NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
On terminal leave, Navy SEAL Sam Franklin has a job waiting for him with the Brotherhood Protectors, but he’s taking a few days off to try his hand at fly fishing before he goes back to work. He needs the R&R to decompress after his final mission got some of his buddies killed. Relaxation ends when his adopted Military War Dog Grunt discovers a body washed up on the river bank.
Drugged and scared, Reggie McDonald escaped through the woods and fell into a river, running from her kidnapper. By some miracle, she washes ashore at the feet of a former Navy SEAL. When he tries to take her to the hospital, she refuses to go, insisting she remain ‘dead’.
Sam takes Reggie to his small cabin. When he learns that there are other young women being held by the man she escaped, he promises to help her find them. Calling on the Brotherhood Protectors, Sam and Reggie race against time to free the others before the kidnapper kills them.
This book opens with Reggie McDonald escaping from cell of sorts. She was abducted on her way home a couple of weeks ago. She’d fought but quickly discovered escaping from her dirt walled cell was the better option. She’s finally managed to get free, and ran for her life. With two Rottweilers on her tail she jumps off the cliff into the river below, vowing to come back and rescue the other woman held there.
Sam ‘Talon’ Franklin is Brotherhood Protectors latest hire. On terminal leave from the Navy SEALs, he is taking a week alone in the wilderness with an eye on relaxation and fly fishing with his newly adopted war dog Grunt. The cabin Sadie found for them is small and well appointed. Perfect for now.
As Sam tries out his new gear, Grunt goes exploring. Hearing him bark, Sam chases after him to find his dog, a wolf and a woman. The woman refuses hospital or police involvement then passes out. With no other recourse he brings her to his cabin, cleans her up and treats her feet as best he can. When she starts running a fever Sam calls Hank. Hank and Sadie come and bring medicine and soup for the woman. They still don’t know her name, but Hank is going to try some facial recognition software in case they need to bring her to the hospital.
Her condition improves though and Sam finally gets some answers.
This is a favorite scene.
Reggie blinked open her eyes and stared up at wooden beams rising at a steep angle to the apex of a vaulted ceiling. Those beams weren’t the plain two-by-fours that had been the flat ceiling of her earthen-walled cell.
A soft light burned from a lamp on an end table, spreading a golden glow over the corner of a small room. The scent of wood smoke gave her a feeling of warmth and security like she hadn’t felt in a while. Her hands moved, her fingers touching smooth sheets and soft jersey covering her body.
Sniffing sounds next to her ear made her turn sharply.
A black snout lay beside her. Before she could scream, a long, wet tongue snaked out and swiped her chin.
Reggie jerked away. A squeal shot up her dry throat, coming out as more of a croak.
A face appeared over her.
Fear ripped through her, paralyzing her.
“Hey,” a deep, resonant voice said. His warm, minty breath brushed across her face.
A hand holding a cup with a straw moved into her view. “Thirsty?” he asked and held the straw to her lips.
She shook her head.
“It’s just water,” he insisted.
And whatever drug he’d decided to add to it. She shook her head again and stared at him through narrowed eyes. “Who are you?” The words came out as a whisper. Her dry throat disallowed any real sound from making it past her vocal cords.
“My name is Talon. Er…Sam Franklin.” He smiled. “What’s your name?”
“Reggie McDonald,” she answered automatically. Her eyes narrowed even more. Were those the eyes behind the masked man who’d kidnapped her and held her captive for so long? The voice didn’t fit, but she wasn’t completely clear-headed. “Talon?”
He shrugged. “That’s the nickname they gave me in BUD/S training.
She shook her head, trying to clear the lingering fog. “You lost me.”
“BUD/S. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. I’m a Navy SEAL.” He cleared his throat. “Or I was. I left active duty a few days ago.”
She wasn’t sure she believed him, though he looked sincere. “Where am I?” she said, continuing to whisper.
“In my cabin, outside of Eagle Rock.”
The black-nosed animal slipped beneath the man’s elbow and lay on the bed beside her.
The man smiled and rubbed a hand over the dog’s head. “This is Grunt, also recently released from active duty. You can thank him for finding you.”
She stared at the dog. He had one bright black eye. A jagged scar sliced over the dog’s face and his other eye. That eyelid was forever closed, appearing to be sewn shut. “Does he bite?” she asked, forcing the words past her vocal cords, tired of whispering. The croaking sound was worse.
“Please, drink this. You’ve had a fever. The liquid will help your body recover from it.” He held the cup and straw toward her again.
She shrank back. “How do I know it’s not drugged?”
His brow formed a V. “Drugged?” He looked down at the cup. “Why would I drug you?” When he glanced back up, his frown deepened. “Is that what happened to you? Someone drugged you?”
He put his lips to the straw and drank from it. “There. If it’s drugged, I’ll be drugged too.”
She stared at the cup again, her mouth so dry she felt as if Death Valley had taken up residence on her tongue.
“Look, if I’d wanted to hurt you,” he said. “I could have done it while you were out for the past twenty-four hours.” He shoved the cup in front of her. “If you like, you can have Grunt taste it, too. I promise, it’s just water.”
