The first book in New York Times bestselling author, Donna Grant’s sexy Sons of Texas series!
When his aunt and uncle are murdered, his father is kidnapped by a dangerous Russian faction and his high school sweetheart’s life is on the line, Navy SEAL Owen Loughman will stop at nothing to keep her safe.
The hero's homecoming.
Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget: his high school sweetheart, Natalie.
After more than a decade away, Owen races home when danger threatens everything he holds dear. What he doesn’t expect is to come face-to-face with Natalie again. Now he’ll risk it all to keep Natalie from harmand win her heart.
Natalie Dixon has had a lifetime of heartache since Owen was deployed. Fourteen years and one bad marriage later, she finds herself mixed up with the Loughmans again.
With her life on the line against an enemy she can’t fight alone, it’s Owen’s strong shoulders, smoldering eyes, and sensuous smile that she turns to. When danger closes in, how much will she risk to stay with the only man she’s ever loved.
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review) declared, “This first-class thrill ride will leave readers wanting more.”
The Hero is romantic suspense at its sexy, thrilling finest.
Don’t miss the other novels in this series:
Book #2: The Protector
Book #3: The Legend
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Donna Grant
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Donna Grant
All rights reserved.
The blades of the chopper cut through the air with a whomp, whomp noise that Owen Loughman had come to find soothing. He sat back with his eyes closed in the seat of the Blackhawk helicopter, trying to figure out why he'd been pulled from his mission with his SEAL team in Afghanistan.
Not surprisingly, he'd been told exactly nothing.
He cracked open an eye and glanced at the cockpit. The two men piloting wore solid black. No military designation. No adornment of any kind. Obviously CIA.
Owen had witnessed — and experienced — his fair share of craziness since becoming a SEAL. CIA agents thought they kept themselves under the radar. It was the biggest load of shit. Everyone recognized them immediately.
It wasn't the fact that he hadn't gotten details of why he and his team had their mission halted after a week in the desert. It wasn't that he'd been shoved onto a plane in the Middle East without explanation. It wasn't even that no one had so much as looked at him since he'd landed in the States and was promptly put on the Blackhawk.
He was a Navy SEAL. He was prepared for anything — any and all surprises. No, the unease had everything to do with the CIA. He didn't trust the government bastards.
The disquiet feeling that saved his life countless times began to stir. He blew out a breath and opened his eyes as he turned his head to look out the open door of the chopper.
He would recognize his beloved state anywhere. He hadn't been back in ... he had to stop and count ... ten years. He couldn't believe it had been that long. Where had the time gone?
The last time he'd seen Texas was the day he'd graduated from the University of Texas and joined the Navy. From the time he was in junior high, he'd known he would make his life in the military. It was who the Loughmans were, dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War.
He'd been the only one to follow in his father's footsteps and choose the Navy, though. Wyatt, his older brother, chose the Marines, along with Cullen, his younger brother.
He couldn't recall the last time he'd spoken to his brothers. Their family wasn't close. He blamed it on their father, because it was easy. Though in truth, the fault lay with each of them.
The chopper began its descent. His gaze took in the rolling hills and the cattle scattering to get away from the noise. Then he spotted the two-story, white house with black trim that brought back a flood of memories.
He rested his hands on his thighs covered in desert-colored cammies, wishing his gun hadn't been taken from him in Afghanistan. Just what the hell was he doing back home?
The Blackhawk landed a hundred yards from the house. The pilot turned in his seat and looked at Owen through the tinted screen of his helmet. "We've reached your destination, Lieutenant Commander."
He unbuckled his seatbelt and grabbed his pack before jumping out of the open doors, his gaze perusing the area as memories flooded back. No sooner had his feet hit the ground than the Blackhawk was airborne again.
He glanced up, watching the chopper disappear. Then his gaze slid to the house. It looked ... empty, desolate. Which couldn't be right since his aunt and uncle lived there.
Owen took a deep breath of the fresh Texas air. And stilled. He smelled death.
He hurried to the side of the house and squatted, flattening his back against the porch railing. Quietly, he lowered his pack to the ground before he cautiously looked around the corner.
Aunt Charlotte's numerous hanging plants that she lovingly cultivated still dotted the wrap-around porch, swinging in the breeze. An empty rocker teetered.
It was quiet. Too quiet.
