While I greatly enjoyed the first book in Lisa Marie Rice’s Ghost Ops series, Heart of Danger, I have to confess that I Dream of Danger blew me away.
Considering I have read literally every book Lisa Marie Rice has written (Don’t believe me? Search my Goodreads account under her name.), it’s heartening to see her take what she does so well – protective, former military alpha males and the soft, feminine women who bring them to their knees in a climate of suspense and danger – and add a slight paranormal element to the plot. With some writers this could be disastrous, but I see her growing in her writing with this series, and I already thought she was pretty terrific!
Set about a decade in our future, the series focuses on a group of betrayed and disgraced special forces operatives who have created a technological refuge in an abandoned cavern in California and turned it into the “Haven”. They’ve since been joined by other people needing to escape from danger, and a thriving community with all the comforts now exists to nurture its inhabitants.
All of it is carefully watched over by three main figures, Mac (the hero of the first book in the series and now joined by his scientist wife, Catherine), taciturn Nick, and surfer playboy Jon. The beginning of I Dream of Danger is taken up with a little backstory between our hero and heroine. Nick comes (as do all of Rice’s heroes) from a crap background filled with foster homes and abuse. Found feverish and broken in her backyard, Elle was a mere child when the older Nick came to live with her and her father. A judge in the community, Elle’s father had himself appointed Nick’s guardian and ensured he got a fine education through high school. But after seeing Nick react physically to the now startling beauty of Elle, he gave Nick a boatload of cash and shipped him off, without a word to Elle.
Four years later and Elle is nineteen and standing alone at her father’s grave. She’s not gone to college as her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s soon after Nick’s dark-of-night departure. He’s returned, sensing she needed him, only to discover that his lovely childhood friend has become a striking young woman, one now living in abject poverty having sold most of her possessions and sacrificed the last few years of her life being her father’s full-time caregiver. Elle doesn’t tell Nick that she knows exactly how he’s been doing – she has had the gift of Dreaming (with a capital D) and has literally been present on his missions and in his training (oh, and watching him have sex with LOTS of women, although that part has always been painful for her). One thing leads to another and they end up in bed where he takes her virginity.
Her only complaint is waking up alone. Unbeknownst to her, Nick has received a call in the middle of the night from his special forces leader that they have a mission. He left her a note (one that fluttered to the floor, natch) so Elle thinks he’s abandoned her without a word – again. The second time around and the day after her father’s funeral is a bit much, even with the delivery of groceries and Nick having paid for her Dad’s funeral. She grabs her dead mother’s identity information and heads to California, changing her name and never looking back.
Ten years later and Nick is the morose operative the Ghost Ops community has come to depend on. He’s looked for Elle for years, despairing of ever finding her, when he literally hears her call out to him. All he knows is that she’s in danger and the cool former Ranger completely loses it at the thought that he might find her only to identify a dead body if he can’t figure out her location quickly. With the help of his team, they use the psychic link between Nick and Elle along with their abundance of technology to trace her location and get her to Haven.
Elle’s ability to astrally project has actually been her life’s work. She’s managed to create a life for herself and used her previously untapped intelligence to get a Ph.D. at Stanford. She and Mac’s researcher wife Catherine have an immediate connection, both in friendship and in professional interests, but Elle doesn’t feel like opening herself up to Nick again. He knows that he’s never letting her go, but how can he convince Elle that he’s never going to leave her again, particularly with all the subversive government and corporate forces conspired against them?
Nick and Elle’s story is a great one and I actually enjoyed all the backstory since it contributed so well to understanding their current predicament. I think any reader would benefit from reading Heart of Danger prior to I Dream of Danger, simply to satisfy the need to understand the villains at work. Both Elle and Nick are compelling, sympathetic characters and it was wonderful to see the smaller subplot of the team’s former Captain (now scarred and healing) find some happiness. If there was one piece that stuck in my craw, it was the fact that Elle hadn’t been with anyone else since Nick’s second abandonment (seriously, could he have left a better note? Or a second one in the kitchen maybe?), yet Nick clearly had been with other women. Yuck. That’s not the way to convince me that these two are meant for each other, no matter how emotionally stunted he might have been. Hot alpha males can be celibate, too. Really.
The excellent ending, one in which the team tries to save Elle’s fellow researchers – men and women who are also gifted with special abilities – was a page-turner and it’s clearly a fabulous set up for the next book in the series which will focus on playboy Jon and Elle’s friend, Sophie. With both major villains now dead, I’m particularly interested in what evil will arise to persecute and pursue this group trying to do good in the world. Sadly, Lisa Marie Rice doesn’t have an ETA on the publication date of the next book, or even a teaser at the end of this one. Given that the first book came out in November 2013 and this one in July 2013, I’m guessing a February or March 2014 date is likely.