In this second entry in the “Bagram Special Ops” series, Capt. Candace Bradford is still reeling from the operation that ended with her friend Devon in the hospital. Although she is grateful for Staff Sergeant Ryan Wentworth’s help during Devon’s recovery, Ryan should know better than to flirt outwardly with an officer. After all that Candace has worked for, she can’t allow this flirtation to go any further. Ryan is known as a player, but he feels something more for Candace. When Candace’s team responds to his call for help in the field, Ryan doesn’t know whether to be relieved that he knows where she is or terrified that she has joined him in this hellish situation. Enemy forces on three sides, an uncooperative weather front, and a dangerous mountain throw Ryan and Candace together to fight for their lives and the lives of their crew members.
Verdict Cross expertly builds both the romance and the suspense in this novel that should appeal to fans of both genres. The buildup of the secondary story line involving Maya and Jackson will have patrons anxiously awaiting the next series entry. The heat level here is intense, which may exclude this title from some conservative romance collections.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead
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Read an Excerpt
"Take cover! Move, move!"
M-4 carbine up and ready, Air Force Staff Sergeant Ryan Wentworth pounded across the dusty ground toward the safety of a rock outcropping as the firefight raged around him in the darkness. Bullets impacted only yards in front of him, kicking up sprays of dirt, tracer fire arcing through the night lit up in green by his night vision goggles.
He tore across the remaining distance and skidded to his knees behind the rocks to join the rest of his teammates, a Special Forces A-Team. Breathing hard from the run and the exertion of carrying over a hundred pounds of gear at this increased altitude, he went into a crouch and got on his radio to the F-18 he had holding to the west. "We're taking heavy fire. Request immediate CAS to our position." He relayed the coordinates quickly and clearly.
The pilot responded a moment later. "Roger that, Echo two seven. I'm inbound to your position, ETA thirty seconds."
"Copy." Ryan plugged a gloved finger into his ear to help drown out the background noise of the gunfire going on around him, the distinctive bark of AK-47s clear over the rest of the din. "Enemy position two hundred meters to our southeast, near a Russian tank. Target marked with laser."
Ryan raised his SOFLAM to his goggles and peered through an opening in the rocks at the enemy out front, hidden behind the ancient rusted remains of a long-abandoned Soviet-era tank.
"What's the status with our air, Sergeant?" Captain Hawking, the ODA team leader, yelled from Ryan's right.
More rounds impacted in front of their cover, these close enough to elevate his heart rate. "CAS en route, coming up on station." He stared through the laser target designator to paint the tank, his heart pounding hard and fast. A well-placed shot near there would wipe out the enemy force with one blow.
On either side of him, the other SF operators stretched out in their defensive position, all firing precise shots to keep the enemy pinned down behind their own rocks. Seconds later the distinctive roar of an approaching fighter jet echoed across the vast, darkened plain.
The radio squawked. "Raptor four one, on station."
Music to his ears. Ryan kept his eyes trained on the target through the device's viewfinder. His fingers tightened around it, anticipation roaring through his veins at the high-pitched scream of the fast mover's engines. Still aiming the laser at the target with one hand, he radioed the pilot back. "Copy. You're cleared hot."
"Roger that." A pause, then, "Weapon away."
An instant later there was a slight hissing sound as the Hellfire missile streaked toward its target, following the invisible beam of light from the SOFLAM. In less than a second the weapon impacted the target and exploded. The old Russian tank shot off the ground in a ball of fire and rained flaming pieces of metal onto the cold Afghan soil, while a sonic boom echoed across the desolate Afghan landscape. There was no return fire from the enemy.
Ryan grinned. This never got old. "Direct hit," he told the pilot. "Cease fire and RTB. Thanks for the help."
"Roger," the pilot answered, so calm he almost sounded bored. With the target eliminated, the Hornet nosed sharply upward and banked east overhead, winging its way back to base. It toggled its wings once in salute as it passed them before streaking away and vanishing in the distance.
In the wake of the massive explosion's report, silence rang in the cold November air.
Ryan turned to Hawking with a smug smile. "And that's how it's done."