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True Heroes #2

Ultimate Courage

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Retired Navy SEAL Alex Rojas is putting his life back together, one piece at a time. Being a single dad to his young daughter and working at Hope's Crossing Kennels to help rehab a former guard dog, he struggles every day to control his PTSD. But when Elisa Hall shows up, on the run and way too cautious, she unleashes his every protective instinct.

Elisa's past never stays in her rearview mirror for long, and she refuses to put anyone else in danger. But with Alex guarding her so fiercely yet looking at her so tenderly, she's never felt safer . . . or more terrified that the secrets she keeps could put countless people in grave peril. The only way for both to fully escape their demons will take the ultimate act of courage: letting go and learning to trust each other.

304 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published July 26, 2016

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About the author

Piper J. Drake

30 books555 followers
Piper J. Drake is a bestselling author of romantic suspense and edgy contemporary romance, a frequent flyer, and day job road warrior. She is often distracted by dogs, cupcakes, and random shenanigans.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 180 reviews
Profile Image for Claire.
2,307 reviews703 followers
July 26, 2016
3.5 - "This is a place made for second chances." Stars!

Ultimate Courage is the second book in Piper J. Drakes', True Heroes series. This is my first read by the author and of this series, so it can absolutely be read as a standalone.

To be honest, the thing that immediately drew me to this one was the cover, the guy looks a lot like Jamie Dornan, the blurb intrigued as well, so I was happy to dip into it with Dornan firmly front and center in my mind’s eye.

This place, these people, there were stories here.

I really enjoyed most of this story, both Elisa and Alex are dealing with some pretty hefty demons, Alex as a single father is trying to function normally on a daily basis well enough to be able to work competently training service dogs at Hopes Crossing Kennels, and raise his ten year old daughter, whilst also dealing with severely debilitating PTSD.

Elisa is essentially on the run from her ex, unwittingly she has turned herself into the key to all he holds important and as such he is not prepared to let her go without a fight. Because they are both struggling with things that most people wouldn’t understand it helps them to feel a sort of affinity to the other, add to it a strong case of instant attraction and it isn’t long before Alex is looking to make more of their association, but he leaves the ball firmly in Elise’s court as to how far, and fast they move forwards..

"This isn’t anything we need to rush… I can stop if you want…"

"No… No, I don’t want you to stop. I just… need to find my way through every step as we go. And this thing between us is new and complicated, and I don’t want it to get twisted up in the process…"

"We can take it slow."

This was extremely easy reading, and I didn’t struggle at all to stay invested in the story-line, Alex, Elise and all of the secondary characters were really great to get to know as the book progressed, you can feel the kinship between them all, and even though not blood related they have built their own family, that supports and understands each other.

But I do have a couple of gripes in that, I feel more depth and scope could have been used in relation to Alex’s issues, I loved the inclusion of Souze the dog in relation to this, and how through the story’s arc he became more than just a dog-in-training, but at points his struggles almost seemed to be an afterthought, or in the latter stages used as a way to bring on the action.

The second thing, and what dropped a full star for me was the last 15%, everything seemed to be thrown into it in a mad rush to get across the finish line, what with throwing in random 'friends' who really weren’t friends, and Alex doing a complete one-eighty against his personality for the previous 85% of the book, it produced a little eye-rolling from me to be honest. I expected action to commence at some point due to the nature of Elisa’s being on the run, but it just all fell a bit flat after all the build-up it received through the rest of the book, and then the ease of its resolution detracted from the initial seriousness of the plot-line.

That-said, I loved all the secondary characters, I am definitely going to go back at some point and read the first book from this series Extreme Honor, and the final book in the trilogy Absolute Trust is also due for release in December of this year, so not too long to wait.

ARC generously provided via Barclay Publicity, in exchange for the above honest review.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
3,227 reviews1,931 followers
July 26, 2016
Wow. That's the only thought that came to my mind after finishing Ultimate Courage. Just wow. I couldn't believe how enthralled I became with this story. From the very first page I was captivated and unable to tear my eyes away from the pages. The way that Piper J. Drake created these characters was brilliant and mind blowing.

Alex is a single father still trying to adjust to civilian life after getting out of the military. When he runs into Elisa in the ER he recognizes her as someone who is also going through a hard times and decides to help her. Both of them have demons, but together they may be able to help the other move away from what's keeping them stuck in the past.

I enjoyed getting to know both Elisa and Alex, and all of the secondary characters that were around too, including Souze, the dog. I really liked seeing how cautious Elisa was at first, but then getting to see how she opened up to the wonderful people around her willing to help in anyway they could. Her and Alex were great with one another and he was so sweet and caring with her that I'm more than a little sad he's not a real man.

