Publisher: Forever Romance
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Challenges: Finishing the Series Reading Challenge | NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | ARe* | iTunes* | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from PR Firm:
LOVE IS AN ACT OF BRAVERY
Retired Navy SEAL Alex Rojas is putting his life back together, one piece at a time. Being a single dad to his young daughter and working at Hope's Crossing Kennels to help rehab a former guard dog, he struggles every day to control his PTSD. But when Elisa Hall shows up, on the run and way too cautious, she unleashes his every protective instinct.
Elisa's past never stays in her rear view mirror for long, and she refuses to put anyone else in danger. But with Alex guarding her so fiercely yet looking at her so tenderly, she's never felt safer . . . or more terrified that the secrets she keeps could put countless people in grave peril. The only way for both to fully escape their demons will take the ultimate act of courage: letting go and learning to trust each other.
I enjoyed this one so much more than the first book, "Extreme Honor". I liked the characters more and connected with them more. The story did drag a bit for about the first third, taking place in about a day and a half. Later, the pace picks up and becomes almost too fast, so pacing was a problem. Despite that, I enjoyed the story and really liked Alex's daughter, Serena, better known as Boom. Children in romance can be iffy, and she was a tad too convenient at times in moving the story forward but she wasn't just window dressing and she wasn't annoying.
Elisa and Alex's romance, though absurdly whirlwind, was utterly sweet. Alex approached Elisa like a wounded feral animal; it was a little strange to see but suited Elisa perfectly. She's on the run, reluctant to make connections or trust, and determined to stand on her own two feet. Alex is dealing with being a single parent,and with PTSD and has trust issues of his own. As the story unfolds, we see his PTSD in action and how it affects him. The use of Souze, one of the kennel's dogs was well done and tied in nicely with the setting.
I mentioned earlier that pacing was a problem. For me, it was the main problem with the story. The story takes place in just a few weeks but they fall in love, complete with HEA, despite their emotional issues. I believed in their love, just not how quickly they were moving. It didn't fit with their characters. The mystery of how her ex is stalking her, and why, is first left hanging or much of the story, and then wrapped up in a hurry. Though this is marketed as a romantic suspense, it's 80% romance and 20% mystery. What made the story for me was the characters. Drake did a wonderful job of bringing them to life and making them nuanced and realistic, except for the exes. They were the standard cardboard evil exes but the main characters and crew were well done. "Ultimate Courage" is worth reading for them alone.