by Cat Johnson
Cat Johnson is one of my favorite authors, especially of books involving male lead characters who are Navy SEALs. When I saw that she wrote the first book in the new ‘Shadow SEALs’ series, I just had to have it. Believe me, “Shadow Pawn” was even better than I’d hoped.
Adam spent 18 dedicated years of his life serving his country in the Navy, risking life and limb time after time as an elite Navy SEAL sniper. Just about two years before retirement he is framed, stripped of his rank and dishonorably discharged. As the reader, I was thoroughly outraged about the unfairness of it all. When he is approached covertly by phone by a woman who clearly knows every detail about his life, he quickly realizes that she’s likely working for the government that intentionally destroyed his career. She offers him a private covert op assignment rescuing an unknown woman who’s being held against her will in China. Although he has serious misgivings about the whole thing, Adam just can’t resist taking the job. Angela, the ‘damsel in distress’, turns out to be a brilliant black woman who is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, targeted for something to do with the secret project she has been spearheading. She’s a powerful and capable woman, but as an academic and a scientist she’s like a fish out of water in this set of circumstance. Adam and Angela are both terrific characters and the connection between them is immediately intense. There is so much intrigue and action in this story that I don’t want to give anything more about the plot away because you really just have to read it and be swept along with the adventure!
There is a surprising amount of emotion in this book, particularly regarding Adam’s inner struggles and the family tragedy Angela has endured. Angela’s housekeeper is also an unexpected gem. I thought the ending was excellent, although I admit I was left with some questions about the unfairness of Adam’s forced separation from his Naval career. It’s not like this author to leave unanswered questions in her books, so I’m going on the assumption that this type of issue might be a theme for the overall series to come. I’m looking forward to reading the next book and will definitely be ordering it as soon as possible.