The Defiant Hero

By: Suzanne Brockmann

Series: Troubleshooters

Book Number: 2

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


Widow Meg Moore was the wife of the former ambassador to the nation of Kazbekistan. Three years ago, a Navy SEAL team breezed into the American embassy there, seeking refuge from the Kazbekistani authorities who were trying to arrest and ultimately kill a man who was a CIA operative they'd just rescued. While they were there, Meg became aquatinted with SEAL John Nilsson. At the time, she was estranged from her cheating husband and contemplating leaving him, so John's flirtatious nature caught her attention. Six months later, they chanced to meet up again in Washington, D.C. and spent a magical week together. Ultimately, though, Meg decided to try to save her marriage for the sake of her young daughter, so she and John haven't seen each other again since. Now Meg has been approached by a Kazbekistani terrorist organization who claim to be holding her abducted daughter and grandmother. If she doesn't either kill the Kazbekistani ambassador or bring him to them, they'll kill her loved ones. To save her child, Meg would literally do anything, so she takes the ambassador hostage at a diplomatic function, then requests to speak to John, the only person she can think of who might be able to help.

When dedicated SEAL John "Nils" Nilsson is called in by the FBI to help negotiate a hostage situation, the last person he expects to be holding a man at gunpoint is Meg Moore. He's never forgotten their time together, and remembers her as a kind woman and a good mother, so he knows something must be terribly wrong for her to take such drastic actions. With the help of his SEAL team and the FBI, John manages to extract her from the Kazbekistani embassy, but he didn't count on her stubbornly taking matters back into her own hands. Feeling she has no other choice to save her daughter, Meg goes on the run with the ambassador in tow, intending to turn him over to the terrorists, so John makes the fateful decision to follow her. Once he's caught up to her, he insists upon helping her no matter the cost, even though she doesn't want him in the line of fire. Together, they face untold dangers in their quest to save Meg's daughter and grandmother, and if they can avoid getting killed, they just might rediscover the feelings they once had for each other.


The Defiant Hero is the second book of Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters romantic suspense series. This one features John "Nils" Nilsson and Meg Moore who met three years earlier when John was on a mission with his SEAL team to rescue a CIA operative inside Kazbekistan. The team took refuge in the American embassy, and during those days, a friendship formed between John and Meg who was there with her husband, the ambassador, working as a translator. Meg's marriage was on the rocks due to her husband's infidelity, and in a moment of weakness before he left, John stole a kiss that neither has forgotten. The two met up again about six months later, when John was in Washington, D.C. to testify at a hearing about the operation and Meg, now separated from her husband, had moved there. The two spent several magical days together deepening their friendship and almost taking it further, but ultimately Meg decided to try to save her marriage. Now Meg is widowed, and her grandmother and ten-year-old daughter have been kidnapped by Kazbekistani terrorists who've threatened to kill them if she doesn't either abduct or kill a Kazbekistani from a rival terrorist group for them. At a party at the Kazbekistani embassy, Meg takes the man hostage and barricades herself inside the men's room, telling the hostage negotiator that the only person she'll deal with is John Nilsson. John and the Troubleshooters rush to D.C. to help, but once they successfully extract Meg and her hostage from the embassy, she tricks them and goes on the run with the man, thinking that the only chance she has to save her daughter and grandmother is to follow the terrorists' demands precisely. However, she didn't count on John following her or his stubborn insistence upon helping her. Along the way, the couple reignite their feelings for one another, but will they be able to save Meg's loved ones without losing their own lives in the process?

John's backstory of his growing up years prior to joining the Navy isn't really revealed until near the end of the book, so I don't want to give away spoilers. A part of me wishes it had been explored a little more deeply, but at the same time, I understand why the author chose to write it this way. That being the case, we pick up with him in a SEAL training exercise, after which he gets the call about Meg being holed up in the Kazbekistani embassy with prisoners. It's so out of character for her, that he knows he has to help, and all the Troubleshooters go with him. All throughout the book, the story alternates between the events unfolding in the present and John's first two meetings with Meg, where we learn how he got to know her and about the feelings they've shared ever since. John is six years younger than Meg, but he never comes off at too young for her. He's confident, and as would be expected of a SEAL, cool under pressure. After Meg runs and he catches up to her, he's insistent upon coming with her all the way to the end, even though she keeps trying to get rid of him. At the same time, though, he could have easily overpowered her at any time but chose not to, knowing that he needed to allow her to make her own decision to give herself up. I love how flirtatious he was with her during their earlier meetings and how he was incensed on her behalf over her husband's infidelities, not understanding in the least how a man could cheat on a woman like her. John had a rough and unsavory past, but I could sense that he'd grown in the years since, although he's a pretty typical alpha male when it comes to his reticence surrounding talking about it. He's always kind and gentle with Meg and her daughter, but at the same time, brave and fearless, wanting nothing more than to protect them both with his life. Overall he was a well-rounded hero that I really liked.

