Review: Wild Justice by M.L. Buchman

Review: Wild Justice by M.L. BuchmanWild Justice (Delta Force #3) Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Series: Delta Force #3
Pages: 313
on October 17th 2017
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DELTA FORCE
The best counter-terrorism force on the planet.

SERGEANT DUANE JENKINS
• Elite Delta operator—explosives just make him grin •

AGENT SOFIA FORTEZA
• Top Intel Analyst for The Activity—thinks data is sexy•

The team must face their toughest mission yet: take down a massive human-trafficking ring and a corrupt Venezuelan spy agency—without leaving a trace.

Sofia and Duane.
In common: black sheep of extremely wealthy families, renegades against the status quo.
Differences: tactician vs. explosives expert, thinker vs. pure warrior.

Together: fight to keep their team alive, and their love.

My Review:

Wild Justice is a story with layers, like an onion. And also like an onion, some of those layers will make the reader at least sniffle a bit.

Like all of the Delta Force series, this is a story of a crack military team ghosting into someplace where angels fear to tread and governments fear to leave official footprints. Members of “the Unit” go in, they get the job done, and they were never there.

The series, which began with Target Engaged, is about one particular team of Delta operators. Not that they call themselves that. To its members, Delta is just “the Unit”, and they are the best of the best.

As this case begins, they are joined by an intelligence analyst from an equally elite but completely different U.S. Black Ops agency, one known only as “the Activity”.

Sofia Forteza has called in an operational unit to help her take down a Venezuelan military officer who is a local kingpin in the human trafficking cesspool. She’s found her dirtbag, she just needs help with the extraction as well as the rescue of the women and children he is currently holding.

What she gets is Duane Jenkins, nicknamed, of course, The Rock. He may not quite match up to the actor, but he gets damn close. Even more important, when he brings in the rest of his team, he trusts Sofia to have his back, and gives her just enough pointers to help her help him without ever insulting her capabilities or her intelligence.

And he helps her come down from her first field kill without thinking or acting as if she’s weak for any reason whatsoever.

Duane gives her respect, and Sofia is forced to admit that he’s the first man she hasn’t had to prove herself to, over and over and over, even within the top ranks of the elite units – or within her own family.

There’s something between them from the moment they meet, and it’s something that neither of them has ever experienced before. They are fortunate that their coinciding missions give them the chance to explore what it might be.

Even if neither of them believes that love is remotely possible. Not for who they are now, and not for what they came from. But just because neither Sofia nor Duane believes in love, that does not mean that it does not believe in them.

Escape Rating B+: Any reader who loves military romance should pick up the first book in M.L. Buchman’s series of interconnected books, The Night is Mine, and just binge. He starts with an elite SOAR unit, branches some of them off into an elite civilian wildfire fighting operation, and then links others to Delta Force. You don’t have to read all of them to get the sense of any individual book in the series, including this one, but they are all tremendously fun.

And Buchman has a gift for making sure that his female protagonists are every single bit the kick-ass warriors that his male protagonists are. And as they should be under the circumstances. But it’s not something that we see nearly enough.

Wild Justice operates on multiple layers. A big part of the story is the operations that the team takes on to help dent the human trafficking trade in South America. This part of the story is based on very real and very harrowing events. The civilian team they partner with is based on a real organization that works similarly to the way their fictional counterparts are portrayed.

In the middle of the operation, there’s also a romance. Of course there is. Unusual for this series, though, Sofia and Duane are both from similar backgrounds, both, in their own ways “poor little rich kids” who grew up with all the monetary advantages in the world but not much in the way of nurturing or moral support. Sofia had one person who had her back, her grandmother, the powerful owner of a premier wine-making company. However, she also had not merely a narcissistic and nasty mother, but also an abusive older brother.

Duane’s dad is a Coca-Cola executive, his mother is a high-powered attorney, and Duane is a disappointment to both of them. He chose to join the military to try to fix at least a few of the things that can’t be fixed with “a Coke and a smile.” They’ve never forgiven him, not that they ever gave much of a damn about him in the first place.

That both of them grew up as part of the 1% and chose a career in service to make a difference gives them something in common. It also means that Duane is not over-awed by the wealth of Sofia’s family’s winemaking empire – an empire that Sofia will someday inherit.

Although the course of true love never does run smooth, these are two people who plausibly have a chance, and also plausibly have a rocky road ahead of them. It works.

