When a food storage depot in famine-struck South Sudan is torched, American aid worker Brie Stewart flees, only to land in a market where she’s the next item up for auction. Is the attack on the aid facility another assault upon the war-torn fledgling democracy, or has her family set her up as a pawn in their quest for oil rights?
Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian Ford crossed paths with Brie years ago when she was a shill for her family’s company, pushing a pipeline that threatened his tribe’s land. Determined to lead the rescue operation to save her, he won’t let her abduction—or the attraction that flares between them—get in the way of settling their unfinished business.
The Green Beret’s skills are put to the test in the flooded grasslands of South Sudan, where they must battle nature and dangerous factions who are after more than oil. Bastian and Brie put their hearts on the line as they find themselves embroiled in a conflict that extends beyond country and continent. Together they must douse the spark before it reaches the flashpoint and engulfs everything they hold dear.
USA Today bestselling author Rachel Grant worked for over a decade as a professional archaeologist and mines her experiences for storylines and settings, which are as diverse as excavating a cemetery underneath an historic art museum in San Francisco, survey and excavation of many prehistoric Native American sites in the Pacific Northwest, researching an historic concrete house in Virginia, and mapping a seventeenth century Spanish and Dutch fort on the island of Sint Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children and can be found on the web at www.Rachel-Grant.net.
This book was great. The story line held you from start to finish especially to the finish. Rachel Grant knows how to write intrigue, drama and LOVE!! She never disappoints. Hopefully there will be a third book in the Flashpoint series featuring Savvy and Cal, author hinted as much with the "tension" between them. Loved that a character from the Evidence Series made an appearance and helped to save the day; also :Pax and Morgan made an appearance from Tinderbox the first book in the Flashpoint books. .Readers will enjoy this book, I know that I did. Wish it was a couple of chapters longer to see how Brie and Bastion's future went.
Rachel Grant is one of the very best authors of romantic suspense, ever. This author and this book have the highest recommendation I can possibly give. The story is compelling and the reason is that the civil war torn countries in famine background for this book is real. Great character development, a solid suspense/mystery and a searing romance just add to this fantastic book.
Brie Stewart, aka Princess Prime, daughter of Prime Oil billionaire, Jeffery Prime, is an aid worker in the civil war-torn African country of South Sudan. When the food storage depot is attacked her co-workers are captured, giving Brie a chance to flee. Why anyone would set fire to food for starving people is beyond comprehension, but Brie knows that evil reigns in this land and that some players are not above this atrocity, even her own family.
Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian Ford, US Army Green Beret, had an encounter, and not the romantic kind, with Brie 10 years ago when she was a spokesperson for Prime Oil. Beautiful, slick and a shill for her family’s company, she was pushing a pipeline that threatened his tribal land. His impressions of her were not at all kind, but hot fantasy all the same. When she goes missing he is determined to lead the rescue operation to save her. Finding Brie in a slave market about to be sold, their escape ends up testing both of them and the attraction that is between them.
Cut off from the others on his team, Bastian and Brie must survive in the flooded grasslands of South Sudan where Bastian's skills as a Green Beret are put to the test as they battle nature and the people responsible for the destruction of the food depot, who are still after Brie. Just who and why are part of the mystery surrounding them as the also battle themselves.
I've given this a B+ at AAR, so that's 4.5 stars; but it was within a hairsbreadth of an A-
I’ve become a huge fan of Rachel Grant’s particular blend of complex, steamy and intricately plotted romantic suspense novels over the past year or so, and have been eagerly awaiting the release of Catalyst, the second book in her Flashpoint series. Like the previous book, Tinderbox, Catalyst is set in a real-life flashpoint, this time in South Sudan, a young nation embroiled in an ongoing civil war, and features characters based at the (fictional) US military outpost of Camp Citron in Djibouti. There are some things in this book that may be difficult to read about – in particular the buying and selling of women and children – and the way that the plight of so many people in desperate need is thrust aside in favour of big business and political expediency made my blood boil on more than one occasion. Ms. Grant tells a gripping, well-paced and impeccably researched story that pulled me in from the start and kept me transfixed until the nail-biting conclusion.
Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian Ford is surprised to recognise a familiar face one night in the bar at the camp – Gabriella Prime, the daughter of Jeffrey Prime Sr., owner of one of the world’s largest energy corporations. The last time Bastian saw her, she was in full ball-buster ‘Princess Prime’ mode – designer clothes, killer heels, full make-up – in her role as Prime Energy’s PR executive, defending the company’s plan to screw over the native American tribes of East Washington by building an oil pipeline that would ignore even the most basic environmental rules. The woman in front of him now, a decade later, is different, though. The outward trappings of the corporate shill and billionaire boss’s daughter are gone; over the last decade, Gabriella Prime has cleaned up, grown a conscience and left her old life behind her. She deliberately sabotaged PE’s plans for the Northwest oil pipeline, cut all ties with her father and brothers, legally changed her last name to Stewart (her mother’s name) and for the past five years has lived and worked under the radar for USAID in South Sudan. Bastian is rather stunned to discover that Brie Stewart is an aid-worker who lives from pay-day to pay-day like everyone else – and maybe a little suspicious that such a ruthless leopard could have changed its spots, but he has to admit to a reluctant admiration for the guts it must have taken to thwart her father’s plans and then to re-invent herself. But that doesn’t tell him what he really wants to know – which is what she’s doing in Djibouti hanging out with the camp ‘spook’, the enigmatic CIA operative, Savannah James.
