Formats available: ebook
Genres: post apocalyptic, science fiction romance
Series: Hell Squad #7
Published by Anna Hackett on January 26th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon
Hell Squad sniper Shaw Baird is a man on a mission. His squad is his family and now the invading aliens have done the unforgivable…taken one of his team. Claudia Frost—soldier, friend, and all-round badass—is running on borrowed time. Shaw has vowed to bring her home, whatever it takes…and he’s only just realizing now she’s been taken that Claudia is a vital piece of him.
Claudia Frost is surviving…barely. Kept in chains, made to fight for the aliens’ enjoyment, she can’t survive much longer. But she knows her squad is coming for her…knows Shaw is coming. Only thoughts of the sexy, charming sniper get her through the hell, and for the first time in forever, she wishes she hadn’t let the wounds of her past stop her from taking a taste of the man who is her friend, her sanity and her secret obsession.
But rescuing Claudia is only the first dangerous step. The alien keeping Claudia prisoner is far more intelligent, far more patient and a hell of a lot deadlier than any they’ve faced before. Not only is he hunting their band of human survivors through the forests of the Blue Mountains, but he wants Claudia. And he’ll let nothing get in his way.
Throughout the series, the two Hell Squad snipers, Baird Shaw and Claudia Frost, have been striking sparks off each other every time they argue. Which is pretty damn often. They tease each other, rile each other, and drive each other crazy at every turn. And have each other’s backs when the going gets tough.
The one thing they aren’t is lovers. It’s debatable at points whether they are even friends. Which does not mean that they don’t trust each other with their lives.
Shaw was always a ladies’ man. And in the sexually relaxed atmosphere of post-invasion Blue Mountain Base, he has his pick of the soldier bunnies and anyone else looking for a way to beat back the stress for a few hours.
Claudia used to be married to a man who was just like Shaw seems to be. She’s not interested in anything more than friendship, because she’s playing it safe.
Until nothing is safe any longer.
At the end of Noah, Blue Mountain Base is discovered by the alien Gizzida invaders, and Claudia is captured as the human convoy pulls out. A week later, the survivors are on the dangerous road to the Enclave discovered in Roth while the Hell Squad runs itself ragged trying to protect the convoy and search for Claudia.
Claudia is being tortured by the Gizzida, but certain that her squad won’t give up until they find her. Because if she lets any other thought into her head, she’ll give up, curl up around the pain of her repeated injuries, and die.
Meanwhile, Shaw is falling apart. Now that Claudia is gone, he’s forced to admit to himself that he cares about her more than he has been willing to even think about. And that he’s scared to death that they won’t reach her in time. He’s equally scared that when they do find her, he’ll only screw up the only relationship he’s ever wanted.
Claudia just regrets that she didn’t at least kiss Shaw before her capture. Now that her life is failing, not exploring the possibilities with Shaw, or at least finding out if any of his rep is true, is the one thing she wishes she could do over.
Rescuing Claudia is just the beginning. Now that she has more time, both Claudia and Shaw find that the fears that kept them apart before are even stronger than ever.
And the convoy has miles to go before they reach safety, and the Gizzida are relentless in their pursuit. They are also damned lucky. Or is it more than just luck?
Escape Rating A-: I’ve made no secret that I love this series, and Shaw is no exception. I’ve been expecting this one for a while, because it’s been clear from the very beginning that Shaw and Claudia had a whole lot of chemistry that they were both determined to ignore.
The great thing about this story is that we finally find out why, and it all makes heartbreaking sense. Like so many of the couples, these are two people who would not have had the patience to discover that they belong together, were it not for the invasion.
And this is in spite of both of them being in the same branch of the service, and having been at least acquainted before the alien shit hit the earth fan. It’s only after Claudia’s capture and rescue that they are both able to get beyond the traumas they’ve been carrying around in their baggage. They are living in a situation where life is just manifestly too short for the crap that was keeping them apart.
Just as in the rest of this marvelous series, the romance between Shaw and Claudia is in some ways a subplot. Admittedly an extremely important subplot.
The plot is the convoy and its struggle to escape the mountains. The fleeing survivors of Blue Mountain Base need to get to the Enclave before the Gizzida pick them off one by one. The longer the harrowing journey goes on, the more people they lose.
But considering the way that Gizzida torture and then transform their prisoners, letting themselves be captured is not an option. This truly is one of the cases where there are worse fates than death. And yet, the toll this journey takes on the survivors is appropriately high. Everyone is running fill tilt, and at the ragged edge of their endurance.
Part of the story is the relentless pursuit by one particular Gizzida – the one who tortured Claudia. Whether “the Huntsman” has always been able to think outside the Gizzida box, or whether he learned it from Claudia, he’s different from most of the other aliens. Just like some of the other commanders, the Huntsman thinks for himself, and has his own motivations outside of the general Gizzida desire to strip the planet. His pursuit of Claudia is very, very personal, but completely non-sexual. It’s chilling, but not stalker-creepy. And nearly unstoppable.
In each book in this series, we get a glimpse of who will be featured in the next book. I’m pleased to say that the next book will feature General Holmes. It’s about time that someone stepped in to help the man carry the mountain of stress and regret he’s been living with for so long. And I’m fascinated by the choice for the heroine. It’s going to take a lot of explanation to make this relationship work.
And it should be awesome.