One final note. In the midst of the current #MeToo campaign, one scene early in the book had a tremendous amount of resonance. As part of a training mission, Duane and his Delta team, along with Sofia, take down a cruise ship being “held” by a Black Ops team from another agency. After the operation is over, Duane and Sofia overhear the “losing” team indulging in what is often dismissed as “locker room talk”. They are evaluating the women on the Delta team, including Sofia, by their physical attributes and discussing just how much they want to “punish” the women for beating them. It’s not just disgusting, it’s actual rape talk. Sofia wants to dismiss it. She’s fought this battle all of her life, and it never ends well for her. Her response is one that so many of us often make, that it’s only talk. That it doesn’t really matter. Or most tellingly, that it can’t be fixed.

What makes the scene stand out is the way that the Delta team does indeed “fix” it. As a unit. This is not something they will tolerate, not the men in the unit, and not the women. It’s a joint effort to make these assholes pay.

The physical payback meted out is relatively minor, but the response from the higher ups is stellar. Instead of dismissing the complaint, as we so often fear will happen, because it so often does happen, the perpetrators are punished severely with loss of jobs, loss of promotions, loss of assignments, retraining, black marks in their files. The authorities do what they are supposed to do, and what we always hope they do but frequently don’t. At the same time, there’s the very real world acknowledgement that the worst offenders will go out and offend somewhere else. The powers that be in both agencies can drum these bastards out, and get the word out to all their reputable contacts not to hire them. Which means that, unfortunately but all too likely, the less reputable outfits will hire them. But they have done everything they can reasonably do to pull the rotten apples out of their own barrel.

And that’s still a big win.

Review: Heart Strike by M.L. Buchman + Giveaway

Review: Heart Strike by M.L. Buchman + GiveawayHeart Strike (Delta Force #2) Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Series: Delta Force #2
Pages: 384
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 2nd 2016
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Richie Goldman is the team geek of Delta Force, a warrior and a technical wizard-but nothing is more mysterious to him than women. When a feisty new recruit joins the team just in time for a dangerous mission in the Colombian jungle, he'll have to make it out alive if he ever wants to figure her out.
Melissa Moore is going to be the best woman in Delta Force. Ready to do battle, her biggest challenge is avoiding Richie's sweet and sexy distractions. She was prepared for combat, but falling in love is an entirely different battlefield…

My Review:

target engaged by ml buchmanHeart Strike continues the Delta Force series begun in Target Engaged, and just like the first book in the series, it makes for a pulse pounding military romance from beginning to end.

In Target Engaged, we saw both the formation of an elite squad within Delta Force, and the hot as fire relationship between team leader Kyle Reeves and one of the members of his team, the first woman in Delta, Carla Anderson. By the time the story ends, Kyle and Carla are in a solid relationship, and the team that formed around them in training has become the premier Delta team in South America.

But this wouldn’t be a romance if the other three men on the team didn’t get their chance at an HEA, now that Carla is taken.

And that’s where Melissa Moore comes in. Carla was the first woman to pass Delta training, but she won’t be the last. Melissa is second, and there are days when it feels like her entire training consists of following in Carla’s footsteps and not quite measuring up. Not that Melissa doesn’t measure up to Delta, but that Carla seems to have set a mark that only perfection could possibly match.

Melissa is good, but she is far from perfect. And part of her feeling that she isn’t quite everything Carla is boils down to Melissa not quite figuring out what she specializes at. She very, very good at so many of the skills that Delta operators, need, without being an expert in any one of them. It’s hard for her to see that generalization is itself a skill.

Colonel Michael Gibson, the highest ranking field officer in Delta, sends Melissa to join Kyle and Carla’s group in Colombia. Generalist Melissa immediately hits it off with the squads ultimate specialist, Richie Goldman. Richie is the unit’s chief geek and technical wizard. Everyone calls him “Q” after James Bond’s gizmomaster. And just like “Q” in the Bond world, Richie is more than a bit tongue-tied around women. At least until Melissa lets her own nerd flag fly.

They get each other, at a level that goes beyond sense. But one member of the team believes that Melissa is not what she claims to be, or that her motives are less than pure, or that Richie is her victim and not the man she hasn’t known she’s been looking for all of her life.

So as the team pursues dangerous drug kingpins in the depths of the Colombian jungle, the team has to sort out where, whether and if they all belong. Before they tear each other apart.

Escape Rating B: I love this series almost as much as The Night Stalkers series it spawned from. One of the terrific things about both sets is that this is military romance where the women are every bit as much soldiers as the men. No one is weak, no one needs to be rescued. It’s all about joining strength to strength. And that’s awesome.

One of the things that is similar in both series is the intense team-building. These people all have to rely on each other in every extreme. Guarding each other’s backs is the only chance any of them have of making it out of each mission alive.

