Title: Extreme Honor
Series: The Heroes #1
Author: Piper J. Drake
Format: Paperback & eBook, 336pgs
Published: Jan. 26, 2016 by Forever
Links: Goodreads Amazon B&N
Rating: 2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Hot military heroes, the women who love them, and the dogs that always have their backs. EXTREME HONOR is the first book in a high adrenaline contemporary suspense series from Piper J. Drake.
HONOR, LOYALTY, LOVE
David Cruz is good at two things: war and training dogs. The ex-soldier's toughest case is Atlas, a Belgian Malinois whose handler died in combat. Nobody at Hope's Crossing kennel can break through the animal's grief. That is, until dog whisperer Evelyn Jones walks into the facility . . . and into Atlas's heart. David hates to admit that the curvy blonde's mesmerizing effect isn't limited to canines. But when Lyn's work with Atlas puts her in danger, David will do anything to protect her.
Lyn realizes that David's own battle scars make him uniquely qualified for his job as a trainer. Tough as nails yet gentle when it counts, he's gotten closer to Atlas than anyone else-and he's willing to put his hard-wired suspicion aside to let her do the same. But someone desperate enough to kill doesn't want Lyn working with Atlas. Now only teamwork, trust, and courage can save two troubled hearts and the dog who loves them both . . .
Even though David is out of the service now, he is still military to his core and his work with military and police dogs in-training and rehabilitating showcase this. When one of his friends is killed overseas he makes sure he gets his dog, Atlas, and begins work to rehabilitate the traumatized dog. When a beautiful woman shows up claiming to have been hired to help with Atlas, David thinks back to a few mysterious messages Atlas' handler sent him and the odd instances starting to happen around the kennels and immediately is distrustful of her. Lyn knows dogs but humans have always been difficult for her but she won't back down to the alpha hunk trying to dictate how she does her job. David and Lyn work to help Atlas and fight the danger starting to circle them.
First in a new series, Extreme Honor has a hot cover that no doggie or muscle loving person can turn away from. The inside story, however, evoked less passionate feelings for me. The bases of the story with a military veteran and a harder edged woman working to help a traumatized dog, while uncovering military secrets, sounded exciting and steamy. Unfortunately, the story read very dry to me. There is no cute whimsy to the dog and interactions around him, which is completely fine, just don't go looking for a Shalvis comparable here. The writing style and character interactions were more clinical and while a lot is relayed in how to behave around a traumatized dog and how training with military dogs differs greatly from basic guard dogs, Lyn's interactions with Atlas were boiled down to her giving him long walks, belly rubs, and talking to him. This was obviously to showcase Atlas needing a softer touch and more heart but purposefully contrasting it with David's more technical approach had it falling into gender stereotypes and devalued Lyn's dog training skills, in my opinion.
Usually, the hero is the more walled off character but here, it is Lyn. Her step-father was military and she always felt the cold shoulder from him and felt like she was never good enough, giving her self-confidence issues. She is attracted to David right away but as they are working together in a professional capacity, she declines his first advances. David was the more flushed out character with his friends and life given a fuller outline. However, his character had a glaring inconsistency that I couldn't get past. He first accepts that Lyn wants to keep things professional but one or two days later he is grabbing her and kissing her, disregarding her feelings and certain she wants him as much as he wants her but yet, when Lyn wants to have sex, he refuses. One time it's because he feels she is too emotionally vulnerable and another, the timing isn't right. I completely understand his reasonings for saying no but with his personality composed as it was and as the story went on, it began to feel needlessly drawn out, until they seemingly out of nowhere give in. I can't say I ever truly felt the chemistry between this couple but that could be to me, personally, feeling the writing style as clinical.
The suspense story with murder, corruption, and hidden identities and how it tied all in with Atlas, David, and Lyn got very convoluted in the end. Random secondary characters popped in and out without much distinction and a secondary character's surprise turnabout was more head scratching than shocking. There are clearly some heroes waiting in the wings with David's friends at the kennel and maybe some future heroines working there, too. If you like a more straightforward and cool tone and want a military dog aspect in your romantic suspense, then maybe you wouldn't mind the author's writing style but for more passionate people, the cover is probably your stopping point.