From Shadow Warrior…to hostage
Despite her sweet nature, Navy medic Bay Thorn's will is unbreakable. It has earned her not only the respect of her team, but also the love of Navy SEAL Gabe Griffin. And as soon as she wraps up the final six months of Operation Shadow Warriors in Afghanistan, she'll have her happily ever after….
Until her deployment goes horribly wrong.
Bay's medical expertise is needed by the Taliban, and she is taken hostage. Her captor is ruthless and cruel, and Bay isn't exempt from his evil intents. All that's left now is her resolve and the too-distant memory of Gabe -- her last and only hope for rescue. And to pull Bay from hell, this SEAL will have to break every rule in the book. But will Gabe find the woman he loves…or a woman broken beyond recognition?
Exciting and emotional book. It deals with some very tough issues that face our military members, especially the women. This is a follow on book to Breaking Point, the first part of Bay and Gabe's story. In that book, Bay is assigned as medic to Gabe's SEAL unit. Overcoming the prejudices of her teammates, Bay won their respect, and also the love of Gabe. Bay has one more deployment to face before she can leave the military and marry Gabe. At the beginning of this book, she and Gabe have a week together between her training and her departure for Afghanistan. The time that they spend together only deepens their love and their connection. Bay is confident in her ability to make it through this last deployment and come home to Gabe. Gabe, being the protective soul that he is, and not one given to optimism, worries constantly about her safety. He maintains contact with the SEAL unit that is over there, knowing that they will watch out for a brother SEAL's woman.
Bay is assigned to an army special forces unit that is working out of a Afghani village. Because of the presence of an especially violent Taliban force, Bay is not sent out on patrols but is headquartered in the village, providing medical care to the locals as well as her unit. One afternoon, as she is treating local women and children, the Taliban sweeps in a takes several children and Bay. The Taliban leader, an especially nasty sort, kidnaps children and sells them as sex slaves to finance his operations. He hates all Americans, and a military woman is even more offensive to him, but he will use Bay's medical expertise until he has no more use for her. Bay knows that the outlook for her is bleak, but she will do what she must to survive, hopeful of escape or rescue.
I was definitely impressed with Bay's initial attempts to fight off the Taliban raiders, hoping that the rest of the team would make it in time to save her. When that didn't happen and she was captured, she had to overcome the effects of her injuries to follow the orders of her captor. The memories of her love with Gabe helps keep her from losing all hope, especially as they move further away from where she was taken. Then her pleas for help for an injured child cause retaliation of the worst kind. Even then, her mind is always looking for a way out, and when one becomes available she takes it.
In the meantime, Gabe, after waking from a terrifying nightmare, gets word of Bay's capture. Desperate, he does everything he can to get himself sent to Afghanistan so that he can search for her himself. While this stretches the bounds of reality for me a little, as I don't think it would happen in real life, it makes for a damn good story. Gabe's fear for Bay is never far from his thoughts, though he works to keep it buried. Once he arrives and meets up with Afghani guide Reza, the search is on.
I loved the detailed descriptions of what Bay was going through, mentally and physically, as she made her escape. The realism of her fractured thoughts, including the bursts of memories of the things Gabe told her of how to survive, kept me on the edge of my seat as I hoped that she would make a clean escape. At the same time, Gabe and Reza were trying to track the group that had taken her. The intensity of the moment when Gabe realizes that Bay has escaped, but that the Taliban is gaining on her was fantastic. The firefight and rescue were incredible. Gabe's relief at finding her alive, and fears for her survival had him on a ragged edge. I ached for him as he discovered the true extent of her injuries.
From this point the book deals with Bay's recovery and Gabe learning how to support her. I loved the scene in the hospital, as one of the older nurses explains to a younger one the reality of dealing with a SEAL, especially one who is protecting one of his own. I liked the way that Bay's doctor sat Gabe down and explained in great detail what would probably go on as Bay started her recovery, and what Gabe would have to do to help her. Because of amnesia caused by her injuries, Bay doesn't remember anything about their relationship, and Gabe has to provide support as a friend not a lover. As several months pass, Bay's memories slowly start to return and Gabe is there for her. But the stress on him is intense, as he tries to keep his emotions buried. There comes a point where those emotions overwhelm him and cause him to react badly to an event involving Bay. This could be either the beginning of the end for Bay and Gabe, or a learning point for Gabe. I loved the advice that he got from Bay's mother, and how he put it into practice.
In the final part, as Bay goes off on her own to try to put the pieces of her life back together, I loved her determination. She makes a good start, and has begun to realize that she is falling in love with Gabe. But hearing that he is gone, sends her into a spiral that only one thing can break her out of. I loved the way that Gabe followed her to watch out for her, but kept his distance. It also gave him the time to come to terms with his own fears and feelings. The step he took to help Bay away from the wall she hit was sweet and romantic and just what she needed to regain her final memories. I really enjoyed the scene where he steps out of the darkness to protect her from another threat, reuniting them. Together again, Gabe once more reaches deep for the patience he feels he needs as he and Bay rebuild their relationship. I loved seeing Bay be the one to push the envelope of their love to get back what had been missing. I loved the ending with a look at their lives together. The visit from Gabe's friend Mike was just the icing on the cake.