Author: Corrina Lawson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Buy Links: Samhain and Amazon
Type: Novel in Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: To save their son, they might have to sacrifice their love—and their lives.
Phoenix Institute, Book 4
Ex-Navy SEAL Daz Montoya and rescue dog handler Renee Black have made a career out of saving people. But when their whirlwind affair resulted in pregnancy, Daz’s verbal fumble tore their budding relationship apart.
It’s been a tough eight years for Renee, raising Charlie alone with his autism-fueled impulsiveness, but she’s managed—until now. When she has to chase him to the edge of a cliff in a snowstorm, seeing the face of their rescuer is just the rotten cherry on top of an already rough day.
In the close confines of a snowbound cabin, Renee and Daz rediscover the heat still simmering between them. But while Renee welcomes Daz’s renewed determination to help Charlie however he can, she’s reluctant to trust him with her heart.
With the Phoenix Institute’s help, Renee and Daz discover their son’s gift for animal telepathy is real. And that to save him from old enemies that would kill to control him, they must join forces—and risk losing everything they’ve ever loved.
Warning: This novel contains explicit reunion sex and characters used to mixing a little danger in with their romance.
Review: Everyone loves SAR dogs, and mixing them in with this gem of a story about my most favorite conflicted rescue hero ever, Daz Montoya, was a fantastic plot twist! Renee Black and her autistic son Charlie are busy navigating the world of special needs parenting. It’s tough going, and as single mother, Renee has no one to lean on. Conceived while working in Turkey on a rescue mission where she met Daz, they’ve never lived together as a family. After she found out she was pregnant, he offered to marry her but never told her he loved her–so she refused. He then virtually disappeared on dangerous, covert military operations for the next two years and missed not only Charlie’s birth but his early years. He quit the military then, and has moved closer to where they live, but she’s only received sporadic support from him at best. Renee and Daz both have a lot going on in their lives, and having a special needs son is not a small part of it. But since Daz isn’t around to see the day-to-day difficulties that make just leaving the house sometimes as complex as planning for a military battle, and hasn’t really ever witnessed the terrifying tantrums that transform Charlie from an easy-going boy to a screaming whirlwind, it’s hard to get him to understand completely what the challenges of living with a truly gifted but severely autistic child are. Renee needs help.
And, no worries. If you haven’t read the Phoenix Institute series, this book also does well as a stand-alone read.
Daz Montoya, former Navy SEAL and Phoenix Institute soldier, carries an incredible amount of guilt around with him. Guilt about his inability to tell Renee that he loved her when she told him she was pregnant years before. Guilt that he can’t help her more with their son Charlie. Guilt about his job with the Resource, now called the Phoenix Institute. Guilt that he didn’t realize that Alex Farley, his boss now, was trapped in the Institute when he was younger, and that Daz, under orders from Richard Lansing, was unintentionally one of the people holding him. Guilt that he didn’t start helping Alex get free from Lansing soon enough. ~sigh~ I feel guilty just writing about him.
And Renee. She’s a real trooper. She did search and rescue (SAR) for a long time with her two dogs. But after the birth of her son, Charlie, her life has been seriously curtailed. She used to travel a lot. Now a trip to the mall is arduous. She used to be able to accomplish a lot of things and was really skilled and resourceful at helping others. Now, she has a hard time just helping herself and her son get through the day. She is the navigator–the search and rescue pathfinder for her autistic son as he finds his bumpy way through the world of non-believers. But it’s not fun being the squeaky wheel to get help, making enemies at the school by insisting on getting Charlie tested, and Renee is just plain tired of pulling the long shift all alone. She needs Daz to help. Reassure her that she’s not crazy. That Charlie does have a problem. That they can get help. That she and Charlie aren’t alone.
When Daz nearly died in the last Phoenix Institute field operation against Rasputin, he wished in those possible last moments to be with Renee and Charlie. So now, rejuvenated and healing from his wounds, he uses the impending snow storm to go and take care of them. One of the problems in the relationship between Daz and Renee was that she was always capable and wanted to take care of herself; Daz is hoping with the storm that there’s something he can do to help that she’ll accept.
As luck and a bad kitty named Odin would have it, Daz arrived just in time to be the hero. While Renee and Charlie were getting the outside furniture stacked into the garage, Charlie heard the cat calling for him and took off literally over a cliff to find him. When Renee found him, he was dangling six feet down a cliff drop off, caught on a tree branch. Her attempt to rescue him ended up with both of them hanging by the branch, until Daz followed the dogs down to them and brought them up, one at a time.
Now, Renee is off-kilter and open to the possibility of Daz being there for them. She just wonders if it’s real. And if it’s only because of Charlie. She was hurt before when she’d told him of her pregnancy because he only seemed willing to marry her for the child, not for love. Not for her. Will it be different this time? Will he stay? And together can they solve the dilemma that is their son, who not only has autism but swears he can talk to animals?
And when forces lurking outside the cabin show harmful intent and try to use their son’s talents for sinister reasons, can they get the help they need for Charlie to be able to control his power? Can the Phoenix Institute save the day in time for this family struggling to reconnect?
And can Daz cough out the words I love you? Let’s hope so!