He silently crept to the front steps. If anybody was there, they were inside the house. He glanced behind him. The open landscape allowed him to see anyone coming. The scattered trees were large enough to hide a foe, but even they were too far away for someone to surprise him.
Except for the oak out back. He would have to tread carefully there.
He hurried up the five steps to the porch and flattened himself against the house beside the front entryway. Slowly, he opened the screen door. Just in time, he recalled the squeak if opened all the way.
Keeping away from the glass inset into the wood, he rested the frame of the screen on his forearm as he put his hand on the knob. Then, with a deep breath, he twisted and gave a slight push.
The heavy door opened noiselessly. When no gunfire erupted, he peeked inside the house. When he saw nothing, he quickly entered, his hand catching the screen to close it without a sound behind him. He moved to the side of the foyer and listened for any noise.
The house remained as soundless and still as before. On silent feet, he walked to his left. He glanced up the stairs but chose to look around the ground floor first. The front room, the one his mother had used as a music room, had been turned into a formal living area by his aunt.
His gaze searched the space. As if pulled to them, he spotted two holes in the wall. Bullet holes. A sinking feeling filled him.
For long seconds, he stared at the marred drywall, hoping it was his mind playing tricks on him. But there was no denying the truth that was before him. Had his father's work once more followed him home? It infuriated him that Orrin hadn't taken precautions to keep his family safe as he'd promised.
Moving to the wall, he touched the holes. The bullets had been removed, but by the size of the openings, he surmised they were 7.62mm. Military grade.
His eyes slid to the next room. He knew what he would find. His mind screamed for him to turn and walk away. The house had seen so much death, and as always, he was the one to find it.
He hadn't run away when he was a boy. He wouldn't do it now. Though his years with the SEALs had shown him unbelievable ways a person could kill — and be killed — nothing could compare to knowing it had struck your family.
Owen swallowed and walked through the doorway to the large living area with the eight-foot-wide stone fireplace. The first thing he saw was the blood. It coated the recliner, which was also riddled with bullet holes.
He clenched his jaw, anger kindling in his gut. His fears were confirmed. Uncle Virgil and Aunt Charlotte were dead. As he stood in the living room where he and his brothers had watched TV, opened Christmas gifts, fought, and played, the primal side of him — the beast the Navy had shaped and trained — demanded justice.
Justice his mother hadn't gotten.
He slowly turned the haze of rage and anguish into cold fury that could be directed with reprisal so horrible the screams of the men who had killed his family would reverberate in Hell.
Pulling his eyes away from the recliner, he slowly moved around the living area. Debris from the gun battle littered the floor, making it so he had to carefully choose where to set his feet so as not to make noise.
He reached the arched double entry into the kitchen and felt his chest squeeze in fury. The shooters had found Aunt Charlotte there. By the dough still on the counter, she'd been making her famous bread. The blood pool on the floor was large, as was the pattern of splatter on the walls.
A floorboard creaked behind him. He whirled around, his arm jerking up and back to hit the intruder. At the last minute, he recognized the dark gold eyes and stopped his assault.
His elder brother gave a firm nod in greeting. "Owen."
He frowned as he looked at Wyatt's face covered with a thick beard. His dark hair was unkempt and long. Wyatt stood still as stone, his gaze moving from one place to the next.
Having gone undercover enough times himself, Owen recognized the reason for Wyatt's appearance. His brother had always been quiet. A loner. Only the Loughmans knew the cause.
And no one spoke of it.
Now, Wyatt appeared even more serious, if that were possible. He was leaner than Owen remembered, more lethal and vicious. Wyatt wore black camo with no insignia. So that's where his brother had disappeared to. Delta Force.
Despite Wyatt's icy demeanor, not even he could hide the anger that sizzled in his eyes or the way his hands clenched at his sides.
Men like he and Wyatt knew only one way to seek vengeance — blood. Whoever had done this to their family was about to see just what the Loughman brothers were capable of.
Wyatt stepped around him into the kitchen and stopped next to the pool of blood. His gaze remained on it for a moment before he met Owen's gaze. "There's nothing upstairs."
He opened his mouth to speak when the sound of another chopper filled the air. Both brothers hurried to the front of the house. Sliding against the wall, they peeked out the windows to see another man in green fatigues appear in the doorway of the Blackhawk.
"I'll be damned," he murmured when Cullen jumped from the helicopter before it landed.
