Review + Excerpt: The Challenge (Honor Guard #2) by Teri Riggs
By: Teri Riggs
Publish date: December 21, 2015
The Challenge between Ellie Ryan and Vince Corelli had been tough. It was both mentally and physically exhausting, not to mention overloaded with sexual tension. In the end, Ellie exited victorious as the test pilot of the brand new XH8 helicopter, Vince was offered a high paying private sector job, and they finally allow themselves one night of passion before going their separate ways.
Months later, Ellie’s crew has been murdered and the prototype helicopter she was piloting hijacked. All evidence leads to her involvement in a deadly terrorist game. Her only hope of survival is to open herself up and accept help, if it arrives in time.
Vince, a Resolutions operative, is sent to retrieve the XH8 from Colombia and deal with the woman the U.S. military believes to be behind the plot to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, but will he be able to overcome his trust issues in time to prove Ellie’s innocence?
The Challenge by Terri Riggs made for an interesting read. But I have mixed views about this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 50-60% or so of the book, but after that not so much.
The Challenge tells the story of Ellie Ryan and Vince Corelli, two pilots in the military. They worked together and competed with each other to win the position of the test pilot for the military’s latest prototype, XH8 helicopter. After months of gruelling training, exhaustion and some sexual tension, Ellie emerges as the winner.
After months of sexual tension, Ellie and Vince decide to give in to their passion and share a hot night together. Fast forward six months, Ellie and her crew is on their first mission with the XH8 prototype. She soon lands in trouble when her crew is murdered and the suspicion falls on her. She is also forced to help the terrorists to save her family. With all the evidence pointed against her and with no one on her side, Ellie is hard-pressed to prove her innocence.
After Ellie and the XH8 go missing, Resolutions Inc. is assigned the job to the prototype and Ellie back. Vince is heading the extraction team to Colombia. He is a man with serious trust issues, but the question is, if he will be able to overcome in time to help Ellie and prove her innocence.
The Challenge is quite true to the romantic suspense genre. The suspense in the book is definitely gripping and keeps you on your toes. The best part is that the suspense is unpredictable, though there were a few loose ends.
The chemistry between the lead characters is palpable and hot as hell. You only need to see them together and you know they are burning up the pages. Though the one shortcoming in the romance section, that I found, is the lack of growth in the relationship.
Ellie and Vince shared one night, after which he left without as much as a goodbye. There has been no interaction between them since that night. They only meet again when Ellie is kidnapped and Vince goes to rescue her. I saw no growth in their relationship. They went from zero to sixty. Vince is ambiguous about Ellie. On one hand he is sure that she can’t be a traitor, but a few smartly said words from the wrong person is enough to make him doubt her. He never even gives her the chance to explain.
Ellie on her part tries to tell Vince the truth, tries to explain her reasons for helping the terrorists, and is rightly upset when without any explanations, Vince believes her to be a traitor. Ellie too subsequently decides to give zero explanation seeing Vince’s lack of trust in her, and I don’t fault her for that. But not even half- an hour later, she is fantasizing about the guy and ends up sleeping with him. In enemy territory, where people are literally hunting them. For two very smart people, this seems like a not so smart decision.
Vince on his part grovels and begs for forgiveness upon learning the truth. And suddenly from believing she is a traitor, he goes on to claim his absolute trust in Ellie and his unshakeable love to her. Both Ellie and Vince go from zero to sixty in a matter of minutes and they end up giving me a whiplash.
There are a few loose holes in the story too, as I previously mentioned. In the course of the novel, we learn that Ellie has been framed, but we never find out why or how long it was going on for. We get no explanations as to how she was framed, which leaves the end of the book somewhat anticlimactic. Also, I would have loved to know how the families of Ellie’s dead crew were doing, especially considering Ellie had a good relationship with them.
Both Ellie and Vince were strong, kick-ass characters, but some of their actions had me questioning their priorities. For the most part, the book is enjoyable. I love Ellie’s chemistry and banter with her team. So much so, that I was expecting a book for each of them. It was fun and engaging. I even love how much Ellie loves her sister Emma and the lengths she goes to protect her and make her happy. Vince and his team too share a great rapport and Cade ended up being one of my favourites due to his antics.
