Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Stone Hard SEALs - Sabrina York (Sabrina York - Apr 2015)

Series: Stone Hard SEALs (Books 1 and 2)

Book One: Ryder
A hostage rescue mission turns Ryder "Stone" Maddox's world on its ear when he comes face-to-face with his greatest fear: A woman he cannot resist. But he has to resist Lily Wilson. He's vowed never to fall in love. Besides, as the daughter of a senator, she is definitely off-limits. Lily sees things differently. Irresistibly drawn to this hot, hard SEAL, she is determined to prove they belong together...and that her man does not have a heart of stone.

Book Two: Drake
Drake Ronan is all man-a rock hard SEAL who doesn't need help from anyone. Doesn't need anyone. But when he's shot during a dangerous rescue mission, and has to rely on a beautiful nurse to survive, he realizes he has to rethink his resolution. Suddenly he can't imagine his life without Brandy in it. It's a damn shame she has a secret that could ruin everything.

Book One: Ryder

Fantastic book. Fast paced, funny, steamy, and intense. Lily is the daughter of a senator. She has been protected all her life, and when she finally seizes a chance to do something without her parents' okay, all hell breaks loose. The ship she's on with other aid workers is seized by pirates and she and the others are taken hostage. It's up to the SEALs to rescue them.

I loved both Lily and Stone. Because she's been so sheltered, Lily is just a little bit naive about the danger they could be facing. I thought she held up really well when they were captured, possibly because she didn't really know what could happen. She's also a bit stubborn and had a great sense of humor. Stone is super protective and determined to get her to safety. Besides keeping her safe from the pirates, he's also determined to protect her from himself. Because of his own family history, he is determined never to get involved with a woman. However, he's never had to deal with one like Lily.

There is a connection between them from the start. Not just attraction, which is off the charts as it is. Stone expects to have to deal with a spoiled princess, but Lily surprises him. Their escape across the island and to the next one is full of danger, but she handles it amazingly well. Stone is used to telling people what to do and not being questioned, but Lily always has something to say. I loved the way that she refused to accept half-answers and stood up to him until he cooperated. The heat between them continues to build, and Stone succumbs to a couple of really hot kisses. He immediately backs off, knowing that he's exactly wrong for someone like Lily. However, she doesn't see it that way. I loved seeing her go after him, leading to an experience unlike either have ever had, and deepening their connection.

Rescue comes, and Lily is reunited with her senator father on the navy ship. Not everyone has made it back, and the SEALs have to go back to extract another pair. I loved seeing the changes that have come over both Lily and Stone. Lily's determination to stay until Stone is back safely runs up against her father's will. I loved his reaction when she stated her intentions. I also loved Stone's actions when he got back. I liked that this wasn't a case of instant love, but they care enough to want to see where it goes.

Book 2: Drake

This is a partner to Book 1, Ryder's story, and takes place at the same time. The team has been called in to participate in the rescue of some aid workers who have been taken by Somali pirates. Drake has just been assigned to Ryder's team and it isn't going well. Drake and Ryder have some history. They grew up together, both sons of SEALs, whose fathers were killed at the same time. Drake is a bit younger than Ryder and always looked up to him, even to the point of joining the SEALs. Drake has a bad boy attitude combined with little boy charm and has perfected the use of both.

Brandy is one of the aid workers who was captured and is Lily's best friend. She has plenty of street smarts and knows the trouble they are in. She isn't someone who is content to sit back and wait for rescue, so she is on the lookout for opportunities to escape. 

I loved the relationship that Brandy and Drake had right from the beginning. Drake considers himself something of a super SEAL, and isn't exactly thrilled when Brandy knocks him down when he arrives in her hut. He is, however, quite attracted to her. Brandy feels the same attraction, but really isn't happy about it. Her one rule in life is "No SEALs". Her first real boyfriend was a SEAL who had pursued her because he thought it would be a way to advance his career, as her father was a SEAL commander. She has since painted all military men with the same brush. It doesn't help that she hasn't seen her father since she was twelve and he left the family. When Drake is shot in their escape attempt, Brandy goes into nurse mode to take care of him.

I loved their interactions. Drake is ticked because this mission, which he hoped would prove to Ryder that he deserved to be on his team, has been one SNAFU after another. He got shot in the butt, missed the extraction timeline because of it, and is now trapped on the island because of it. Plus, because of his injury, he's no longer the one in charge. It was fun to see Brandy take control, doing the things that he feels he should be doing. Drake has a tendency to pout and try to use his charm to get his way and Brandy doesn't succumb to any of it. Stuck in each other's company with little to do but talk, Brandy begins to see that not all SEALs are alike. I loved seeing her discover Drake's insecurities and try to show him that he's wrong. The attraction between them also grows to the point where they can't help but give in to it. Just when they think they have a shot at getting away, they are caught again, and again as they attempt another escape. Drake is furious at himself, feeling that he has failed Brandy, and that he'll never get Ryder's approval now. Brandy's own protectiveness has been running nonstop, and I loved seeing her stand up to the pirates with her need to take care of Drake and his injuries.

I loved their rescue and seeing the reactions of the various team members, especially since they know something about her that he doesn't. There's a bit of tension when one of the other team members is hurt, and it's Drake whose stubbornness provides what is needed, even though he's injured himself. The best part of the story comes after they are back on the ship. Drake discovers who Brandy's father is and has to make a decision. I also loved Brandy's reaction to "the code". It's really funny to see Drake stand up for his relationship to Brandy, especially since he's under the influence of some pretty strong painkillers at the time. Seeing history repeat itself was just the icing on the cake.

I liked the epilogue, showing the two couples a year later. The scene is a get together at Lily and Ryder's house, involving the whole team. I loved seeing how happy Ryder and Lily are. There is also no doubt of the heat that is still burning between Drake and Brandy. He has a wonderfully romantic, though slightly awkward, big moment with her that culminates in a surprise for her and an even bigger one for him. 

I can't wait to read more about these team members.

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