Cullen's cap was pulled low over his face as he stood staring at the house. He didn't move even as the chopper took off, the sound fading quickly.
Owen looked at Wyatt to find a frown on his brother's face. Nothing ever changed. He pushed away from the wall and walked out the front of the house. The sight of his younger brother brought a smile. Too bad the reunion was tarnished with death. But that seemed to be the curse of the Loughmans.
Cullen dropped his pack from his shoulder and smiled when he caught sight of him. Owen jumped off the porch and met Cullen halfway, enfolding him in a hug.
They pounded each other on the back in greeting. He then held his younger brother at arm's length and looked into hazel eyes so like their mother's as Cullen removed his hat. If he thought Wyatt had changed, it was nothing compared to Cullen.
Cullen's gaze held a cynical edge, showing suspicion that only someone who had been neck-deep in war would understand. His hair was kept in the typical style of the Marines — high and tight — with the sides shaved close to his head and only a quarter inch spiked on top.
"Damn, it's been a while," Cullen said with a bright smile.
He playfully slapped Cullen on the cheek, but he couldn't hold his smile. Not when he knew what had brought them together. "You've grown up, little brother."
Cullen's laughter died as his gaze moved over Owen's shoulder. The grin was gone, the hardness back in place. "Wyatt."
Owen turned around to find Wyatt on the porch, watching them. Life as a Loughman hadn't been easy for any of them, but particularly Wyatt. Owen still remembered being a young boy, how people used to be envious of their ranch. For a few years, the siblings had lived a life of wonder and joy.
But it all shattered one stormy day.
None of the boys had been the same since. Owen looked between his two brothers, hating that the tension was already back.
"What's going on?" Cullen asked as his sharp gaze looked around. "Where are Uncle Virgil and Aunt Charlotte?"
Wyatt leaned against the post. "Dead."
Cullen's eyes become intense. "How?"
"I'd say at least five men," Owen said.
Wyatt added, "Six." He walked down the steps and pointed to the ground. "Two came in the front. Another two from the back, and I spotted two more sets of footprints around the barns."
Owen scrubbed a hand down his face. This was a hit. Pure and simple. But against his aunt and uncle, who were some of the best human beings he'd ever known? This wasn't about Charlotte and Virgil. This was about something else. He immediately thought of his father. But it could be because of one of them, as well. He and his brothers had enemies of their own.
That soured his stomach. Hadn't he sworn he wouldn't allow such things to touch his family again?
He walked back into the house and to the living area, followed by Cullen and Wyatt. He looked at the recliner where their uncle had been killed to the fireplace where one of the shotguns hung.
"It's untouched," Cullen stated.
Owen glanced around the room. "Virgil never got to it."
"He didn't stand a chance against such firepower," Wyatt stated.
Cullen strode to the kitchen and stood quietly for several minutes. When he spoke, his voice was low and filled with raw fury. "I'll not stop until I find out who did this."
"We feel the same," Owen said, fully understanding how Cullen felt.
Cullen released a breath and faced his brothers. "I was in the middle of a mission when my team was pulled. No way was I picked up and immediately brought here just because they were murdered."
"You weren't the only one, kid," Wyatt said. "I was on a mission, too."
Owen crossed his arms over his chest. "Make that all three of us. I can't think of any of my enemies who would know to track me here."
"Me either," Cullen replied.
Wyatt gave a single shake of his head.
Owen's anger burned brightly. "This involves Dad. It has to."
A muscle ticked in Wyatt's jaw. Owen ignored the telltale sign that Wyatt was furious and frowned when he heard the sound of an automobile approaching. The three instantly fanned out. Cullen took the back door while Owen positioned himself at the front. Wyatt squatted behind the sofa in the formal living room.
The motor shut off, and a moment later, a vehicle door closed. Owen glanced out the window and caught sight of the front of a dark gray BMW 6 Series.
Seconds ticked by without the sound of anyone approaching. Wyatt turned his head toward the back of the house when the front door was thrown open, and someone stepped inside. Owen stilled a second before he grabbed the slim form.
He had the intruder flipped onto their back immediately. In the next moment, Owen found himself on the floor, staring at the ceiling. He jumped to his feet and tried to look beneath the baseball cap of the person, but he couldn't make out anything.
Owen didn't waste any time getting the advantage and slamming the person against the wall. There was a gasp that sounded distinctly feminine as the air in the intruder's lungs was forced out.