One month later, the aid station Brie works at is attacked and she and her three co-workers are forced to flee for their lives. Brie manages to evade capture for a couple of days, but her luck runs out and she is taken to the very slave market she had been summoned to Camp Citron to talk to Savannah James about.
Bastian and his team are authorised to get Brie out – but when they discover that the slave market also houses a large number of children, none of the team can bear to leave the kids there and make impromptu plans to get them out as well. Unfortunately, things go awry, and Brie and Bastian are stranded when their vehicle and equipment fall victim to roads made impassable by the heavy rains. They hole up at an abandoned village while Bastian works on a way to get them out of there, knowing they likely haven’t got long before the Sudanese soldiers who originally captured Brie find them. During the few days they spend alone together, the attraction that had sparked between Bastian and Brie back at the camp builds to inferno levels and becomes increasingly difficult for them both to resist – although resist they must. And do. With difficulty. While they await rescue, they try to work out why Brie’s camp was targeted – was it a random attack? Had her family somehow found her and orchestrated the attack to get her back? Or is something even more sinister going on that neither of them can yet comprehend?
The kidnap and rescue is only the beginning of what is a superbly conceived and plotted story that pitches Bastian and Brie into the sights of a Sudanese warlord with links to the Russian mafia, and a dangerous former associate of Brie’s father who is obsessed with her almost to the point of madness. The vile plan this person hatches is so utterly despicable that it fairly took my breath away; and although he is perhaps a little over the top, his scheme is, sadly all too plausible.
Once again, Ms. Grant achieves just about the perfect balance between the disparate elements of this romantic thriller. She obviously knows her stuff when it comes to the geo-political background of the region in which the book is set, and the way she utilises that knowledge and interweaves it throughout the story to forge a cohesive, compelling tale of corporate greed, military ambition and terrifying obsession is quite masterful. Her central characters are just as multifaceted as her story and the romance that develops between them simply drips with sexual tension from the moment the pair of them face off at the bar in Camp Citron. Brie and Bastian have more than their share of baggage and neither of them has had any desire for much more than hook-ups and casual sex in the past, but as the attraction that burns between them gradually starts to encompass admiration and respect, it becomes clear that this relationship is unlike any they’ve had before. I admit to finding Brie’s tendency to beat herself up over her past choices a little irritating, although she does have an inner mental strength that is admirable and I liked how she was able to find something positive to focus on once the revelation over her identity meant she was no longer able to work for USAID.
Although some characters from Tinderbox make an appearance here – most notably Pax, Cal and Savanna James – the book works perfectly well as a standalone, and fans of Ms. Grant’s Evidence series might also recognise a certain enigmatic Russian spy who pops up to lend a (very dangerous!) hand. A great combination of action-packed, intelligently-written, edge-of-the-seat thriller and sexy romance, Catalyst is an engrossing read and earns a strong recommendation.
I’ve always thought of Rachel Grant as the romantic suspense author who goes where good authors of this sub-genre go, then where most books actually end, takes it a breath-stealing mile further. Where entire books would have been written around a sex-trafficking plot, Grant integrates hers with a smartly-written overview of cultural anthropology, native American issues and the knife-edge balance of the socio-political situation in Africa that makes her Flashpoint series beyond excellent.
‘Catalyst’ is written pretty much in the same vein as its predecessor: thrilling, engaging and entirely absorbing, particularly if you love the kind of geopolitical background (with some corporate dirt thrown in) that Grant painstakingly unravels—which I do—in a part of the world that’s hardly written about in such books. For that alone, I can’t wax lyrical enough about this series, which is akin to seeing a complex chess-piece that’s put together in a narrative arc that makes it feel as though there’s yet unfinished business to conclude.
It’s also almost a given that her characters are equally multifaceted, and it’s my own fault that I didn’t quite warm to Brie and Bastian at all, with the former being more manipulatively needy and self-pitying because of her past than I expected, while the latter was too careless with people and unashamedly being Bastian the bastard about it. The games they later played with each other because neither of them could get a handle on commitment also didn’t help my ability to like Brie/Bastian as a pairing while as Brie’s ‘rich girl’s woe-is-me penance’ got tiring after a while. That said, the first half of ‘Catalyst’ enthralled me more than the second, where I found I needed to suspend disbelief a bit more when it seemed that many of the mysterious threads laid out so intricately in the first half were actually tied together by an obsessive man in Brie’s past.