On the one hand, the way that Chad distrusts and disrespects Melissa from the get-go shows just how much of a problem it is when that mutual trust is breached. On my other hand, his reasons for his extreme reaction didn’t quite fit for this reader. As deep and strong as his instant antipathy was, and as many problems as it caused within the group, the reasons that were given for it, and the sudden reversal, didn’t quite gel. I was expecting some of the motives for his unreasonable reaction to be personal, and when that personal connection wasn’t there, his behavior didn’t make much sense.

On my third hand (consider me an alien) the relationship between Richie and Melissa was smoking hot from the instant they met. Just as with Kyle and Carla in Target Engaged, their problem was resisting the attraction long enough to build an emotional connection before the physical, and also to find a safe and private place.

They do have some of the worst, and funniest luck!

But if you love military romance, this series in particular, and M.L. Buchman’s books in general, are always bullseye shots to the heart..

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

Sourcebooks is giving away 10 copies of the first book in the Delta Force series, Target Engaged, to entrants on this tour!

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Review: Target Engaged by M.L. Buchman + Giveaway

Review: Target Engaged by M.L. Buchman + GiveawayTarget Engaged (Delta Force, #1) Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Series: Delta Force #1
Pages: 384
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on December 1st 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
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Kyle Reeves was trained by his father to do one thing: be the very best. So he isn't daunted by the Delta Force selection process—the toughest military training on earth—or when the very best woman falls into his arms.
Carla Anderson buried her heart in Arlington when she lost her mother and brother to combat. She wants nothing more than to give her all in the line of duty until she too is laid down beside them, and Delta training might just be the challenge she's looking for. Little did she know, the true challenge was coming in the shape of a sexy, alpha-male military operative.
Surviving brutal training is just the beginning of the merciless path to Delta, but it's also the dawn of the hottest passion Kyle and Carla have ever known…

My Review:

As I was reading this book, the U.S. Secretary of Defense announced on December 3, 2015 that starting in early 2016 all U.S. combat military positions will be open to women, including the Rangers, the SEALs, SOAR and Delta. So, while this book is certainly fiction, it looked forward at something that could happen in the near future.

Three women have already passed Army Ranger training, so that day may be much sooner than anyone thought just a few years ago.

Back to the present day, and the book…

bring on the dusk by ml buchmanTarget Engaged is the first book in the author’s Delta Force series, which is spin-off of his awesome Night Stalkers series. Colonel Michael Gibson of Delta Force was the hero of Bring on the Dusk (reviewed here) in the Night Stalkers series, and he serves as the main bridge between the two units. Not that there aren’t occasional appearances by other members of the Night Stalkers, but Gibson is the most obvious link.

He’s the one who makes the final judgment on whether these candidates for “the Unit” actually pass one of their more important final exams, even if that exam is only partially concealed within an interview. They are all training for Delta, they are supposed to see the wheel within the wheel within the wheel.

In this first book in the series, we’re introduced to a small group of Delta candidates who become a tight-knit force within their class. Although the focus is on Carla Anderson, who plans to be the first woman to make Delta, and Kyle Reeves, the natural leader of their contingent, the other guys come in for enough pages to make them interesting possible leads for future books in the series.

This is a story with two threads to one. One is the training of Delta. For those out there who love books where the hero or heroine goes through intensive training, there’s a lot here to love. All the members of “the Unit” are in training from the moment they arrive at the ass-end of Ft. Bragg until the day the survivors graduate – or flunk out at the last hurdle. Just over 100 start, only seven finish, and only five survive their final training. By survive I don’t mean some die, although many of the ones that fail the test wish they had. But out of the original cadre, only five go the distance. A few are sent back to their units with recommendations that they come back after either some additional training, or just after they heal their injuries, but most just fail.

Carla starts out as the only woman in the Delta recruiting class, and she’s the first woman to finish. The story is very real when it talks about how she makes it – not just that she goes through the exact same grueling training as the men, having to succeed or fail under the exact same standards, but they way that she also has to handle being the only woman, and the way that she has learned to cope with being one of the few women in what is still a man’s world.

But when they graduate, and the group is ready to set out on their first mission, Carla finally gives in to the steaming attraction that she feels for fellow Delta operator Kyle Reeves, and it is here that she breaks pattern. From this point on in the story we have some kick-ass military romance, as Carla and Kyle explore what they can be to each other, as well as how they and their relationship fit into the team that Kyle has built and Delta has honed.