That caught his attention. With a shove, he knocked the hat off. A wealth of light brown hair tumbled free.
All the breath left him as he stared into green eyes he feared he'd never see again.
"Hi, boys," she said off-handedly.
He frowned, suddenly furious to find her there. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"She's looking for me," came a voice behind them.
"Callie?" Wyatt asked in a strangled voice full of surprise and annoyance as he stood.
Callie Reed glared at each of them as she walked around Owen and nodded to Natalie. He released Natalie, and she moved to stand beside Callie. He exchanged a look with his brothers, though Wyatt couldn't stop staring at Callie.
"Someone please tell us what's going on?" Owen demanded.
Callie shrugged. "I work here."
Green eyes met his. "I came to help."CHAPTER 2
Natalie had known the black helicopters she spotted on her way to the ranch could be transports for the Loughman boys. It gave her a little thrill to think Owen might be on one.
Then she remembered that he'd left her. Suddenly, she didn't want to see him again. But things she couldn't change had been set in motion — and it was out of her hands now.
"I see it," Callie said through the speakers in Natalie's car. "It's a military chopper."
"I wanted to get to the ranch before them."
Callie grunted in agreement. "You don't want to see him."
"I really don't."
"Welcome to my world," Callie murmured.
She grinned but didn't comment as she continued driving at breakneck speed. "Where are you?"
"I should get there right behind you. Shit. Hang on."
Natalie grimaced when she heard the squeal of tires through the phone connection. She waited until she heard Callie let loose another string of curses before she released a breath.
"Dumbasses can't drive," Callie stated irately. "If I didn't drive as well as I do, that could've ended up killing someone."
"Save it for those responsible for Charlotte's and Virgil's murders."
There was a pregnant pause before Callie said sadly, "Yeah."
The days of Natalie going back to her house to have a glass of wine and watch episodes of Criminal Minds or Doctor Who were long gone. Ever since the day she saw Ragnarok in that report and called the number Orrin had given her, her life had changed.
That's when she and Callie had begun talking several times a day.
The sound of another chopper flying low overhead caused her to glance up. It looked like another military helicopter, which immediately made her think of Owen. Again.
Excerpted from The Hero by Donna Grant. Copyright © 2016 Donna Grant. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
THE HERO is the first installment in Donna Grant’s contemporary, adult SONS OF TEXAS military romance series focusing on the Loughman brothers – our story line hero Owen, oldest brother and Marine recon captain Wyatt, and youngest brother/Marine Cullen- and their Navy SEAL father Orrin Loughman. This is Navy SEAL Owen Loughman, and language expert Natalie Dixon’s story line. Told from three different third party perspectives (Owen, Natalie and Orrin) THE HERO follows the search for Orrin Loughman and the people responsible for the murder of the Loughman’s Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Virgil. While on assignment overseas, all three Loughman brothers are called home to Texas to discover that their beloved Aunt and Uncle have been murdered, and their Navy SEAL father Orrin is missing. Enter Natalie Dixon, a woman whose own relationship with Orrin Loughman is that of father and daughter, and a woman who is in the direct line of fire when she is targeted by the same people who killed Charlotte and Virgil Loughman. What ensues is hunt for Orrin Loughman, and Owen’s need to protect the woman he has always loved. THE HERO is a story of second chances. Fourteen years earlier Owen walked out of Natalie’s life believing his presence could risk her life and everyone that she loves. Owen has never stopped loving Natalie Dixon, and in the ensuing years finds himself wondering if she would ever forgive him when the time was right. Natalie is a woman scorned, not once but twice, and is reluctant to renew her relationship with the man who destroyed her heart. The $ex scenes limited but romantic without the use of over the top graphic sexual language and text. The world building focuses on three distinct scenarios: Orrin Loughman and his struggle to survive; the battle to stay one step ahead of the people who have targeted Natalie Dixon; and the search for the people that have destroyed their lives. The Loughman family is a dysfunctional family unit that has struggled since the death of the matriarch Melanie Loughman-a murder that has gone unsolved, and brothers blame their father for their grief and suffering. We are introduced to Owen’s family-Marines Wyatt and Cullen, as well as Callie Reed who may or may not have had a prior relationship with Wyatt Loughman. Air Force pilot Mia Carter, the last person to have seen Orrin Loughman alive, is a person of interest in the case. Mia and Cullen’s story is next in THE PROTECTOR-January 2017. THE HERO is an engaging, action packed, emotional story line of suspense and mystery; murder and the Russian mob; international espionage and affairs of the state. The premise is exciting, complex and creative; the characters are intriguing and powerful; the romance is passionate and seductive. Because the SONS OF TEXAS focuses on the Loughman family, THE HERO does not end with a happily ever after but a happily ever after for now as the search continues for Orrin Loughman.
