Friday, July 11, 2014

Guardian - Catherine Mann (Berkley - Sept 2012)

Series: Dark Ops (Book 5)



After a dark ops malfunction, Major David Berg finds himself dead center in a military trial. It’s a race against time to root out the truth, and Major Sophie Campbell isn't making that any easier. The hot JAG wants to bring down David’s unit and fast. His testimony is crucial to winning a case that will make her career. All Sophie has to do is ignore this witness’s unflappable charm, his unnerving good looks, and a strong, solid presence that commands her attention.

It’s not easy for David, either. His attraction to this take-charge beauty is turning him inside out. But these adversaries have more in common than secret, mutual desire. There’s a traitor somewhere in the dark ops and now, to find him, David and Sophie must work together -- relentlessly, tirelessly, and so intimately it could be damn near fatal.

Good book. David and Sophie are on opposite sides of a case involving a military test that went wrong and injured a child. David knows that his man didn't make any mistakes and Sophie is equally convinced that he did. Sophie also discovers that she is becoming distracted by the attraction she feels for David. 

Booth David and Sophie try to fight their feelings. David prefers to concentrate on raising his daughter and protecting her feelings. His wife had left them both and has no real interest in being a mother. As a single father in the military, David has many challenges to keep a stable home life for his daughter. He has been attracted to Sophie for more than a year, but at first she was still married so he buried those feelings. Now that she's a widow it is much harder. Sophie is trying to help her son through the loss of his father. Her husband had been an adrenaline junkie and died doing a stupid stunt with his plane. Now she does her best to avoid any kind of risk that could worry her son, and she also avoids risking her own heart on someone else who takes risks. Her sudden attraction to David is as unwelcome as it is hard to resist.

As David and Sophie butt heads over the case strange accidents start to happen to Sophie.  David goes into protector mode to try to keep her safe. This puts the two of them into much closer contact and the attraction between them starts to escalate. At first they plan on just a short fling with each other, but their feelings become too intense for that to satisfy them for long. David is the first to admit to himself that he wants more, but getting Sophie on board proves to be a challenge. David knows that life can change quickly and wants to grab the good stuff while it lasts. Sophie is also falling for David, but she fears what could happen to her and her son if they were to lose another person that they loved. It takes almost losing him for her to realize that the risk is worth it.

I loved the portrayal of what life is like for military parents and the challenges they face. It wasn't overdone, nor was it fixed in a simplistic manner. Both David and Sophie were shown having to work at making a successful family life. I also enjoyed the interactions between the two of them as they started to mesh their lives. With two very different ways of looking at things, compromises had to be explored.

The suspense part of the story was very good. The viewpoint of the bad guy was shown from the start, even if we didn't know who he was. His increasing desperation to stop the investigation showed the escalation of the danger to Sophie. I loved seeing David and Sophie start working together to find the truth. The final confrontation was nerve wracking as I waited to see if David would be able to keep Sophie from being hurt. The identity of the bad guy was a surprise to me, which made the conclusion even better.

I also enjoyed seeing various characters from earlier books. They were included in a logical manner, not just thrown in willy-nilly. The secondary romance between David's sister Madison and the much younger Captain Tate was also good. They also had issues to overcome. The confrontation between Tate and David was good - I enjoyed the protective brother vs. boyfriend scenario.

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