Review – The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard

About the Book:

Jina Modell works in Communications for a paramilitary organization, and she really likes it. She likes the money, she likes the coolness factor—and it was very cool, even for Washington, DC. She liked being able to kick terrorist butts without ever leaving the climate-controlled comfort of the control room.

But when Jina displays a really high aptitude for spatial awareness and action, she’s reassigned to work as an on-site drone operator in the field with one of the GO-teams, an elite paramilitary unit. The only problem is she isn’t particularly athletic, to put it mildly, and in order to be fit for the field, she has to learn how to run and swim for miles, jump out of a plane, shoot a gun…or else be out of a job.

Team leader Levi, call sign Ace, doesn’t have much confidence in Jina—who he dubbed Babe as soon as he heard her raspy, sexy voice—making it through the rigors of training. The last thing he needs is some tech geek holding them back from completing a dangerous, covert operation. In the following months, however, no one is more surprised than he when Babe, who hates to sweat, begins to thrive in her new environment, displaying a grit and courage that wins her the admiration of her hardened, battle-worn teammates. What’s even more surprising is that the usually very disciplined GO-team leader can’t stop thinking about kissing her smart, stubborn mouth…or the building chemistry and tension between them.

Meanwhile, a powerful Congresswoman is working behind the scenes to destroy the GO-teams, and a trap is set to ambush Levi’s squad in Syria. While the rest of the operatives set off on their mission, Jina remains at the base to control the surveillance drone, when the base is suddenly attacked with explosives. Thought dead by her comrades, Jina escapes to the desert where, brutally tested beyond measure, she has to figure out how to stay undetected by the enemy and make it to her crew in time before they’re exfiltrated out of the country.

But Levi never leaves a soldier behind, especially the brave woman he’s fallen for. He’s bringing back the woman they left behind, dead or alive.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    The Woman Left Behind: A Novel

My Review:                    

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Jina Modell’s world is turned upside down when she is advised that her cushy job has been eliminated, and she’s being reassigned.  The video game in the break room was used for more than the employees’ enjoyment, and was monitored to observe various skill levels of the players.  Jina is the champ, and her employers feel that she is an ideal candidate to join one of the GO-teams if she passes the initial physical challenge. As Jina doggedly meets the requirements, Levi “Ace” Butcher, team leader, reluctantly accepts her as the eighth member of his team.

Ace dubs Jina as “Babe,” as all team members use code names, and he frankly doesn’t expect that she will make it through the training regimen.  Babe is one determined and stubborn woman who refuses to quit.  Over the next several months, she meets all the physical requirements, surprising even herself.  Though her function on this team is to be the drone operator, she still needs to have all the survival training in order to accompany the men on their missions to anywhere.  Right from the get-go, Ace made it clear that Babe was off limits to everyone on the team, including himself.  This means that Babe and Ace can’t act on the blazing, off the charts chemistry they have.

Babe has now been on several missions, and has been fully accepted by the team. She’s met every challenge, even those that terrified her.  Her mantra has always been that she’s not a quitter.  It was quite a revelation to watch the girly-girl, Jina, who hated dirt, heat, and sweat, morph into Babe, a lean, fit, gun-toting, sweaty team member.  I found it amusing that underneath all the “soldier” garb, she still painted her toenails.  Coming from a large family, which included brothers, Babe is able to hold her own among the men, and give as good as she gets.  If nothing can ever come of her longing for Ace, that’s just the way it’s got to be.

Babe doesn’t realize how badly Ace wants her, and actually wanted her to fail her training so that he could pursue a relationship with her.  He has too much honor to actually sabotage her attempts, and despite himself, he finds himself helping her on occasion.  Now that she’s an integral and valuable part of the team, Ace is resigned in having to wait.  But he’s determined that someday, somehow, Babe will be his.

Everything changes when a mission the team is on is sabotaged.  All indications are that Babe was in an explosion and is most assuredly dead.  Ace has two badly injured men who still can be saved if they receive treatment soon, and he has to make the life and death decision of how to proceed.  Babe becomes THE WOMAN LEFT BEHIND, and her will to survive and her determination are astounding.  It’s amazing to realize that these types of scenarios happen in real life, and there are genuine heroes who face this type of danger on a daily basis. Though Babe knows intellectually that Ace made the right decision, her heart tells her a different story.  What follows is an emotional and painful journey for everyone on the team.  THE WOMAN LEFT BEHIND is a fast paced, heart pounding novel that held me spellbound as it explored the best and worst of human nature, betrayal, courage, determination, passion, and love.  Highly recommended, especially for those who enjoy romantic suspense with strong characters.  ~Rose    

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