Donna Grant took paranormal romance by storm with several of her one of a kind series, like the Dark Warriors and Dragon Kings. Let me tell you she has done it again with her new contemporary series Sons of Texas! The Hero never slows down, so many twists and turns that weaves an intoxicating tale of love! Danger lurks at every corner. Government conspiracies and secret organizations. A bioweapon that if in the wrong hands could destroy the world! Russian Hitmen. Second chances not just for love, but for family. Non stop action, keeps you on the edge of your seat and reading late into the night! You are going to fall in love & lust with the Loughman men! Owen Loughman has devoted his life to being a Navy Seal. He has risked it all to bravely fight for his county. His only regret was leaving behind his high school sweetheart Natalie. As fate would have it he may get a second chance if only he can keep her alive because his father has dragged them all into a fight for their lives. Natalie Dixon has never forgot about the boy who broke her heart. Even after all the years apart, the feelings she thought she put behind her surge to the surface and the man he has become takes her breath away. How will she stand a chance of resisting his seduction. He is also the only thing standing between her and certain death. There is one thing she knows for certain, that she trusts him with her life. Now can she learn to trust him again with her heart. I can’t say enough how fantastic this book was and I am so excited for the next one!
First book in the Sons of Texas series. A secret worldwide organization has created a biochemical that could send the world into chaos. The Loughman boys are called home when their Aunt and Uncle are murdered and their father is taken. So much more than romance. While Owen and Natalie are the love interest in The Hero, the series if filled w/ action, mystery, adventure, and a strong need for answers. All three sons are handsome, loyal, and full of honor. Great read!
The first book in Donna Grant's Sons of Texas was refreshingly different from her Dark World universe. I enjoyed every second of this spy thriller adventure with the first of the three Loughman boys coming home to find his uncle and aunt murdered, father kidnapped, and his childhood sweetheart, that he left after graduation in order to protect her from his kind of life, neck deep in trouble with the Russians. Natalie has tried so hard to forget Owen the past 14 years since he turned his back on her and their future without explaining why, so when he shows back up to find murder and mayhem, she tries very hard to keep her distance while trying to find his father. Both have a lot to work through and while trying to do that they are dodging bullets, Russian hitmen, ties to the Russian Embassy and government, and dealing with the fact that the boys totally misjudged their father. I enjoyed their story and I look forward to the other two boys having their own adventures while trying find and save their father and keep a bio weapon out of Russian hands.
Owen Loughman and his two brothers were called home when his father is taken on a mission and his aunt and uncle are killed. Being a highly decorated SEAL, when he left home, he never really looked back, except when he thought about his old high school sweetheart Natalie. Being a huge fan of Donna Grant’s other series, I was impatient to read her delve into suspense books. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. I really loved this book. Watching Owen own up to his mistake of leaving Natalie, however understandable, and getting her to re-fall for him while trying to stay alive made it really hard to put down the book until it was done. I highly recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
Natalie works at the Russian embassy. She's approached by Orrin Loughman with questions on a secret project called Ragnarok. He asks her to contact him if she comes across any information. How strange to hear from her ex-lover's father! Now there's a hit on her, Orrin has been kidnapped and his three sons have returned to Texas to find their father and stop the Russian killers. Could her life get any more complicated? The answer is yes. Owen is back. She loved him and he left her without a second thought but she never got over him. Their attraction is still powerful. She won't let him hurt her again. What happens next is a wild ride filled with death and betrayal. Donna Grant kept me on the edge of my seat. Owen is a lethal weapon as are his two brothers. You don't mess with them. They will stop these killers and find their father. Natalie plans to help any way that she can. She may be afraid but she will do what's needed. These two are well matched. I liked these characters. They are both strong and dedicated to justice. The tension ramp up as the brothers struggle to keep Ragnarok safe and find out who's leaking information to their enemies. Donna Grant is off to a terrific start with this first book in the Sons of Texas series. I was pulled in from the first page. The action is non-stop and the romance is passionate. Just be aware that The Hero ends with many unanswered questions. You'll need to read the rest of the series to get resolution. I'm looking forward to the release of The Protector to read Mia and Cullen's story. