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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Release Day Blitz: Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake (Review, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Good morning everyone! Today is the release date of Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake and I was more than happy to spend some time with a book centered around a dog training/rehabilitation facility.

Piper is a new to me author and while reading her bio I noticed she has experience rescuing, owning and training working dogs and that’s beyond incredible to me! Anyway, have fun today folks.

Oh and this post is apparently, Mr. Pud approved.

About the Author:
Piper J. Drake (or "PJ") spent her childhood pretending to study for the SATs by reading every interesting novel she could find at the library.

After being introduced to the wonderful world of romance by her best friend, she dove into the genre. PJ began her writing career as PJ Schnyder, writing sci-fi & paranormal romance and steampunk, for which she won the FF&P PRISM award as well as the NJRW Golden Leaf award and Parsec award.

PJ's romantic suspense novels incorporate her interests in mixed martial arts and the military. The True Heroes series is inspired by her experience rescuing, owning and training a variety of retired working dogs, including Kaiser, a former guard dog, and Mozart, who was trained to detect explosives.

Find Author:
Website l Facebook l Twitter l GoodReads l

          “How’s Atlas doing?”

          “He’s acknowledging her existence.” And didn’t that chafe his ass just a little bit. “She’s out walking the perimeter with him now.”

         Speaking of, the pair came into view finally, far out across the grounds. Atlas kept pace with Lyn’s short stride, adjusting to her changes in speed and coming to heel when she paused to check out flowers or whatever.

         Dog still maintained an air of disinterest, but he was out there with her and not laying on his belly in the kennel.

          “So he’s making progress.” Beckhorn pressed for more.

          “Baby steps, my friend.” Cruz chuckled. “Don’t go reporting him as recovered any time soon.”

          “This mean you don’t want me to keep digging into who sent her?”

         Cruz leaned back in his chair, considering. Her fear had been real the night before. Terror, really. “She was damned shaken up last night. Take a look at the debrief I sent you, off the record. Someone was looking for info she didn’t know she had. Or maybe she didn’t have it yet.”

          “She’s a liability.” His friend made a grim noise.

          “I had her check out of the hotel and gave her a place to stay here where I can keep an eye on her.” He didn’t entirely trust her yet but he was sure she hadn’t been faking anything the evening before. Her reactions had been genuine.

          “You’re going to keep her around?” Beckhorn whistled, low and long. “Is she that hot?”

          “It’s not about that and you know better.” Of course, Lyn chose to bend over right about then, checking out a pretty wildflower or weed or something, and he got a faraway view of her shapely rear.

         Okay, she was hot.

         But he wouldn’t keep a liability around just for that. He had Atlas in mind.

          “Yeah, yeah,” Beckhorn continued, oblivious of the view. “What’s the plan now?

          “We both know there was something to the way Calhoun died.” It was a big part of the reason Beckhorn had called Cruz so soon for Atlas. He’d needed someone he could trust to oversee the dog’s recovery before something unfortunate occurred. “Accidental friendly fire, my ass.”

          “It’s the ‘accidental’ part in question. We both know it wasn’t friendly even if the round did come from one of ours.” Beckhorn’s tone went flat. “What we need to do is both prove it and find out why. Calhoun reached out to you just before he died and whatever drunk text he sent you pointed to Atlas.”

          “At the time, the message hadn’t made any sense so I assumed it was a drunk text.” Cruz swallowed hard on the guilt and self-recrimination there. Not sure what he could’ve done from across a damned ocean but he still felt he should’ve realized something was wrong and helped his friend stay alive.

          “It still doesn’t make any sense.” A string of curses followed. “Look. No ripping ourselves up for what we would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. We do the right thing now.”

          “Yeah.” Cruz nodded even if Beckhorn couldn’t see.

         Lyn resumed her stroll and Atlas took up position by her side. Dog might play like he wasn’t interested in the woman but he was engaged and Cruz would take whatever help there was to be had.
         Of course, he might have more in common with the dog than he’d prefer to admit.

         Last night, she’d suffered a bad scare. Things could have been far worse if he hadn’t shown up when he did. He’d been ready to rip her a new one when he’d come to her door, ajar only because her phone had landed in the entryway. It’d taken seconds to change gears from being angry with her to charging in to help her.

         He’d have still gotten through, but it would’ve taken longer for him to realize what was going on and to breakdown the door. She’d been very lucky.

         In those moments, he’d become someone else. The man he used to be. The stranger he’d locked down after he’d returned from deployment. When he’d heard her in danger, he’d gladly embraced the old rage and the cold calm to rush the door. Eliminate the threats.

          “You still there, man?” Beckhorn brought him back.

         A cold chill passed through Cruz as he realized he’d come to his feet. Maybe he hadn’t completely put the other him to rest yet, but it’d take some time to ease back and he hadn’t been all too relaxed as it was. It’d been why he’d come to spend time at Hope’s Crossing. “Yeah. Here.”

