NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
For Sidney Hale, rescuing dogs is more than a hobby. It’s a calling. A deep-seated need. An unstoppable compulsion. For reasons so unsettling, she shares them with no one…until she meets Decker. After coming to her rescue while Sidney battled to save a dog—literally—the gorgeous SEAL proves he can be trusted with her secrets, her safety…maybe even her heart.
Saving an abused pit bull from a suspected dog fighter brings Decker “Gumby” Kincade not only the dog he’s always wanted, but the first woman in ages to catch his interest. Sidney’s reason for rescuing Hannah, and animals like her, is shocking…but it makes Gumby want her even more. Her harrowing past has made her the strong, brave, compassionate woman she is today. She could be The One…if Gumby can help curb her habit of putting herself squarely in danger’s path.
But he may be too late. Hannah’s previous owner is enraged over her loss…and looking for revenge.
** Securing Sidney is the 2nd book in the SEAL of Protection: Legacy Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.
** This story examines the stark reality of dogfighting and other animal abuse, and includes brief descriptions that may be unpleasant for some readers. .
This is a very emotional and scary book as Susan delves into the world of dog-fighting. It’s not only the abuse the dogs are put through, but also the depravity of the people involved.
It opens after our heroine Sidney is involved in a fight over a severely abused dog. Gumby drives the dog to the vet and Sidney follows him. On that drive he not only decides to keep the dog, but also names her Hannah. Hannah’s reactions to him are absolutely priceless.
This is a favorite scene.
“We’ve got an injured dog here. We need to see a doctor immediately!”
The receptionist stood and gestured for them to follow her. Gumby was surprised when he felt Sidney’s hand land on the small of his back, and she practically glued herself to his side as they entered the small treatment room.
“A technician will be here momentarily to get your information and triage your pet.”
“Oh, but she’s—”
“Thank you,” Gumby said, interrupting Sidney.
When the lady had left, Sidney turned to him and frowned. “Why’d you cut me off?”
“The last thing I want is for them to think Hannah is a stray, or unwanted, because she’s not.”
Sidney opened her mouth to say something else, but a technician burst into the room before she could say a word.
“I heard we have an emergency. What’s— Oh my!”
Gumby very gently placed Hannah on the raised table in the room and kept his hand on her head. “Yeah. It’s bad.”
“What happened?” the vet tech breathed.
“She was taken out of my yard,” Gumby lied. “And we think the guy who took her was training her to be a bait dog or something for illegal dogfighting. He poured something caustic on her back, and it looks like she was dragged behind a car. Maybe he was trying to condition her and get her to run, but she couldn’t keep up.”
“Poor baby,” the tech crooned, leaning over to pet Hannah.
The hackles on the back of the dog’s neck rose and she growled low in her throat.
“Hannah,” Gumby said in a low, hard tone. The dog immediately stopped and whimpered instead. “Sorry about that,” he told the technician. “She’s usually very docile, but we don’t know what was done to her between when she was taken and when we got her back just now.”
“Of course,” the woman said. “It’ll take her some time to trust again.” She handed over a couple sheets of paper to Sidney. “I’ll need you to fill those out and the doctor should be in here in a few minutes.” She turned to Hannah. “Hang on, girl. We’ll have you fixed up in a jiffy.”
The second the woman left the room, Sidney turned to Gumby and whisper-yelled, “Why’d you tell them she was stolen out of your yard? That was stupid.”
Gumby ran his hand over Hannah’s head and didn’t miss the way the dog sighed in contentment and tried to crawl closer to him.
“What should I have said? That I just met the dog thirty minutes ago when you were in a fistfight with the asshole who had abused her? That you stole her from him? You think that would’ve gotten her treated any faster?” He went on before she could answer his rhetorical questions. “No. They would’ve wanted to know more details, and when we admitted that we know nothing about Hannah’s history, they might’ve been reluctant to treat her at all. This way, she’ll get the medical care she needs as soon as possible. Besides, I’m keeping her.”
