Discovering Rafe by Sara Blackard

Discovering Rafe by Sara Blackard
Stryker Security Force, Book 5
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Her brother’s best friend has always held her heart. Now that she has his attention, will her happily ever after be ripped away?

Piper Fields finds contentment in managing her cousin’s music career from the safety and anonymity of staying behind the scenes.
Since her parents’ death at barely thirteen, Piper’s fear of losing others has kept her focused on caring for those she loves. Meanwhile, her own dreams have been left backstage. Not that it really mattered anyway. Her dreams were out of reach and so was her brother’s friend, Rafe Malone.

Rafe Malone approached life with a firm desire to safeguard those who couldn’t protect themselves and have fun in the process. That all changed the day a mission for the Army turned south, forcing him to take the life of a child soldier. Now, the jokester mask he wears to hide his pain is put to the test when his best friend’s sister needs his help. No matter how hard he tries to convince himself he shouldn’t taint her with his tarnished soul, her nurturing presence tempts him to break the bro code of staying away from your friend’s sister.

Can Rafe keep Piper safe when the evasive threat turns deadly? Will Piper trust what she’s discovered in Rafe or is it just another childish daydream?

This is another awesome book sure to please romantic suspense readers. Rafe had a stronger role in the last story, Crashing into Jake, because it’s a tag-team setup for Discovering Rafe. In the last story, Chloe and Piper were cousins in trouble from a stalker. In the end, readers found out that Chloe wasn’t the target, Piper was. Discovering Rafe picks up from there. Interestingly enough, this book could still be read as a standalone because the first two chapters recaps what triggered book 4, but this time the hero is Rafe and it’s from his perspective. I really enjoyed the extra details that the author included this time around. It brings the enjoyment factor to a whole other level because I’m getting the whole picture. This time I got to see Piper’s point of view at my favorite bonfire scene from the previous book. It’s just as fun and yet it has a more robust feeling to it because now, I get to see inside Rafe’s head as he sees Piper for the first time in a style of clothes she’d never worn before. The password still is cute, but I got to see a tiny bit more backstory to it, which made me smile.

One of the conflicts is a well-known one – don’t break the bro-code and date or show more than brotherly interest towards your best friend’s little sister. That’s a major no-no, and it’s also one of the rules most fun to break – if done right. I believe Ms. Blackard did it right.

Like I mentioned above, the other conflict is external – the stalker that is after Piper. That’s the major mystery that causes stress, suspense and a great plot mover.

Another thing I liked about this novel, is reading all about Rafe and Piper’s childhood memories and their relationship. It made their romance that much more interesting and heartwarming. Until it wasn’t. Until the very thing Rafe worried about comes to pass. He broke the bro-code and has to face the music. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the stalker is even more tech-savvy than anyone gave him credit for. Readers are in for some intense scenes that, for me, made it almost impossible to put the book aside and go to bed at a decent time. Nope, I lost some serious zzz’s powering through this novel. I couldn’t leave myself with a cliffhanger. Who could sleep wondering if Piper would escape? Would she be rescued? Would they get to her time? Who WAS the stalker? How did he keep finding her? The answers amazed me, floored me and kept me wide awake.

As for whether I like the hero and heroine. Absolutely. Piper is loyal, caring, a bit of a worrywart and always puts other’s needs ahead of her own, including her cousin Chloe. Their relationship is more like best friends than merely cousins. Piper has a guardian-type personality and while that’s good, Rafe recognizes, eventually, that she deserved more. Who’s looking out for Piper? That’s when it solidified for me that they were perfect for each other, that their love was going to be a strong force which in turn brought out the best in each other, for the other. It’s wonderfully romantic, well, between the scenes of sheer terror, excitement, and the great climactic confrontation with the stalker.

I made light of the internal conflict of the bro-code regarding Rafe, but there is a darker issue that plagues the hero. His jokester persona has taken a hit and he’s now using it as a cover to hide behind. It is a serious conflict and I know for a fact that it’s a real thing, that it can haunt a soldier to the point of despair. It’s a bleak reality no matter that it happens in a time of war – it’s killed or be killed – but knowing that fact doesn’t make it any less painful. It’s another reason why I am so very happy that he gets his own happy ever after with Piper. If anyone can help him heal, it’s her. They are awesome together.

There’s a lot more that goes on in the story that I could go on and on about. I do have to mention secondary characters – Derrick. There’s a scene where he reminds Rafe about Hunter and his words of wisdom from the Bible. I haven’t read Hunter’s story but I’m going to. There are so many references to him throughout the series, I feel like I should know him too. Anyway, that scene with Derrick really made an impact on me. The way the author wrote it was powerful and Rafe’s response, even more so.

I simply can’t get enough of this series. Their romances are sweet, almost sensual, and the restraint the heroes and heroines practice even though passion rides them hard at times, shows amazing strength of character. It also makes a lot more sense to me than those other stories out there where, in the middle of do or die crisis situations, somehow the main characters always seem to dive into heavy-duty make out sessions. I don’t need that in my romantic suspense stories, and I’m so glad I discovered Sara Blackard’s books. They have top-notch writing, awesome heroes and heroines, and plots and stories I can really sink my teeth into. The pacing is always spot-on and never once, in any of the books I’ve read so far, have I been tempted to fast-forward. Every chapter, piece of dialogue, action scenes or passages of description and details, worked for me. Even the HEA was awesome. I am a very happy reader.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.