Early Book Review: SEAL of Honor (HORNET #1) by Tonya Burrows
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
The story starts off a little slowly, pulling in a fairly large cast for a starter novel in a series. At first, it’s a little difficult to distinguish between all the names and who does what, but once things get rolling, each character comes alive with his (or her) own unique personalities. Gabe, the ex-SEAL leader with a scarred body and lonely soul… Quinn, the best friend SEAL XO with rigid discipline and secrets buried deep… Jesse, the ex-Ranger medic with a Texas drawl and persistent knack for seeing what you don’t want him to see… Jean-Luc, the cajun linguist with a flair for picking up more with his tongue than languages… fedora-wearing Marcus, former FBI hostage negotiator… brainiac Harvard, CIA analyst who never met a system he couldn’t hack… Ian, the explosives expert with a shadowed past and bad-boy attitude. The team has a lot of character and I’m really looking forward to their upcoming novels. These men are a hot mess and any woman (or man) who tames them will have to have a fighting spirit and a persistently stubborn soul.
Gabriel Bristow is a man struggling with a lot of painful baggage… an injury severe enough to get him decommissioned from the teams, adrift and unsteady in his new civilian role, a bitter sense of loss of the companionship and elite skills of his former SEAL teammates… and if the new hodgepodge team under his command doesn’t sniff out and exploit his weaknesses, the guerrilla mercenaries they’re working against certainly will. Audrey Van Amee, free-spirited sister to the millionaire American businessman Gabe’s team was hired to rescue, lives on the beach in Costa Rico and spends her time painting and swimming with her dolphins. She and Gabe have an instant chemistry and I love how his natural dominance brings out her saucy attitude. The big, brave SEAL obviously has a tender spot for the little artist, and the way he treats her is heart-melting. The love scenes have heat but aren’t overly gratuitous or detailed; it’s a nice balance that fits the feel of the overall story.
SEAL of Honor is a romantic suspense with a good mix of action (both kinds, hah!) and character development, and the focus is equally split between the couple’s developing relationship and the team’s mission to rescue Bryson Van Amee. I don’t personally enjoy spending time in jungles surrounded by guerilla terrorists, so parts of this story made me uncomfortable, but the storyline is solid and the sense of camaraderie and team spirit grows organically as the plot progresses. I felt the end was a little unfinished, leaving some room for doubt that I’m not really sure was intentional, but overall a good wrap-up.
Gabe: 1, Ian: 0
“Bite me,” Ian said.
Oh, yeah. This was going to be fun. “Do I look like a fucking vampire, Reinhardt? And if you have a problem with my leadership…” He turned, walked to a closet at the front of the plane, grabbed one of the parachutes he’d asked Quinn to pack, and tossed it to Ian. “Strap in. The door’s right there. Go find yourself a new job.”
Never mess with a Southern woman and her gun…
“I was born and raised in the South, honey, but I’m no southern belle. I shoot what I aim at,” she said in a tone so coated with sugar he was surprised her teeth didn’t rot. Then she flashed a smile as bright as that sinful yellow tank top she wore. “But it’s still up in the air whether I’ll aim at you or not.”
The Hostage Rescue & Negotiation Team seriously needs a name…
“Well,” Jean-Luc said like a petulant child. “What else are we going to call ourselves? It’s a great acronym. I thought all you military types like acronyms?”
“No,” everyone said in unison.
“Will you drop it already?” Marcus said with an eye roll. “Nobody wants to be called HORNET.”
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If you liked SEAL of Honor for its team dynamic and unique & quirky characters, you might also enjoy Joan Swan’s Blaze. It’s the second in her Phoenix Rising series and was named the GraveTells Book of the Year for 2012. Not only does Blaze feature a rich cast and addicting characters, Luke and Kiera are straight up combustible together!
If you liked SEAL of Honor for it’s damaged heroes, trying to make a life for themselves after the military, check out Laura Kaye’s Her Forbidden Hero. It’s a powerful story of best friends, tragic sacrifices, and a love that endures through the decades.
Rating: SEAL of Honor