Combatting Fear is my introduction to the work of Sandy Vaille and I have to say it was not a bad experience.
Neve Botticelli is not your typical kindergarten teacher. A childhood tragedy led to her living with her father a Vietnam veteran who suffered from PTSD. One symptom was paranoia, which led to him training and conditioning her for a battle that most likely will never materialise.
Micah Kincaid, a self-made billionaire, search for his son brought him to Turner’s Gully. His estranged wife had taken their son away from him. His only concern was finding his son hoping to reunite his family. He never counted on having his efforts blocked by a diminutive, feisty and strong-willed kindergarten teacher.
Combatting Fear is a romantic suspense (Heavy on the suspense, light on the romance) that plunges readers into a world of custody woes, motorcycle gangs and kidnapping. This was a suspenseful story that pulled me in from the first page and which I found difficult to put down.
I loved how the story developed for the most part. It started out with Micah finding his son’s location, followed by him meeting Neve, her mistrust of him and refusal to assist him, their getting to know each other and finally, we see them working together to achieve a common goal. What I enjoyed most was the flow of the story. The way the author tied all the events together, to create a nail-biting read.
The romance took a back seat, which did not bother me given the circumstances. Micah was still married even though his wife had abandoned him for a little over a year. Despite the circumstances, he was still hoping for a reconciliation, because he is a man who believes in keeping his family together, as such, he was shocked at his initial reaction to Neve. Eventually, as they got to know each other, they embraced their feelings for each other but they did not act on them, except for the sharing of a fleeting kiss. This was after Micah finally admitted to himself that although he cared for his wife, he was not in love with her. They did eventually get their HEA, but not without going through some difficult moments.
The characters were likeable. I admired Micah for his determination and devotion. I know readers may have a problem with the fact that being a billionaire he would have the available resources to hire a skilled team to rescue his son, instead of taking on the task himself. In some respects, I agree, but I understood why he chose to do it himself. It may not have been a wise move, but I guess he never stopped to think of the consequences as his only focus was securing his rescue. Micah grew up without the love of a father and this was not something he wanted for his son. He was determined to move heaven and earth to ensure that his son knew that he had not abandoned him. His desperation, however, clouded his judgement and he ended up taking serious and careless risks at times.
Neve’s description in the blurb indicated that she was a trained warrior with extreme survival skills" who also happens to be a kindergarten teacher, but this was not the case. Her actions belied the description in the blurb. The kick ass heroine did not materialise. Thankfully, this did not affect build up of the suspense. Where she fell down in the area of fighting she more than made up for in her determination, feistiness and selflessness. I appreciated the bond she had with her father.
The thing that annoyed me was how they allowed their mistrust of each other to get in the way of the mission. She was quick to rush to judgement regarding his monetary status. She believed rich people were snobs and felt they behaved as if they were entitled and far as she was concerned Micah was no different. He believed she was deliberately trying to prevent him from carrying out his mission. Their refusal to trust each other proved an impediment at times.
Another thing I had an issue with was the introduction of a subplot, which the author failed to develop. This was in regards the motorcycle gang and their criminal activities. They were responsible for the theft of motor cars in the area, but the author did not follow through on this thread. In addition, there was a scene, where one of the gang members and a police officer were having an intense conversation. However, I was not privy to the details of the conversation. It added no value to the story.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. It was not perfect, but it was enough to keep me entertained.