The action and suspense are nonetheless very well-done and I was especially taken by the hostile tension between Savannah James and Cal whose book I hope Grant tackles next, as much as I loved the appearance of one of Grant’s best heroes in the Evidence series here.
I like this author's writing but a number of items kept me from enjoying the full book.
First, I really liked the backdrop of this story and the development of the fight for oil profits, the USAID aspects, the discussion of the poverty and abuse and treatment of the poor citizens of these countries. This backdrop was well crafted.
But the plot of this book, the development of this backdrop were overshadowed by elements I didn't like. I really, really did not like the two leads. I didn't like their crude conversations and I could have cared less if they f**ked or not. I certainly didn't enjoy the numerous pages dedicated to sex or just discussions of sex. I skipped way too many pages. They treated each other way too poorly before they decided they loved each other.
It was also hard to believe that the evil Drugov with all his supposed connections and power didn't simply have her kidnapped in the middle of the night and have her disappear before the various events of this plot occurred. His plot for her felt very convoluted. I just didn't buy it. Plus all the evil people weren't developed much.
I found myself setting the book down time and time again struggling to get through it. The last bit was a solid action scene but too little too late. I need to enjoy the whole book.
A gripping romantic thriller set in one of the world's flashpoints - South Sudan - in which the kidnap of a US aid worker sets in train a series of unprecedented events and uncovers a deadly conspiracy. My review of the book is HERE, but the audio version is even better, a great story enhanced by outstanding narration from Greg Tremblay. The man doesn't seem able to deliver a bad performance!
I love Rachel Grant’s heroines. They’re typically sassy, smart, and capable. They don’t necessarily rely on the hero to save them; rather they work in tandem as a team to save each other in a variety of situations. Brie Stewart is no different. She has a lot of issues and she does tend to lament her poor decision making in her younger years often, but I took it to be her way of reminding herself she has come a long way since then. Her coping mechanisms and tough facade came from a backbone forged in steel and darned if I didn’t feel pride whenever she stood her ground in difficult circumstances!
Then there’s Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian Ford, aka Bastian. I wasn’t totally on board with him after some jerk moves in Tinderbox (book 1 in the Flashpoint series) when he was messing with Pax and Morgan, so going into Catalyst I admit I wasn’t his biggest fan. And while he’s still arrogant and has moments of obnoxiousness, I learned he has almost as many issues as Brie. He just appears to handle his ghosts..somewhat better. Knowing what I know now made me sympathetic to his character and I have to say I liked him more than I thought I would! It didn’t hurt that he obviously met his match with Brie either...
Book two in the Flashpoint series, Catalyst had a lot going on! Rachel’s ability to weave fiction and fact seamlessly allows her to bring issues to a reader’s attention in aN entertaining way. Brie’s aid work in Sudan highlights the real food shortage issues and civil war/power struggles I was only cursorily aware of from the news. It gave me a new crinkle in the brain and something to study up on and learn more about. Secondary characters Morgan and Pax make an appearance, as does Cal and Savannah (Which speaking of..PLEASE, tell me Cal and Savy are next!) and there’s also a surprise cross reference with a character in the Evidence series. Overall, Catalyst had a strong plot, great suspense, and a fantastic romance that I’m happy to recommend!
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book which I received at no cost from the author.
Catalyst is only the second book in The Flashpoint series and already becoming another of my favorite series by Mrs. Grant. Sometimes fiction has its way to highlight a cruel and sad reality in our current real world, this book accomplished that. I was captivated from the very beginning by the plot and all the sensitive themes that are addressed though the book, at times I felt sick knowing the fiction in the book is the reality of many. Bastian is a hero that struggles with his immense love and resentments toward his family, country and his feelings for a heroine that he thought represented everything he despised. Brie is a heroine seeking for absolution and ways to mend the ugliness that her family has created by working for humanitarian groups while battling her own personal demons and twisted villains in a land with everything is for sale. South Sudan is a land of famine, civil war, slave markets, insurgents groups, countries that profit from the continuing government instability, and private companies from powerful countries that seek the total dominion of the energy and oil. I was delighted surprised by the appearance of a character that I like very much from another of Mrs. Grant’s series and I can’t wait to know more about Savanna James.
**I received an Advanced Reader Copy for my honest review**
Catalyst can really be broken down into two separate books. The first section features Brie escaping a USAID compound in South Sudan, captured and taken to a slave market where she’s rescued by Bastian. At that point, they go on the run to avoid capture by those hunting Brie. The second section features Brie and Bastian going to Morocco to take down a Russian oligarch trying to start genocide in South Sudan – who also happens to have an unhealthy obsession with Brie.