Overall, this story was just really fun to sit down and read. The sense of friendship was strong in the book and just another reason I couldn't get enough. I haven't read the first in this series yet, but I definitely plan on going back to read it soon. Though, this can be read as a standalone with no problem.

ARC kindly provided by Forever Romance in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Erth.
3,499 reviews
September 1, 2020
I love romances with strong men partnered with equally strong women. While the heroine, Elisa, may initially appear to be a damsel in distress because she is on the run from her crazy ex-fiance, her strength shines through in terms of her determination to live independently and to not ever give up hope. The pairing with Alex, a sexy former SEAL turned dog trainer who needs Elisa's help just as much as she needs him made for a great read with plenty of emotional depth to keep me hooked the whole time. The story is also peppered with a great supporting cast! My favorites include the hero's daughter, Boom, and his canine companion Souze. If you like your heroes Alpha and your heroines smart, then this is the book for you.
Profile Image for Jessica.
569 reviews777 followers
November 23, 2017
I received this book for free through Goodreads’ First Reads.

I give this book 3.5 stars which rounds up to 4.

This book was good up until the end. The ending was a little far-fetched and unrealistic given how the characters had previously acted. On the positive side, I did love the dog and the connection he had with both Alex and Elisa.

Overall, it was a good romance novel, but not the best.
Profile Image for Susan.
4,329 reviews93 followers
April 23, 2018
Terrific story with a good blend of suspense and romance. Elisa is on the run when she encounters Alex and his daughter, Serena (aka Boom). Desperate for a place to stop and earn some money before her past catches up with her again, Elisa is drawn by the feeling of safety she has when she's with Alex.

I really liked both Alex and Elisa. Alex is a single dad of a ten-year-old daughter. He is putting his life back together after leaving the SEALs, working with the dogs at the kennels and trying to keep his PTSD under control. He can be very intense, but there is also an unexpected core of kindness and sensitivity that comes out around Elisa. He also has some trust issues that have kept him from forming any new romantic relationships. Elisa is a woman who has lost the ability to trust her own judgment after falling in love with a man who wasn't what she thought he was. After losing her sense of self to his emotional and mental abuse, she finally found the courage to escape. But she doesn't seem to be able to run far or fast enough to escape his reach until she encounters Alex and Boom.

The opening scene was a real attention grabber for me. Elisa is in a hospital emergency room waiting to be seen when she overhears Alex getting irate with a staff member. I ached for her and the fear she felt listening to him. That fear turns to confusion and curiosity after she meets Boom and sees Alex's gentleness with his daughter, and has that same gentleness turned on her. I liked the courage it gave her to track down the kennel to return Boom's glove. Her arrival at the kennel was perfect timing, as Alex desperately needed someone who could be their admin assistant, and Elisa needed a job. Right from the start, Alex had an incredible sensitivity to Elisa's fears and had the perfect balance of protectiveness and support.

I loved seeing their relationship develop. Elisa is wary and determined not to depend on anyone but herself. She was burned in the past by the people who should have supported her. I loved watching Alex approach Elisa with the same kind of gentleness he used with some of the dogs, and how she responded with growing trust. That trust helped her open up to Alex and the others about her trouble. I loved how Alex's support of Elisa gave her the confidence to insist on being part of whatever the men found out about her ex. It wasn't all about Elisa either. Alex has had his own issues, thanks to his memories of the war, problems that put him on edge and make it hard to be around other people. There is something about Elisa that helps to ground Alex in the present, and helps to calm him down. There is also an intense attraction that simmered under the surface as they got to know each other, and I enjoyed seeing them give in to it as their trust in each other grew. Unfortunately, Alex made a boneheaded move when something happened that triggered one of his deepest fears. It very nearly had tragic consequences before he realized the truth.

The suspense of the story was very good. The bad guy is known from the beginning, with the suspense being the anticipation of seeing him foiled. The intensity grows with each revelation or encounter, until the final confrontation. I loved the unquestioning support from the whole Hope's Crossing team as each of them uses their skills to keep Elisa safe. My heart was pounding as Elisa faced down her ex and her new-found confidence gave her the strength she needed. There was an interesting twist at the end that linked this book with the first one. I can't wait to read the next one and see if it is also linked.

