by Sharon Wray
Series: Deadly Force #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
He's taking it all back
His honor, his freedom, and the woman he loves
Rafe Montfort was a decorated Green Beret, the best of the best, until a disastrous mission and an unforgivable betrayal destroyed his life. Now, this deadly soldier has returned to the sultry Georgia swamps to reunite with his brothers, and take back all he lost. But Juliet must never know the truth behind what he's done...or the dangerous secret that threatens to take him from her forever.
It took Juliet Capel eight long years to put her life back together after her husband was taken from her. Now Rafe is back, determined to protect her at any cost, and it's not just her heart that's in danger. The swamps hold a secret long buried and far deadlier than either of them could have imagined...
UPDATE 3/5/18: OK, so I read (and reviewed) this originally back in January. Since then, I haven’t been able to get this book out of my head. I’ve literally talked about it in the Target checkout line with people. So, while I’m reiterating that the first third is confusing and difficult to get through, the rest of it is over-the-top awesomesauce. Upgrading review to 4 stars.
I’ve read a few romantic suspense novels lately, and picked this up expecting it to be just another average ex-military macho dude trying to win back his ex-wife. Boy was I wrong! This is kind of a Dan Brown-ish romantic suspense, with centuries-old conspiracies and characters searching for secret clues. It’s also absolute awesome crazysauce. Look at the first line of the book:
“Juliet’s daddy always told her to stay away from men who bow.”
Men…. who bow? What does that even mean? Yeah, so there’s a sinister ancient society of “men who bow,” but this book also contains, in no particular order: a bunch of Army Green Berets charged with treason, Zydeco, blackmailing, explosions, cryptic text messages in Shakespearean English, a drug epidemic, pirates, global arms-dealers, a strip club, murders, a 17th-century witch, and Cajun food, all packaged up in the frame of a “Romeo and Juliet” retelling. Because of that, some familiarity with Shakespeare’s play would be a definite asset, as there’s some pretty cool parallels (Easter eggs, almost?) that wouldn’t be appreciated as much. If that list didn’t clue you in, there is a LOT going on in this book, and it took until I was around 30% of my way through the book before I felt like I had an inkling of what was going on, and I still kept confusing the jumble of characters until the very end (in fact, the big villain reveal didn’t hit me like it should because of it…). But, once I finally got a grasp on the plot, I was surprised to find myself really enjoying the book, crazysauce and all, and found it very hard to put down.
“She’d put up with a lot today. Two strikes of vandalism. A bank loan disaster matched by real estate issues. A narcissistic senator. A rogue ex-husband. A murder on her land. Crazy texts.”
Overall, I liked Juliet. After Rafe’s apparent betrayal, she rebuilds her life, getting a graduate degree and founding her own successful floral/landscaping business. Until, of course, he reappears in her life unexpectedly, in the midst of a confluence of really bad luck (OR IS IT???), and she realizes that, despite her anger and mistrust, maybe her love for him isn’t really dead… So, you’ll understand when I say that my main issue with Juliet was how quickly she picked it back up with Rafe. I waffled back and forth with how I felt about him. While it’s clear that he’s doing what he thinks is best to protect Juliet, his choices lead to some pretty awful consequences for a whole lot of people. Their relationship, though, is very sweet and romantic, so I found myself warming to him as the book progressed. There’s also a jumble of secondary characters, all of whom have histories with Juliet or Rafe (or sometimes both). For the most part, the main secondary characters (if that makes any sense) were well-written, but there was a case of insta-lust that was really odd and out of left field (and that’s saying something for this book!).
If I liked Dan Brown-style thrillers or Romeo & Juliet more, this would easily be a 4-star read. As it is, the confusing first third of the book, followed by a thrilling remainder of the book, lead me to give it three stars. I will, however, definitely be picking up the next in the series, as I’m betting that it’ll be easier to get into, since I’m already familiar with the characters and backstory.
“[W]e can’t live in the wreckage of the past and the wreckage of the future. We have to be present to each moment as it comes.”