Friday, March 25, 2011

Absolutely Crazy for Absolution

I have the honor of bringing you the review of Absolution, Kaylea Cross’s final installment in her first military suspense series. I liked the series so much that I recommend it al the time now. But it was when I reflected on why I enjoyed the series so much that I realized I was envisioning my brother David as the hero. David was a military man himself who died too young in 1994 after serving over in the Middle East. He was always larger than life to me – he was my hero, partly because I was his younger sister but also because he had this underlying strength and confidence in everything he did. It’s the same strength that I felt in Cross’s military men. I’d never gotten the chance to talk to David about his experiences during the war and his time in the Middle East; and that’s something I always wished I had. We’d planned on doing an interview so that I could document his experiences to use in a book someday but our time together ran out. I still regret losing that chance to really get to know him, to understand his military life. And while I can never do that interview or get to know more about his personal experiences, I feel like I caught a glimpse of his life in Cross’s books. To so vividly be shown the heart of military men was inspiring and called for a reverence, a true appreciate for these amazing men who have such bravery.
Absolutely Crazy for Absolution
Kaylea Cross’s series got better and better until it all culminated in the amazing final installment. Absolution has her trademark suspense, action and emotion packed into it but with a unique hero and heroine who are both older than the norm in today’s romance novels.  Since readers have had glimpses of the couple, clever clues about their marriage which ended over twenty years ago, it was a treat to finally learn their full story. And again I was hooked from the very first page. Cross wove in each character from the series into this captivating story so that their significance to the overall plot was reinforced while not taking away focus from the main characters.
Luke and Emily, oh Luke and Emily, the sacrifice and unrelenting love of this couple squeezed my heart. Admittedly, reunited lovers is one of my favorite themes in romance books but their story keeps the reader in suspense wondering if it’s possible for their relationship to really work out in the end. Cross doesn’t sugar-coat anything in her series, including Luke and Emily’s fate in this climactic ending.
Luke, a Navy SEAL, walked away from Emily years ago after he accidently hurt her and was scared he might do it again. Leaving behind both Emily and their young son, Luke went on to work for the CIA and made plenty of enemies along the way. Throughout the series, Luke is tracking a terrorist he helped train before he turned on the United States. The terrorist has been using women close to Luke to gain his attention; and now it looks like Emily could be in danger. Luke is prepared to give up his life in order to finally take the terrorist down but his plan changes when he finds out Emily might be sick.
Though they have been separated by miles, Luke and Emily have never stopped loving one another. The bond they share is carried with Luke everywhere he goes, just like the medallion Emily once gave him. Reunited briefly at their son’s wedding in a previous book, Emily stays with Luke before a life-threatening surgery only to leave before he gets into recovery. When Luke shows up at her doorstep a month later, he learns she left so quickly because she has cancer and was beginning treatment. Realizing Emily might die from cancer, he accepts that he’s caused them to waste half a lifetime they could’ve been together and wants to reconcile. And now it looks like neither has much time left.
Afraid for her safety, Luke moves Emily into the Beirut compound with Luke’s team as all the series’ heroes and heroines come together in this final mission. Emily continues her treatment and is cared for by the others while Luke works to eliminate the terrorist. They share stolen moments while both continue their separate battles, Luke getting closer than ever to ending his mission. Emily’s strength in the face of death and adversity is nothing short of amazing; and Luke’s willingness to accept his shortcomings with her is inspiring. The scene where Luke helps Emily rediscover her beauty after the treatments ravish her body will forever resonate in my heart.
This book is well researched and thoughtful. Every detail, including both the military aspects and Emily’s illness, is far more detailed than readers will find in other books within this genre. The details create scenes that jump off the page as the reader travels from the United States to Beirut and the mountains of the Middle East. It is truly the best romantic military suspense series available.
Absolution has a unique plot with one twist after another so even though the reader expects a happy ever after because it is a romance, the suspense leaves the reader guessing. In fact, this is what puts the series on my “favorites” shelf. I was on the edge the entire book - there were no moments in the story where I was certain what was going to happen. Cross beautifully crafted a storyline with the military suspense aspect of the plot equally as strong as the romance aspect, creating a realistic story while still giving the romantics-at-heart the ending they crave.
*Read this series in order. The story of Absolution has been building throughout the entire series so you just won’t get as much out of this book without having read the others first.*

Absolution deserves five chocolate dipped strawberries. (And if you won’t tell the girls, I’d even steal an extra and give it six!) It’s an indulgence every reader should make the time for.
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