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Summary

"Proving Ground is an intriguing story filled with tension. A strong debut." - New York Times best-selling author Laura Griffin

Screw-ups don’t get second chances. That’s what Caitlin Malone believes when she returns to Oregon after failing her first Northstar Security assignment. When she inadvertently stumbles across a plot to steal deadly pathogens from the bio-lab near her hometown, she sees a chance at redemption.

USDA Forest Ranger John ‘Mac’ MacAlistair doesn’t want to babysit the motorcycle club holding their annual rally in his national forest. To make matters worse, Caitlin is attending the rally with Mac’s estranged uncle. Having her home again brings up feelings that are better left buried.

It’s early September. Any spark will send the dry timber into a raging fire. The terrorists are counting on that distraction to work in their favor. When Caitlin is trapped by the wildfire, her only hope of rescue is pinned on Mac, the man she's tried two years to forget. Before they can share their feelings, Mac and Caitlin must first escape the burning forest and stop the terrorists from releasing the deadly pathogens.

©2015 Stanalei Fletcher (P)2018 Stanalei Fletcher

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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A strong start to suspense-filled series!

I enjoy suspense-filled stories with strong female characters who are simultaneously bad-assed and vulnerable. This story did not disappoint. Caitlin is wonderfully beautiful, flawed, strong and vulnerable. She has to return home after a botched job with Northstar Security. She has to face her estranged father, who is unwell and in the hospital. She has to also address her history with Mac, the love of her life and the man who rejected her after one night of passion.

There is a lot going on in this book. There are the repercussions of her failed job, her challenged relationships but also Caroline's own personal insecurities. Mac also has his own demons to address. Throw in a biker rally, a raging forest fire, the potential threat of a bio-terrorist and so much more. The result is a detailed, fast-paced plot and a strong start to this series.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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Profile Image for mandy
  • mandy
  • 18-04-18

Good!

I really enjoyed this fast-paced romantic suspense. A great start to a new series and I can't wait to listen to book 2.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. The fact that I was gifted this book had no influence over my opinion of it.

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Profile Image for Layla
  • Layla
  • 12-03-18

Proving Ground

This is usually not the type of book I would listen/read but I found that it was not bad once I got into the story.
The main character did annoy me at times with the decision she made but other then that it was not a bad read.

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Profile Image for Heather North
  • Heather North
  • 10-03-18

Action packed

Loved this fast paced listen. Lots of action that kept me hooked from start to finish and just a touch of romance made it hard to take my headphones off! Loved the narrator, he did an amazing job of bringing the characters and story to life. I received a free review copy of this audiobook at my request and I have voluntarily left this review.

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Profile Image for Erryn Barratt
  • Erryn Barratt
  • 05-03-18

Promising first book in a series

Several of my friends have been encouraging me to read Stanalei Fletcher’s Northstar Security Services books. I have them all, but I rarely have time to sit and read, so they were sitting quietly on my e-reader, patiently waiting. When I saw the first book was on audio? I pounced.

I want to address the narration first because it was problematic for me. Now, I understand that often authors have little or no control on who they are able to secure as a narrator. Given that the character of Caitlin Malone was clearly the main character, I was expecting a female narrator. Now, Sandra Brown uses male narrators for her thrillers, so I have heard this done. And Charles Henderson Norman was perfectly competent. He mispronounced a few words, but that’s me being picky. Certainly the errors didn’t pull me too far out of the story. Putting his work in context, I believe he did a good job. I certainly won’t hesitate to listen to another book narrated by him.

I love the romantic suspense subgenre of romance and this book was a good example of what can make a book enjoyable. I love kick-ass heroines and Caitlin is just such a woman. Occasionally she does questionable things, but she admits her mistakes and owns up to them, accepting the consequences. Winding up back in her hometown, on her father’s doorstep, is not her idea of fun. It is the true punishment it is meant to be.

But going home is never simple. She almost immediately runs into John “Mac” MacAlistair, the man she once gave her heart and body to. It turns out he’s been staying with her father and wants her to reunite with her estranged father. And Caitlin wants Mac to give Jack a chance for redemption. Mac blames his Uncle Jack for the death of Mac’s parents and hasn’t spoken to the man since.

Against this backdrop, there is a massive forest fire, a lethal virus, a terrorist, and a loving husband whose wife is dying. The synopsis of the book gives the reader a good idea of all the elements of the book, but the twists and turns are what draw the reader in. There are frequent point of view changes, and although they are clearly delineated, the listener has to pay attention. I liked that I got different people’s perspectives on this situation. Often in romance you only get the hero and heroine’s points of view. This book, as a suspense, benefits from showing diverse characters’ inner motivations and conflicts.