When Meg first met John, she was at a crossroads, trying to decide what to do about her marriage. The second time they met up, she was separated from her husband, but had already decided to try again to make things work between them for the sake of her daughter. She thought she could just be friends with John, but it soon became obvious that their attraction was too strong for that to work, which is why they hadn't spoken for three years until she asked for him after taking the hostages. She doesn't really want to do any of the things she's doing, but she firmly believes it's the only way to save her daughter and grandmother. For her child's sake, she's willing to do anything, including giving her own life or taking a life. When John shows up at the embassy, she's relieved to see him, but she knows she can't stop once they're safely out. Instead, she takes her hostage and runs, only to have John track her down. Although she threatens to shoot him if he doesn't leave, I knew deep down that she wouldn't. She reluctantly allows him to accompany her on her trip to a point, and although quite stubborn, she eventually allows herself to lean on him, hoping it's the right thing to do. A few times, I was a little frustrated at Meg for so obstinately trying to push John away after she'd called him for help, but at the same time, I understood where she was coming from. She was just a mother desperate to save her child, and although she pushed her feelings for John aside at first, she obviously cared enough that she didn't want to see him get hurt either. Clearly she was a good mom to be willing to lay everything on the line for her daughter. I'm glad, though, that she finally let John really help her and let him into her heart, even though she thought their mission was doomed.

In addition to the main storyline, The Defiant Hero has two subplots in which other characters get their own POV scenes. We get Meg's grandmother, Eve's perspective as she tries to figure out a way to escape the terrorists. In the meantime, she calms Meg's daughter, Amy, and tries to appeal to the humanity of one of their captors, by telling the story of her heroic exploits at the battle of Dunkirk during WWII, which is entwined with the story of her first love and first marriage that was achingly sweet and romantic. Both in the past and the present, Eve was a very brave, resourceful and determined lady. The second storyline involves Troubleshooter Sam Starrett and FBI agent Alyssa Locke. These two are constantly butting heads in the beginning until Sam supports Alyssa through a little family drama. Then they end up in an enemies-to-lovers romance that sets the pages on fire. At first, Sam kind of rubbed me the wrong way with his sexism, but he grew on me as their part of the story progressed. Unfortunately Alyssa is concerned about what might happen to her career if word of their affair got out, so she immediately put the kibosh on it before it really had much of a chance to get started. I honestly thought that they were going to get their story in the next book of the series, so I was a little disappointed that it won't happen until the sixth book, Gone Too Far. Instead, the hero of the next book, Over the Edge, is Troubleshooter, Stan Wolchonok, which surprised me a little, because he wasn't really a standout character for me. Other supporting characters who get their own books in the series include, Troubleshooters "Wildcard" Karmody (Out of Control), which I'm looking forward to, Mike Muldoon (Into the Night), and "Jenk" Jenkins (Into the Storm), as well as head of the FBI couterterrorism unit Max Bhagat (Breaking Point) and Alyssa's FBI partner, Jules (All Through the Night).

After seeing rave reviews for the Troubleshooters, I read the first book over a decade ago, expecting to discover my next favorite series. Unfortunately that book was merely okay for me, so it's taken me a very long time to get around to trying another one. I'm so glad I did, though, because The Defiant Hero turned out to be a great read, so much better than the first one. Overall, Meg and John were wonderful characters. Their romance is a slow-burn that started a few years earlier and even in the present it takes a little while to heat up again. Once it does, it's a nice combination of sweet and passionate. The suspense plot is extremely well-done. It maintains a nice, steady pace and there are intense parts that kept me on the edge of my seat. I also really enjoyed both of the two subplots this time, something I couldn't say about the first book. Suzanne Brockmann seems to have a thing for WWII stories, but this time Eve's was much more engaging and romantic. Sam and Alyssa start out arguing incessantly, which isn't my favorite way to begin a relationship, but I could tell that part of the issue was them simply trying to fight their attraction to one another. Once they give in to it, they're fire together, and since things don't exactly end on a positive note for them, it leaves me eager to read more about them. I hope that they'll at least be interacting as supporting characters in the next few books, because otherwise it will be a long wait. There were maybe a few small things about the book that weren't absolutely perfect for me, but the strong conclusion helped to wipe away any earlier misgivings. So this is one of those rare times that giving an author a second chance to wow me really paid off. I'm now looking forward to continuing the series soon.


Suzanne Brockmann


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