Both of these sections could be completely separate novels and, honestly, I’m not sure they tied together as seamlessly as they could have. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this novel. It’s just that on the one hand, you had Brie and Bastian trying to survive on barely having enough food and clothing in some of the worst conditions you could imagine. On the other hand, you had them in Morocco in a palace with servants around every corner where every desire is granted. I suppose that was part of Rachel Grant’s plan – to show the utter differences between the two worlds. And in that regard, she did a fantastic job so obviously I’m contradicting myself and they did tie together seamlessly! Ha.
The storyline was well developed and thought out. It shows that Ms. Grant did her research. The descriptions were vivid and I could picture the images easily. The romance between Brie and Bastian was the perfect push and pull. I’m one of those readers that wants the coming together of the characters to happen quickly and yet, I quite enjoy the slow development. Some of the intricate details regarding the storyline outside of the romance portion were a little confusing but that might just be me and it never once got to the point where I was taken out of the story. I did find the appearance of Ivan to be a little startling. The last time I read about him was in the Evidence series where his life circumstances were quite different. I won’t give much away for those that haven’t read the Evidence series – and if you haven’t, I suggest you do. I appreciated the author’s note at the end giving a little explanation for his presence in the book.
I have two main critiques of the book. The first being that there wasn’t an epilogue. It would have been nice to have a little time jump to see if Brie had been able to patch things up with Rafe. I also would have liked to know if Bastian’s parents accepted Brie into the fold and how they felt about things. The second was the subtle (or not so subtle) political statements. This is my review – my opinion – but all I’m saying is that when I’m reading, I am doing so for entertainment. I’m doing it to escape the outside world. I’m just not a fan of authors inserting their own political beliefs into their novels – particularly if it doesn’t enhance the novel any. Having said that, I realize that – just as I can insert my opinions in my reviews – the author can insert their opinions in their novels.
On another note, I appreciated Ms. Grant highlighting the problems in South Sudan (and I do not see this as a political issue as it’s a human issue). Americans don’t often think about the fact that girls often have to drop out of school when they reach puberty. The availability of sanitary products for those girls would literally change the course of their lives. In a world where we’re constantly being shown republicans and democrats fighting each other, it’s sobering to be reminded of – and encouraged to donate to – issues that other countries are dealing with that can, at times, make our problems seem small and petty. Just something to mediate on.
The second book in the series is as good as the first. „Bastian the bastard“ makes for a spectacular hero. But the subject is hard to read about. This is no fantasy setting, but a very ugly side of the real world. I will certainly continue with the series, but I need to pace myself. And yes, this is part of my privilege, to decide when I am ready to confront those issues. The author provides links to aid organizations on her website, to give the reader a chance to actually do something useful.
Years later, Bastian and Brie cross paths again at Camp Citron in Djibouti, where Bastian's Army Green Beret team is stationed. Brie is now an aid worker and after clashing with Bastian in Djibouti, she returns to South Sudan to continue her work, but gets kidnapped to be auctioned in a slave market. Bastian and his team lead the rescue operation and while they are able to free everyone who was being sold in the market, Bastian and Brie find themselves isolated in the flooded grasslands of South Sudan.
From Djibouti to South Sudan to Morocco, Catalyst is a fast-paced romantic suspense, part survival romance, part undercover romance. Honestly, I was nervous and unsure about how the author would approach this type of enemies-to-lovers romance given the very-real conflict between this white heroine and this Native American hero. I am not Native American, therefore, I cannot ascertain the veracity of Rachel Grant's representation of the hero and this conflict. As a reader though, I think the author did a great job redeeming the heroine and showing us how and why she changed through her actions, words, and behaviour. Bastian's perception based on the past definitely influences his opinion about Brie and it takes him a long time to realize that she has changed. The character development for both Brie and Bastian is incredibly well-written. Fantastic redemption arc for Brie, who herself was a victim in many ways.
As for the plot, man, the plot takes a really dark turn that surprised the hell out of me. Catalyst is definitely darker than Tinderbox, the first book in the Flashpoint series. I am absolutely shocked at how far the author took the plot in this book. I thought the villains in Tinderbox were evil, but the villains in Catalyst are pure evil. Overall, this was a fantastic romantic suspense, if a little too long. I think my only complaint is that I wanted to experience Brie's meeting with Bastian's family. I also wanted to see how Bastian mends his relationship with his parents.
As everybody know I'm a huge fan of Ms. Grant's books! :)
This story could be divided into two parts.
The first is happening in South Sudan where Brie is attacked and put on sale as slave and where Bastian rescues her and they have to run and hide in the Sudanese desert while every villain in the vicinity is chasing them.
The second is in Marocco, where they have to track a Russian pervert and Sudanese mass-murdering general for the CIA.
