Protecting Caroline by Susan Stoker
Book 3 in The SEAL of Protection Series
Cookie "Hunter" Knox was good at his job, infiltrating behind enemy lines was one of his specialties. His SEAL team relied on him to do his job, just as he relied on them to do theirs. Ever since two of his teammates found a woman that completed them, their dangerous Ops seemed a bit more intense. Cookie knew if he had a woman who belonged to him, he'd never let her go. Little did he know the SEAL team's latest mission to Mexico would change his life forever.
Fiona Storme resigned herself to the fact that it was highly unlikely she would make it out of the jungle alive. Kidnapped by human traffickers, abused, and without family or friends looking for her, Fiona knew wishing for rescue was as realistic as having a big, juicy hamburger fall from the sky. Unbeknownst to Fiona, the SEAL team, including Cookie, were on the way, but their assignment didn't consist of rescuing her.
**Protecting Fiona is the 3rd book in the SEAL of Protection Series. It can be read as a stand-alone, but it's recommended you read the books in order to get maximum enjoyment out of the series.
Oh holy whoa. I have no idea where to begin. I guess I should start by saying that Cookie has been on my radar since Protecting Caroline. The way he treated her was so sweet and amazing. And knowing the way Mizz Stoker likes to toy with my heart, I just knew his story was going to gut me. Let me tell you, she did not disappoint.
Protecting Fiona starts off with a rescue mission to Mexico to save a Senator's daughter, Julie, who was kidnapped by human traffickers. Let me just pause for a moment to educate you on all things Julie. She is spoiled, bitchy, selfish, and just plain awful. Fiona was in the same hut as Julie, tried to comfort her even, and when Cookie came to rescue Julie she was going to let him lead her out of the hut without even mentioning that Fiona was there!
"You better not screw this up for me. My daddy sent him for ME, not your sorry ass."
You see what I mean?
Okay, so moving right along...Cookie discovers Fiona (who didn't call out and ask for help because she knew that he was there for Julie and not for her) on the other side of the hut. She is in really bad shape. She hadn't bathed in months, was half-starved, and had a metal collar tightly around her neck. Despite everything she has been through, she is strong and endures their long trek through the jungle without complaint.
Speaking of complaining....Julie bitches the entire time. At one point, Cookie gives the girls granola bars to eat and while Fiona acts like he just handed her a bar of gold, Julie acts like a complete brat.
"That's it? Only granola bars? Do you know how long it's been since I've had any kind of REAL food?"
I don't think I've ever wanted to throat punch a fictional character so bad in my entire life.
As they are trekking through the jungle, it becomes apparent that there is something seriously wrong with Fiona. The men who kidnapped her had been shooting up with a cocktail of drugs (she fought them like hell every time, go girl!) and she was going through withdrawals. This is where we really start to see my favorite parts of Cookie.
At one point, Fiona has to lie down on the ground because she is just so weak and her body is wracked with tremors. Cookie decides that they can break for the night and after he gets Princess Ass Face all settled, he goes over and lays down with Fiona to try and comfort her. He freaking spoons her. SPOONS HER, y'all!!
Fiona does this thing to help her cope in awful situations where she counts backwards from 1000. While Cookie is spooning her (seriously, spooning...I want to be his little spoon!) he whispers in her ear and counts backwards from 2000 and Fiona finally falls asleep to the sound of his voice. You guys...he is just so damn dreamy. For reals.
Alright, let's see if I can actually focus this review on the actual story and not just swoon over Cookie the whole time. LOL
So, they make it to the extraction point and after Julie is rescued (is anyone surprised that she was first? no) Cookie ends up getting shot. Fiona, the girl with the iron will, manages to get him onto the ladder dangling from the helicopter so that he can be pulled to safety. Fear not, she got saved too. ;-)
Back on American soil and after Julie is reunited with her father, Fiona's withdrawal kicks into over drive and Cookie, Benny, and Dude all stay by her side to see her through it. These guys are just amazing. There's one scene where, in a delusional state, Fiona tries to escape the house she is staying at with the guys. Of course they catch her and while they are trying to calm her down and she freaks out, screaming all kinds of things at them that hint at what she endured while she was captured. It was utterly heartbreaking.
I don't want to get carried away and end up posting spoilers. As is the case with Mizz Stoker's books...it's better to go into them not knowing what to expect and just enjoying the ride. I really love the familial dynamic of the team how supportive they are for each other.
Another note, because of all the abuse and horror that Fiona had to endure, the sexy times in this book are limited, sweet, and sort of reserved. They are pretty "handsy" with each other, but there the sexy times in this book are not as explicit like they were in Protecting Alabama. And I'm okay with that. It wouldn't make sense for Fiona to let Cookie in like that after everything she went through. You can tell Cookie is a beast though!
Towards the end, Fiona ends up dealing with some pretty major PTSD while Cookie is out on a mission and Tex has to step in and keep her calm until Cookie can get back to her. Tex...ohhhh man. Tex is going to steal my heart. I thought it was going to be Cookie, but no. Tex is going to end up being my numero uno, I can see it now.
I feel like I just can't do this book justice. I can't accurately express just how much this book made me feel. I've read it three times now and it still gets me all choked up and makes my heart all fluttery. Mizz Stoker's books just keep getting better and better!