DO OR DIE Suzanne Brockmann
Reluctant Heroes , Book 1
Ballantine Books
ISBN-13:  978-0-345-54379-0
February 2014
Romantic Suspense

Miami, Florida Present Day

Ian Dunn is frantic when he is told a man named Martell Griffin is arranging for him to be released from prison to perform a job for the government, recovering two kidnapped children from a foreign embassy in Miami.  The cute woman beside Martell tells Ian she is his lawyer, and she sure isn't the old man he's used to.  Despite refusing the offer, soon after he walks out of prison and he is sure his life will go down the toilet, along with that of his brother Aaron's and his husband Sheldon's.  Through a series of actions, Ian had been taking the place of a member of the Dellarosa mob family who could have been charged with a crime, all to get Manny and Davio Dellarosa to leave Aaron and Sheldon alone and not try to kill Aaron.  As long as he's in prison they are safe, but with his release, all bets are off, and it's to be expected the bullets will start to fly.

It's the first week at her new firm when Phoebe Kruger is assigned Ian Dunn as a client when Martell wants to get him out of jail.  Phoebe is looking for Ian's immunity and all charges against him being dropped; she's not expecting a client who wants to stay in jail!  After Ian is released, he commandeers her car and soon the Dellarosas are shooting at them and they are hiding all over the city trying to evade them.  Helping them is the FBI in the form of Deb and Yashi, and also Aaron and Sheldon, who are also about to be murdered, and Phoebe who just won't leave Ian alone.  Things go from bad to worse, and sometimes the thought of the release of the kidnapped children is the last thing on their minds.

Sheldon and Aaron met in their boarding school, and when a video of them together at the beach was released, they were both expelled.  Aaron, taken care of by his brother Ian, joined the service, and so did Sheldon.  Years later they found each other and have weathered controversy to stay together.  Ian's little group of con artists broke up over a year ago when he went to jail, and Aaron hasn't heard a word from his brother since.  It's Sheldon and his sister Francine's Dellarosa family that have put Ian in trouble, and hiding his incarceration from Aaron has been hard to do, but Ian's job is protecting his little brother.

Francine long ago loved Berto, Sheldon's and her half brother. But when Francine tried to persuade Manny, her stepfather, that she was the one that was photographed with Sheldon, Berto believed her lie and left her to be punished by Manny, including raping her.  Memories like that don't fade away, even though seeing Berto again almost kills her.

Yes, dear readers, Suzanne Brockman has once again started a new series featuring, can you guess, ex military men trying to save the world.  Ian's group is unnamed; we still aren't sure whom they were working for or what happened to the information they obtained on their last job.  But no matter, several years later Ian is in jail; his brother Aaron has married his long time boyfriend Sheldon, and they now have a son to raise. And Sheldon's sister Francine lives nearby in Miami.  But Sheldon and Francine's family are the Dellarosas, some of Miami's most dangerous criminals.  Told from Ian's and Phoebe's points of view, they are each totally different from the other.  Ian has lived his life protecting Aaron, and keeping him and Sheldon and baby Rory safe continues to be his primary task, whatever happens to himself is of no account.  Phoebe is a smart and savvy attorney, which is really all we learn about her, except she can think fast in a volatile situation and can shoot a gun with the best of them.

Secondary characters unfortunately fill up the pages and leave one constantly trying to remember who they are.  There's Martell, not CIA or FBI, not sure whom he works for, and Deb and Joe Hirabayashi (Yashi) who are FBI and loosely connected with Jules Cassidy from the Troubleshooters.  Francine and Sheldon are outcasts from the Dellarosa family, Sheldon because of his lifestyle and Francine from helping them.  Manny and Davio Dellarosa are brothers, and Manny is the head of their group.  They have kept Ian in their sights all the time he was in jail and have no intention of letting him live after getting out.  And then there's Berto Dellarosa, Sheldon's half brother, who once had a teenage relationship with Francine that haunts her to this day.

DO OR DIE is the start of Suzanne Brockman's new Reluctant Heroes series.  While her writing is just as superb as always, bringing all these characters in one story was kind of overwhelming.  Usually there're two or three love stories going on in her books, and while there's just Ian and Phoebe's and Aaron and Sheldon's here, the many other characters awaiting their story sort of overwhelms you. And the primary reason for the story, the kidnapping of two children held in an embassy, is treated almost as an afterthought at the end of the book.  I am sure subsequent stories will divide the couples and give each one the story they deserve.  Welcome back, Ms. Brockmann, to the stories you do best!

Carolyn Crisher