Gumby had been thinking about getting a dog for a while now. Ever since he’d almost died in Bahrain on his last mission. He’d always regretted not having one, and Hannah seemed to have been dropped in his lap. It was a sign—and Gumby was a big believer in them.
“We should go through the coordinator at the local rescue group I work with. I was going to bring her there. They get medical attention for the dogs that need it, and they do extensive background checks on potential adopters,” Sidney told him.
“You do this a lot?” he asked.
“Track down people you think are up to no good on social media? Then spy on them and, when they cross the line, take on men twice your size in order to rescue the animals they’re abusing?”
Without blinking, Sidney said, “Yes.”
It was Gumby’s turn to be surprised. “Seriously?”
She nodded. “The animals are innocent. They didn’t ask to be thrown into a pit to fight another dog. Or to be starved. Or to be chained up in a backyard for their entire lives. I’ll take on whoever I have to in order to save a helpless, innocent animal.”
“You ever gotten in trouble because of it?”
She grinned. “You mean do the low-life, abusive bastards turn me in? No. They’re all too busy trying to protect themselves and stay under the radar of the cops to file complaints against me.”
Gumby thought she looked a little too pleased with herself. But there was something in her eyes as she explained how she championed animals—guilt. And now he wanted to know why. Wanted to know her story.
His attention was diverted when the veterinarian entered the room. She was all business, and the next ten minutes were taken up with her examining poor Hannah and getting as much information as she could from Gumby…which wasn’t much. He told her to do a full blood panel on Hannah, as he wasn’t sure what had been done to her since she’d been taken. He wasn’t proud of his lies, but if they helped get Hannah the care she needed and deserved, so be it.
The vet agreed that it looked like some sort of acid had been poured onto her back and that she’d been dragged. The dog had no toenails left and the pads of her feet had been worn off. It was the vet’s opinion that her back looked worse than it probably was. She didn’t think the hair would grow back, but she thought the wound should heal up pretty well.
When they went to take Hannah to the back to treat her, however, the mild-mannered dog disappeared, and she began growling at the vet and her assistant.
Stepping back, the vet said, “Maybe you should come back with us. Just until we manage to get her sedated.”
“Sedated?” Gumby asked.
“Yeah. Cleaning these wounds is gonna hurt, and I’d rather not harm her any more than I have to.”
Gumby immediately nodded. “Right. Okay, we can come with you.”
“I think just you,” the vet said, giving her assistant a look Gumby couldn’t interpret. “Your…friend can stay and fill out the paperwork.”
“That okay, Sid?” Gumby asked, the nickname just coming out naturally.
Sidney nodded. “Of course.”
“You think she’ll let you pick her up again?” the vet asked.
“Only one way to see.” Gumby leaned down and whispered to Hannah, “What do ya say? These nice people are gonna get you all fixed up. Let’s not growl at them, okay?”
In response, Hannah lifted her head and licked Gumby’s face with a loud slurp.
“Guess that means she’s okay with it.” And with that, Gumby once again picked up the large dog and followed the vet into the back area of the animal hospital.
Susan Stoker. Securing Sidney: SEAL of Protection: Legacy, Book 2 (Kindle Locations 67-121). Stoker Aces Production, LLC.
As Decker and Sidney get to know each other, there is more than one bomb shell dropping relating to her past. Her compulsion to save these poor animals is startling and heartbreaking.
Her neighbor Nora is a hoot, and Caite becomes her friend in an unusual way.
Hannah becomes attached not only to Decker but also Sidney as she heals from her horrific wounds.
We get to see Carolyn in this one as well as Rocco and the rest of this team.
I couldn’t put this book down, as I cried, laughed and held my breath. It was disturbing, scary, romantic, loving and sexy as all get out.
Susan once again proves that any topic can be turned into a book, and this one definitely brought out the horror of dog-fighting and the difficulties of taking it down.
I can’t wait to see what the next book in this series will bring.
5 Contented Purrs for Susan!
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New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.
She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.