I loved the secondary characters. Alex's partners are wonderful with their support of him both personally and professionally. I also enjoyed their teasing as Elisa I adored Greg and Gary and how they watched out for Elisa. But my two favorites were Boom and Souze. Boom was a terrific kid. I loved the relationship she had with Alex, from her negotiating abilities to her own way of watching out for him. I loved watching her bond with Elisa, and the science project scene was great. The dog Souze was fantastic. His immediate connection with Elisa was cool and I enjoyed seeing how protective he was of her. I ached for him a bit as his training with Alex didn't always go as well as Alex wanted. I also loved the relationship between Souze and Alex, especially when it came to Alex's PTSD. There was a heartwarming scene as Souze pulled Alex out of an episode that probably wouldn't have ended well. It was great to see Souze finally find his new place in the world.
Profile Image for Elaine.
3,355 reviews103 followers
July 6, 2016
This is one of the best, if not the best, romantic suspense series currently being published IMHO. It is one of those books that has me turning the pages, totally enthralled, wondering what will happen next, loving the entire story and then being so disappointed because I want the next book in the series NOW!! I felt exactly the same after finishing the first book in the series, Extreme Honor, so when I was offered the opportunity to read and review the sequel and was so pleased, I couldn't wait to read it. I certainly wasn't disappointed, either, it is another superb read that I didn't want life to get in the way of reading it.

Alex Rojas is the single parent of Serena, aka 'Boom', he's also an ex-Navy SEAL, a dog-handler and powerful looking, handsome man. When Elisa Hall first sees him in A&E he's loud, demanding and she finds him intimidating, but then she sees how he's just trying to get treatment for his daughter, who he obviously loves and she has to reevaluate her initial assessment of him. Elisa is on the run, desperate to escape her ex-fiancè, looking over her shoulder both figuratively and in reality, always ready to run. When she's offered a job at the Hope's Crossing Kennels, she agrees to stay, one day at a time. As she gets to know and trust the dog trainers and their dogs, especially Souze, a German Shepherd Dog (or GSD), she and Alex get to know each other. Alex is, by nature, a protector and Elisa brings out all his protective instincts. Can she learn to trust him to look after her without controlling her? Can he convince her to stay and let him and his friends protect her?

A fast paced, action packed romantic suspense story that has all the elements to make it a brilliant 5* read, this has to be one of my favourite books in this genre from 2016 so far. The author's writing style takes the reader through all the angst, turmoil, danger and suspense, making this a roller coaster ride where you're not certain what may await you on the next page. The characters are well developed, complex, with many issues impacting on their attitudes, behaviour and interactions - and Souze just has to be one of my favourite characters in this story!

I have no hesitation in highly recommending this to anyone looking for a brilliant romantic suspense story to escape into - this is the epitome of the genre IMHO.

Many thanks to the author, publishers and Barclay Publicity for enabling me to read an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Sunny.
1,426 reviews
July 21, 2016
ARC Review, 3.5 stars
Originally posted at Scandalicious Book Reviews

I have a little obsession with romantic suspense books featuring dogs. If done right, they add a special element of compassion and companionship. Piper Drake does it right. She balances the suspenseful story with the relationship between her two lead characters and Souze, the German Shepherd dog in training.

Elisa Hall is on the run. Having been emotionally and mentally abused by her controlling husband, she is lucky to escape him. She finds herself at Hope’s Crossing, a premier facility dedicated to training and rehabilitating dogs. The author does a wonderful job getting us into the mind of a woman who is emotionally abused - afraid of hoping, afraid of experiencing too much good. In her mind, good = comfort = complacency. She maintains a tightly controlled facade and is terrified that she will not be able to recognize truth and will be duped again. For Elisa, the cycle of abuse begins with favors and unspoken expectations. Her husband is a master manipulator, getting her to feel obligated to him. He tries to trap her in that cycle of abuse.

Alex Rojas is a co-owner of Hope’s Crossing. He is a returning veteran suffering from PTSD. His takes the form of hyper-vigilance. Because of his job of a scout and front line soldier, he is used to being on high alert. After a time, that vigilance is difficult to turn off. When he arrives back home, he has to fight for his right to keep custody of his daughter. He is a dedicated family man. However, he is closed in and determined to try to either deny or face his PTSD alone. Souze, the German Shepherd dog is a faithful friend and companion. He has the instincts to help Alex when he slips into one of his episodes.

Although I am a little skeptical at the initial part of the relationship, I think there is ultimately, great chemistry between Alex and Elisa. Both are very wary and attentive to little details that might be potential threats. I like that Elisa is smart, talented and a fast learner. Alex is at a point in his life in which he is ready for someone like Elisa, who has so much to give. His biggest obstacle is overcoming her wariness of strangers. It is because both are so cautious that I have reservations about the start of the relationship. I think that for someone like Elisa, who is wearing her defensiveness on her sleeve, it would take a lot of convincing to trust another man into her bed. I’m not quite sure if Alex, at that time, has proven himself enough for Elisa to actually be that vulnerable in front of him. I believe that later, over time, he proves himself, but at that stage in the book, it’s less plausible to me.

