Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Publish Date: out now
How I got this book: Amazon Kindle
A child he’s never met. A danger he’s never known. Deep in the humid, rank heart of the Louisiana bayou, a survivalist group has something that belongs to former navy SEAL Ben Slocum: his son. That he’s a father is news Ben Slocum was not expecting. But once the initial shock wears off for the confirmed bachelor, he takes in the rest of what social worker Claire Chastain tells him: that Sam is in the custody of an abusive degenerate, that they’ve disappeared…and that Ben is now the child’s only hope. As Ben and Claire band together to track the two down, their concern for the boy draws them closer, each fighting feelings there’s no time to explore. Because when their search takes them too close to Sam’s abductor and his cohorts, the danger hits home-the son he’s desperate to save, the woman he’s desperate to love… Ben’s got one chance to take back what’s his, and in one gunshot he could lose it all.
Blurb taken from the author’s website.
I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it to the fabulous ladies of the Bookpushers blog, but I have a huge love for the Navy SEAL hero. Military heroes and heroines are awesome in general, but there is a special place in my heart for Navy SEALs. I can’t help it. if there is a romance novel about a Navy SEAL, I am going to be there like butter on popcorn. That is what prompted me to pick up ‘Against the Edge’ by Kat Martin despite it being number eight in a series that I have never read.
The action in this book starts immediately with a hungover Ben Slocum returning home from a hard night of drinking and debauchery to find prim and proper Claire social worker Chastain standing on his front porch and in need of help. Claire is the best friend of Ben’s ex-fiancee Laura, and she has come to let him know that Laura is dead and Ben’s son that he didn’t know about has gone missing.
Admittedly I just about put the brakes on right then and there. I hate the secret baby trope with as much vigor as my happiness involving books about Navy SEALs, but the writing style was engaging and made this book hard to put down. Right away, Ben and claire are at odds with each other. he thinks that she’s a jerk for not having come to him sooner about his son, a sentiment that I agreed with despite Claire’s reasons. Meanwhile, Claire thought that all Ben really did was cut a path through as many women as possible, which was also true, but there is more to these two than either of them bargain for.
I like that there wasn’t a lot of drama about whether sam was Ben’s son or not. As soon as he found out that he had a son and that child was in danger, he was ready to pull out all the stops to find him. He’d never met this child, but he was going to take care of what was his, and that alpha personality shone through. He dropped everything that he was doing to go with Claire and figure out what had happened and who had his kid. And woe to anyone who dared to get in his way.
Ben had a take-charge attitude in both his professional life and in his pursuit of Claire. He wanted her and he went after her with a single-minded determination.
Claire was a harder sell for me. I loved that she was so concerned about Sam’s welfare and would not allow Ben to leave her out of his plans. I love that when push came to shove, she pretty much stuck by him even though she was thrust in to dangerous situations that were way over her head. She was uncertain, but whatever it took to get Sam back, she was all in. What I did not love was her judgmental attitude toward Ben. His ex-fiancee and Claire’s best friend cheated on Ben and Sam was a result of a one night stand years later. She purposefully told lies about Ben to Claire, and after she died, Claire believed them. It seemed to me that as a social worker she would try a little harder to investigate the facts and tell him the truth about his nine-year-old child instead of not saying a word. It didn’t add up to me that Ben wasn’t good enough to be a father, but he was good enough for her to go to when the police wouldn’t believe her?
I also had an extremely difficult time with her attitude that because Ben slept with a lot of women, it would make him a terrible father. Neither Laura or Claire gave Ben that opportunity and then she wanted to judge him even after he decided without hesitation to rescue his son? It made me really furious with her, but a lot of my rage was toward the dead character, and ain’t that a mess?
With that said, Ben and Claire were attracted to each other as the danger continued to mount. I love how they started to care for one another even as the stakes got higher. Together, I thought they were the perfect balance. When they finally let their guard down, the book darn near combusted. The scenes were hot, but their connection and emotion despite themselves was hotter. When Ben had an incredibly pigheaded moment, I love that Claire stood her ground and gave him what for, literally.
The suspense subplot was just okay for me. I had a hard time believing in the motivations of the villain and that he’d go to that much trouble to get back at a dead woman and her best friend, but people can do some pretty weird things when they feel they have been wronged. The action scenes were fabulous and we got to see Ben and his friends in their element.
Ben is one of the investigators at Raines Security, a place where ex-military and rather alpha men work. I loved how Ben’s friends did whatever they could to help him find his son. I could really sense the comeradery that they had for one another. I also love how the men’s wives and the snarky receptionist enfolded Claire in their group.
There were a few other things that annoyed me about the book, like a subplot involving Claire’s ex that really fell flat for me and felt like extra conflict that didn’t need to be there, as well as the “real” reason why Laura betrayed Ben which made me put the book down and go ‘whaaaaaaat!’ But even so, I really enjoyed Claire and Ben’s journey to love and family. I got really teary reading about Sam, and while there isn’t a lot of graphic violence toward children, the abductor is mean and doesn’t hesitate to show it.
All in all, ‘Against the Edge’ is a fun, fast-paced novel that kept me reading well past my bedtime. I may not have liked every aspect of the book, but I an now hooked on this series and have started ‘Against the Wind’, the first book. I don’t feel like I missed anything crucial from having started in the middle of the series, and I am looking forward to the next hero who we get a small glimpse of here.
I give ‘Against the Edge’ a C+.