Wild Encounter by Nikki Logan
ORDER A COPY: Wild Encounter
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publishing Date: September 9, 2012
eBook: 190 pages
Rating: 5 stars
A wildlife release mission in Africa turns deadly when the convoy is hijacked by smugglers, and veterinarian Clare Delaney is taken hostage. Terrified for her life and her animals, the intrepid Clare establishes a rapport with the man she believes is the criminals’ leader, and reluctantly finds herself under his protection…and falling hard for the enigmatic man.
Alpha-to-the-max Simon deVries sees right through his sexy captive’s attempt to seduce her way to freedom. So when their simmering attraction flares into true passion, it takes them both by surprise. Now he’s torn between completing his secret mission and letting her escape without telling her his true identity. He knows if he lets her go, he will be risking his career, his life…and his heart.
Wildlife Veterinarian Clare Delaney thought her job was almost over. All they had to do was transport the pack of wild dogs to their new location. She decided to travel with them in the transport truck to make sure they didn’t wake up from the sedation too early. Once they were dropped off and acclimated to their new surroundings, she could return home to Boston. What she hadn’t expected was to have the transport intercepted and hijacked with her aboard.
She might not know why the hijackers took her dogs, but she does understand animal behavior and she knows that the man in front of her is the Alpha of this group and that he doesn’t seem to want to hurt her…his cohorts are another story. Maybe she can befriend the Alpha and get him to help her escape, even if she has to seduce him into it. It seems wrong for her to really want to seduce a man who in reality kidnapped her, but the air sizzles whenever they are together.
Clare escapes her captors by her cunning and sheer determination, and six months later she returns to Africa to locate her wild dog pack and finally bring them to their new location. Her courage falters as everything about this trip reminds her of her hellish week of captivity, especially when the Alpha shows up at her camp and introduces himself as Simon deVries, and she learns that he is not the man that she thought he was.
Although she is excited to see him again, Clare is now plagued by the thought that Simon is now just using her, a living eyewitness to the smugglers’ actions, to ferret out the others, and that he didn’t feel the spark between them. Clare feels like she’s being watched, but will Simon protect her again or leave her helpless, live bait for his trap?
This was an intense story. This was the type of story that affected my sleep because I just couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen next, and I hopped out of bed the next morning to pick it up again. It was absolutely gripping.
It is always a question when you find a new author, and a new publishing house, of just how far and how dark the story will go. A story of a pretty young woman kept hostage by a group of lowlife criminals could get really violent. I will say that our heroine Clare takes more than one beating at the hands of her captors, but the author keeps the story out of the darker ranges.
Clare is a very strong heroine and doesn’t just sit around wringing her hands waiting for someone to come save her, much to the frustration of Simon, who is trying to keep her safe, since the others in the group would just as soon kill her since they think she’s a threat to them. She keeps a level head and doesn’t just jump to conclusions without thinking things through.
I downloaded a review copy of this book, which is like a library download and it will disappear after a few weeks. I will be buying my own copy of this story. It is definitely a story which stays with you and one I will enjoy re-reading.
Received ARC from netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.
“Either go or speak,” she whispered. “But I can’t sit here with you in silence.” Not without going insane. Or doing something completely inappropriate.
The silence grew heavy. As though he were taking a moment to celebrate her admission. “What about the dogs?”
“Just…whisper. That will do.” It would have to.
The dim light thickened. And lengthened. The air grew stuffy.
“This reminds me of my childhood,” he muttered. “My younger brother and I used to pretend we were part of Scott’s expedition across the Antarctic.”
She peered at him incredulously.
“Adam and I built an igloo in the back yard one winter, and we’d huddle in it and imagine trekking by foot across the ice. It was freezing.”
Her lips parted. He had a brother?
It was a small thing, not the world’s most fascinating detail, but everything she knew about him was so removed from personal, separated by six degrees of deception, it felt like a gift. But the way she automatically clung to the detail was enough to make her fight it.
“Cowboys and Indians too pedestrian for the deVries boys?” she whispered to the shape beside her. And suddenly she was imagining him as a bright, grey-eyed little boy with a talent for finding trouble. Her heart molded itself around the visual.
He leaned closer so he could lower his voice. His heat amplified. “We were pretty serious kids. And we were way into adventure.”
“But…you risk your life every day. Why?”
“Because I believe in what I’m doing.” He must have sensed her frown. “Do you find that hard to understand? You’ve done the same thing for WildLyfe. For those dogs. You’d gladly risk your life for them. I’ve never forgotten that desolate, accusing sound you made when you thought we’d killed your dogs. He grew quiet and her heart thumped harder.
“That was a bad day,” she admitted.
“Weren’t they all bad days?” he asked quietly.
No. Not all of them.
When she didn’t answer, he glanced at her. That’s when she noticed it was getting lighter outside. Sunrise came fast in Zambia. And early. One minute it was black as midnight, the next it was a paling blue.
“I knew the dogs and I were suffering together.” She took a deep breath. “And then they were gone. I was completely alone. Even you were gone.”
He frowned. “I wasn’t.”
“You were to me. Because I though you’d done it, and you—and the dogs—were all I had.”