Nonetheless, this is an appealing romantic suspense with a strong storyline and really likable main and ancillary characters. With a strong foundation for the series, Piper Drake creates a fun and interesting romantic adventure featuring heroic and lovable dogs.

Profile Image for Catherine (The Sassy Bookster).
707 reviews59 followers
July 25, 2016
The cover of this book caught my eye and I'm glad to say that it was worth every minute I spent reading it. ULTIMATE COURAGE is a very sweet, heartwarming and engaging story of strength and overcoming obstacles, with very enjoyable characters whose personal struggles and the development of their relationship as well as the suspense completely drew me in. While the first book in the series was an okay read for me, this book had me very excited and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

Elisa Hall has been on the run from her abusive ex for quite some time but with the resources at his disposal it's like fighting a losing battle, until a chance meeting brings her to a place where she finds a sense of belonging, support, and protection that have eluded her for so long.

Alex Rojas is struggling to put his life back together but dealing with his PTSD is a daily struggle and his daughter and his job at Hope's Crossing Kernels leaves him with little room in his life for anyone or anything else, but he can't resist anyone in need and from the first glance at Elisa, he knows that he'll doing anything to make her feel safe.

From the very first meeting the attraction between Alex and Elisa was very obvious, but I loved that there was no rush to take things to the next level. Between Alex's PTSD and Elisa's trust issues, they both had major hurdles to overcome and I enjoyed the slow and mellow pace of the story as they learned to let down their barriers and open up to each other.

Alex was very patient with Elisa, which was so very sweet and I liked that his friends accepted Elisa without any reservations and were willing to help him protect her. I'm admittedly not a dog-lover, but Souze was also a very appealing and central part of this story.

The story is very much on the slow side, but I think Ms. Drake does a good job building up the tension and suspense all the way to the end. While the timeline of the story is short, it does not feel that way because there is so much drama crammed into that little time. Elisa and Alex are a very delightful pair, Alex's daughter is adorable and their friends are great secondary characters.

The ending felt a little rushed and I wish there had been more to the story on the ex and his activities, but I still enjoyed it. This is a book that would appeal to animal lovers or anyone looking for a slower paced suspense and I highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Profile Image for Christi Snow.
Author 70 books743 followers
July 26, 2016
My Rating: B-
My Review:
Throughout the majority of this book and it was well on its way to a solid 4-star rating, but that all completely fell apart with the ending of the book. I'll try not to give anything away here, but gah...this was a decent book and then things just took a turn that I couldn't ignore. And honestly, the issues were so unnecessarily stupid. It would have been easy for the author to write the conflict in there without things suddenly going so wrong with the writing/plotting.

Okay...so issue #1 (without giving spoilers, so this may be a little vague)...stupid, idiotic hero. Um, hello? This person just shows up and starts spouting all this stuff that you haven't seen any evidence of and you just believe her? When you know that someone is out there after your girl? Seriously?

Issue #2...the last time I checked heavy stress and having to run maybe an 1/8 of a mile does not cause dehydration in need of hospitalization. OMG...she was out on a date, not doing a marathon. Now maybe if she'd been drugged...maybe...but she wasn't. She ran away and not very far at that. Over-extreme much?

Issue #3...one week. That's it and you just believed the most heinous thing about her and suddenly everything is hunky dory and let's all move in together, even though I obviously don't trust or know this woman and I have a 9 yo impressionable young daughter at home. Seriously...

And that's all within the last 15% of the book. The bad thing about that is that up to that point, I was really enjoying it. I loved Boom and her sassiness. I liked the dog, Souse, and the way he seemed to just get Elisa. I also really enjoyed the side story of Alex and his battle to overcome his PTSD...although I will admit there that I have my doubts that he should honestly be trusted with his daughter or around other civilians until he has a better handle on the flashbacks.

So this was a mixed bag...and I'm thinking if I remember right that I had similar issues with the first book in this series. While the author can definitely write an engaging story with interesting characters, some of her details just don't seem to be as thought out as they should be. But honestly because of the way things just kind of seem thrown in there, I do wonder if this is truly an editing issue rather than something the author is doing. Maybe an editor pushing for more drama in the story line at certain points that weren't there originally. I'm not sure, but I think this will probably be my last read in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Angela (Angel's Guilty Pleasures).
1,547 reviews865 followers
July 31, 2017
Ultimate Courage is book two in the True Heroes series by Piper J. Drake. We get a little mystery, suspense, and romance.