I enjoyed the book. Charles Henderson Norman’s Irish brogue was great and the story carried me through. Did I find all Caitlin’s actions realistic? Not necessarily, but that’s the great thing about fiction. I can’t wait to listen to the next book!

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Profile Image for Darcy
  • Darcy
  • 19-02-18

Thriller w a bit of paranormal

Caitlin is an operative at Northstar Security. When an Op goes bad, due to her inexperience, she is suspended and sent home...her childhood home. ‘Mac’ is a forest ranger, and childhood friend of Cait He has become like a son to Cait’s dad during her 2yr hiatus from her hometown. When Cait’s father is taken to the hospital, Mac returns to his house to collect some items only to be met by a gun wielding Caitlin. Mac takes Cait to visit her dad...where they fight and Caitlin storms out. The next day, Mac’s estranged uncle, Jack, is taking his MC club camping in the national park and invites Cait. While out hiking, Cait stumbles upon a sinister plot and is left for dead. The perps start a forest fire as a diversion to their true objective and Cait is fighting to survive...here comes Mac to the rescue! We discover that Mac and Cait had a one-night stand and he left right after so she left town, and took the Northstar job. Once Mac finds Cait on the mountain, they work together to evade the raging fire and get to the helo pickup point. Once they are rescued, Cait starts piecing the puzzle of her would-be killers and realizes that one is the terrorist who shot her partner. Mac and Cait race to help get the bad guys. Will they make it in time? Will Cait redeem herself? Will Cait and her dad ever reconcile? Will Cait & Mac become more than friends? No further spoilers...just know that there is a sweet HEA.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Profile Image for jean doe
  • jean doe
  • 18-02-18

Rekindled..


This story centers around the female lead, Cait, and the male lead, John Mac.

They have a two year history that they try to put on the back burner even though their feelings are steadily simmering.

The two leads are perfect for each other.

Overall, this was a fast paced likeable read.

Charles Henderson Norman did well with the narration.

Note:
"This audio book was provided by the author at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review."

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Profile Image for Jan M
  • Jan M
  • 11-02-18

Romance and Suspense!

I love both the genres of romance and suspense, so this book really appealed to me. I enjoy listening to new authors and narrators, and was not disappointed. The storyline moved along well and had great imagery. Current issues regarding terrorism and forest fires are part of the focus in this book, along with a second chance at love. I loved how the author wove the three elements together. I requested this review copy audiobook and have voluntarily written this review. I will definitely listen or read the next books in this series.

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Profile Image for RUTH C. SEARLES
  • RUTH C. SEARLES
  • 11-02-18

Ok Story!!!

This book got off to a slow start. I couldn't connect with the characters. I didn't feel the chemistry between Mac and Caitlin. Caitlin didn't make the best decisions when it came to her job or safety.

This audiobook was provided to me by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchanged for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast.

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Profile Image for Kandice C.
  • Kandice C.
  • 06-02-18

Enjoyable

I really enjoyed listening to Proving Ground. This book has just the right amount of mystery, suspense and romance. I feel like the narrator did a wonderful job of reading this book.

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Profile Image for Jessica Butler-Squires
  • Jessica Butler-Squires
  • 05-02-18

Lots of action, suspense and romance!

This was a pretty quick read for me but alot of action packed into those hours! Alot happens and it keeps you on the edge wondering what will happen next.
Caitlin Malone fails her first big job with Northstar Security and is sent home by her boss where she finds her father in the hospital and the man she loved and had fled from years before still a big presence in her hometown.
Mac grew up with Caitlin and loved her like a sister, or so he wants to. He is fighting the feelings he has for her and her coming home is making matters worse. There is a terrorist mixed in with a bunch of bikers meeting on the mountain of their hometown. The same mountain a Bio-lab is on with deadly pathogens. Its late in the year so the forest is dry and any spark could set the whole forest ablaze. And it does. In a really big way. Caitlin is hurt and trapped by the fire but she is a fighter and wont give up. All her hopes of surviving are relying on what Mac taught her about the forest years ago while waiting on him to show up and rescue her.
When he finally helps her they must escape the inferno themselves. I love how Caitlin is one tough woman and doesn't complain about her rather serious injuries or really mentions some of them until they are safe. I love the story line of this and how quickly paced everything is. There is lots of action, suspense, mystery and romance. Greatly balanced and a great read!

I requested and was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review with my honest opinion.