IMHO, the first part was way better than the second. I loved how strong and resilient Brie was. I also appreciated how she changed from a Prime Princess to a USAID operative. Also Bastian was interesting with his Special Forces training!
The one thing I couldn't understand is why they didn't act sooner on their sizzling attraction. They're alone is an abandoned village and the only time they jump each other is in the open and during daytime, while they resisted their attraction when they were in the hut during a downpour and night??? Obviously, thet's the time the villains attack!
The second part was a little bit shaky for me.
While recuperating after their rescue in Sudan, they have sex and seem to form a solid relationship, but Brie, after telling Bastian why she changed her name and left her family (a very bad family!), toss him out because she's afraid of getting attached... Bastian, who wanted to tell her that the CIA operative Savannah (who we meet again!) practically forced him to exctract precisely that story from her, doesn't get a chance to tell her and, angry and confused about her rejction spills evrything to Savannah!
As you see, both their behavious was very immature and impulsive and I didn't like that!
So, forced by Svannah, they got to go in Brie's Marrocan house, as lovers, to tease the Russian mafioso (who has his eyes on her since when she was 13!!!) and find out if he hides the Sudanese General exiled for genocide.
But both of them are angry at each other and the behave like bickering children, while trying to project the lovers vibe for her brother's behalf.
They get lip-locked then the offend each other pocking fingers into each other's worst fears and grivances. He accuses her of being the money grabbing Barbie Princess, she accuses him of being jealous of his parents' love for his ex...and thet's just one example... Very childish...
Obviously all that makes them pay less attention to the things happening around them and to the danger all around. And there's a lot!!!
But, I'm able to forgive them, because they're so obviously right. Yes, I know, it doesn't make sense. Brie did have a shitty life with her family and Bastian was pushed away from his family. So The wounded way they react when cornered is quite normal.
Still, I appreciated Ms. Grant's reasearch and her willingness to use a very actual third country situations as the background for the novels. Here she handles child/women slavery (and not only sexual one!), famine, diseases, poverty, greed, hunger for power, pedophilia, biological warfare... It's actually really chiling to think that everything in this book can happend (and probably is happening) somewhere in real life!
So, even if I had some problems with the MCs, I loved it and for me this book is a solid 4 1/2 stars rounded to 5!
I'll be looking forward to the next one that, as the author states on her site, will be about Savannah and Cal! :)
I have been waiting for this book since before I even finished TINDERBOX, the preceding book in the Flashpoint series! Rachel Grant is one of my all-time favourite romantic suspense authors and indisputable auto-buy because her work is both the epitome of everything romantic suspense should be and incredibly educational without being pedantic, all wrapped in a superbly written package. In less skilled hands, CATALYST would simply be a pulse-pounding story of human trafficking and sexual slavery with some sexy military men, but Ms. Grant elevates it into a nuanced story of geopolitical instability in an oft-forgotten part of the world set against a backdrop of Western corporate greed and amorality, Native American issues, and the machinations of the intelligence community… whilst delivering an engaging cultural anthropology lesson. CATALYST will suck you in from the get-go and not let you come up for air until the very last word.
It’s a testament to Ms. Grant’s skill as an author that I liked the book so much despite only being lukewarm towards its protagonists, Special Forces Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian (Bastian) Ford and former-billionaire-oil-heiress/schill-turned-aid-worker Gabriella (Brie) Stewart Prime. I was not a fan of Bastian coming into CATALYST based on his arsehat behaviour in TINDERBOX, and he did little to improve my opinion of him throughout most of CATALYST: his judgmentalism, carelessness with people, and giant chip on his shoulder did little to endear him to me. Same with Brie’s self-pitying, woe-is-me reformed little rich girl penance (though I liked her much more than Bastian from the outset). But it’s the very fact that Ms. Grant’s characters are so imperfect that makes them so compelling and real-- no one likes everyone they meet in real life, and authors shouldn’t strive for that unattainable ideal. And, despite how much they both want to deny it, their chemistry is off the charts… and they make each other better versions of themselves, irrespective of how likable one finds those improved versions.
CATALYST is an excellent addition to an already stellar and weighty body of work for Ms. Grant. If you haven’t yet read a Rachel Grant book, do yourself a favour and pick one--any one!-- up ASAP.
**ARC received from the author in exchange for an honest review (and if you’ve seen any of my reviews, you know I don’t feel compelled to wax poetic about books I didn’t like, regardless of who the author is and how I got the book!)
Catalyst by Rachel Grant is the second book in her Flashpoint Series, and just like the first book, it grabs you in the first few pages and you won’t want to put the book down until you have finished it. There are characters from the first book in the series, Tinderbox, but if you haven’t read that one, you will not be lost by reading this book first.
