It started out with plenty of action and quickly drew me in, right up until the author used God's name in vain. I don't understand why this is necessary and why CBD is allowing it. I'm very disappointed :-(
Nightshade has been brutally attacked! Some of the guys have been kidnapped, some are missing and it's even possible that they are dead. Unlike other battles they've encountered together, this time it's PERSONAL and whoever is responsible for this is going down!!! Griffin "Legend" is serving a life term in prison for a crime he didn't commit when out of nowhere this beautiful and mysterious woman, Dr. Kacie, breaks him out of prison with no explanation until they are safely underway. The only thing Kacie cares about is finishing the job that General Lambert, aka the old man, has paid her to do. With this job, she can finally buy her freedom and sever her connection to her handler (Carrick), get revenge, and start a new life. Kacie wants nothing to do with Griffin or his band of brothers on the Nightshade team. However, once someone gets involved with Nightshade, they either become part of the group or become their enemy. Kacie is about to learn this.
Legend doesn't know what to make of Kacie, but it's obvious she has skills and can handle herself. At first he's grateful she got him out of prison, but he also feel s guilt about breaking out. He's an honorable man and is determined to do the right thing. Then he learns that Nightshade is in trouble and the only way to get them back is to work with this mysterious beauty. The trust issues between them start immediately. Kacie has Griffin on a need to know basis ONLY and refuses to reveal helpful information to him unless it's necessary or unless something goes wrong. Griffin attempts over and over again to convince her they are a team until the job is done, but she'll have none of it. She is convinced that her cover will be blown and that people will die if she drops her walls and decides to trust him. Way too many men have betrayed her and she adamantly refuses to let Griffin become another regret.
When Nightshade gets attacked, it's quick and devastating. The reader feels as if their own family has been attacked and very little is known of their whereabouts throughout most of the story. Most of the book is from Griffin or Kacie's perspective. When General Lambert finds out about the attack, he is shocked and horrified. His love for these guys and their families is tangible and the old man is tested like never before getting everything in place and protecting Nightshade's family. In this book, the enemy goes after Nightshade's wives and children as well. It's brutal and the way the narrative is written, you feel their fear and protectiveness for one another in the midst of uncertainty and danger. I know I cried more than once in this book, but I also laughed more than once. The team only goes on one mission without Legend and his absence is felt by all of them. After reading this book, I'm convinced that Nightshade either has 9 lives or they are being prayed for heavily, or it could be a little of both!
Kacie is such a great character in this book and she's the perfect match for Griffin physically and intellectually. However, she got on my nerves a few times because of her refusal to trust Griffin and the risks she takes because of her personal vendetta. Then again, I have no idea what it's like to be so good and deadly as the covert spy she is and yet be so broken and feeling worthless as a person. It's commented more than once in the story that Kacie has NO trouble taking down terrorist organizations and getting dangerous jobs done effortlessly, but then when she's around Nightshade's families she feels so out of place and terrified of being domestic. Being around Griffin gradually pulls down her barriers, gives her an understanding of true honor and love, and shows her that even when you turn your back on God, He never turns His back on you.
This book is also powerful because some of the Nightshade members have secrets that are all exposed in Firethorn. By the end of the book, nothing is secret anymore, their demons have been shed, and with these burdens gone they really are able to experience true freedom as well as the love/fellowship they have together. After all the sacrifices they have already made for one another, this makes their unity even sweeter.
Without a doubt, Nightshade and Firethorn are my favorite books of this series, and I was affected deeply by this team and all they have endured. I considered the wives just as heroic in these stories as the men were. The ending to this series is bittersweet, but tastefully done. The reader definitely gets a new appreciation for soldiers of all types and backgrounds. General Lambert is finally able to get the team back together and even though his own health suffers due to the stress of Nightshade's separation, the old man also recovers nicely. He gives Nightshade a sabbatical after the trauma they have endured both corporately and individually, their status is unknown but once they are together again they have a better understanding of what's most important. They also learn that their impact as a group has affected the world with each mission they've been on and many people stand in to help them regroup. That enhanced the plot beautifully as each of these men are taken to different remote areas and held as hostages; they are also tortured to some degree but since they are so determined to escape it's their strength that is felt more than any wounds they experience. Max's wife comments that Max is too stubborn to be killed by a bomb that goes off where he is located and it's touching because if you know Max from the first book you know this is SO true! The only thing I'm sad about is that there are no more books in this series, but these characters gave me an unforgettable adventure and I bless God for real life heroes like them.
Firethorn was bittersweet for me. Because this is the last book in this series we have to say goodbye, which is hard because I have so much emotions invested in these characters. But I loved reading Legand's story. It was as well done as the rest of the series, action, adventure, romance. Kazi and Legand fit well together despite the fact that both have trust issues. One of the best things that I loved about this series was the fact that it was both character centered as well as action driven. This combination really work well.
I would recommend reading the series in order, but it's not strictly necessary.