“I’m not done with you.” “I sure as hell hope not.”-First Strike
Swedish-American broadcast journalist, Laura Nilsson, was stationed in Islamabad some eighteen months ago when she was abducted and reportedly beheaded by Saudi national leader, Al-Nassar and his terrorist group. Now, Senior Chief Navy Seal, Javier Corbray is on a mission with Delta Platoon to target the kill of Al-Nassar. Javier has no idea that Laura is still alive and held captive within Al-Nassar’s camp or that this attack mission will quickly turn to a recovery mission once he sets eyes on her again.
Laura and Javier had a brief history some two years ago when they met in a bar in Dubai. (Their meeting is told in First Strike, the prequel novella.) Javier recognized Laura “The Bagdag Babe” reporter (nicknamed by U.S. troops) and intervened when two Russian men began harassing her. What followed was dinner, conversation and a weekend of amazing sex. Both had agreed up front that there would be no strings to the weekend and even though they felt an undeniable chemistry, they left without plans to see each other again.
When the Delta Platoon attacked Al-Nassar’s camp, they not only came away with Al-Nassar but also an American hostage who yelled to one of the Seals for help when boarding the helicopter to pull out. Laura is the American hostage and Javier realizes it but Laura had no idea that Javier was a Navy Seal and given the uniform and camo-paint on his face, she does not recognize her rescuer.
Now, two years later, Laura is a reporter for the I-Team at the Denver Independent and is trying to resume a normal life after the trauma of being a hostage. She has testified at Al-Nassar’s trial in Washington D.C., and as a consequence, Al-Nassar has publicly demanded his people hunt Laura down and kill her.
Through mutual friends, Laura and Javier meet up again and after a bomb blows at her office, Javier believes that she has in fact been targeted by Al-Nassar’s men and is determined to protect her until all threats are eliminated. During their time together, Laura and Javier form a friendship and their initial attraction reignites. But after all of the sexual violence Laura faced during her captivity, she questions if she will ever feel comfortable with sexual intimacy again. And even still, a secret still haunts Laura that she is determined to keep private, even from Javier.
Striking Distance definitely has a heavier, darker tone throughout the majority of the book but it’s an intense ride and as the reader, you are never bored. Ms. Clare always delivers that heart racing adrenaline that so few authors can translate off the pages. Throughout the action, Ms. Clare gives us some humorous moments to cut through the dark tone as well as romantic moments that brought a new level of intimacy to Laura and Javier beyond the stereotypical sex scenes. Laura and Javier face a difficult and emotional road to find their HEA, however, both are strong characters individually and as they both learn over time, even stronger as a couple. Ms. Clare never hands over a HEA on a silver platter or with false pretenses but that is what makes her work so enthralling. The journey and authentic issues her characters overcome to find their happiness always pays off in the end.
Another enjoyable aspect this series is how Ms. Clare incorporates her prior characters into the current story. Clare’s characters are so richly developed, they are easy to invest in and are now staples in the ongoing stories. In other words, yes, I got me a little Marc Hunter time and whenever he entered a scene, I was all giddy with delight!
I would strongly suggest reading the prequel novella, First Strike, before beginning Striking Distance. In doing so, you will learn how Laura and Javier initially met and have a richer understanding of their physical and emotional connection that quickly developed during their sexy weekend in Dubai.
I still rank Ms. Clare’s I-Team series as some of the best Romantic Suspense written to date.
Fans of the I-Team series will not be disappointed in this latest installment.
“He bent down and kissed her, giving her mother and grandmother an eyeful of grade-A Puerto Rican beefcake, complete with a manscaped package.”