Book: Securing Caite (SEAL of Protection: Legacy Series) by Susan Stoker

Reviewer: Bethany

Age/Genre: Romantic Suspense

Reading Accoutrements: I always feel the need to read books about fictional SEAL teams by the pool…or on the beach, if you’re into sand in everything you own…preferably on a warm, sunny day.

Content Notes: Kidnapping, Violence, Suicide

Susan Stoker is one of my favorite Romantic Suspense authors. She has that title partially because her books always include some kind of external conflict (unlike many romance novels that rely on interpersonal drama for the conflict) and partially because the first book in all of her series are FREE!

Securing Caite is the first book in Stoker’s SEAL of Protection: Legacy Series, which follows a team of SEALs that played peripheral roles in a couple of her other series. Stoker has a pretty extensive fictional world built in all of her series, and side characters from one series often appear in their own books.

Caite McCallan took her job as an admin in the US Department of Defense because overseas positions make enough money to pay down her crushing student loan and credit card debt. She doesn’t exactly like the heat and danger of Bahrain, and she isn’t using her degree in French, but she isn’t so uncomfortable that she’s ready to quit. Unless her boss continues to be a jerk, but that’s another story. Caite is running late one morning and opts to take the elevator to her third floor office because it will be faster than the stairs. Of course, that has to be the day she gets stuck in the elevator. 

Blake “Rocco” Wise has been sent to Bahrain with two of his SEAL teammates, Ace and Gumby, to stop a small smuggling operation and track down the mole that has been thwarting local officials. The three men are on their way to get the details of their mission when the elevator they are on gets stuck. The admin stuck on the elevator with them catches Rocco’s attention immediately, and he uses the time they are trapped to get to know each other. But there’s only so much patience one can have in a 10-foot box, and soon the SEALs find a way out of the elevator so they can all get on with their days.

Before they go their separate ways, Rocco and Caite agree to a date that evening. Rocco heads out to do reconnaissance at a location of interest and Caite heads to check people in for a conference in their building. When Rocco doesn’t show up, Caite is upset. She assumes Rocco stood her up but has no idea why he would have asked her out if he didn’t want to see her. The next day, while eating her lunch at the conference, she overhears a conversation between several men speaking French at a table nearby. They are discussing how to get rid of the three American soldiers they threw in the cellar of their father’s store.

Caite attempts to tell her boss what she overheard, but he cuts her off mid-sentence, threatening to fire her if she “gossips” to anyone else. So, while the men she overheard are busy at the conference, Caite goes to their father’s store to free the soldiers. Rocco, Ace, and Gumby are shocked when the cellar door opens and the admin they met in the elevator is standing where they expected smugglers with guns. The SEALs escort her back to her dorm and head to debrief, then back to the U.S. Before he leaves, Rocco gets Caite’s promise that she will call when she comes back to the US so they can go on their date.

A few days later, Caite’s boss fires her and she is sent stateside. When Rocco finds out that Caite is back in the U.S., he tracks her down. Caite meets the rest of Rocco’s team when they help her move her belongings to her new apartment as a “Thank You” for saving their friends’ lives. Caite and Rocco finally go on their date, which goes pretty well.

Soon, it becomes clear that Caite’s life is in danger because of something she overheard in Bahrain. Someone wants Caite dead, but she can’t remember why. Rocco and his team work to protect Caite while they struggle to identify the person trying to kill her.

There are a bunch of things that I really like about this book. The fact that Caite rescues the SEALs from certain death is right up there at the top of the list. Usually, in romantic suspense where the meet-cute involves a SEAL mission, the SEAL does the rescuing. So, I absolutely love that Caite rescues Rocco. She was terrified the whole time she did it, but she rescued him anyway. And Rocco isn’t a macho-jerk about it; he is genuinely appreciative of the risks Caite took to save him and his teammates.

Stoker almost ruins the effect toward the end when Rocco has to save Caite. I was a little bit disappointed in how easily her life is put at risk. Stoker tends to write strong-willed women who refuse to let the bad guy change their lives and routines. Unfortunately, that makes it easy for the bad guy to track them down. I have been known to get irritated with the stubborn ladies in Stoker’s fictional world, but they have a habit of redeeming themselves.

My favorite part of the book is when Rocco is waiting for Caite to finish getting ready for their date. He sits on her couch and reads the book on her side table, telling her that he’s usually not a fan of romance novels, but what he read of that one is good. Caite’s response spoke to my heart:

“It’s a romantic suspense. I like it when there’s an external conflict at the end, rather than a fight or something between the hero and heroine. I also like it when the heroine kicks some ass and isn’t afraid to stand up to the bad guy.”

When a book character talks about the book they are reading, in the genre and style of the book the character is in…is that called inception?

I really like Caite’s character except for one tiny little detail: she repeatedly mentions how useless her degree in French is, what a waste of money it was, etc. My brain kept screaming, “Caite, you’re a defense contractor. Do your employers even know that you speak French? Because I guarantee you they’d use it!” Because Caite’s parents told her that speaking French wasn’t a useful tool, she just removed it from her resume and said, “Oh, well! Guess I should find another way to pay off these insane student loans…”

Let’s not get me started on a student loan debt rant right now. Instead, I think I’ll talk about the fact that Stoker writes about military special ops from a relatively positive point-of-view. Her special ops characters are the tall, muscled, and handsome types with a lot of training, a lot of scars, and a camaraderie that can only be built in life-and-death situations. Sometimes they have emotional and physical wounds that require a lot of healing, but these guys help each other through good times and bad. That’s the aspect of the military that Stoker focuses on the most: the fellowship and support.

Stoker’s writing is typically solid. I rarely find an abundance of errors and she does a great job of balancing predictability and suspense. This one did a great job of throwing me off the trail of the real culprit for a while with a couple of worthy red herrings. (My plot description had you suspecting the boss, didn’t it?) The characters end up in believable situations, the escapes don’t feel forced, and the plot moves forward at a comfortable pace.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of strong women and badass men fighting the bad guys and falling in love, I recommend Securing Caite. I’ll warn you, I ended up reading the next book in the series…and the next…and the next…until I realized that the last two books don’t come out until later this year! So, here I am…impatiently waiting. This stuff is addictive.

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