Author: Piper J. Drake
Reviewers: Gikany and Una
Ultimate Courage is the second novel in the new True Heroes series. Though we enjoy the premise and the nature of this series, this novel struck an off-note with Gikany and Una.
You need not have read the first novel in the series, Extreme Honor, to be able to enjoy this one. So far it seems that these can be read as standalone, but that may change as the series continues. What we really love about this series is that there are two happily-ever-afters in each novel. Or, should we say, the happily-ever-after involves three characters, our main couple and a dog. In Ultimate Courage you have the journey of Elisa and Alex as well as Sousa’s journey. We really enjoy how Sousa is a main character, not just a plot device. Each dog has had a personality of their own, along with their own coming-of-age/challenge to overcome on their road to a happy ending.
Sousa was a great character. This German Shepherd dog was an interesting character. We enjoyed his instincts as well as his development. Though it was a bit obvious to us what his calling was as a working dog, it was fun to watch as the “silly humans” figured it out. Another character that we really liked was Boom, Alex’s daughter. Her spunky personality, coupled with her care and concern for others, was touching. We really enjoyed the warmth and humor she brought to the novel. We also enjoyed seeing David and Lyn (the major couple from the first novel) again. Additionally, the story gives us a bit of an introduction to the next couple.
Unfortunately what fell flat with us was a major plot point in this story. As many followers of our reviews will know, we are very particular when it comes to characters that have suffered abuse. Especially violent or long-term abuse, the treatment of the abuse and how a character reacts to it can be a pet-peeve with us depending on how an author addresses it.
Though Ms. Drake is not as cavalier as some have been, we still felt that Elisa’s abuse was not as fully fleshed-out as it should have been. For a woman who was in a four-year relationship characterized by extreme emotional abuse with the immediate threat of physical abuse, we felt her emotional and physical involvement with Alex was rushed. It only took two days for her to go from being terrified of Alex to inviting him into her bed. She was a virtual prisoner of her ex-fiancé, distrusted by her friends and family who were fooled by this manipulative jerk, and yet she was seemingly alright to be placed in a “guest room” where she was not able to leave without setting off an alarm. Gikany and Una understood the safety she felt in this, but the flip side, we were surprised she didn’t feel as if she was imprisoned. It all just felt a bit fast.
However, the contrast of Alex’s PTSD was different. His struggle felt so authentic. Though both characters are not miraculously healed at the end of the novel, Elisa’s path to recovery felt rushed. It is especially more noticeable when compared with Rojas’s PTSD. Yet, with Alex, for suffering from PTSD, being ultra-aware and ultra-cautious, we were surprised he was so immediately trusting of Elisa. So much so, that after knowing her less than a day, he allows her to take his most precious thing, his daughter Boom, to the store for supplies unsupervised.
Gikany and Una did enjoy the overall plot of Alex’s and Sousa’s path coupled with Alex and Elisa’s. Though we took a bit of an issue with Elisa’s abuse recovery and the dramatic healing progress between Elisa and Alex, we liked that at the end they both had some ground to go. We really enjoyed Alex’s daughter and the further introduction/foreshadowing to the next novel. Gikany and Una look forward to the next novel in the True Heroes series.
Elisa Hall is good at starting from scratch. Leaving an abusive relationship in her rearview, she packs everything she owns into the trunk of her car and heads for refuge with her friend in Hope’s Crossing, North Carolina.
Alex Rojas returned from his second deployment as a Navy SEAL to find his condo empty and divorce papers on the breakfast table. Now he’s building a life for himself and his daughter at Hope’s Crossing kennels training younger dogs and handlers to search and rescue, struggling to adjust to life back in the States and as a single father.
When Elisa shows up at the kennels, it’s obvious she’s running from something. Luckily, the dogs and trainers at Hope’s Crossing are more than capable of warding off trouble. And with every minute he spends with Elisa, Alex becomes even more and more determined to protect the woman he’s certain he won’t be able to live without…
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Series: True Heroes #2
Genre: Suspense/Military Romance
Format(s): Paperback (336 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Reviews in the Series:
Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake (True Heroes #1)