I enjoyed this one more then the first book, Extreme Honor. The characters appealed to me more. We have Alex, his daughter Boom, his dog Souze, and Elisa.

I find that kids and pets always add something special to a book I’m reading. Very few times am I disappointed or don’t like having them around. Boom, I enjoyed her sassiness. Souse, I liked how he understood Elisa and also Alex. As for the story it was nice, but the pacing was all over the place, dragging in some areas and moving way to fast in others.

As for the romance between Elisa and Alex’s it was sweet; though it does move quickly. I did enjoy how Alex approached Elisa. It suited the situation she was in. Alex well he’s dealing with PTSD and being a single parent. As things progress we get to see his PTSD and how it’s affect him. Souze tied in nicely and helped both Elisa and Alex work out their issues.

The book was decent, but things took a turn at the end that was a little upsetting and the issues where so unnecessary. One, someone is out to get his girl, but when a person shows up spouting out stuff that you haven’t seen any evidence of and you believe this person over your girl. No, just wrong and sad! Two, one week you guys are together and you believe the most heinous thing about your girl, but then suddenly everything is all a ok and we are moving in together. Sigh!! All of this is within the last 15% of the book.

This will be my last read in the series. I started the series with book 3, but had to put it down; because it tied into the first two and I was miss connections and more, so I deiced to read from the beginning. Well book one was just Eh and two was Ok. So with that I’ve deiced to drop the series and not even attempt to read book three again.

Rated: 3 Stars

Profile Image for Jennifer.
778 reviews39 followers
February 5, 2017
Mostly this was a fun, if silly, book. But then the author had to ruin the end by having the hero act completely out of character in order to put the heroine in jeopardy, and it felt like such an unforgivable betrayal that I just couldn't believe in the happily-ever-after. Feh.
Profile Image for Susan (susayq ~).
2,106 reviews121 followers
July 13, 2016
3.5 stars

Alex and Elisa are perfect together. They both have problems. His stem from PTSD while hers comes from an over-controlling ex that she is on the run from. Despite their problems, they exert a calming influence over the other and that makes them perfect for each other. I loved the addition of Souze, the service dog.

I did feel that their relationship moved way too fast. They only knew each other about a week or so before the "I love you"s were said; but in all honesty, they had a lot going on LOL

All in all, a good read from a new to me author who I'll gladly read again.

*thanks to Barclay PR for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Jana Brown.
Author 8 books48 followers
February 6, 2018
I picked up this book because I've been trying various romance books to learn more about the genre...and because it had a beautiful dog on the cover.

The basic set up of a woman running from her abusive ex and the retired SEAL who really needed someone in his life to help even him out was a little melodramatic, but really didn't bother me. I loved seeing Alex as single dad and dog trainer. He had a lot to live for, and his PTSD symptoms were well expressed for the most part. Elisa, likewise, was well portrayed of a woman who was truly a confident caring person who had been cowed by long term abuse and was trying to regain herself. It was a match that I was very much in favor of.

The plot is interesting for the most part, and the other folks at the Hope's Crossing Kennel were fun (they each have stories in the series). Serena 'Boom' Rojas, Alex's daughter was funny without being over the top. She reminded me of kids I know of that age (which was either ten or nine, I'm not sure which because it changes through the book).

My biggest complaint is a really boneheaded reaction from Alex towards the end of the book, one of those things that didn't feel like it was in character, but it was the author saying...I need him to storm away now so I can put Elisa in danger and he can come to the rescue. There were a lot of ways she could have accomplished the same thing without making him act like a bonehead. I almost want to create a bonehead GR shelf for these instances. It's annnoying.

This is a steamy book with two explicit sex scenes and some making out. There is also some language and a bit of violence, though that's not graphic. So definitely an 18+ kind of book.

It almost makes me want a German Shepherd Dog though.... ;)
Profile Image for Martha.
794 reviews44 followers
July 28, 2016
Elisa is on the run from a possessive ex-fiance who views her as his possession. She was flattered by the attention from the wealthy man at first until she realized that she was no longer allowed a career or friends of her own. It took a while but she finally got up the courage to make a break for it. But it seemed that wherever she goes, it isn’t long before he locates her and makes it clear that he is expecting her return. Bad things could happen to anyone who might help her so Elisa remains on the run and tries to stay under his radar sources.

