~ About the Book ~
Colton Neeley left the Marines to take care of his four-year old daughter. Although he’s firm in his faith now, the repercussions of his former life are still evident—namely debilitating flashbacks from combat-related trauma. But his position with the Nightshade team gives him a new lease on life.
Piper Blum is hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. Although smitten by Colton, she fears the day he discovers her secrets. Because those secrets could very well put his life and family in danger, too. And no relationship has a chance when it’s built on lies.
Colton must find a way to forgive Piper’s lies, even when her justifications catapult the team into another near-death mission. They’ll find out the hard way if love covers a multitude of sins.
* This is a newly revised edition of the same title published by Barbour in 2011. While some scenes have been rewritten or expanded, no substantial new content has been added.
Series: #2 Discarded Heroes
Released: 21 July 2017
Publisher: Task Force Press
~ Excerpt ~
As he rounded the corner, he darted a glance to the Maxximum Girl counter. There! Bending toward the illuminated displays, Piper reached under the glass top. She angled her body to reach farther into the cabinet—and her gaze slid right into his.
He’d swear he felt the impact. It slowed him.
Lips slightly parted, she straightened as he approached. “Colton.” She locked the display and placed her hands on the glass. With a coy smile she asked, “Have you lost McKenna again?”
He wasn’t sure if her humor made it easier or harder. “No.” He rotated the hat in his hands. “Actually, she’s with my parents visiting family in Texas right now.” Heart thrumming, he glanced around—and spotted a couple of sales ladies watching. Dawg. “You busy tonight?”
Wow, that had a certain . . . idiocy to it. And a hefty dose of desperation. Not exactly the way to woo a woman. Where was all his southern charm?
“Sorry,” he said. “What I meant to say—”
“Then you’re not here for more towels?” The playful tone in her words and the way she cocked her head to the side told him she wasn’t going to make this easy.
It was time to own up, come clean. Stop hiding behind towels and perfumes. “No,” he said, firm and certain. At least something in him was. The other parts screamed this could be his biggest mistake ever.
Get on with it!
“You get off at six, right?”
Amusement danced across her face. “You know my schedule?”
Could this go any worse? But no more hiding. “Darlin’, I don’t think there’s a thing about you I don’t know.”
Piper blinked and squared her shoulders. Her breathing seemed to go a little unsteady there for a second. But then she wet her lips. Lifted her chin. “Yes, I get off at six.”
Here goes nothing . . . or everything. “I’d like to take you out.”
What on earth . . . ? “What do you mean?”
“I—” She lowered her head and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry. I was just wondering why, after all this time, you finally decided to ask me out.”
All this time . . . She’d been waiting. For him. To ask her out.
His heart stumbled over the grenade-like revelation. He traced the band of his hat, hating that he didn’t have an answer. At least not one that wouldn’t make him sound like a big fat chicken. “Does it matter?”
A small smile teased the edges of her lips. “No.”
Her soft reply did his heart good, picking it up off scraped knees of his own bumbling attempt to be dignified in asking her out. “Good.” He gave her a slow nod as a customer walked up to the counter. “I’ll wait.”
~ Review ~
Dawg. I’d forgotten how much I love Colton Neeley. And I’d forgotten that the intensity and emotions in this story nearly killed me the first time I read it! I have to tell you, it wasn’t any easier this time around, even knowing what was coming!
Colton—or ‘Cowboy’ as he’s often known—won my heart in Nightshade as the rock solid, level-headed friend who stood by Max and helped him work through his anger and disillusionment, but the prologue to this story completely undid me; like a sucker punch to the gut and a vice on my heart all at once. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but if you’re not affected by it, you might as well never pick up another book again.
I hope that doesn’t put you off, because really, this is an incredible read, but you need to know that your emotions will go through the wringer. Cowboy’s struggle with PTSD is one of the most raw and realistic—and thoughtful—depictions I have ever read, and he suffers some more severe blows during this story; yet he’s also the sweet cowboy who stops at Hastings Department Store to buy towels on the way home from each mission, just so he can talk to the sales woman who caught his eye eight months ago. He’s a lethal sniper, so reconnaissance is his thing, but when it comes to taking the shot, he’s much more confident in the field than he is asking for a date. I don’t know about you, but that mix of total competency and sweet uncertainty turns my heart to mush.
“Between a rock and a hard place” doesn’t even begin to describe Piper’s situation, particularly when things begin to spiral out of her control. She can’t tell Colton anything about herself, but when it becomes clear her position has been compromised, he ends up in the middle anyway. In fact, the whole team does. And if things were intense before, that goes double in the devastating fallout.
Ronie’s military action is always riveting and well written, and it’s only improved in this revised release. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no writer does military suspense/thrillers like Ronie Kendig, with such a potent mix of action as well as heart and soul. I’m left gasping for breath, yet wanting more. Thank goodness there are two more books in this series to come!
I purchased my own copy of this book, and have therefore written this review completely of my own volition—because this is, hands down, one of my favourite series ever.
~ Previous Books in the Series ~
Read my review for Nightshade.
~ About the Author ~
An Army brat, Ronie Kendig grew up in the classic military family, with her father often TDY and her mother holding down the proverbial fort. Their family moved often, which left Ronie attending six schools by the time she’d entered fourth grade. Her only respite and “friends” during this time were the characters she created.
It was no surprise when she married a military veteran—her real-life hero—in June 1990. Married more than twenty years, Ronie and her husband have homeschooled for the last eighteen years. Despite the craziness of life, Ronie finds balance and peace with her faith, family, and retired military working dog in Northern Virginia.