Master Chief Rusty Kuzinsky has thrown his heart and his savings into preparing a warrior's retreat. Never Forget is a special place for SEALs to find solace and to heal after grueling operations like those he endured his entire career. Just as his first guests are due to arrive, a military war dog suffering from PTSD lands in Rusty's lap, requiring attention he simply can't spare.
NCIS Special Agent Maya Schultz has her hands full raising a teenage son while investigating crimes taking place within the military. When Rusty offers her son a summer job caring for his new dog, practical Maya can't tell what's more dangerous - the crazy dog or her attraction to a man who witnessed her husband's death 10 years ago...and claims to see him, still. But when danger threatens Maya's remaining family, Rusty's special gift and his unhinged dog become her only defense against a suspect who'll do anything to avoid going to prison. With time running out and life or death at stake, Maya has to choose whether to follow her head as she has always done or to trust her heart this time.
©2016 Marliss Melton (P)2017 Marliss Melton
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This is the first book by Marliss Melton that I have read or listened to and I was very impressed. I am rather picky about military-themed contemporary romances, but this one had everything that I could ask for: romance, lovable characters, and some suspense. Although this is Book 5 in the Echo Platoon series, this book can be read out of order just fine.
The author has some great vocabulary skills. Marliss Melton has a knack for using interesting words that convey the meaning well.
The male narrator's voice was gorgeous: warm, velvety tones with excellent enunciation and pacing. Armen Taylor was quite good at portraying both male and female voices. He could even convincingly sound like a whiney teenager.
I really liked all of the characters. Rusty, a newly retired Navy SEAL, is a very good guy, very respectful, no temper, organized, and is adorably focused on his new charity. He just started a retreat for Navy SEALs to decompress after coming back from war. Rusty even likes to cook and decorate his farm house. That is so sexy. Rusty has the most wonderful personality! He is a dream guy and a perfect book boyfriend, in my opinion. I really like how both primary characters are around 40-years-old. Rusty has had some hard times with friends and family dying in the past, but he is doing well. Maya's husband had been a Navy SEAL and who died 10 years ago. She has been raising her 14-year-old son Curtis alone. Rusty catches her eye and she begins to think she can give dating a try for the first time since she was married. Maya's son Curtis slightly annoyed me at first, but I quickly warmed up to him when he acquired a work ethic and and developed more respect for his elders. The chapters from his third person point of view showed that Curtis had a good heart. Drako, a retired Navy SEAL dog that Rusty adopted, has some PTSD, so there are some touchy times with him, but I love him. Drako was a good dog at heart and he really shows that.
I like that there was not too much gritty realistic modern-day danger. I am NOT a fan of the serious TV crime dramas, and I do not like contemporary romance novels with many pages devoted to evil modern criminals, drug smuggling, kidnapping, etc. Thankfully, this novella kept that kind of thing to a minimum. Even though Maya is a JAG military investigator, not much is mentioned of her daily work activities. The slow, careful romance with Rusty takes center stage, along with her son's growing bond with the dog Drako. There are some shady characters who are up to no good and pose a danger for Maya and Curtis, which leads to some action/thriller scenes. I was quite pleased with the quality of the suspense scenes in the last third of the book.
This audiobook is really satisfying overall. I think it was a perfect length, and I like the third person past perspective that alternates among Rusty, Maya, Curtis, and one minor character. There was one lightly steamy love scene. I like how Maya and Rusty's romance developed slowly so that the payoff and their happy ever after was even sweeter.
The author gave me a free copy of the audiobook, and I voluntarily wrote this honest review.
I loved the story line it was different than anything I've read. I loved the idea of a retreat for soldiers returning from war
Drago and Curtis
She did a great job of bringing the charaters to life
Dogs are really mans best friend
I was gifted this by the author for an honest review and I can honestly say I am now in love with this story. I loved it so much I plan on getting more of this series once I have more credits in my account. I love miltary romances and I am a huge animal lover so this was a win win for me
Never Forget is part of the Echo Platoon series and is another great listen by Marliss Melton. The story centers around Rusty, retired from the military, and Maya, a widowed mom of a teenage boy named Curtis. I really enjoyed watching the relationship develop between all three characters including a retired military dog named Draco. This military romance has everything you need to make a great book-strong, relatable characters, sexy military guy, hero dog, conflict/danger to overcome, and a happy ending. While this book is part of a series, the author does a great job giving background information so that it can be read as a stand-alone book without the feeling you are missing something. If you haven’t read anything by Marliss Melton, you don’t know what you are missing. Pick up this book for a fun, quick read! You won’t regret it.
