Pub. Date: April 24, 2018
Source: Finished paperback via publisher (Thank you, Forever!)
Summary: As the newest recruit at Search and Protect, Raul has a lot to prove. Luckily, he’s got the best friend and partner a man could ask for: a highly trained, fiercely loyal German Shepherd Dog named Taz. Together, Raul and Taz make an unbeatable team. But their first mission in Hawaii really puts them to the test when an international kidnapping ring sets its sights on the bravest woman Raul’s ever met . . .
Mali knows her latest job has put one hell of a target on her back. And on this small island paradise, there’s nowhere to hide. With a service dog like Taz, Mali feels safe. Sharing close quarters with a smoldering muscle-for-hire like Raul, she feels something else – an unexpected wave of desire. Raul feels it too. But when the kidnappers make their move, he’s got to turn that slow-burning passion into hard-hitting action – and save the life of the woman he loves.
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Summer is made for romance and I have been so spoiled lately with some absolutely swoon-worthy packages! When Total Bravery arrived at my door, I actually set aside the book I was in the middle of because I was so intrigued – also, hahaha, I think German Shepards are the most terrifying dogs (as a Pittie mama I see the irony in that) and told Matt this series must be horror instead of romance.
Raul is the newest Search and Protect recruit and his first day starts with a bang. He receives a call from a frightened woman, a woman claiming to be the sister of his friend Arin, a fellow Search and Protect member. With Arin out on a mission, Raul readily agrees to help Mali; he can hear the terror and panic in her voice.
With his Shepard partner Taz, Raul heads to the beaches of Hawaii trying to track down a woman he advised to blend in…while he himself is most definitely standing out. It’s up to Raul to protect this woman, a task made especially difficult and dangerous after Search and Protect learn that, not only has the rest of Mali’s research team been taken, but the men who took them? They show no concern whatsoever for discretion. Looking at a small multi-million dollar payout from the university for their ransom, these men need Mali and they’ll stop at nothing to get her.
Total Bravery was my introduction to this series (and Piper’s work, for that matter!) and I had a blast right from the start. While I wish there would be been a teensy bit more backstory as to who/what S&P is, I caught on fairly quickly, though I’m sure it would have helped to have read the previous three novels first.
The action gets going from the first page and doesn’t really let up which made for an extremely fast and intense read. Though the story focuses on Raul and Mali (and Taz), other characters have their moments and I loved getting to know the rest of the team..and their canine partners, obviously!
The one issue I had with this one was the romance. I’m a BIG fan of slow burns and I’ll give Total Bravery a slight pass because it was so short (less than 300 pages), but Raul and Mali started going at it almost immediately. I get that it’s a literal life-or-death situation and emotions are heightened, but come on, guys. I will say though, that Raul’s struggle with his attraction to Mali was really great to read and watch play out. She’s Arin’s little sister, Arin is his best friend. This inner turmoil was made even more enjoyable (how sadistic does that make me sound??) to read once Arin returned from her mission.
Although I would have loved to get a bit more backstory about Search and Protect, I understand I’m coming in at the fourth installment. Readers who had started at the beginning won’t have any issues at all. Total Bravery was an action-packed, highly readable, intense ride that was over all too soon. Great characters, a gorgeous Hawaiian setting, and an entire kennel of dogs made this a book I truly couldn’t put down and I can’t wait to read more!