The book starts out in a club in Camp Citron, Djibouti with Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian “Bastian” Ford, looking for, and finding, a woman he never expected to see in that part of the world. The day before he thought he had spotted her in an office on base. He was looking for Gabriella Stewart Prime, or Princess Prime, as the media had called her 10 years ago. She was the daughter of a Billionaire who was the CEO of one of the worlds largest oil companies, and last time he saw her, she and her families company, was trying to take over tribal lands in Washington State, where Bastian was from. He finds her but she has changed and it really throws him. She now goes by Brie Stewart and every word out of her mouth confuses him and makes him rethink what he thought.
Brie, now a USAID worker, helping the South Sudanese people return to their villages after civil war displaced them, doesn’t remember Chief Ford but then again, there is much from her past she can’t remember. Back then she worked 16 hour days for Prime Energy, drinking, drugging and having sex indiscriminately, so much so, that she asked Bastian if they had sex 10 years ago. It is with questions like that, that Bastian can’t reconcile the spoiled rich girl from the aid worker woman now in front of him. They part but that will not be the last time they see each other.
Move forward a month and an attack on the village that Brie is working in brings Bastian and Brie back together in an unexpected way and the sparks start flying, literally, and all hell breaks loose.
I don’t want to give the story away but if you like suspense, military and romance then you will LOVE this book. If you even like this book (again, I think you will love it) then please try others of Rachel Grant’s books. No matter which one you pick up, you will not be disappointed. I can’t wait for the next book in the series and I think you will feel the same way.
The first 40% of this was a fantastic and intense 'wilderness' survival story with a competent military hero being paired up with a tough, practical civilian heroine. Exactly the kind of thing I love! Unfortunately, I didn't like that Brie and Bastian's relationship dynamic changed into a high school drama fest at 40% and the author kept adding more and more to the plot until I felt overwhelmed and too confused to keep up with it.
I loved Brie and Bastian's dynamic in the first 40% and how similar they were. They're both players (in the sex sense), they love flirting and these similarities made their bantering a lot of fun. As with Tinderbox, I also loved how much research the author had done to make the military aspects of the story realistic. Bastian was competent and intelligent and despite being attracted to Brie, he prioritized keeping her safe instead of having sex while they were battling to survive in rural South Sudan. Brie was a really interesting character, having been born into immense wealth and having turned her back on it in order to devote herself to giving back to the world, rather than continue taking from it. She went from living a spoiled and very privileged life to dealing with hardships that most people could never handle (myself included), and she thrived in her new life. She was tough, practical and trusted Bastian's expertise in situations where she was out of her depth. I especially loved the part where
I also liked having South Sudan as the backdrop for the first 40%. The author did a lot of research and she painted a beautiful and heartbreaking image of a young country that's filled with riches and beauty but is struggling due powerful people's greed. Bastian and Brie interact with multiple local South Sudanese people who showcase the daily struggles that normal, everyday people face in that environment and my heart broke for them.
Unfortunately, everything changed at 40% once Brie and Bastian have been rescued. The biggest thing I disliked is that Brie and Bastian's relationship went from one of mutual respect and flirty sexual bantering to high school bickering. Bastian would thoughtlessly say something a little rude and instead of responding like a mature adult, Brie would get offended and storm off in tears. Bastian would apologize, she'd forgive him, they'd have sex, and the cycle would repeat. I hated everything about this, especially Brie's behavior. This is supposedly a woman who left behind a life of privilege to become an aid worker. She's spent several years living and working in some of the most dangerous and inhospitable places in the world. If somebody says something rude to her, I would expect her to calmly but firmly put her foot down and explain why she doesn't like such comments before moving on with her life. That's how a grown up should respond, especially a woman with Brie's personality and life experiences. That's why this jarring shift to turn her into an overly emotional, overly dramatic immature twit was so off putting.
I also got tired of Brie's constant and never ending woe-is-me attitude. The whole reason I liked her character in the first 40% was because she'd made it clear that she liked her new life/identity and thrived in it. But now, there were paragraph long self-pity-parties where she rehashed the same things over and over again. As for Bastian, I thought some of Brie's reactions to his comments were overly dramatic and immature, but I hated the plotline of The situation was resolved a few chapters later so I felt this was manufactured drama and only made Bastian look like a jerk.
I also disliked Savvy immensely. I don't like cold, manipulative female characters and Savvy didn't even attempt to be kinder or empathetic towards Brie, despite knowing about the horrifically traumatic situations that Brie had recently endured. In general, I didn't like Savvy's character or that a lot of page time was given to Savvy and Cal's relationship. They're the couple in the next book, but I didn't like how their relationship seemed to get more development in this book than Brie and Bastian (who had descended into being an overly emotional high school couple).
