Crashing into Jake by Sara Blackard

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

An injured ex-soldier struggling with being a bodyguard. A country music darling with an eerie stalker. Can he resist her allure to get the job done?

All Jake has ever wanted was to serve his country, get married, and raise a family.
When a mission goes wrong, leaving him with a prosthetic leg and raging nightmares, his plans for the future lie shattered like his career. He joins his brothers-in-arms at Stryker Security Force to help protect others, determined to find contentment in his job as a bodyguard — until protecting Chloe Rose makes him long for more.

Chloe Rose dreams of getting her break as the next country music superstar.
Though her parents would rather she buy her way in, Chloe will make it on her own or not at all.
An invitation to a Colorado music festival has Chloe believing her time has finally come. But when frightening messages arrive on her doorstep, she’s forced to hire protection. Jake is an attractive surprise, and sparks fly when he shows up.

Can Chloe trust Jake when the malicious attacks threaten all she’s worked so hard for? Will Jake’s disability keep him from saving Chloe and the love he’s found in her?

I don’t believe I’ve ever read about a heroine who has to deal with celiac disease before. It was eye-opening for those like me who really don’t understand how it affects a person’s life. The one thing about Chloe, and it caused me to respect her character, is that she refused to dwell on what she couldn’t do, but on what she could. It helped that she had her wonderful and supportive cousin, Piper, who is an important secondary character throughout most of the book, at her side. Their relationship was a strong part of why I liked this story so much.

The first chapter delves into Chloe and Piper’s backstory and provides key information for things that happen further on. What tickled my funny bone was the question, “When have I steered you wrong?” and the other person started listing all the crazy things they did, which got me to laugh. It also dogged my memory as to where I heard that phrase before until I remembered, and I laughed all the harder. Cleo from Clifford, the Big Red Dog always said that phrase right before she did indeed steer T-Bone and Clifford into some zany escapade. Gosh, my kids haven’t watched that in years, yet I still remember. And Chloe, in Crashing into Jake, totally had those ‘Cleo’ vibes going when she suggested they have a clothing bonfire. Yeah, that didn’t go quite as planned. *insert snicker*

If Chloe is an unusual heroine, her match is the equally fascinating and unique hero, Jake. If you read the first three stories, then you know that he suffered an injury in his last assignment for the military. Readers don’t have to read the books in order since they are pretty solid as standalones, but for those that have, they’ll remember Jake lost his leg below the knee. His prosthetic doesn’t slow him down, it doesn’t stop him from being perfect hero material, but it does challenge him, and he ends up using the device in a most unusual way. It was pragmatic, but it still made me grin.

The external conflict stems from threatening notes Chloe receives. It creeps them out badly enough that when Piper’s brother calls and they fill him in, the next thing I know, guys from Stryker Security Force are at the girls’ door. That is when the story takes off and the adventure begins. It turns out that both ladies know one of the two men that respond, Rafe. He’s a secondary character in this book, but like Piper, is integral to Chloe and Jake’s story and romance. This is also the point when I realize that this book series is starting to sound like a family community, and it feels nice.

All the chapters afterwards are filled with awesome dialogue between Jake and Chloe, Piper, Rafe, Zeke, and my favorite little princess, Eva. There are balloon rides, an avalanche, and a restaurant scene that showed Jake’s hero side when the ordered food was practically everything that could kill Chloe. That’s when I think the relationship started to change, and Cupid’s little arrow started to have its effect. Then there are the scheduled ‘kissing times’. I’m not about to explain what that means – it would spoil the fun. I was entertained and I enjoyed watching their love grow, until their own internal conflicts mucked it up. Sometimes more communication leads to not enough communication. Leave it to little Eva to stomp her feet and give ‘Uncle Jake’ the what-for when he needed it most.

I enjoyed the romance, the story and all its characters. They’re really growing on me. The affirmation of Jake and Chloe’s love was very public and wonderful. I’m not sharing how that comes to pass. Also, there is an epilogue but it’s more of a teaser into the next book, which, as it turns out, is Rafe’s story. I am extremely curious what I’ll find when I read his book. He’s a jokester, the one that smiles and somehow finds the fun in any situation. But, as in real life, those that laugh the loudest and work the hardest while making it look easy in order to make everyone smile around them, oftentimes are the ones that hide deep pain. As a hook, it’s perfect. You know what I’ll be reading next. As for Crashing into Jake, it’s a great read with a wonderful romance story filled with great character development, camaraderie, dialogue from all the cast members, and a happy ever after ending that satisfies. It’s another keeper to go with the first three books, that’s for sure.

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