She tried to sit up but fell back against the pillow.
Talon set the cup on the nightstand, slipped an arm around her and helped her into a sitting position, stacking several pillows behind her then laying her back against them.
Once she was positioned, he handed her the cup. She held it for several seconds. The water inside looked so wet and inviting she couldn’t resist another moment. Reggie drank until the cup was empty, and sucking through the straw made a loud, empty sound.
Talon, or Sam, chuckled. “Want more?”
She wiped her hand across her mouth. Her lips were chapped, and her hand shook. She realized she was weaker than she thought. For a moment, she closed her eyes and let the water settle in her empty belly. “What do you want with me?”
He laughed. “To get you well enough to tell me what the heck happened. And now that you’re my assignment, I need to see that it doesn’t happen again.”
“Assignment?” She shook her head and lifted her eyelids. “What do you mean…assignment?”
“I just started working for an organization called the Brotherhood Protectors. My boss, Hank Patterson, and I are former Navy SEALs. He hired me to do personal security work. You know, like bodyguard, private investigation, or whatever is needed.” He raised his hands, palms up. “Since I found you in the river, he’s taken your case and assigned me to figure it out. That is, if you want me to help.”
Her head spun. “Look, Talon—Sam—whoever you are, how do I know you don’t work for him?”
“Call me Sam,” he said. “By him, I assume you’re referring to The Master?”
Her eyes rounded, and that fear rippled through her again, making her cold all over. “You know him?”
Shaking his head, Sam pulled the sheet and a quilt up over her. “No, but you mentioned him when you were delirious with fever. Is he the one who hurt you?”
“Do you know who he is?” Sam asked.
She shook her head. “No. He wore a mask. I never saw his face.”
Sam frowned. “That will make it more difficult to track him down.”
“Why would you help me?” She pinched the bridge of her nose. “You don’t even know me.”
“Well, for one, my boss just made you my assignment.” He glanced down at the dog. “And Grunt likes you. I’m told dogs are good judges of character.” He scratched behind the German Shepherd’s ear. “Right, Grunt?”
“Grunt?” She snorted softly. “That’s his name?”
The dog barked, startling her, sending a shiver of terror through her. She shrank away from Grunt. A flash of déjà vu rippled across her memory. Dogs had barked as they’d chased her to the edge of a cliff.
Sam touched the dog’s head. “Grunt,” he said in a stern voice. To her, he said, “Are you okay? Grunt didn’t mean to scare you.”
“No,” she said, holding up her hand. “He d-didn’t s-scare me,” she lied. “It’s just…” Reggie swallowed hard with her suddenly dry throat. “Could I have more water?”
He hurried to the faucet in the kitchenette on the other side of the one-room cabin, filled the cup and returned, handing her the cup and straw.
She drank, thinking back over what had happened that had led to him finding her in the river. As she remembered, the terror of her escape washed over her. She trembled all over, and her hand shook so hard, she spilled water on the quilt.
Sam took the cup from her and set it on the nightstand. “Hey, it’s okay. You’re safe here.”
When she continued to shake, he eased over to sit on the bed beside her and pulled her into his arms. “I promise, I won’t hurt you. And I won’t let anyone else hurt you.”
He held her stiff body for a long moment. When she didn’t relax, he leaned back and looked into her eyes. “Is my holding you making you uncomfortable? If it is, I’ll let go.” He shifted his body, loosening his hold around her.
She shook her head and leaned into him. “No. It’s just… Oh, sweet Jesus. I’m free. I can’t believe I got away.” All the horror of captivity threatened to overwhelm her. The trembling increased until she realized she was crying. Sobs wracked her body and left her wrung out and weak.
The arms around her were loose enough she could get away easily, but strong enough to make her feel protected for the first time since she’d been abducted.
Sam smoothed back her hair from her forehead and held her until she ran out of tears. Still, she leaned against him, soaking up his warmth and strength. When she finally pulled away, the cool air made her shiver.
“I’m sorry,” she said, wiping her damp cheeks with the back of her hand.
“No need to be.” He shifted back to the chair beside the bed and waited for her to pull herself together. “When you’re ready, could you tell me what happened and why you want to be dead?”
James, Elle. SEAL JUSTICE (Brotherhood Protectors Book 13) Kindle Locations (463-529). Twisted Page Inc. Kindle Edition.
When her story unfolds it just makes Sam more determined to find the guy and be sure he never sees the light of day again. Since she never saw his face, it wasn’t going to be easy and they’d have to find where she was held.
Reggie is adamant that find the house and free the other women.
We see many of the other Brotherhood Protectors, and of course Hank and Sadie as the search goes into full swing. We also meet a couple of interesting characters along the way.
Full of suspense, romance and a bit of sizzle, you won’t be able to put this book down. Now I have to back up one and move forward to catch up on this series. I thought I was but I’ve obviously missed a few.
5 Contented Purrs for Elle!
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Brotherhood Protectors Volume 1
Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin.
As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!
Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.