Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bane - Brenda Jackson (HD #2413 - Dec 2015)

Series: Westmorelands (Book 31)

The last Westmoreland bachelor is a navy SEAL on a mission to protect the woman who got away…

After five years, navy SEAL Brisbane Westmoreland is back home on his ranch and ready to reclaim the woman he left behind. But when he tracks her to Dallas, he's in for a shock.

Crystal Newsome isn't ready to forgive Bane for saying he loved her then vanishing from her life. Only now the beautiful chemist needs his protection. As their own irresistible chemistry takes over once again, can Bane keep Crystal safe and convince her they can have the second chance they both deserve?

Fantastic book. Bane is the last of the Denver Westmorelands to remain unmarried - or so everyone thinks. But during a visit home at the end of the previous book, Breaking Bailey's Rules, Bane drops the bombshell that he and high school girlfriend have been married for the last five years, and that he's ready to win her back.

Five years earlier Bane and Crystal had been deeply in love and determined to be together. But thanks to an old family feud, Crystal's parents were against the relationship. It didn't help that Bane was one of the family troublemakers. So they eloped, and no one knew that they had actually gotten married before they were caught and brought back home. With Crystal sent away, Bane realized that if he wants to give her the life she deserves, he's going to have to make something of himself. So he joined the navy, eventually becoming a SEAL. Now it's time to reclaim her.

You know that after five years of absolutely no contact, the reunion isn't going to go smoothly. Crystal is stunned to see Bane, and almost certain that he's just there to put an end to their marriage. She's still mad at him for disappearing for so long. But she has bigger things on her mind right now. The work she's been doing as a chemist has put her in danger, and she's about to go on the run.

This is where things get more complicated. Crystal is in danger and Bane's protective instincts are aroused. No longer the impulsive hothead he used to be, his trained mind immediately takes steps to get Crystal to safety. She's not sure what to make of the new Bane, but she's grateful to have him on her side. Bane's cool head, along with help from his fellow SEALs and his family, have them neatly avoiding the bad guys sent after them. The final confrontation was intense, and I loved how it all went down.

At the same time all of this is going on, Bane and Crystal are attempting to rebuild their relationship. I loved the realism of Crystal's hurt and anger over how long it took Bane to come back for her. It was easy to see that the attraction is still strong, and their feelings are still there. But both have changed a lot from their teenaged selves and they have to get to know each other again. I loved Bane's patience and how he showed her how he felt without pushing. There is also a deep vein of romanticism in him that is demonstrated by the letters he wrote and saved during the time he was gone. As they shared their feelings from the years they were apart, their love for each other became even stronger. I loved the ending and seeing Crystal confident enough in their love to handle his work as a SEAL. The Christmas Eve scene was great.

As always, the Westmoreland books have the theme of the importance of family. Though sometimes resentful of their interference when he was younger, Bane could always count on his family to be there for him. I loved seeing characters from the other branches of the family, as they came together to help. There was also more contact with the newly discovered branch, the Outlaws of Alaska. I'm really looking forward to reading their stories.

I only had a few minor quibbles with the book, which did not affect my enjoyment of the story too much. First, in the many mentions of Bane attending the Naval Academy, it was not properly capitalized. It is a proper name and should be. Second, the author also gave the impression that it was almost a training school for SEALs, as she said that when his shooting ability was discovered, strings were pulled to get him into the Academy. The Naval Academy is a four year college that educates men and women to be officers in the Navy and Marine Corps. SEAL training is done in Coronado, California. If Bane was nineteen at the time he joined the Navy, even if they sent him to the Academy immediately, it would have been four years until he graduated. Even if he was sent immediately to SEAL school, SEAL training takes another year. That takes care of the five years they were apart, without Bane ever going on a mission. It would have been better to leave the Academy out of the story entirely, and have him sent to SEAL school out of boot camp. Most people wouldn't know these details, so it wouldn't bother them, but it is an irritation to those that do.

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