When their first missions put them each in danger of losing their lives, they both have to face what it means to be in love with someone who risks their life every single day, and who you might have to deliberately send in harm’s way for the greater good.

Escape Rating B+: I loved both halves of this story – the training half and the mission half, but they are completely different.

During the entire training component, both Kyle and Carla are extremely aware of the heat they generate together, and they do absolutely nothing about it. A relationship between them while they are in the initial training/weeding out process will send them both back to their previous units, and probably scuttle Carla’s entire career. Also any relationship would be a distraction that they have neither the time, the energy or the privacy for until the initial phase of training is over.

Also, it’s not just that neither of them has much experience at real relationships, but that Carla specifically has no plans to ever be in a real relationship. A lot of the later tension between Carla and Kyle is that she had no plans to ever love anyone again, and is completely unwilling to admit that she loves Kyle and isn’t ready to go on without him.

One of the things I found slightly jarring about this story is that I couldn’t realistically see how a woman who is portrayed the way that Carla is would fall into a relationship with someone in her unit. While it isn’t against regulations – they are both the same rank and not officially in a reporting relationship – there is always a danger that the woman in any such relationship will be considered less capable simply because of the relationship. And if it fails, she’s the one who will lose rank or status, not him.

On that other hand, once I let go of my disbelief, the missions they went on were page-turning gut twisters from beginning to end. They go after bad guys who really need to be brought down, and they finish them off with style. Their second mission had me on the edge of my seat, and I loved watching them figure out how to save themselves and each other with not much more than grit, determination and a little help from some friends in the CIA and Mossad.

In the end, Target Engaged reminded me a bit of The Night is Mine (reviewed here), the first book in the Night Stalkers series. Night reads more than a bit like Stargate fanfiction, and Target Engaged has the undercover agent vibe of some NCIS fanfic. I love them all.

~~~~~~ EXCERPT ~~~~~~

If you have been appropriately intrigued by my review, Sourcebooks has a treat for you. The first six chapters of Target Engaged are available as a free sampler. To get started with Delta Force, just click on the link at the end:

Dear Reader,
Welcome to my newest series: the first women of Delta Force. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun this was to write.
Most of us know little more about Delta Force than the Chuck Norris movies (which leave a lot to be desired) or perhaps we only know the name. In researching my Night Stalkers series, I kept running into these guys. They are the elite of Special Operations Forces. They are at a level of SEAL Team 6, and most would argue they were even beyond that. They are the ghost and shadow warriors who helped take down drug lord Pablo Escobar, capture Noriega, were undoubtedly behind the locating of Saddam Hussein, and are the main reason that Al-Qaeda abruptly stopped being a topic in the Iraq War when over three thousand of their leaders were swept off the board.
Yet the Pentagon states that they don’t exist. Fascinating.
And while they often work with undercover female operatives, no woman has yet managed to kick in the front door on one of the most arduous selection programs in the military.
I decided to change that.
Carla Anderson stepped forward to take the challenge. She is a not a woman out to prove she can match any man, she’s out to prove that she can beat them at their own game. And that was the first thing that I loved about writing this series.
In the Night Stalkers, the women were strong, excellent, and determined.
To be a Delta Force woman, Carla had to add enough attitude and drive to plow through all obstacles which just made her so much fun. Nothing was off the table when it came to her attitude or her actions.
And that was the second thing I came to love about this series launcher, Target Engaged. Being Delta Force, they really do operate outside so many bounds. They are sent to do the tasks that no one else can. To that I added the additional challenge that Robert Ludlum gave to Jason Bourne (though I’m quoting the movie): “I don’t send you to kill. I send you to be invisible. I send you because you don’t exist.” I’m pretty convinced that this is part of Delta’s mission.
It is occasionally said by retired Delta Force operators (as the on-duty ones never speak): “If we’d been sent in to take down bin Laden, you still wouldn’t know how it was done.” To bring that to life gave me a permission as a writer to run my characters into hard and strange places and be just a little gonzo doing it.
But writing is a give and take, and I can’t begin to tell you how much the characters I created shaped my telling of this story. I like to think that they had as much fun as I did bringing this story to life.
I hope that you enjoy the reading even half as much as I enjoyed the writing!
M.L. Buchman (the Oregon Coast, November 2015)

Get to know the Carla, and the entire Delta Force team by reading the first SIX chapters of TARGET ENGAGED for free! Just click here to download them! To get you started, we’ve included the first few pages below:

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

The treats never end with any of M.L. Buchman’s books. Sourcebooks is giving away an M.L. Buchman book bundle to one lucky entrant on this tour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway