Celebrating Tina by Sara Blackard

Celebrating Tina by Sara Blackard
Stryker Security Force, Book 3
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A K-9 handler determined to prove she belongs. A detective with an unwavering plan. Can they overcome their painful pasts and accept the gift of love?

Tina West has spent her life feeling like she stood on the outside, but since taking a job at Stryker Security, life seems to be turning for the better.

Tina never imagined when she took a job as a nanny she’d end up training for search and rescue. Yet, when her boss shows up with a retired military dog and the opportunity to train with him, Tina snatches up the chance to help those who are lost.
If she saves enough people, maybe she could find meaning in a life that left her with nothing but a bruised heart and a tarnished picture of family. As holiday festivities loom before her, she wonders if she’ll ever shuck the regrets that haunt her dreams and keep her from connecting with others.

Milo Bishop’s every move has been to take care of his mom and younger brother.

Since his father’s murder, Milo has worked hard to make sure his mom and brother were provided for. He joined the police force straight out of high school, took night classes so he could move up to investigator, and put his life on hold until his brother graduated from college. But when he is rescued on Thanksgiving Day by Tina West, his well-laid plans take a sharp detour.

When a series of kidnappings threaten to ruin the holidays, can Tina and Milo put aside their doubts and find the abducted children before it’s too late?

Can Tina trust her instincts when they’re put to the test or will children being harmed hit too close to her past for her to deal with? Will Milo put his desires above his family’s needs when a chance at love catches him by surprise?

When was the last time you heard of a nanny turning hero and saving the day? This is the same nanny who had the bomb under her car in Capturing Sosimo. She had guts then and she shines in her own story, Celebrating Tina.

The story opens with her in the mountains, training with her dog for mountain rescue. No fainting young miss, that’s for sure. Tina ends up saving the hero. Again, when has a story started with a heroine saving the hero? I was fascinated by this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Milo is a wonderful hero, even though he needs rescuing in the beginning. He has a chance to redeem himself and becomes integral in helping to solve a suspenseful plot of missing children in the community. One second, they’re with their parents, and the next second they are gone. A parent’s worst nightmare. Tina and Milo eventually work together as a team to try to figure it out. The final discovery was shocking. There was a clever red herring the author threw in the mix, and I was really confident about my choice. Boy was I wrong. The reality was kind of sad in a way, but crime has consequences and justice will be meted out – just not to whom I expected. That actually made this story even better, because for me, I couldn’t say “I told you so’, and I prefer it when a book can surprise me like that.

Another aspect that this romantic suspense has going for it is that Tina and Milo aren’t strangers. They have a past in the town, and yet they really don’t know each other well at all. That changes during the course of the story. Some of the revelations could be a trigger for some readers even though it’s a subject that is shared as a past event. It’s still disturbing because it again involves young children. This time around, Tina isn’t a kid, she’s not helpless and she ends up taking an active role in helping the police with her rescue dog, Scout, at her side.

It’s not all serious though. The scene when Tina meets up with the rest of Milo’s family and shares why she has the car she does, made me laugh. The writing brought their reactions to life, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching her explain herself. When Milo met the men from Stryker Security, it was like having to meet the dad before taking the daughter on a date, except there were a lot of intimidating ‘dads’ facing Milo down and giving him ‘mean face’. Wow, that was fun to read. The little girl, Eva, is still as adorable and loveable as she was in the first two books in the series. I cracked up when she called “Uncle Rafe” a stinky winner. Too cute.

Through all the stress and worry about the missing kids, Milo and Tina have time to learn more about each other and slowly their love and relationship grows. When it comes time to show Tina just how he feels for her, Milo turned the romance factor up high and melted my heart. What a wonderful hero.

The wrap up was sweet and wonderful, and included a bit of a surprise from Rafe to top off the celebration. This story isn’t as action-packed as the first two, but it definitely compliments the series and was a pleasure to read. I enjoyed seeing a woman grow in strength and overcome a rough childhood only to find that her perfect partner in life had been in the same town all along. It just took a little hiking accident in the mountains to bring them together. Celebrating Tina was a good read and a nice romance story.

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