A local veterinarian is caught up in the danger of an undercover Navy SEAL operation in this romantic suspense novel.
Anya Gutierrez is quite familiar with ranching and taking care of cattle. When a group of six mysterious men move onto a ranching property in Hebbronville, Texas, Anya extends her help for the upcoming calving season. Amador “Stryker” Salas knows little about cattle, and, though he’s wary of Anya poking around the ranch, he knows he’ll have to play up his disguise as a retired bull rider–turned-rancher. The attraction between them is instantaneous despite Stryker’s efforts to remain private. When the SEALs’ mission takes them into Mexico to disrupt terrorist activity, the danger soon follows them back onto U.S. soil, putting Anya’s life in jeopardy. Anya and Stryker fall in love rather quickly; their intimate scenes are broken up by complicated livestock births, assignment debriefings, and a kidnapping. The six Navy SEALs, all living together on one ranch, create a testosterone-laden, hypermasculine fraternity atmosphere. With Stryker’s added obsession with Anya’s virginity, referring to it as “the greatest gift” and even thanking Anya for “gifting” her body, the book feels archaic. A modern romance this is not. A lot of time is spent introducing the network of cartel characters and the SEALs’ web of contacts, leaving Anya’s background as a veterinarian who proudly owns her own clinic unexplored. More of a love letter to the military, patriotism, and ranching communities, this fails as a romance and leaves the heroine to simply become the trigger for the hero’s protective instincts. Anya lacks agency and disappointingly plays the pawn in good versus bad, where only men pull the strings.
A slew of unnecessary complications further muddies an already bizarre romantic setup.