Overall the book was really good, but it could use a little more work.
“Well, flyboy, looks like the best man won The Challenge.” Chief Ellie Ryan raised her bottle of beer. The rest of the men gathered around a table at The Cockpit bar, followed suit.
“Except the best man in this instance is a woman.” Vince Corelli clinked his longneck against hers and noted for the one-millionth time what a damn fine-looking woman sat next to him. How often did he get to meet the real deal…an awesome pilot and a man’s wet dream rolled into one? After six months of working side by side, Vince needed to take his Ellie-inspired, constant hard-on and hit the road.
“Hey man, how’s it feel to be bested by a woman?” Goose, her copilot, teased. “Gotta be rough on the ego.”
“Nah, real men don’t have inflated egos.” Vince wiggled his bottle, signaling the waitress to bring another round.
“Says the man with the two-hundred megawatt ego.” She wrapped her lips around the rim of her bottle. What Vince wouldn’t give to have those lips wrapped around his cock. “I’m still trying to figure out how you even found a helmet large enough to fit your over-sized noggin.”
Samuels slapped his beer onto the table. “Fuck the helmet. I want to know where the major general found a cockpit big enough for his head.”
Another circle of laughter surrounded him. “You do know men with big egos have cocks to match.”
“Wait a second. Didn’t you just tell me and the guys you didn’t have an ego?” Her eyes swam with laughter, her excitement and happiness contagious.
Wilson stood and made a few obscene gestures with his pelvis. “Ryan’s got you there, man.”
The new tray of beers arrived, and Vince rose and held his bottle out. “Seriously. I want to wish Ryan the best in her new position as pilot of the XH8 prototype. You kicked my flying ass out there, and no one deserves the honor more than you, Chief.” He clinked his bottle to hers. “Bottoms up.”
The rest of the crew tapped their bottles together and downed their brews. The group’s trash-
talk grew loud and, for the most part, obnoxious, but damn if he wasn’t going to miss working with them. Even with the constant boner he carried around her, he’d miss her, too. Hell, he’d miss her the most.
She stood, still clutching her bottle. “Thank you, flyboy, for your kind words. They touched me right here.” She tapped her bottle over her heart. “Even if they were total bullshit.”
“You were neck and neck with me throughout The Challenge. Picking a winner had to have been a toss-up, I’m sure. And unfortunately in the end, the committee went with the better-looking competitor…me.”
“Having my ass beat by a beautiful woman sounds pretty kinky to me, Ryan.” He wiggled his brows at Ellie.
“We all know the pilot with the biggest set of balls won The Challenge.” Wilson raised his bottle. “But I think we’re gonna miss you, Corelli.”
“Like a bad STD,” Sammy added.
The men were full of jokes tonight.
“Thanks, Ryan, and everyone else. Your insults tonight have touched me deeply. I’ve never felt so loved. If I can ever do a favor for any of you, don’t fucking call me. I screen my calls.” He took a swig from his bottle. “What the fuck. I’m gonna block all your numbers.”
Teri Riggs was destined to be a writer. As a small girl she didn’t read bedtime stories, she made up her own. Who needed Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs when there were so many great tales bouncing around in her head? When she grew up and became a mother to three little girls, she continued the tradition of making up bedtime stories. On the occasions she chose to tell conventional fairytales, Teri usually gave them a bit of tweaking here and there or added a new ending. Her girls loved it.
After her daughters had the nerve to actually grow up and leave home, Teri discovered she had a passion for writing and jumped right in. It came as no surprise she chose to write mysteries and happily-ever-after’s since that’s the genres she loves to read.
Teri lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband, one of her daughters and two dogs that seem to think they rule the world. And some days Teri thinks maybe they do.
Teri still frequently tells herself stories as she falls asleep. The only difference now is she wakes up the next morning and turns her bedtime stories into books.
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