THE HERO - Donna Grant
Sons of Texas
, Book 1
St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN-13:  978-1-250-08339-5
December 2016
Romantic Suspense

Dallas, Texas Present Day

When Owen Loughman was picked up by a helicopter in the middle of his SEAL mission in Afghanistan, he knew something bad had happened.  When the helicopter lands close to the ranch where he grew up in Texas, he still doesn't know what happened; the men on the helicopter don't answer any questions.  Black helicopter probably equals CIA.  When he enters the family ranch house he finds blood all over the place and knows immediately his Aunt and Uncle were the victims, the relatives who helped raise him and his two brothers after their mother was murdered.  Just minutes later he hears another helicopter, and his oldest brother Wyatt, now Delta Force, enters the house.  Soon another helicopter lands and youngest brother Cullen, a Marine, arrives.  They were all taken off their missions, and now they know why.  The CIA wants them to find out what happened, and obviously it is top secret.  Just a little while later Natalie Dixon arrives from Dallas.  Natalie was a friend of the family, and fell in love with Owen years ago, until right after high school graduation he left without a word.  Several weeks ago, the boy's father, Orrin Loughman asked her to lunch and asked her if she'd ever heard of Ragnarok.  Orrin knows Natalie works for the Russian Embassy and asked her to keep a lookout for it.  When Natalie sees a report on it she tells Orrin, but soon her bosses learn she saw protected information, and things have not been good with people watching her all the time.

Natalie arrives, and immediately gets attacked by Owen until he recognizes her and wonders why she is there.  Callie Reed shows up and tells the men that their father, Orrin, has been the head of a black ops group, after military rules became too cumbersome.  Callie was another family friend and Orrin's computer expert.  They had a hidden office in one of the out buildings underground, and tells them Orrin has been kidnapped.  Year ago, Wyatt and Owen came home from school to find their mother murdered in her bedroom.  They didn't let little brother Cullen see what happened, but that one circumstance led to a rift between the boys and their father, and they all left home as soon as they could for the military, and they never went home again and seldom even contacted each other.  Callie says Orrin and his group were hired to go to Russia and bring home a bioweapon that could wipe out millions, but no one knows what it consists of.  Callie is feisty, and there has been something between her and Wyatt for years.  The murder affected Wyatt the most of all the brothers, he's quiet, never dated, and always seems determined and never has any emotion for anyone.  The boys always knew the murder of their mother had something to do with their father's work.

Cullen goes to Dover Air Force base to investigate the murder of Orrin's entire crew, and what happened to Orrin, and who could have taken him.  Owen and Wyatt are left behind to try to find out what Ragnarok is and also find out who could have kidnapped Orrin.  Natalie, Owen and Wyatt assume it has something to do with the Russians, and they hear murmurings about something called the Saints.

Secondary characters include Callie, important aide to Orrin and perhaps in love with the unlovable Wyatt.  We do meet Orrin and Major General Yuri Markovic, once an equal with him who has gone back to the Russian side.  He is trying any kind of torture on Orrin, but Orrin is secure in the fact he mailed the vial of the bioweapon to his ranch in Texas, and no matter how much they hit him and how many bones are broken, he is safe in the skills of his sons.

THE HERO is the first book in the SONS OF TEXAS series, and I also reviewed the second book in the series, THE PROTECTOR which is Cullen's story.  There is plenty of tension and close calls, but inevitably the brothers are getting closer to Orrin and his captors.  Wyatt's story will be THE LEGEND (July 2017).  I will be anxiously waiting to find out all the questions left unanswered.  Owen left Natalia without word all those years ago; is this something she can forgive and perhaps understand?  Can they dig into the secrets of this bioweapon while keeping it safe?  THE HERO is the start of an exciting series of seriously strong and macho military brothers.

Carolyn Crisher