My last issue is that there's way too much going on here. In Tinderbox, I liked that the romance plotline, the suspense plotline and the heroine's family drama plotline were all interconnected and thus, easy to follow. But this book had plotlines that weren't related at all and there were way too many in the first place. Bastian's First Nation heritage was a fascinating plotline, with him being fiercely loyal to his tribe but also the US military and how this puts him at odds with his mother, who is a long time tribal chairwoman. I also liked how Bastian compared his tribal heritage to that of the South Sudanese tribes and how the things he witnessed in South Sudan made him reconsider his thoughts of growing up on a First Nations reserve. But the problem is that none of these things are connected to the suspense plotline or his romance with Brie.
As for Brie, her family drama was overly complicated with a dozen different characters, different character associations and different corporations all being mixed together. That would have been a complex plotline all by itself. The suspense plotline incorporates three different countries (Russia, US, South Sudan), child labor, sex trafficking, South Sudan's civil war, politics and the oil and gas industry. The first 40% had been straightforward and easy to follow with plotlines and settings that I cared about but I found myself getting way too confused and not caring about many of these additional plotlines.
Despite my many issues with the book, the first 40% was incredibly well written and took place in a unique and interesting setting, which is why this is getting 2 stars from me.
CATALYST by Rachel Grant is another in a lengthy line of good books to read by this compelling author. She writes about real-world people living in situations that are not only real but also heart-wrenching in the desperate third-world need they portray. She balances that true darkness with a delightful picture of the love, joy and fun possible when two people meet who come from very different backgrounds but who are so much alike at the core that they both change in significant and meaningful ways through their deep connection with each other.
Brie, this book’s primary heroine, is the daughter of an oil billionaire but has been disinherited by her family when she refuses to continue being a part of their self-serving, money-grubbing ways. Her efforts to create good out of the evil she was formerly a part of lead her to being an aid worker for a U.S. government agency in South Sudan. Before separating herself from her father and two brothers, she was a PR person for their family oil company and that is how Bastian, a highly trained Green Beret who has a current deployment in South Sudan training the natives to fight when they are under attack, and Brie met ten years earlier. She was proposing a pipeline that would destroy some of his Indian ancestors’ land and rights. He thinks poorly of her family and her, but is also extremely attracted to her beauty. He thinks of her throughout those ten years but is not initially open to the ways she has changed.
Both are reluctant to form a lasting relationship of any kind with another person but find themselves in a position where Brie is in danger and Bastian volunteers his team and himself to save her if possible. The way they learn to see each other’s hearts is a pleasure to read! Their relationship becomes passionate and powerful and is what left this reader with an appreciation of her own life. I am a huge fan of this author and like this book as much as the others I have read of hers. I also am impressed that Ms. Grant provides resources at the end of CATALYST to help those in the need she describes. She is a great author with another great book!
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review of it.
4.5 Stars This book was so much better than I ever imagined it would be. And had I not needed the subject matter for a challenge, I would have probably never read it. The plot and tropes involved are just not things that interest me. I'm not a fan of military or political plots, don't like trafficking/slave auctions, seriously try to avoid anything heavy as a plot when those same things are happening as current events (in this case, the pipeline issue and civil unrest in Africa). Add in that the book contains my ONLY trigger, racism, and I felt sure that this was going to be a book that I not only struggled through, but also hated. So imagine my surprise when I was sucked in before chapter 1 was even complete!
I was immediately drawn to the enemies-to-lovers vibe between our characters, and that the the background setting (where he's from, and where they initially met) was local to me. I listened to the audiobook, and while there was a single narrator, I thought he did a great job, and since it was written in 3rd person, it didn't bother me. The book did have a heavy plot, but there was enough snark/humor and love between Brie and Bastain, that it was manageable for me to get through. This was book 2 in the series, and while we do meet the characters from book 1, I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not reading Tinderbox first. That's not to say that I won't go back now, because this author has a way with storytelling, and I'm pretty sure that I don't want to miss out.
Book 1 in this series was a tough act to follow, but I think Ms. Grant has exceeded herself with this newest installment! While the plot is just a gripping as I had hoped, it was really the characters that set this book apart for me. Brie and Bastian are both complex and dynamic characters. It was fascinating to learn about Brie's past and how that has shaped the person she is today. She is tough, extremely competent, and sassy, but she still has some vulnerabilities that she tries to hide from the world. I wasn't sure what I thought of Bastian in the very beginning, but he quickly won me over. He certainly has his arrogant moments, but his actions spoke louder than his words. He and Brie were electric together, and I loved their banter and quick wit. I found that I just couldn't help but love them!
The plot of this story was fast-moving and kept me on the edge of my seat. The author has no problem taking risks and discussing tough subjects. This book also highlighted a lot of current events and issues throughout the world, and of course it was done in such an engaging and approachable way that I immediately needed to know more.
This book was smartly written with dynamic characters and a thrilling plot. There was just enough of the secondary characters that I can;t wait to read each of their stories! Another winning novel, and I am eagerly anticipating book 3!
