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Friday, June 6, 2014

ARC Review: Honor Reclaimed by Tonya Burrows

It’s no secret that I love military heroes and will read most anything starring one... a finely honed physique, the ability to kill a handful of insurgents with a paperclip, and outstanding sense of Honor and duty—what’s not to like? And though I’d seen the great buzz surrounding Tonya Burrows’s debut, SEAL OF HONOR, which kicks off her military romantic suspense HORNET series, I hadn’t gotten around to reading it or its companion Wilde Security series. But after devouring HORNET #2, HONOR RECLAIMED, I’m getting caught up on Ms. Burrows’s backlist, stat! With HONOR RECLAIMED, Ms. Burrows delivers a compelling, multilayered story that is suspenseful, action-packed, sexy, humorous, and poignant at the same time and features two of the most emotionally complex and superbly written characters I have come across in a while. Both the action-packed plot and the characters’ complex emotional arc kept me glued to my Kindle and unable to put the book down until I was finished. [Sleep? Who needs sleep?]

The tortured hero isn’t usually my favourite, but Ms. Burrows’s Seth Harlan has made me a convert. As a Marine sniper, he spent fifteen months as a prisoner of war in Afghanistan before being rescued by a team of Navy SEALs. For the past two years, he has suffered from severe PTSD—paranoia, flashbacks, nightmares, panic—and the overwhelming guilt of being unable to save his team from being captured and tortured by terrorists and being the only one to survive. No longer apt for the military but not civilian either, he’s searching for a place to belong and thinks former SEAL Gabe Bristow’s ragtag private hostage rescue team, HORNET, could be it—if he didn’t keep flashing back to the past in the middle of training missions and getting his team ‘killed’. Convinced he’s getting axed from HORNET after the latest failed training mission, he instead gets the call to go wheels-up on an operation to rescue an Army Ranger deep undercover in Afghanistan who’s been captured by the Taliban. The rest of the HORNET team rags on Seth and doesn’t feel like he can have their backs in the field, but returning to the place where you were tortured for fifteen months takes a brass set of balls. It’s a testament to Seth’s great strength that he does it without a major meltdown and manages to face his demons to carry out the mission. Ms. Burrows does an excellent job portraying Seth’s anxiety and struggles to rise above the fear and guilt in a way that connects with the reader on a deep emotional level. I love it when a romance hero (especially a military one) can be badass and alpha but has a vulnerable edge that humanizes him, and Ms. Burrows nails it with Seth. I was rooting for him from the beginning

Heroine Phoebe Leighton plays a huge role in Seth’s growth as a character. A former tabloid reporter, she’s now freelance photojournalist and is in Afghanistan doing a story on a women’s shelter in Kabul started by an American relief worker. She has a pseudo-history with Seth, having written a sensationalist piece about him after his rescue for her tabloid that demolished his credibility, so when she thinks she spots him in a Kabul market, she follows him and ends up tangled in the HORNET mission. I absolutely loved Phoebe as a character: she’s feisty, smart, incredibly brave to do the things she does, committed to the cause of doing good with her journalism to atone for the fame-seeking tabloid reporter she used to be, and loyal to those she cares about. She’s also flawed, which makes her realistic and relatable: a bit overly na├»ve about the power of journalism (splashing a suspected terrorist’s plans on Page One does not your personal safety guarantee!), and afraid to ‘fess up to Seth about her role in his post-rescue public flaying for fear of ruining their budding romantic relationship, even when she knows the longer she remains silent, the worse the fallout will be. I especially liked how she saw Seth for who he truly is underneath the scars of his captivity and how she kept coaxing him out of his shell (even when he was being a complete asshat) and back toward the humanity he believes he lost. The two of them have explosive chemistry and a scorching attraction from the get-go, but their relationship is also sweet and touching on top of HOT. They’re one of my favourite couples.

In addition to two great protagonists, the ragtag group of operators that makes up the HORNET team—a gimpy Navy SEAL commander, an executive officer with a traumatic brain injury, a womanizing Cajun linguist, a boy-genius CIA analyst, a true-blue cowboy medic, a hostage negotiator with connections to the mob, and an asshole of an explosives expert—and their attempts to exist as a cohesive unit add an extra level of emotional complexity and some much-needed comic relief. Ms. Burrows writes excellent male banter (bromances in the making!) and does a great job integrating the other team members into the story so that they feel like three-dimensional characters rather than simple series fodder. I’m especially intrigued to learn the story behind Ian Reinhardt’s complete wankerdom.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed HONOR RECLAIMED and have discovered a new auto-buy author. If you like your romance equal parts hot suspenseful, and poignant, be sure to check it out!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | The Book Depository |


  1. I love so many things you point out about this book, but I confess the female reporter thing has me shying away. I always hate it when media journalists feel someone's life is fair game. As a whole, the book sounds good.