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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Second Chance by Julie Coulter Bellon is an out-and-out Special Forces thriller, in the vein of Tom Clancy’s work but definitely smaller in size and scope. Rian is a young Libyan woman, whose American diplomat father was forced to abandon her mother and her when civil war came to Benghazi. Since the death of her mother, Rian has been fighting for Libyan democracy, dressed as and pretending to be a young man. When it is rumored that notorious terrorist Atwah is heading to Libya to throw a spanner in the works of peace efforts between the government and the general leading the resistance forces, a US Special Forces team, Griffin Force, is tasked to infiltrate Libya and either arrest or neutralize Atwah. When computer tech, Augie, as the only member of Griffin Force unknown to Atwah is required to infiltrate a camp to discover Atwah’s plans, he takes Rian with him for support but their simple reconnaissance mission turns into something much larger when they are captured and Augie discovers the secret Rian has managed to keep for so long.
Second Chance is a fast-moving, action thriller that takes the reader along at a fast clip. The relatively short length of the story and the clear intentions signaled at the end suggest this will be a significant series that will give these characters much more opportunity to be fleshed out and that does please me a lot. Author Julie Coulter Bellon has introduced us to a team that has the potential for many more exciting adventures together and I feel that will be something to look forward to. The crux of this story was not the terrorist operation, after all, that’s what Special Forces tend to do anyway. The central theme of this book is the relationship between Rian and Augie, which developed slowly, respectfully, and quite beautifully, especially given the clear cultural differences between the two participants. The author handles this blossoming relationship well and deserves kudos for this. Another overarching theme that came shining through was the camaraderie and willingness for self-sacrifice that is part and parcel of Special Forces’ operations. One could definitely feel the fear and dread when it appears that one of their team may be in danger or was missing. I enjoyed this book and will look out for how this group develops and how these characters become more rounded and human in the next episode from this author.