Elisa meets Alex and his spunky daughter at the emergency room. Elisa’s wrist is swollen while Serena, aka Boom, has a broken arm from an accident during martial arts training. Elisa appears at Hope's Crossing Kennels the next day to return a glove that Boom left behind. She shows up just in time to step in as a sorely needed secretary for the office. Alex recognizes that Elisa and is cautious and skittish; behaviors familiar from his own PTSD which he struggles to control. Although Alex doesn’t know Elisa, he is intrigued by the mixture of strength he sees beneath the docile postures. He is willing to step out to help her even as he gives her room to learn to trust him.

As Elisa and Alex grow closer they realize that each has secrets. Can they learn to trust each other and give their growing attraction a chance to deepen? Or will Elisa bolt again as soon as she knows her ex-boyfriend is on her tail?

I really liked these warm characters and was quickly pulled into the story. I also love the dog elements and found Souze, a German Shepherd Dog, to be a great addition. The continuing characters at the kennels provide good support and the addition of the owners of the martial arts academy, a gay couple, are a nice touch too for diversity.

The plot moves along at a good pace with sensual tension and the hint of danger that ultimately appears. This is the sort of romantic suspense/military romance that I really enjoy and I recommend the series and this author. This is the second book I have read in this series and I hope to read more.

I received this title through NetGalley for an honest review. My rating 4.5.
Profile Image for Kate.
2,070 reviews311 followers
August 1, 2017
I read the first book in the series and loved it unfortunately I wanted to read a book without writing a review and that was the book I picked. Unfortunately I didn’t plan ahead and think I should write a review kind of kicking myself in the butt here. Anyhoo……

How I love this series.

4.5 I’ve died and gone to heaven stars.

This book sucks you in. Straightaway we want to know why the heroine is in the ER, why she is scared and what she’s going to do next. In this case she goes down and sits next to Serena Boom Rojas. They start talking and the intimidating man at the reception comes over and gives her ice. Said man is Alex Rojas of the book and he is to die for.

Hot. Check.

Good looking. Check.

Heart of gold. Check.

Grumpy yet adorable. Check

Overprotective yet respectful. Check.

Alex Rojas used to be a Navy Seal there is no such thing called retirement. He has survived numerous missions but suffers from it all. His solace is working at the Hope Crossing Kennels with the dogs, his daughter Boom, he tries to be sociable for Boom but he is struggling that is until he has something to help him get through the day.

Elisa Hall is on the run from a crazy ex who always seems to find her. It has been six months and she has been barely surviving that is until she has to go to the ER and is intimidated by a mountain of a man. But his bark is worse than his bite.

The romance between is strong and palpable. We see Elisa blossom in to the woman that she used to be before. The suspense and romance is balanced out really well.

A combination of my favourite themes came together here and just made it spectacular. Kids, animals specifically dogs, a strong heroine and a strong and grumpy hero.

I love Alex Rojas even with his dipshit move. This is a book I could fully immerse into and I enjoyed every single moment of it.

I can’t wait for the third book to be released.
113 reviews
July 25, 2016
I was really excited to read this novel. The description sounded like a true romantic suspense novel, and the addition of a dog component sounded even better. Certainly, Ms. Drake did an outstanding job telling Souze's story and educating the reader about some of the more technical elements of training career military and police dogs.

Beyond the original premise of the story (which I loved), the story lost me a bit with some of the details that did not make sense. Elisa is a highly functional, thorough project manager, who clearly understands technology and thrives on operations, yet she did not understand how her very computer savvy ex would not find her through her cell phone's GPS and email checking? For his part, Alex, who is a dutiful dad that clearly puts his daughter first, does not seek counseling for what is a serious and potentially dangerous case of PTSD and falls in love with a woman with an unknown/dangerous past, who he invites to move into his own and bedroom within a week- that also seems like a stretch. When he abruptly failed to see the ruse of Elisa's friend and left her at the cafe during their date, he completely lost me as being a protective hero. The friend's story was so obviously contrived to trigger him and her appearance so starting that he as a former Navy SEAL should have completely assessed and recognized the situation for what it was - a ploy.

The ending as well seemed a bit too contrived for me. Overall, I liked the idea of the story, but the details and inconsistencies just soured it for me.
Profile Image for Dawn ♥ romance.
1,830 reviews22 followers
July 27, 2017
I liked this story with an ex-Navy SEAL dealing with PTSD and his daughter and dog but I don't think he was a good fit for this heroine who was running from a bad situation. Too much anger involved all around. I am skeptical that they will have a lasting relationship. Elisa shy's away from an angry Alex when she encounters him at a hospital emergency room.
Profile Image for 1-Click Addict Support Group.
3,749 reviews442 followers
July 25, 2016
Fear and uncertainty on both sides….