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Catalyst by Rachel Grant is book two in the Flashpoint series and will suck readers in, just like the first book did. It didn’t take long before I was enamored by this story. The characters were intriguing, the story was full of action, and the writing was well-done. 5 stars all the way!
Brie Stewart is an American aid worker in South Sudan, only she is more than that. Her family is very well-known and has a multitude of wealth. But Brie and her family didn’t agree on certain things, so she changed her name and left all that behind. When she runs into Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian Ford, she’s reminded of who she. He has a hard time believing she’s changed her ways, but one thing is for sure, his fierce attraction to her is still there and not going anywhere. When they meet again, it’s not the best time to explore their attraction to each other, with her being sold at a slave auction and his team having to rescue her and all that. Brie and Sebastian must come together if they want to survive.
I loved Brie as a heroine. She’s real…and I don’t mean because she comes from a wealthy background but because of everything she’s had to endure. Mainly her addictions and her overcoming them. I loved how strong she was and what she had to go through to stay sober. After some of the intense moments with Bastian, heck, I would have been tempted to go off the path, but she stayed true to herself. Loved her!
I loved reading Catalyst. If anything, I wanted more. Everything was wrapped up nicely, but I would have liked a scene with Sebastian’s parents meeting Brie or something similar to that. I really hope Savannah and Cal’s book is next.
היי אנשים, לצערי סיימתי את הספר הזה... למה לצערי? כי הוא נגמר 😭😭😭
יצא לי לקרוא ספרים נחמדים בשנה האחרונה, אפילו היו כאלו שאהבתי מאוד.. אך הספר הזה הזכיר לי איך זה מרגיש כשספר עושה פרפרים בבטן.. איך זה מרגיש כשאת חייה את כל מה שהדמויות (המשולמות!!!) עוברות.. משהו שכבר שכחתי ממנו כבר.
אז... עלילה. יש את ברי (גבריאלה), אבא שלה הוא מנהל חברת נפט, יש לה עבר פגום עם אלכוהול, סמים ומכון גמילה.. ועכשיו היא מתנדבת בדרום סודן ומנסה לעזור לאנשים שם. ויש את באסטיאן (את שמו המלא לא אכתוב כי אין לי את כל היום) שהוא רודף אחרי גבריאלה כבר כמעט 10 שנים כדי להוכיח שהיא הונתה אנשים בשביל החברה של אבא שלה.
הוא פוגש אותה בבר, מטיח בה הרבה האשמות.. וכל אחד הולך לדרכו..(אחרי נשיקה, כי המתח המיני שהיה שם היה.... וואו) ברי מזהירה אותו שאם הוא ינשק אותה הוא ירצה את כל החבילה.. הוא מבטיח שלא.
המפגש הבא שלהם, קורה כאשר הוא מציל אותה משוק שבו התכוונו למכור אותה לעבדות מין.. ופה מתחיל הסיפור שלהם כשהם מנסים לחזור הביתה..
סיפור מרתק, משולב עם מתח ורומן. הרומן איכותי.. כפי שצויין בהתחלה, גורם לפרפרים בבטן 😍
ממליצה על כל הספרים של הסופרת רייצ'ל גרנט, יש 2 שתורגמו (הוכחה מוצקה, בגוף ההוכחה ) מי שקוראת באנגלית בסדרה יש 7 ספרים מרתקים.
הספר הספציפי הוא השני בסדרה של שלושה (עד כה) ויש עוד שלושה ספרים בודדים. כולם מומלצים 😍😍
Catalyst by Rachel Grant is The Flashpoint series' second book. Although I had not read the first one, I never felt lost or confused. This book stands alone without any problems for a reader.
Ms. Grant has written a thrilling and suspenseful book that captured me almost from the start. Her descriptive narrative of South Sudan and the desperate struggles that the people who live there go through each day broke my heart. I am quite sure that Ms. Grant researched this country thoroughly and the situation as she represented it is, unfortunately, real for the Sudanese people. She also touches on the issues faced by Native Americans in the USA. Ms. Grant's books are always filled with real world situations that most of us are only vaguely aware of in our daily lives.
A complex plot that moved fast, suspense, action, characters that were not only well developed but evolving throughout the story, and a romance that should have set my Kindle on fire made this a book that I didn't want to put down. Now that it's done I'm going to have to read it again just to enjoy it all over again.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. All of the above opinions are my own.
Rachel Grant is slipping. There is no explosion for at least the first 10 pages, if not more. But, honestly? That’s really the only issue I have with this book. And a made-up one at that!
Both characters are wonderful. Both strong in their own ways. Both with their own weaknesses. And yet written with such a strong chemistry with each other that it is impossible not to get drawn into their story.
But as is always the case, the plot does not play second fiddle to the love interest. Oh no. People/sex trafficking, political maneuverings, corrupt big business. All hanging together as a plot with accomplished ease.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader copy of this book.