Release Date: July 29, 2013
Honor Unraveled (Red Team #3) by Elaine Levine
Love Isn’t a Battle…
Kit Bolanger, ex-spec ops soldier, has followed the trail of an international drug lord back to his childhood town, the one place he swore never return to. He and his team of terrorist hunters are the only thing standing between the town’s residents and the evil threatening them. It doesn’t help to know that she’s here—the woman who betrayed his trust and shredded his heart.
…It’s a War and He’s Offering No Quarter
Deciding to put roots down, Ivy Banks has brought her daughter home to the sleepy ranching community of Wolf Creek Bend, Wyoming—the one place where she was certain she’d never run into her high school flame. But he’s back, fighting a global enemy and home-grown terrorists in a hidden war that puts their lives and their hearts in jeopardy. He was bad news in high school, and he’s even worse news now.
Surrendering to him is not an option…but it’s the only thing he’ll accept.
Honor Unraveled is the third book in Elaine Levine’s Red Team series, an exciting special-ops romantic suspense. I started this series last year when I downloaded the first book, The Edge of Courage (Red Team #1,) as an Amazon freebie. Needless, to say, I was hooked.
Levine knows how write romantic suspense novels that have just the right blend of swoon-worthy romance and dangerous suspenseful scenes to maintain my interest and pique my curiosity about what’s to come.
Levine has the ability to create compelling heroes who are fierce protectors of their loved ones and who are willing to sacrifice their lives to save others.
The heroes in this series are far from perfect; their insecurities and past traumas force them to deal with inner demons that thus far have kept them from finding personal happiness. The female protagonists they fall for challenge, support, and deeply love them.
This series focuses on a group of former members of the elite Red Team, a covert military team within the U.S. Army. Now, working in the private sector, they have joined forces with the FBI and Homeland Security to track down an active terrorist group in the U.S. run by an Afghan drug lord. These terrorists have strong ties to a regional white supremacist group called the White Kingdom Brotherhood who distribute their drugs brought into the U.S.
After reading Honor Unraveled, I can see that Levine has created a complex, well-planned plot that increasingly becomes more intricate as it unfolds with each romantic story. This is a series that must be read in sequence and the storylines of characters featured in previous books continue to develop.
The main romance in this story occurs between Kit and his high school girlfriend, Ivy. The Prologue provides a solid foundation for establishing the current tension between Kit and Ivy. Their romance ended when Ivy’s parents forced their separation. Yet, they are forever bound by their daughter, Casey. Hurts from the past continue to keep them apart until Ivy and Casey become targets for Kit’s enemies. Kit forces them to stay at the team’s newly forged compound to keep them safe. Ivy wants nothing more to do with Kit and is determined to move on with her life, yet Kit is determined to win her back, or at least do everything possible to determine if their relationship is salvageable.
So far, Ivy is the one heroine in this series that I didn’t really connect with or particularly like.
Her indifference to Kit and her reluctance to let him play a more integral role in their lives did not seem fully justified. Yes, I understand that she felt abandoned by Kit when they were teenagers, but he didn’t leave her by choice. Her parents played the biggest role in keeping them apart.
Ivy blames Kit for not finding her sooner, but she never bothered to look for him either. When he does learn that Ivy has returned to Wolf Creek and they have a daughter, he does everything he can to make sure they are financially supported. He is always watching out for their well-being even though Ivy hasn’t always been aware of it. Kit now looks back and thinks he was a coward for keeping his distance from them, but I never saw any indication that Ivy tried to encourage him to be more active in Casey’s life. Casey has spent the past twelve years of her life thinking her father didn’t want her, and I don’t think Ivy ever did anything to make her think otherwise.
As a result, I didn’t really root for them to reunite as strongly as I have with the other couples featured. I like the angle Levine takes with story, showing that love can endure, no matter the obstacles or passage of time. I just didn’t feel that “wow” with them as a couple. There are some brief flashbacks about their time together in high school, but I think if I had been given more vivid memories showing how they fell in love, I may have better understood why Ivy is the only woman Kit can ever love.
Levine’s beautiful metaphors and imagery to describe Kit’s feelings for Ivy do make me believe his love and concern for her is genuine and not generated by a sense of obligation.
Kit is a wonderful hero and his love for his daughter is touching. My favorite scene is when he tries to comfort Casey as she experiences an important first—the transition to womanhood. An awkward, potentially embarrassing situation only forges a closer, stronger bond between father and daughter.
Kit grew up with a single mother who neglected him and he has always had to deal with feelings of being unwanted and unloved. That’s what he wants so desperately from Ivy and Casey.
I could understand his pain, and Ivy’s coldness toward him through much of the book only magnified his insecurities. I just didn’t feel her yearning and love for Kit.
On a positive note, however, she does redeem herself, in my eyes, when she makes a sincere apology to Kit for all that she has put him through over the years. Furthermore, in the latter part of the book, I did start to see more depth in her love for Kit and her desire for them to be a family, no matter that being with him will keep them from living, normal, safe lives.
As with the previous two books, Levine continues to write intense, sensual love scenes in the midst of ongoing action and suspense. In this book, I am also glad to see the development of other characters, such as Owen and Max, who will play more prominent roles as the story continues. Levine also creates new story threads that thicken the plot and create more mysteries to be solved. An unexpected but intriguing twist is the introduction of a seemingly peaceful separatist group called the Friendship Community who have become part of this sinister network of antagonists.
She also adds the one and only female Red Team member, Selena, to the mission, who is as fierce a warrior as the men.
Her run-ins with Owen have already created tension and make me wonder about the future of their relationship.
One disappointment I had with this story is that I had hoped the surprising cliffhanger ending from the second book revolving around Ty and his father would get resolved. I expected Ty to continue his active investigation to learn more about his father, but I didn’t see any development of this subplot. However, I anticipate that it will get resolved at some point as its importance to the overall plot is exposed.
Overall, I enjoyed how the book ended. It left me satisfied until the next book is released, which I hope won’t be too long. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will feature Kellen and Fiona’s story.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the author to provide honest feedback as a beta reader. Note: the characters and/or the plot may change by the time the book is officially published.
About the Author (from Goodreads)
ABOUT ELAINE’S WORK:
I make stuff up. And I have fun doing it.
Genre fiction gives me the perfect medium to build worlds where readers can join me for fun adventures. Pick up one of my Men of Defiance historical western romances and slip your fingers around the Colt .44 of a legendary gunslinger, be a scout on a wagon train, or ride shotgun on a stagecoach. Pick up one of my Red Team romantic suspenses and join the battle against international druglords and home-grown terrorists with a hot team of counter-terror specialists.
Romance fiction lets you be, for a few sweet hours, something you’re not. Which is cool, because every time you look at life through someone else’s eyes, you learn more about yourself.
So read often–become who you were meant to be.
I was born a poor, white child into a modestly affluent family, third daughter to a father who wanted only sons. I cooked and cleaned and mended my evil stepmother’s and stepsister’s ball gowns until my very own Prince Charming stole me away. We had two beautiful children, a boy and girl, who left our granola-eating, tree-hugging family to be warriors and, well, Republicans. Our son heard the siren call of the woman he loves and presented Prince Charming and me with two beautiful grandchildren, a girl and a boy. Our daughter continues on the warrior’s path and yearns for a lifemate more alpha than she but has an adorable to dog to occupy her attention in the meantime. And if you believe this fairytale, you’ll certainly love my books, so give them a try!
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The first book in the series, The Edge of Courage, is currently $.99 (ebook)