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.
Wanting to get away from her overbearing father in England, Hannah decides to take a job as the personal assistance to Prince Hakeem of the Arab island nation of Syman. At first this seems a little bit out of left field but it turns out Hannah's grandfather was Symanian, she speaks fluent Arabic, and Prince Hakeem follows some westernized ideas. Everything is going swimmingly until Syman starts to feel the effects of the Arab Spring. Hannah suddenly finds herself learning vital and damning information about Prince Hakeem and in a country about to erupt in civil war. Hightailing it to the English embassy looking for safety, Hannah discovers it abandoned except for one lone SAS soldier (I tell you what, I just may question the ol' chain of command if they ordered me to stay ALONE at an embassy in a country on the verge of war). Tom, the unlucky SAS soldier, allows Hannah sanctuary but as the Prince's men attack the embassy, they find themselves on the move and desperately looking for a way off the island.
Neither Hannah nor Tom are completely flushed out characters. We know Hannah has daddy issues and Tom is being beaten down by survivor's guilt due to a mission in Afghanistan where he trusted the wrong woman and all of his team was killed. We are told these things and sporadically reminded but the depth of emotion was missing. Hannah veers ever so slightly into TSTL as she disregards or questions Tom, the highly trained soldier keeping her alive. Tom is the average stoic, solid, and hidden hurts soldier. They won't wow you but they're sketches of good characters. This story also uses the trope of instalove; like rocket propelled grenades are hitting the embassy and all Tom or Hannah can think about are each other's lush lips instalove. Yes, they only have each other to rely on as they traverse the city so some emotional connection is going to form but as the reader, I couldn't help thinking," time and place!".
This is a very quick read with a steady pace, even if you never really feel immersed into the story. The suspense side, rebel army clashing with the Prince's men with Hannah and Tom stuck in the middle trying to make it to safety, is solid. There are a couple forced or contrived situations to keep our main characters on the run or in trouble but for the sake of the story, I was willing to let them slide. The elements of Arab Spring and SAS soldier, instead of SEAL, are unique enough to keep this interesting even if there isn't enough depth to keep the reader completely invested.