I really enjoyed this sweet and almost gentle journey from fear and uncertainty to loving trust. Elisa Hall and Alex Rojas were battling very personal demons. Alone, Elisa was battling for her personal safety while on the run. An unexpected meeting with Alex’s daughter opened up the opportunity to find a safe haven.

At the same time, Alex was dealing with the aftereffects of his military service. With his daughter, and his very rewarding job to focus on, he still had to fight every day to find some sort of peace….

Elisa and Alex had chemistry right from the start even though it took time and effort from both of them to start opening and warming up to each other.

“The man gave good voice.”

There was steely strength in both their characters that was easy to spot despite the sometimes painful uncertainty they both showed. There was attraction, definitely, but they were both struggling with some very real issues that weren’t easy to overcome. Even as, time-wise, things happened quite quickly, their relationship wasn’t rushed and allowed secrets and confidences to slowly be revealed.

While at times the pace seemed a bit too slow. I can’t argue that the journey wasn’t filled with sweet moments, sympathetic characters and heat that I only wanted more of. Boom, Alex’s adorable tomboy daughter, and an unexpected ally in Souze, a perceptive and powerful four-legged champion, added an entertaining spark to the solid plot.

There is more coming in the series and I know I have a few favorites among Alex’s military family that I’m hoping will be next! ~ Diane, 4 stars
Profile Image for E..
1,897 reviews19 followers
September 11, 2016
4.75 stars

“Ultimate Courage” by J. Piper Drake is part of the ‘True Heroes’ series and centers around Elisa Hall who is fleeing her shady ex when she encounters widower Alex Rojas in the emergency room with his daughter Serena (Boom). Somehow father and daughter sense that Elisa needs a temporary safe harbor and manage to draw her into their circle, but Elisa is afraid to trust anyone, and the danger that follows her may make her flee yet again despite the new friends she has made.

This contemporary romantic suspense story is an exciting and heartwarming tale, particularly because of a young girl nicknamed Boom and a canine named Souze. The tension displayed by the beleaguered Elisa Hall and the solace she finds with these wonderfully determined secondary characters enhances the emotional moments in this intense story. It doesn’t hurt that retired SEAL Alex Rojas is a sexy and capable man who balances his innate protectiveness with empathy and determination to deal with his own painful souvenirs from the war. I love that all of the characters demonstrate growth and support for each other and I was grabbed from the first page and anxious to read the entire story but disappointed when it was over because I wanted to read more about these folks. I had no problem whatsoever reading this story even though I am not familiar with the series and I am certainly looking for the rest of the books, not just because of the hunky heroes but also because I want to learn about the other fantastic canines they work with.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review, a version of which has been submitted to Night Owl Reviews
Profile Image for  Reading In Pajamas .
1,041 reviews88 followers
July 26, 2016
Release Blitz, Review & Giveaway: ULTIMATE COURAGE (True Heroes #2) by Piper J. Drake http://wp.me/p3d0RZ-5TA
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Reviewed by: Reading in Pajamas/ Donna
Rated 5 Stars

Oh what fun this book was! I could not put it down to even cook dinner! I related to Elisa right off and my heart (body) palpitated after Alex. He was the kind of rock that makes you sigh with want. His instinctive way of handling Elisa and her problems just added to the hot chemistry between them. Then you add in the tense story and you have a book that ticks off every check mark on my list. I love the people in the True Heroes series and their interactions seem so natural that I found myself immersed in the story. A true edge of your seat book with enough heat to keep me thinking about it long after it ended.

*Review copy provided Forever Romance in exchange for an honest review.

Book 1:
EXTREME HONOR (True Heroes #1) by Piper J. Drake ➢ http://amzn.to/1Jtfcds | Review http://wp.me/p3d0RZ-3JY
Profile Image for Julie (Manga Maniac Cafe).
1,613 reviews475 followers
January 13, 2017
3.75 stars

I was really enjoying this until the end, when Alex ditches Elisa in her moment of need. He knows that a crazy stalker is after her, and he abandons her without a concern for her well-being, after losing his sh$t when he hears a rumor about her. I thought that there was more trust and substance to their relationship by that time, that he knew and understood all of the awful things she was forced to do until she could make a break for freedom after escaping from her cruel, controlling fiance. But, nope, he didn't even give her the benefit of that doubt.