         Now. Just a minute ago? Not so much. Seemed like Miss Evelyn Jones had a way of pushing all sorts of buttons with him without even trying to.

          “You wanna share what you’re thinking? I can almost hear the gears turning in your head.”

         Way across the field, Lyn had come to a halt. It was Atlas’s posture that got Cruz moving. “I’m going to have to call you back.”

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: January 26, 2016

David Cruz is good at two things: war and training dogs. The ex-soldier’s toughest case is Atlas, a Belgian Malinois whose handler died in combat.
Nobody at Hope’s Crossing kennel can break through the animal’s grief. That is, until dog whisperer Evelyn Jones walks into the facility . . . and into Atlas’s heart. David hates to admit that the curvy blonde’s mesmerizing effect isn’t limited to canines. But when Lyn’s work with Atlas puts her in danger, David will do anything to protect her.

Lyn realizes that David’s own battle scars make him uniquely qualified for his job as a trainer. Tough as nails yet gentle when it counts, he’s gotten closer to Atlas than anyone else—and he’s willing to put his hard-wired suspicion aside to let her do the same. But someone desperate enough to kill doesn’t want Lyn working with Atlas. Now only teamwork, trust, and courage can save two troubled hearts and the dog who loves them both . . .

Basically Extreme Honor surrounds military dog Atlas, a Belgian Malinois (I have to mention that because they’re one of my favorite breeds and no, they are NOT German Shepards) who lost his handler in combat and is now grieving. Ex-Soldier David Cruz is determined to reach the animal but so is Evelyn “Lyn” Jones, a supposed dog whisperer. The two butt heads even though they’re attracted to one another but agree that Atlas is their common goal. Unfortunately someone doesn’t want Lyn working with Atlas and that’s where the danger and suspense comes in.

Can I just gush about the cover and the blurb for a bit? I mean, it’s one pretty hot cover and as a diehard dog lover, having a dog on the cover IS going to get me to give it a second look. Plus, it’s clear from the blurb that the story revolves around dogs to a point. How could I resist? And Atlas is a Belgian Malinois, a common breed for the military and police force but one I hardly see in romance.

Anyway, Extreme Honor had a lot going for it, David was an ex-soldier who understands the toll war takes on not only humans but animals too. His empathy towards Atlas and his determination to help the dog heal won me over completely. To me, nothing is sexier than a man who loves animals and is willing to do whatever it takes to save them. He had the right balance of bad ass soldier, empathetic dog trainer and common sense when it came to Atlas. Bonus character points for that and a spot for David on my Book Boyfriends list. I learned more about David during his interactions and inner monologue concerning Atlas than with anything else he did or said.

A bigger bonus was that Extreme Honor had a dog loving heroine in Lyn. She wanted to help Atlas as much as David did and that gave her the courage to face down his disapproval in the beginning. She was quick, fun and intelligent but at the same time fearless when it came to working with dogs like Atlas. I liked her personality.

As a couple David and Lyn were an ideal match. They both had a common goal but had different ideas on how to achieve it and while it lead to them arguing, it also brought them closer together and helped them find love with one another. The romance wasn’t rushed, it flowed at a pace that felt natural but still sexy and intense.

Unfortunately though Extreme Honor’s flaw in my eyes rested with Lyn. I liked the character enough but she was described as a dog whisperer and an experienced trainer yet I saw ZERO evidence to prove it. Being a dog whisperer/trainer is not the same as being a dog lover. A trainer knows behavior and techniques to help dogs be the best they can and a “Dog Whisperer” is someone who understands and communicates with a dog on a far deeper level than an ordinary dog lover.

All I got from Lyn was that she loved dogs, loved Atlas and gave him plenty of affection. Nothing out of the ordinary. As a trainer she was a major flop, it was like she didn’t have a clue how to handle dogs or train them which was a huge disappointment because I felt she didn’t pull her weight when it came to Atlas, it was all left up to David to handle the actual training. Big fat boo to that. I wanted and expected way more from Lyn in the dog trainer/whisperer department. How sad.

Another issue I had was the suspense missed its mark. It had a great potential for some real life threatening, action scenes (In which I would expect Lyn or any other heroine to save her own ass once in awhile thank you) but stopped just short of executing them. The scenes felt rushed and unsatisfying and not what I like to read in romantic suspense.

Final Verdict: Extreme Honor fell flat in the suspense department and Lyn was a big letdown for me as a dog trainer/whisperer but the premise of this book and the entire series is still something I’m keen to check out so long as the heroines start to carry their own weight.

* Purchase Links:

* Using the purchase links on this blog allows me to see a small percentage of the sale. It will help sponsor future giveaways. You can read the full disclosure OVER HERE
- 10 Print Copies of Extreme Honor

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