Rating: 5 stars out of 5
When the people you trusted turn on you, when you are the last one standing, should you take your secrets to the grave? Or make the murderers pay?
Japan 2004. Marine Recon Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Jackson and his team are sent in to rescue two kidnapped children of a Congressman. It was a horrifying mission that was to have a lasting impact on Mac and Samuel Larson , one of two siblings held captive. Now ten years later, both men are dramatically different, changed forever in ways neither could have anticipated.
Mac Jackson is now a former Marine having been discharged on a disability. His former team has been deactivated, with one dead from a mission gone wrong. Mac is in hiding, from himself and the world around him. Until it appears that someone high up in the government is targeting the remaining members of his team.
Samuel Larson is now a park ranger, a surefire way to remove himself from his father’s world and influence. But Sam has never forgotten the man who saved him and saw him through the worst time of his young life. When his best friend Aiden and his Marine lover, Viktor, finally look to have their HEA, Sam realizes that he needs to find the man who means so much to him and tell him so. But Sam never expects a simple journey to say thank you to turn into a mission of danger and deceit. Once more its up to Mac to keep not only Sam safe and alive, but himself as well. As the bullets fly, Mac’s inner barriers fall. Now only if they can survive to see if they can have their own HEA.
When I got my first glimpse of RJ Scott’s Samuel Larson in A Reason to Stay (Heroes #1), he was a character that left little impression upon me. Aiden’s best friend and all around good guy, Sam came off as bland. Kind, a friend with benefits sort of to Aiden, Sam felt more like a “filler” character than one necessary for the story. But RJ Scott had plans for Sam, ones that included an horrific event from his past that would help explain the man we met in the first Heroes book.
Without revealing too much detail, Sam and his sister were kidnapped by terrorists overseas, a horrific event made all the more heinous by Sam’s treatment by his captors. The first part of Last Marine Standing takes place in Japan, the year 2004. Mac’s Recon team is about to rescue Sam and his 14 year old sister. RJ Scott makes the reader feel every moment of this heart-stopping and heartbreaking event. Using spare prose and tightly woven scenes of action, the mission jumps to life as does the aftermath as it falls so differently upon the rescued teens. Trust me when I say these pages have staying power. So much so that its easy to understand Sam and the man he has become when the narrative picks up ten years later in August 2014.
The contrast between the adolescent Sam and the mature Sam sees a young man who needs to put certain parts of his past behind him. That includes finally telling the men who saved him, one Marine in particular, thank you. Far from the bland, undisturbed surface individual we saw in Heroes #1, this Sam has a large, complicated inner life. It makes him likable, accessible, and vulnerable.
The man he is searching for is far more wounded, complex and haunted than Sam could ever expect. Former Marine Recon Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Jackson is a man on the run. A secret mission cost Mac everything. The wounds he incurred disabled him, releasing him from the Marines, a life he loved. It also cost Mac his fellow Marines, friends who were also his family. Now secret messages from his former team members are warning him that his life is about to change once more. Skillfully, Scott leads us through the complexities of Mac’s past, his memories and feelings, to the uncertainties and mystery that is Mac’s present. Mac’s honorable Marine is someone the reader connects with immediately. And the ten years that pass only add to his attraction and strength of personality.
The strong past connection between Sam and Mac is necessary to believe in the pull and depth of their feelings for each other. Add to that the suspense and action that gives each scene a charged atmosphere of danger and uncertainty, then the heat of their attraction to each other needs no explanation. I loved their burgeoning romance and their need for each other is hot, hot, hot!
I thought the first book in the Heroes series was wonderful, but Last Marine Standing has taken its place as my favorite. I loved these characters, the other Marines and the surrounding people and places that make this so memorable. You could read this as a stand alone but it adds so much to read the stories in the order they were written. There is another Heroes book on the horizon, Deacon’s Law (Heroes #3) out in January 2015, which sees a return to the Sanctuary universe (ok, its one we never ever truly leave or want to). I can’t wait to see what angst, action, and, of course, romance R.J. Scott has in store for us there.
While we are waiting, pick up Last Marine Standing, an action filled, heart stopping tale of love and suspense. I think you will love it as much as I do. I highly recommend it and the first story in the Heroes series. Happy Reading!
Cover artist Meredith Russell does her usual terrific job of capturing the characters and bits of storyline.
ebook, 211 pages
Published October 8th 2014 by Love Lane Books (first published October 6th 2014)
Heroes Series in the order they were written:
A Reason To Stay (Heroes #1)
Last Marine Standing (Heroes #2)
Deacon’s Law (Heroes, #3) to be released January 2015 from Love Lane Books