Military romance Down Range by Lindsay McKenna is not only passionate, but soul satisfying
I wonder how many readers have been introduced to the military romance genre through Lindsay McKenna's books? I know that when I began reading her Morgan's Mercenaries series (and related books) that I couldn't put them down. Although, I didn't serve in the military myself, I come from a family that has upheld and highly valued U.S. military service since the revolutionary war. (Not to mention the ancestors who came to this country as officers in the British army in the 1600s.) In her books, I found that McKenna provided a realistic view of the various branches of service that was melded with a philosophy and spiritual element I found absolutely intriguing.
Her newest series for Harlequin - Shadow Warriors - includes characters that you will find familiar from earlier books. This series will focus on the female ground troups - the Shadow Warriors - under the leadership of General Maya Stevenson from the Black Jaguar Squadron. My review today will focus on Down Range (Shadow Warriors Book Two), however I'll make the suggestion that you read Danger Close (Shadow Warriors Book One) first, although you don't have too. I found that reading these books in order provided me with a greater understanding of the characters, plus I felt like I had a mini-military history lesson about a shadow war I knew less than nothing about in Danger Close.
Down Range focuses on a mission that Shadow Warrior Captain Morgan Boland and her former lover, Navy SEAL Jake Ramsey, undertake in the mountains of Afghanistan to assassinate an Al Qaeda-backed opium dealer who obliterated the inhabitants of a village and killed Morgan's husband.
The history and passion that Morgan and Jake shared is evident from their first meeting outside of the Pentagon. It seems like they are to be forever star-crossed lovers who will be without a happy resolution in this lifetime - as their history provides both a depth of sadness, layers of mistrust, and deep emotional scars.
One of the reasons I really admire McKenna is that she is able to depict the rehabilitation of her character so completely and realistically. Although Jake's actions early on with Morgan seemed thoughtless and heedless, I never felt antagonistic towards him as I sometimes do with heroes who aren't quite heroic to their partners.
Morgan, the daughter of two warriors (yes, do read Danger Close first), is a highly independent, confident, and successful soldier - as well as a caring and compassionate woman. Her motivation for seeking this mission is many-layered and she is able to sweep aside Jake's skeptical and suspicious feeling about women in combat as he sees her on the ground.
The portrayal of the Afghan village - one seen in an earlier McKenna novel - feels spot-on. McKenna noted that she drew upon a book, The Intuitive Warrior: Lessons from a Navy SEAL on Unleashing Your Hidden Potential by Michael Jaco. In the past, many of her books have blended a spiritual and sometimes almost paranormal element with military precision. In Down Range, she uses Morgan's and Jake's highly developed intuitive awareness of danger to drive the storyline. All of which is quite realistic and lends itself to a true suspenseful page-turner.
I'm counting the days until the next book in the series, Risk Taker (Shadow Warriors Book Three), will be released in Februrary - and may in the interim find myself re-reading the Morgan's Mercenaries and associated series. There's something about these books that I find satisfying on a soul level. I know that may sound silly to some to consider "romance" books as soul satisfying, but that's what the best writers provide. And McKenna is one of the best in my opinion.
So, five stars for Down Range, the newest entry in Lindsay McKenna's Shadow Warriors series.
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I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley for use in this review.