Other than that, I enjoyed getting the know the staff at Hope's Crossing Kennels, especially the dogs. I don't usually read much romantic suspense because stalker stories are my least favorite trope, and romantic suspense is peppered with them, but this had just the right amount of danger and romance to keep me engaged in the story.
Profile Image for Victoria.
1,188 reviews95 followers
August 3, 2016
Rounding up to 3.0 RATING- Based off the plot, I should have loved this book. Unfortunately I found it boring! I put it down several times and struggled to finish. The writing was okay but I just never got pulled in. I don't think I'd read anything else by this author. This should have been a slam dunk since I love "woman on the run" story lines so much. Even the sex scenes were just meh.
Profile Image for M.
401 reviews52 followers
July 14, 2019
This book comes with a heavy dose of content warnings. There is a past abusive relationship still going on in a kind of cat and mouse game in the present, mentions and descriptions of intimate partner violence, assault and humiliation, manipulation and stalking. And violence. In all forms and shapes.

What made this story work for me again is the tenderness between the characters, the real and compassionate handling of PTSD and the struggles of survivors of traumatic events. The mystery - the danger Elisa is in every day - is a punch to the gut, some of the scenes potentially very triggering. But the romance works around it all. With gentleness and care, without magic or impromptu healing for either of the characters.

I really enjoyed this one, it made me feel seen in a lot of ways I really appreciated, and as hard as the plot line surrounding Eliza’s ex was, as much I loved how it was handled, how it was solved, and how the growing group of friends and found family made this a heartbreaking but also heartwarming book to read.
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.4k reviews425 followers
June 30, 2017
Running into Alex and Boom was the best thing that happened to Elisa. She found a job, one where her skills were sorely needed, found a place where she was safe and people that were 100% behind her and before she asked were there to help her out. I loved how slow Alex moved with Elisa, getting her used to the dogs, the people working at the kennel and himself. As Elisa began to feel safe with Alex and the crew she began to reveal her past, which was crazy! I loved how everyone stepped up to help Elisa.

I hated how towards the end Alex let his issues from the past cause big doubts with Elisa. Good thing that he realized his mistake and went back to Elisa and saved the day.
Profile Image for Tamye Whitener.
669 reviews16 followers
March 23, 2023
Entrancing Story!

I enjoyed this story immensely. Well-written, outstanding characters, and a fast-pace make for an addictive tale you can't put down. Add in a lovable dog, characters that are a bit broken, but are works in progress, yummy food, and a kickass nine-year-old and you have a listening experience you don't want to miss.
Profile Image for Heather (winemakerssister).
2,012 reviews13 followers
October 30, 2021
2.5 stars

This started out well - I liked the MCs and the venue. And how can you go wrong with a cute kiddo and dogs? Unfortunately I felt like the ending was rushed, so the suspense fell a little flat. The hero's reaction leading to the dark moment/suspense climax was out of character. And while I'm ranting, why would everyone in the book rush to the heroine's hospital bed when she was fine and merely given fluids for dehydration? That felt completely awkward and contrived.
Profile Image for Traann.
784 reviews2 followers
March 22, 2020
Great second book in the series. Quick read. Love the GSD's in the books, everyone will.
Profile Image for Zee.
453 reviews11 followers
March 24, 2023
I should’ve know from the cover alone that this wouldn’t be a romance book and more of An Introduction to German Shepherd Dogs & How to Train Them.

P.S. The entire story happened within a WEEK??
Profile Image for Ann Lorz.
1,593 reviews19 followers
July 29, 2016
For the longest time I've had a hard time getting into romantic suspense. I use to love the genre a lot, but one day I just thought to myself that I had enough. Yes I read other story with some suspense in them like my paranormal's, just not straight romantic suspense. Then slowly I've started to get back into it.

And I'm glad I did.

I'm still a little picky about what I like or don't like. But if I like you, I can't stop talking about you.

We read the first book in this series, Extreme Honor for my Book Club Thursday Group, and I loved it. It was so good! After I finished it I couldn't wait for more of this group. Then when Ultimate Courage came up for review I knew I had to read it right away.

So glad that I did.

I really loved it. I think I even liked it more then the first book in the series. It was just such a good book to read. I loved all the characters. You'll right away fall for Alex and his daughter, okay, maybe not so much Alex as just his daughter. In the first couple of pages Alex comes off like a crazy person. When you figure out why you'll love him even more.

I also like Elisa. I'm glad we didn't know her whole story right away. Drake did a great job of unfolding it slow, but yet keeping you engrossed in the story. There is nothing worse then knowing there's a big secret that you learn at the end of the book that turns out to be stupid.

Nothing like that here. The story is very fast paced and gives up another look into this business and what it stands for. I also really enjoyed the interaction with the dog in the story. As a dog (all animals) lover I truly believe that they all have their own personalities and are smarter then we give them credit for.

The twist in the story is also good. I really didn't see that coming...I know, you what to know what it is, you know what to do...buy the book!

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ARC given for a honest review
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