Publication Date: April 2015
Format: Paperback, 384 pgs
I was in the mood for a military romance. If you are watching Korean's current hottest drama series, Descendants of the Sun, you'd know what I am talking about. Anyways, Lindsay McKenna's Running Fire rightly stands on its own and I was glad to read it; and it's been a long while since I have read a contemporary romance with characters in uniform.
Running Fire is part of the Shadow Warriors series and I was glad it could read as a standalone. The story opens with Chief Warrant Officer and pilot Leah Mackenzie surviving a helicopter crash after her crew is assigned to pick up a SEAL team from the Pakistani border. The black ops team had been out for a week hunting high-value-target Taliban leaders and with nothing but mountains and caves around the borders, the crew knew it would be a challenge to find an open, flat area without alerting the Taliban. And the rainy weather was making it harder for the rescue. Unfortunately, it wasn't the bad weather but the Taliban who had taken down their helicopter. Leah was the only survivor.
SEAL Kell Ballard was on a mission when he saw a rescue helicopter being shot down by three Taliban. He couldn't believe his eyes when he found out it was a female pilot he had rescued, considering the position was mostly dominated by males but he didn't care as long as the pilot was alive. Leah did live, and they were forced to stay hidden in the caves till a rescue team has transported them back to camp. During those waiting moments Kell and Leah had come to know a lot about each other; and the reason why she was intimidated by men outside duty. It wasn't a fast and easy confession and it took her some time to open up to Kell as thinking of her abusive ex-husband still give her nightmares. Not only did Hayden Grant physically abused her but he had every intention of ruining her career, too.
Running Fire, no doubt was an intense read but it also has a fair share of tender moments as I read about the emotional intimacy shared between Kell and Leah. Kell may be a tough SEAL but he understood Leah’s feelings when it comes to her vulnerability. Leah may appear vulnerable in Kell's eyes but when it comes to flying she has became a different person and took full pride in her job. Part of the reason is she was trying to prove her capability to her father, who is the battalion commander of the squad. She lost her brother and mother when she was young and her father has never paid any attention to her. Instead, her father has focused all his attention on her ex-husband and was oblivious of the abuse she's been getting from Hayden during their three years of marriage. This is not only a story about love but also having the courage to stand up to a bully, in which this case is the abusive Hayden Grant. The closure was a heart-warming one, and I liked what Kell and Leah have chosen for their future plans. All in all, it was a great escapism read to me.