Complex characters, heart wrenching subject matter, quiet sensuality, and strength, The Asset will give you all the feels. I was moved not so much from Ash and Lai’s backstory, but from their touching tenacity. del Mar pulls no punches with the gravity that is PTSD but she influences so much determination and dignity into Ash and Lai that you can’t help but admire and root for them. I loved Lia’s capacity to seek goodness and Ash’s drive and righteousness. Heck I even loved to hate the bad guy. This is not a tear jerker and there is no ploy for sympathy rather it is a study in the art of storytelling. Solid storytelling with perfect pacing and ebb and flow. Timing is everything in writing and Anna del Mar’s is perfection. The action and romance plays out so naturally and seamlessly that I lost all track of time and couldn’t put it down. If you love romance, action, or thrillers than you need to read The Asset because it has it all and is told with gravity and graciousness. I cannot wait to read more from Anna del Mar and The Wounded Warrior series.
As a Marine and veteran and a wife to the same, I cannot thank Ms. del Mar for the astute portrayal of the Marine Corps and all veterans. She is spot on and Ash’s backstory from the combat action and persona. OOH RAH!.
My finger twitched on the trigger as I stared down the barrel of my shotgun. A stranger stood on my stoop. The mere sight of him shoved my heart into my throat and sent my brain into default. I widened my stance, tightened my grip on the gun and aimed at the stranger’s chest. No way. He wasn’t going to take me alive.
A sharp bark startled me. The largest, darkest, most handsome German shepherd I’d ever seen stood next to the stranger, head tilted, ears forward, nose quivering in the air. It uttered a quiet whimper and padded over to me without a trace of aggression, circling me once before it leaned against my legs.
I kept my shotgun leveled, but I spared another glance at the stunning dog. The plea in his eyes tempered the adrenaline jolting through my body, reined in my runaway heart and gave me pause to consider the stranger before me.
Framed by the Rocky Mountains and the lake, the man at the threshold blocked the morning’s gray light and cast a huge shadow over my little porch. Raindrops tapped on his leather jacket, dripped from the rim of his cap and ran like tears down the sides of his face. Despite the exhaustion etched on his features, his glacial blue eyes narrowed on my gun.
“That’s a pretty old Remington,” he rumbled. “With the damn safety off, no less. Who the hell are you expecting, Jack the Ripper?”
“Stay back.” I forced the words out. “I’ll shoot if you come any closer.”
“Damn it, girl,” he said. “If you want us to leave, just say so.”
The scowl on his face contributed to his dangerous appearance. So did the scruffy beard and the shaggy hair sticking out from under his baseball cap. If he hadn’t come all the way out here to get to me—and that was still a big “if”—what on earth was he doing here?
I couldn’t see any weapons on him. Was he a drifter? He didn’t look dirty, but a metallic scent wafted from him, an odd, ripe trace I couldn’t place.
He must have seen my nose wrinkle. His whole body stiffened. He drew taller than six feet by several inches, but it was the outrage I spotted in his eyes that reinforced my fears.
“Aren’t you a spitfire?” He pulled out a rumpled piece of paper from his pocket, balled it and dropped it at my feet. “Secluded, cheap and quiet, that’s what the ad said. But I don’t think you want to rent out a room, at least not to me. Come on, Neil,” he said to the dog. “Let’s leave this little hellcat to count her bullets.” He touched the rim of his baseball cap. “And a good day to you, ma’am.”
He braced on a pair of sturdy crutches and hopped down from the stoop. Crutches? I should’ve noticed those before. The sable shepherd looked up at me, then nuzzled my hip and trotted off after his owner. The rubber bottoms of the man’s crutches stabbed the ground as he shuffled to the black truck parked in my driveway, a supercharged Ram 3500 that matched its owner’s brawn.
I exhaled the breath I’d been holding. Bad guys didn’t knock at your door. They didn’t back down, attack while on crutches or hobble away after they came for you. They didn’t call you ma’am, either. I picked up the crumpled paper and flattened it against the stair’s wobbly baluster. It was indeed the one flyer I’d dared to post at Kailyn’s convenience store, printed on pink paper, complete with the ten tear-off rectangles that listed my cell phone number.
The ad. My brain came on line. He was here about the ad?
Crap. Terror had a sure way of wiping reason from my mind. The ad talked about a stone cottage but didn’t include the address. True, mine was the only stone cottage around. Still, my stomach churned.
I stared at the paper in my hands. He’d taken down the ad. Now I had exactly zero chance to rent out the room, which also meant that, since I’d have no money to make the rent, I was going to lose my little stone cottage. I was going to be homeless and I’d have to move on. Again.
But I liked it here. The place suited me well. People in this secluded valley were nice and I’d managed to build a semblance of a life hidden out here. And what about my little friends out back? Who’d take care of them if I wasn’t around?
The pound, that’s who.
I took a deep breath and looked down on my flannel pajama pants and my extra-large sweater. With my hair up in a messy tail, I was pretty sure I looked like a gun-toting, gray-eyed witch, brimming with hostility. I’d just scared away my first and only customer.
A top-notch German shepherd like that couldn’t belong to a crook. It was obvious that the owner took excellent care of his dog. If that wasn’t enough, the man got around on crutches. He couldn’t hurt me and, if he tried, I wouldn’t need a shotgun to defend myself. I’d just have to trip him.
God, the things I thought about. Was I going to live in fear forever?
Yes, I would, but living in fear was better than not living at all.
About the Author
Anna del Mar writes hot, smart romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind, and satisfy the heart. Her stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass, military heroes who defy the limits of their broken bodies to protect the women they love. She is the author of The Asset (Carina Press), the first novel of her Wounded Warrior series and three other novels scheduled for release during 2016.
A Georgetown University graduate, Anna enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the center of her stories. When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley as part of their Reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Additionally, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”