Active Defense (Danger Never Sleeps #3). Lynette Eason. Revell (2021). 288 pages. Genre: Suspense, Christian Fiction.
First Line: "September. Kabul, Afghanistan. Dr. Heather Fontaine strapped her feet into the sandboard and pushed off."
Summary: Former field surgeon Heather Fontaine is trying to reorient herself to civilian life. She is glad to be home, but she is haunted by nightmares. She can't forgot the young boy with the bomb strapped to his chest that she was unable to save. One evening, she returns home after a party to find someone has been in her home. She had noticed someone following her recently, but thought it was her imagination. Now she is not so sure. The intruder left a message on her refrigerator that causes her to believe her friends are in danger. Rather than ask for help, she decides to leave town and hide out for a while hopping the stalker will give up on her. Unfortunately, the stalker is more tenacious that she suspected.
Travis Walker suspected there was something more going on with Heather when she left the party, so he followed her home. He got there too late. She had already left. Travis owns a security agency, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him find Heather. But, things only get more complicated once he locates her. Will the two of them be able to figure out who is after Heather and why?
My thoughts: Lynette Eason is an automatic read for me. I have read everything she has written and her writing keeps getting better.
Heather Fontaine had a difficult home life while growing up. Her dad was abusive. But, it was because of these difficulties that she became interested in becoming a doctor. At an early age, she had to fend for herself. She was in the foster care system and went through many homes. She learned that the only person she could depend on was herself. She is still trying to learn how to let people help her. She finds it hard to imagine that others could care enough about her to want to help her. Her friends mean a lot to her, so when she realizes they may be in danger, she flees. Throughout the course of the story she works on allowing others to help her. It is not easy. Heather is a kind, caring, strong woman, but she is also vulnerable.
Travis Walker grew up with a loving family that he is still close with. In fact, he has recently built a home on the large ranch property owned by his parents. Travis is brave, kind and caring and he is discovering that he cares about Heather. As Heather comments in the story, he is good at picking up strays. He is direct without being pushy and people feel at ease around him. The romance story line develops naturally without interrupting or taking away from the main story line.
The pacing in this one was just right. There were times of edge-of-your-seat suspense, but they were nicely balanced out with some more calm times. During one of the more calm times, Heather and Travis took shelter in a cabin they discovered in the woods. It was here that they met Ryker, an eighteen-year-old boy who is hiding from something. I loved how Ryker became part of the story. He was a great character that I would love to see in future novels. There was also time spent at Travis' family's ranch riding and tending to horses. That was a nice addition.
The way this one wrapped up took me completely by surprise! There were lots of pieces to the puzzle, but when they finally came together it was pretty tense.
I highly recommend this series and I would start at the beginning with Collateral Damage. I think this was the best one yet.
Content note: There is discussion of violence done to children. It is not graphic, but it plays a large part in the story.
"The only person who blamed Heather was Heather. She said a short prayer for wisdom instead of wasting time questioning why all this was happening."
"In the beginning, the gravel road was more narrow, winding, and treacherous than he'd expected. If he slipped, he'd go over the side of the mountain, so his fastest speed was turtle for the first mile."
"He loved all of it - the horses, the cows in the back pasture, the rolling hills that would be green come springtime, and the mountains surrounding the property."