Julie Garwood, just to name a few. When this book came on my radar, I jumped in with both feet. I need to stress for me as a reader what all these authors have in common: a 50/50 ratio of believable romance with a story. I am very picky when it comes to this sub-genre. It has to make sense and be plausibly believable. Unfortunately, I had some issues with this book. I want to be transparent. I made it through 20% of the book and put it down. Then the holidays rolled around and I forgot about it. Then I received a nudge from Sandy, the wet noodle wielder (I type that with immense love and respect), and I didn’t feel comfortable writing up a DNF review with only reading less than a quarter of the book. I made it to the 50% mark and I gave up again.
The book opens with Natalie Dixon meeting with Orrin Loughman, a retired Navy SEAL, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend’s father. Natalie works for the Russian Embassy in Dallas. Dallas. She works for the Russian Embassy in Dallas. That was the first moment I was thrown a bit. I let it go and I rolled with it. He meets with her at a restaurant and wants to know if there are whisperings about something called Ragnarok. Orrin tells her if she hears anything about it to give him a call. Two weeks go by and Natalie is in the office and sees a report on Ragnarok on her boss’ desk. This encounter turns deadly for not only Natalie but Loughman’s three sons, as well as Callie, Orrin’s sorta adopted daughter.
The Loughman brothers are called back to Orrin’s ranch one by one, each landing on the property knowing that shit is going down. They know their father has a private firm with his own men and they know the government sending them home means they will have to figure out what’s going on and clean up their father’s mess. Not that the American government isn’t involved, they are very much in the mix. As Owen, Wyatt, and Cullen make their way to the house, they come across Natalie and Callie. The Loughman men’s aunt and uncle were murdered in the family den and their father is missing, along with his team. As soon as Owen lays eyes on his high school sweetheart he loses brain cells. As Natalie and Owen are standing in family room where people have been murdered, Natalie suffers from hard nipples and Owen has a case of twitching dick syndrome. Not to mention the mental lusting that went on for pages and pages. Ugh. This is when I put the book down the first time.
Owen, Wyatt, and Cullen secure the ranch and go rescue Natalie, since there are Russians on US soil trying to kill her, since she knows about the biochemical weapon Ragnarok the US government stole from them. There’s a lot of escape and evade. The body count of the Russians are stacking up and the Loughmans, along with Callie, and Natalie have to figure things out. They know Orrin is in big trouble and they know his entire team was killed. All this time with the seriousness of a biochemical agent out there somewhere, Russians coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches to kill them. In trying to come up with a plan of action, Owen and Natalie have inner monologues of shoulda, coulda, woulda, with the added bonus of those pesky hard nipples and twitchy dick.
A package addressed to Natalie arrives in the mail while they are at the ranch and it turns out to be from Orrin. That package contains Ragnarok. Natalie and Owen decide to bring the chemical to Baylor College in Waco, Texas to see what they are actually dealing with. While they are heading to the college, they have a car tailing them. Owen and Natalie know it’s the Russians and they know they are in grave danger. So I guess they thought it was a great idea to bring a biochemical weapon to the college where thousands of children attend classes every day and also the fact they are being hunted by these Russians to kill them. They make it into the school, the Russians are in the parking lot making their way into the building, Natalie meets her friend – who also happens to run the Science Department – and instead of dealing with the very important chemical stuffed in her pocketbook, her friend wants to know who the hottie guy is with the smooth whisky voice and wink wink, if you don’t get on that buck, she’d be willing to give him a ride. If that’s not bad enough, they finally get around to giving the biochemical weapon to another scientist and with one eye on the door waiting for the Russians to kill them all, Owen and Natalie are talking about their past and the mistakes he made and plenty of kisses in between. More inner thoughts, damp panties, and hard dicks. Just when you think I couldn’t read another page, I did.
Orrin is captured by Yuri, a big bad Russian general who is torturing him for the information about Ragnarok’s location. As Orrin is getting water boarded and tortured, he’s listening to Yuri’s conversation with his men about Natalie and his sons. He’s thinking how bad he feels and how he now has to worry about Natalie too. WHAT? You brought her into this mess on one page into the book, and now you’re worried about her safety? Then between his battered face, broken ribs, and god knows what else he’s hurting from, he thinks his son was an idiot for letting Natalie go. He hopes his son fixes that. That was it for me.
I wish I could have loved this book. The blurb and type of story is usually one I devour. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me. Maybe your mileage will vary.
THE HERO’S HOMECOMING
Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget: his high school sweetheart, Natalie. After more than a decade away, Owen has returned home to the ranch in Texas for a dangerous new mission that puts him face-to-face with Natalie and an outside menace that threatens everything he holds dear. He’ll risk it all to keep Natalie safe—and win her heart.
Natalie Dixon has had a lifetime of heartache since Owen was deployed. Fourteen years and one bad marriage later, she finds herself mixed up with the Loughmans again. With her life on the line against an enemy she can’t fight alone, it’s Owen’s strong shoulders, smoldering eyes, and sensuous smile that she turns to. When danger closes in, how much will she risk to stay with the only man she’s ever loved?
Read an excerpt.