The Comeback of
Con MacNeill

Mad Dog & Annie

The Passion of
Patrick MacNeill

The Reforming of
Matthew Dunn

Born to Protect by Virginia Kantra
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1100, $4.50 , PG) ISBN 0-373-27170-0
Born to Protect is part of the First-Born Sons series. These sons share an unrealized bond that their fathers created when they formed NOBLE, an organization of warrior businessmen, who utilize their resources in the promotion of peace throughout the world, always clandestinely. Their ties appear to be closest with the King of Montebello, a border country which has risen to prominence because it appears to be critical to the balance of power in the Middle East.

King Sebastiani of Montebello is being threatened. Terrorists have bombed a civilian square. His son is missing in an airplane last sighted in Colorado. Two daughters are at home with him while the third, Dr. Christina Sebastiani is a research scientist in Montana.

With the threats and actions targeting his country and his family escalating, the King relies on one of his NOBLE friends to provide security for Christina. Jack Dalton, a first-born son, is sent. Jack had been a Navy SEAL, but a bullet wound left him with limited use of his shoulder. Dalton is emotionally at loose ends and not altogether happy with guard duty.

Christina views herself as the family ugly duckling, having escaped the family to reside in academia. She hopes that she can eventually serve her country with the expertise she is gleaning in the field of microbiology. She is long on brains and deliberately short on people skills. Jack is long on ability and unknowingly short on people skills.

The suspense plot develops at the same time the author is adding dimensions to Jack and Christina. In unique fashion, Kantra relies on the extreme differences of their background to create a common ground between them. And the author makes it happen naturally and easily which is a true tribute to her skill.

The reader will learn a little bit about the process of identifying the right mix of bacteria to improve plant communities affected by industrial mining. And will also become familiar with the glass ceiling which impacts promotion opportunities for female scientists who can even add the title princess to their name.

Bottom line, it is the chemistry of Christina and Jack that makes this story work. The plot is old, the emotional baggage exhibited here is used often, particularly for ex-SEALS, but Virginia Kantra is certainly talented enough to make it work, and she does.

--Thea Davis

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