The narrator does a great job and I would listen to him again!
Reviewer for Delighted Reader Blog
Ever just need a character(s) to have his or her story told? That's how I was when I listened to the scene in Hard Landing when Rusty and Maya meet. There were sparks, but she shut it all down to a smolder when she held Rusty responsible for her late husband's death. I was more than thrilled when this long novella was released following up on Rusty and Maya's story.
Never Forget is part of the Echo Platoon series and there is a gentle connection with an earlier story, but it also makes a decent standalone or intro the author and series.
Rusty Kuzinsky is retired from the SEALs and now is pursuing his plans full-throttle for a warrior retreat where SEALs can come and get some down time to adjust after coming off their missions. He's always been a protector and caregiver to his men and this is another way he can take care of them. Busily readying for his first group of SEAL guests, his life is complicated by the arrival of a retired military dog he agreed to take if the dog's handler didn't make it and also he bumps into captivating Maya Schultz at the home store. Her difficulties with her teenage son tug at him and he offers to take on Curtis for the summer to help with the dog, Draco.
Maya has spent years pushing away emotions and holding to her grief and loss. Her job at NCIS keeps her occupied as does the care of her son, but now that he is getting older and showing frustration, anger, hanging with bad kids and some rebellion, she fears that she is enough. Once again, she wishes she could turn to her dead husband. She resents that Rusty Kuzinsky came back alive and lived on to retire when her husband and a father is gone. Her head knows that Rusty isn't to blame, but she's scared that if she lets go of the bitter resentment then other emotions will pore in. Only now that Rusty is helping with Curtis, she is forced to loosen her grip on the past and on her heart maybe even dream a little about an older warrior like Rusty.
I enjoyed seeing an Autumn romance between a retired SEAL and a widow, the antics of a struggling boy and an old war dog, and yes, it didn't miss a dash of suspense to liven it up.
The pacing and development were just right for this type of story that couldn't be rushed. It flipped back and forth between Rusty and Maya's point of view with a few moments of Curtis and others taking a narrative lead.
Rusty is ready to take the plunge into the new segment of his life that allows him to take a chance on love, but the lady he chooses needs more patience and perception on his part than leading a group of baby SEALs. I really enjoyed Rusty because even if it is a hard thing, he does the right thing. Maya really struggled and it was hard to see and she kept one hand on the hand brake the whole time with Rusty, but I loved how his steadfastness really worked on her and she finally gave him a chance.
This isn't a full-blown novel so the suspense is there and definitely a danger, but not really complex. It stayed to the background until it finally made things exciting there in the end.
Armen Taylor is not new to me as a narrator since I've listened to all the stories of the Echo Platoon series he has narrated. He's a great match for the tone and writing of these books and I have no trouble sinking into the story as he narrates it.
All in all, this book was utterly satisfying and lived up to my expectation for Rusty and Maya's story. I can easily recommend it to those who enjoy slight spicy military romantic suspense.
I have read several of Marliss Melton's books but had never listened to one so thought this would a good chance to see how I much I would enjoy listening versus reading, and this was a very enjoyable listen. I thought the narrator did a good job distinguishing the different voices. I liked that the story read well so that I had a "movie in my mind" while listening. Some narrators just read a book and others give it emotion and nuance. This book felt that way to me. I can highly recommend if you like military romance books. Ms. Melton always does a good job with her military heros making them very believable and her Echo series has been a fun series to follow.
I know that most people have read a variation of wounded hero and dog or single mom and kid... I know that I have. This isn't like any of those things. The wounded hero IS the dog and Mom is dealing with a teenager on the cusp.
I usually read Marliss Melton for her ability to write a great romance while dealing with things like terrorists, jungle rescues and the like. This book to a left instead of a right but I found that I really enjoyed the slower pace and the moments between the dog and the kid.
My issue is with the Narrator. While he did a fair job with the male and female's voices I hated the way he read Curtis (the Teen). The poor kid sounds like he is constantly on the verge of tears.
So all in all I think it is a worthy book to read and I am sure that you'd enjoy it!
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