Forged in Smoke by Trish McCallan

Forged in Smoke by Trish McCallanForged in Smoke by Trish McCallan
Series: Red-Hot SEALs, #3
Published by Montlake Romance on July 19th 2016
Pages: 382
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Faith Ansell could never be mistaken for an action hero. The scientist is content in her lab, working with her team on life-changing discoveries. But when a mysterious organization captures her colleagues, she’s forced to flee for her life with SEAL Team 7.
Lieutenant Seth “Rawls” Rawlings, ST7’s corpsman, hasn’t been himself since a near-death experience in the Sierra Nevadas. He’s tense and distracted, and the team caught him arguing with himself—loudly. Despite his erratic behavior, Rawls is the only one Faith feels comfortable confiding her life-threatening secret in.
But Rawls has a secret of his own: his wasn’t the only spirit to return to the physical plane when he was resuscitated. At first, Rawls assumed the “ghost” he saw and heard meant he was having a complete mental breakdown. But the apparition soon becomes convincingly real, and what’s more, he may be the key to the conspiracy looming over them. Rawls had better act quickly because ST7’s race to save their reputations—and Faith’s life—is on.

The long wait between this book and the previous one in the series made it difficult to dive straight into it, but the sitrep at the beginning anticipates this problem. If it doesn’t, rereading the first 2 parts, or at least the second book, should go a way in solving this issue.

‘Forged in Smoke’ is Rawls’s story and where we left him the last time, it seemed as though he’d tossed out his cookies completely after getting healed of his fatal wound. The action picks up almost immediately and the explanation for his bizarre behaviour delves into the paranormal realm. I was lost at times, but found many bits that I enjoyed, especially the combination of military suspense, conspiracy theories – which does admittedly sound far-fetched at times – and the paranormal. There is a narrative arc of events that shoots through each of these books and would, presumably end with the fourth and last books, which can be frustrating considering the long wait between books.

Yet Trish McCallan’s clear, succinct writing is an additional draw and her characters’ voices distinct enough for me to like them, even though the books sort of skirt the phenomenon of instant love. Rawls/Faith is a pairing that I did enjoy and their growing connection was great to read about. But the teasers of Jace Mackenzie’s coming story however – my favourite blunt, self-deprecating and hilarious hero thus far – have long made him my favourite one to wait for.