I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Maddy first met Bran when he rescued her and ever since then they have been emailing and calling each other. Their relationship started off as friendly but their connection has grown deeper. With a chance to meet up in person, Maddy is excited but Bran fears getting too close. A kidnapping attempt though might just force Bran's hand. It's life and death and while Bran has the physical courage, he's going to have to decide if he has the emotional as well.
Second in the Deep Six series about a group of veteran Navy Seals searching for sunken treasure, this could be read as a standalone as the only part you would be missing information on is the continuing tale of the Spanish captain and his treasure in the 1600s. The first in the series had amazing action scenes, an area I think this author excels in, but this one, unfortunately, fell short in that regard. Our villains seem very inept and besides two of them, come off feeling very paper thin. The two that were given more background, well, their motivation and explanation for why they wanted to kidnap Maddy was a bit murky; we don't get the full explanation until the very end. The action plot was severely lacking in credibility, understanding, and excitement.
With the action plot failing me, I tried to focus more on our main couple and romance. While Maddy and Bran met, briefly, in the book before this one, the meat of their relationship should have been here in their own book. Again, unfortunately, this fell short for me too. There was talk of how they grew close over their emails and phone conversations; we aren't shown any of them, just told about them. What we do get shown is how much they have the hots for each other, physically wise, although any bedroom payoffs are left to the very end, during extremely awkward life and death situations. Maddy is in charge of the welfare of three teenage girls who are captured by the kidnappers, Bran has been shot in the leg, and they’re running for their lives but oh hey, look how smooth and muscular Bran's back is. There wasn't much depth to this couple and this awkward lusting during fight and evade scenes gave a pretty corny feel overall.
The over exaggerated speech stereotypes of the characters, southernisms, and very prevalent pop culture add-ins added to the hokey feel. Example:
"I might be bluffing, you miserable, vomitous mass!" Bran yelled.
Oh, for heaven's sake. Really? He's quotin' The Princess Bride?
"But if you wanna test me," he added, "I'm your huckleberry!"
And now he's quotin' Tombstone.
This, of course, being said during a bullets are flying action scene; a bit eye-rolling. I never felt like I knew our heroine Maddy as her background consisted of rich girl, has brothers, and a short blonde haircut. Bran had a little more to him but even his deeper abusive father background felt completely overdone and with lack of emotional depth to it, a gimmick to have him try to keep Maddy at arm’s length. As the resolution for his feelings on this came at, literally, the end of the story, 96% or so, it felt brushed over and insulting to use such a heavy topic like this.
The first book fascinated me with its descriptions of a new fun locale and intense action scenes. Sadly, this one fell way short with no building of the main couple's relationship, paper doll secondary characters, lacking action plot, and awkward dialogue. Like I said, this author can write amazing action scenes, but she needs to leave home the gimmicks and awkwardly placed lusting next time.