Ruth Wind knows how to turn up the heat under her characters, and Born Brave showcases her talents to full advantage. James “Hawk” Stone has withdrawn into the Arizona desert, having resigned from police work after the death of his partner. His solitude is interrupted by a request from his father, who appears to be a mercenary of sorts, now working for the government. Hawk is needed to act as a bodyguard for Julia Sebastiani, princess of Montobello. She’s going to be doing a two-week publicity tour of the US, and someone is trying to kidnap her.
Except the woman Hawk is guarding isn’t really the princess. She’s FBI agent Laurie Lewis, a researcher chosen for this assignment because of her uncanny resemblance to the real princess, who is in hiding. Hawk isn’t sure he wants the responsibility of working with a neophyte partner. Laurie soon convinces him otherwise. Although she’s been stuck behind a desk for the past seven years, she’s fully-trained and ready to show she can do the job.
Laurie, former Nebraska farmgirl, has a naturally sunny and optimistic disposition. It’s a great foil for the brooding Hawk. They strike sparks at first, but Laurie persists in setting Hawk straight. She challenges him to snap out of his withdrawal and start living again, and it’s a challenge that Hawk finds he’s unable to resist.
He’s also unable to resist the siren song of Laurie’s body. Her unconscious sexiness draws Hawk like a magnet, and soon they are fighting a powerful attraction. Giving in to it might make them careless. Not giving in might make them crazy. And somewhere, a terrorist group has plans for the princess.
This book is a great example of tried-and-true plot elements made to seem fresh and interesting. Face it, the “cop in a funk after his partner has been killed” is an old chestnut, as are many of the other plot points. Here, though, they work just fine. Hawk is brooding without falling into self-pity, and he’s introspective enough to recognize that Laurie may be just the person to jolt him out of the doldrums. Laurie is spunky, to be sure, but she’s also straightforward and refuses to let Hawk use his past as a reason to ignore future possibilities.
Yet Hawk isn’t the only one to change in this story. Laurie has to decide if she truly wants the opportunity that has been handed to her - to be a full-fledged field operative. The ending, as Laurie and Hawk sort out their feelings and separate old dreams from new realities, is just lovely.
The sexual attraction between these two characters is plenty hot. I almost rated it an R, but the sex isn’t particularly graphic, just slightly erotic. My vision of the Mile-high Club will never be the same.
I do have one beef with the book, and it’s the cover. Why, oh why, can’t the cover artists get the story straight? Note to the art department: it’s the hero who is Native American here, not the heroine. Unfortunately, the book’s descriptions don’t match the cover photo at all, which features your basic generic male-model type and a woman who, while lovely, looks Asian. It’s a shame to see an ill-fitting cover on such a good story.
Born Brave is a deliciously spicy romance between two very compelling characters. Ruth Wind is one of the best authors writing in the category romance field, and it would be a shame to miss this one.