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Donna Grant skillfully blends political espionage and second-chance romance in this thrilling read. The cover and blurb attracted my attention immediately and I was delighted when I got the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. Owen and Natalie were high school sweethearts with their futures all mapped out. Until Owen dropped Natalie straight after graduation without a proper explanation. It's been fourteen years since they last met one another and now fate has thrown them together in the midst of a crisis. It becomes clear that neither of them ever got over the other and that they are still crazy in love. Natalie tries to keep her distance to protect her heart while Owen realizes he made a terrible mistake in letting her go and he wants a do-over. Owen is forced into the role of protector when Natalie's job in the Russian Embassy drags her into the middle of an international biological warfare scandal. She faces up to things rather pragmatically and I enjoyed her character immensely. Owen was swoon-worthy in the extreme and who doesn't love a hot, muscle-bound Navy-SEAL? Owen's family background is quite dysfunctional and none of the brothers have spoken in years. The situation involving their father brings them back together. Wyatt and Cullen seem to have interesting backstories too and I look forward to reading their books. I thought the mix of political intrigue and romance was well balanced. There are times when Owen and Natalie get it on that seemed a bit ridiculous with the threat looming over them but it's fiction so I just went with it. The romance scenes were well-written and I totally felt the strong connection between our couple and was rooting for them to get their HEA. Donna is a great writer and the book flowed well - consistency was smooth. In summary, this was a great read and a fab start to this interesting series. I look forward to reading The Protector next. Thanks to the publisher for supplying a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
I am in love with Texas!!
Great read! Lots of suspense and drama in this second chance romance. I really love these brothers and am looking forward to more in the series.
A new 5 star sexy dynamic action packed military series by Donna Grant that will mesmerize the reader till the last page. This book has it all sexy main characters, alpha males, intrigue, drama, mystery and a well developed plot. I really am not into military books but I love this author so I wanted to see how she would cross genres and it was no surprise to me that she did an outstanding job. Though I have no experience with weapons or military life this book for me was very believable. The three disassociated military brothers make their appearance quickly in the book and each one has their own magnetic alpha personalities that every women will fall in love with. This fractured family must work through a past and present that destroyed their family. It will make you cry and give you hope. The author does a fine job of developing Natalie's character from the rejected high school girlfriend to a mature strong women with a mind of her own. Natalie shows a vulnerable side along with her strong side and the reader will be drawn into her life and how she chooses to live it. Owen is great, really great though he is a little on the pig headed side, in a good way. I could feel his pain as he worked through past decisions he made through out his life. The author makes him so real that your heart will hurt and tears will come to your eyes. The Hero is about deep abiding love, anger, hurt, sadness, revenge, making wrong decisions for the right reasons and forgiveness. I give this 5 STARS and want everyone to give this book a try. Will you? Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
I haven't read Donna Grant before as she normally writes PNR, but this book shows she's found a new niche in her writing. The Hero was a great book. The basic story brings us 3 sons, all military men and their now retired military father. This story centers around the oldest Owen, a Navy SEAL and the woman he left behind 14 years ago Natalie. His rationale was he didn't want to subject her to the life of a military wife. The boys lost their Mother when they were young and the details of that death unfold in this book. Their father returned to active duty and the boys were left in the care of their Aunt and Uncle. This story begins with the brothers all being called home to Texas from their missions, flown in without knowing why. The scene they came home to was the murder of their aunt and uncle, the government already swept in removing evidence and the bodies, the local sheriff also in and out, just as a basic hand pat and their father was missing. Natalie shows up coming to meet Callie who Orrin, the father had taken under his wing and had worked with him for a long time. Natalie is working at the Russian Embassy in Dallas, since Orrin had paid her a visit a while back, she'd been keeping her eyes open for a word he had given her. She's been visiting the ranch and working with Callie while Orrin is still running Ops missions, which his sons knew nothing about. The death of their mother has strained the relationship between them, despite their young age, they faulted their father for her death. It also becomes apparent early on that Natalie has a bullseye on her back after the