Opening Line:"He couldn't breathe, couldn't hear, couldn't stand, but his godammed eyes could still see. Everything."
Ladies if you’re looking for a new tortured hero to fall for then I’ve found him. Rocco Silas would have to be one of the most heartbreaking, damaged, seriously shut-off romantic leads I’ve come across since JR Ward’s Zsadist, and that’s not a bad thing. This is the first book from Elaine Levine’s new romantic suspense series Red Team and its a great read; filled with hunky, wisecracking ex-counter terror operatives, smoking hot love scenes, a western vibe and a new addition to my top tortured heroes of all time list.
Rocco is broken; struggling to function as a civilian after spending the past 7 years deep undercover on special assignment in Afghanistan. He’s just been released from a military hospital but his PTSD is far from under control. Suffering from nightmares, hallucinations and a paralyzing fear of being touched (because of what he sees on his skin) he’s also keeping himself just on the edge of starvation so he can feel… something. At this point suicide is becoming a fairly reasonable option.
Enter Mandy Fielding, the half sister of one of his fellow Red Team operatives. Mandy is in the process of opening a therapeutic riding center but due to a string of weird accidents she can’t get any of her ranch hands to stick around long enough to actually get it open. She promised her brother that she’d take Rocco on but honestly she’s not thrilled with the idea of having a dangerous ex soldier on her payroll. One look into Rocco’s haunted eyes though and her compassionate side takes over, she always did have a soft spot for the wounded strays.
The first half of this story focuses almost exclusively on Rocco and Mandy’s blossoming romance, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold. Because Rocco is such a mess (at times he’s almost more animal then man) witnessing him learn to trust, to touch, to feel again is just amazing.
“I’m not afraid of you.” His head lifted, his hard gaze levelling her. “You should be. I’m afraid of me.”
A couple of sigh worthy moments come to mind; There’s a very BDB reminiscent scene in the shower where Rocco is trying to scrub his skin clean and later a flashback that has Mandy finding him in town just staring down main street where he’s been for hours (the reason why is gut wrenching) My favourite scene though would have to be when Mandy finally gets him to eat, feeding him bite after bite from her fork. It is so raw, so sensual and heartbreakingly sexy. Yeah, The Edge of Courage gave me several re-readable moments. Oh the sexy time ain’t too shabby either!
Around the half way mark the rest of the boys from Red Team show up to help take out terrorist Ebsan Asir -He’s set up a faction in the US, seeking retribution for events in Afghanistan. And while I loved the first part of this book its here that the story begins to suffer from first-book-in series-syndrome. With our H/h getting lost between a massive influx of very witty, very sexy secondary characters, fading into the background while we get to know the heroes of future books. Its also when all the action takes place and while its exciting and non stop it also heads into OTT territory, and I had to just shut my brain off and enjoy the ride. We’re left with a couple of loose ends but even without those I would be excited about the next instalment from what promises to be a great series.
I received an e copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I should tell you though that I’ll be buying it in PB as well because this is one for the keeper shelf.