death of the aunt and uncle as well. Owen and Natalie are struggling with their feelings for each other. Owen is bemoaning what he has missed the last 14 years and Natalie is fighting her feelings and busy building more walls to keep Owen out. He ruined her life once and took her too many years to recover, if she ever really had. So with the tenuous relationship of Owen and Natalie, the cat and dog relationship of Callie and Wyatt, which we don't know why these two are like oil and water yet, Cullen is in Delaware and unreachable; we do know that Orrin is still alive and being held until he gives over the vial of a new biochemical he and his steam stole from Russia. Everyone is busy putting the pieces of the puzzle together and then the book ends. Yup. Cliffhanger! No wait, what? Cliffhanger! It wasn't a bad cliffy where you're traumatized for a day or two. But now we have to wait to watch this unfold and find out just who the worst of the bad guys are and who betrayed who. This is a great story and for Donna's first venture into a new genre she did a fantastic job. The book was complete, characters well developed, Owen and Natalie were steamy and tense at the same time. The characters all seemed to click, especially those who were at odds. I can't wait to find out the story between Callie and Wyatt. This is a great start to a series. **received an advanced reader copy from NetGalley and publisher in exchange for a fair review**
Natalie and Owen were high school sweethearts. Natalie's heart was broken when Owen left for college the day after graduation, without a word, or a look back. She went on to college and studied languages. Fourteen years pass. An expert in Russian, Natalie spent years in St. Petersburg before recently returning to her Dallas roots to work for the Russian Embassy. She hasn't been home long when Owen's father, Orrin, asks for a favor. Knowing that he'd been a Navy SEAL, and still mourns his wife's murder 20 years before, Natalie's eager to help. Getting info on Ragnarok, a top-secret bioweapon, wasn't exactly what she'd expected. Owen and his three brothers are pulled from their covert assignments and dropped off at their family ranch to discover their family in shambles. Wyatt, a black ops Delta Force Marine, Owen, a Navy SEAL, and Cullen, a Marine recon specialist, haven't seen each other in person for years. Their family crumbled after their mother's murder, and with their hostility toward their father. Learning that their aunt and uncle have been murdered, and their father kidnapped after stealing Ragnarok from the Russians, sets these three on high alert. Aided by Natalie, Callie and Mia, these sons of Texas need to save the world...now. As a reader, I wasn't impressed with the set-up. I thought it was too vague, too cloak-and-dagger to have these guys literally air-dropped on their ranch with no government contact. Callie worked directly for Orrin, and she and Natalie had some limited knowledge of the Ragnarok mission, but it felt contrived and unrealistic to have these gals do the heavy job of debriefing the Loughmans, and setting up the plan of attack on recovering the bioweapon and Orrin. I was mystified that Owen has such a strong reaction to seeing Natalie, in comparison to his rather muted emotional response to the deaths of his beloved aunt and uncle, and his missing father. For me, this felt superficial and hollow, and it didn't endear me. I did appreciate that Natalie was really torn over her feelings for Owen. She loved him once, and his cowardly way of disappearing was hard to take. Still, it's been a long time, with no contact, and both Owen and Natalie are very much preoccupied with their rekindled flame, as opposed to the present dangers. Natalie's been targeted by Russian assassins and they keep dashing off on reconnaissance missions to determine what it is they are dealing with, and who the major players are. The best scenes were those narrated by Orrin in captivity. He's such a stalwart man, unwilling to compromise any of his sons, even as he's tortured. Essentially, this is a romance with some spy/suspense elements. There's a little bit of sexytimes, but not much, considering all the internal battles these folks wage regarding their attraction. The conflict isn't resolved at the end, though Owen and Natalie are completely reunited. Expect Cullen to find love in the next book, and (hopefully) he and his lucky lady might rescue his father, too. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.
I really enjoyed this one. There is a ton of action and suspense that kept me flipping the pages. This is book 1 in the series and while you get a conclusion of sorts to Owen and Natalie's story, the overall story and the reason they were brought together continues in the next book. Owen and his two brothers are summoned back to the family ranch. A place they all left and never planned to return. As a Navy SEAL Owen has seen a lot of action but never would he have guessed that he would be in the middle of an international incident right on the family ranch. And never would he imagine that Natalie, his teenage love be right there with him. As they deal with incredible danger including a bio-weapon, Russian hit men, and the disappearance of Owen's father, it becomes clear to both Owen and Natalie what is really important in life. This is one I would definitely recommend.
Donna Grant's The Hero is a well-written suspenseful novel with a beautiful second-chance romance. I am not sure if Ms. Grant did a lot of research, used to work for the FBI or was in the military, but she tells an excellent and believable story revolving around Russians and a bio-weapon and kidnappings, etc. The suspense piece is truly turn-the-page-as-fast-as-you-can thrilling action. The three Loughman brothers form the heart of this story and series. In The Hero, we meet all three brothers but focus on the middle sibling, Owen. Owen and his high school sweetheart Natalie are thrown together again after his father is kidnapped. Neither have forgotten each other even though it has been fourteen years since they have seen each other. Owen broke Natalie's heart before he left to join the Navy, and she's afraid to fall in love with him again. What she doesn't know is that Owen broke her heart to drive her away, because he was scared she would one day be in danger because of his career choices. He has always loved her. When the two are together again, they can't deny that their feelings are just as strong. They have a beautiful romance set in an enthralling plot, and I loved every page. I can't wait for the next Loughman brother's story. ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley, but no one made me write this review and my opinions are honest and my own.
First book in Donna Grant’s new military romantic suspense series! How different her life would be if Orrin hadn’t contacted her in July. She wouldn’t be embroiled in kidnapping, espionage, and murder. The Hero is the first book in Donna Grant’s new military romantic suspense series. Each book is set in the heart of Texas and features one of the hot Loughman brothers. I’m a huge fan of Donna’s paranormal romances, so there was no doubt that I’d be on board for her inaugural foray into contemporary romance. The Hero sets up the series’ premise and delivers the second-chance-at-love story of teenage sweethearts Owen Loughman and Natalie Dixon. There are three Loughman brothers and all serve in the military: Delta Force operator Wyatt is the elder; Navy SEAL Owen is the middle son; and Force Recon Marine Cullen is the youngest. Each will have his own book in this planned trilogy. Natalie Dixon received a surprise summons from Orrin Loughman in late July. Besides surprisingly sharing with her that he thought his son had made a big mistake by cruelly walking away from her fourteen years ago, he also needed a huge favor that could endanger her life. Orrin needed to know if she had heard anything about Russia’s ‘Ragnarok’ in her high security job with the Russian embassy. In Norse mythology, Ragnarok referred to the downfall of the cosmos. Orrin feared that a modern-day hush-hush Russian biochemical threat nicknamed “Ragnarok’ would have the same effect spelling mankind’s doom. Fast forward to the fall of the same year… The three Loughman brothers converge on their family home after each was pulled from a critical military mission without an explanation. “It was quiet. Too quiet.” They arrive to find that their Uncle Virgil and Aunt Charlotte have been brutally murdered. The brothers task themselves with finding the assailants responsible and with finding their father as he has gone missing from his last mission. Orrin is assumed to have been kidnapped by the Russians. The ‘curse of the Loughans’ is alive and well as the brothers, Natalie and Callie Reed, who has been assisting Orrin, embark on a dangerous and thrilling game of cat-and-mouse to decipher clues and protect their own. The mission is made more difficult by Owen’s and Natalie’s prior history. Natalie thought she was over him, but being around him again, reignites the flame that was never snuffed out between them. Their attraction burns smokin’ hot and steamy, but trust is not an easy thing to give a second time. I wanted to love this book; I ended up liking it. Unfortunately, I had issues connecting with Owen. I liked Natalie, but just couldn’t get vested in their story. The way he broke Natalie’s heart was an insurmountable hurdle for me. I really tried to forgive him… but couldn’t. If you enjoy military romances, you may very well feel differently about Owen and relate to his mindset – so I would still recommend checking out The Hero. In addition, be forewarned that there is a cliffhanger ending with a direct setup for the next book. That said, the series shows a lot of promise. Knowing Donna, I’m definitely thinking this series will get stronger for me and I’m looking forward to seeing that happen. I’ve already pre-ordered the next book, The Protector, hitting bookstores 3 January 2017. My full review is posted at Reading Between The Wines Book Club. Please check it out there. 3 1/2 Wine Glasses!
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 3 In The Hero the Loughman boys are called home when their father goes missing. When they get home they realize that this is much more than just a missing person case. The Russian’s are involved. And they want the weapon that Orrin stole. I enjoyed this story. I like the Loughman boys. The Hero is a new series by Ms. Grant. This was a good start to this series. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with Wyatt and Cullen. I am also looking forward to seeing what happens with Orrin. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley & St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.