Her Warrior Protector
Carter Bear Den is a proud Apache of the Turquoise Canyon Reservation. The former US Marine is a member of the Turquoise Guardians working to protect his people and their land. When he discovers a grisly mass shooting at the Lilac Copper Mine, Carter's one thought is to find Amber Kitcheyan.
After breaking her engagement to Carter and relinquishing her membership with the reservation, Amber found work at the mine. Now she is the sole survivor of the shooting -- at best a witness, at worst a suspect. But Carter swears to protect the only woman he has ever loved, even if it means losing everything else.
Good start to the new series. Carter came home from the Marines and is now a member of a group that helps protect his fellow members of the tribe. His boss and medicine man sent him to the Lilac Mine with a message for Amber, who also happens to be Carter's ex-fiancée. He arrives in time to see a mass shooting take place, and is determined to find Amber.
Amber has worked for the mine for only a short time. After noticing a problem with some paperwork, she left the office to take it to her boss for signing. She arrived at his house just in time to witness his murder, and is rescued by Carter just as the gunman has her in his sights.
Both Carter and Amber still have feelings for each other, even though their engagement was long ago. Their relationship had happened when they were young, and the issues that drove them apart could have been avoided with a little more maturity and much more communication. Thrown together now, as Carter works to protect Amber from those that want her dead, they have the opportunity to clear up their past issues, but it is going to take some work on both their parts.
I liked both Carter and Amber. Both are proud of their heritage and that dictates many of their actions. Amber relinquished her membership in the tribe, which puts her outside their influence and protection, but there is some mystery about how and why it happened. Amber is loving and protective of those she loves, and much stronger than she believes. Though the end of their relationship broke her heart, she never stopped loving Carter. Carter is also protective of those he loves, and even though he is still angry at her, protecting Amber is never in question. He also never stopped loving her, though he didn't realize it until he saw her again. He is also stubborn, and tends to believe he knows what is best.
I liked seeing the reigniting of their relationship. Carter is still hurting from the loss of his friend and fellow Guardian during the war, something he blames himself for. The freshness of that pain is one of the things that had contributed to his breakup with Amber. I liked seeing him able to share some of those feelings with her, and how her reaction helped ease some of his pain. But he is still very much a take charge kind of guy, and his protectiveness brings back some of the memories of what drove her away from him to start with. As she opened up about her own feelings, and how she had felt that he didn't respect her enough to listen to her, Carter finally began to see where he had gone wrong. As more of her story was revealed, I ached for her feelings of loss, and her frustration at not being listened to. It was interesting to find out the background of it, and see what Carter thought could be done to fix it. I thought his big moment at the end was fantastic, and can't wait to see how things work out by the end of the series.
The suspense of the story was really good. There is some viewpoint from the bad guy side of the equation, but it is mostly told from Carter and Amber's side. From the very beginning the action is intense and nearly nonstop. Because she was not killed with the others, there had been some question as to whether she was a witness or involved, but Carter never really seemed to have any doubts. As more information comes to light, and Amber and Carter begin to figure out what is happening, both of them are in increasing danger. There are also some questions about who might be playing for both sides of the issue. I definitely had some concerns about a couple of the characters. I loved seeing the involvement of Carter's fellow Guardians, Ray, Dylan and Jack, all of whom had been in the Marines with him. There were also a couple of appearances of Agent Luke Forrest and his partner from the first Apache Protectors series. By the end, though one small part of the mystery had been solved, there is still much more going on. I was somewhat surprised by what happens with Carter and Amber at the end.
There are still a couple of unsolved questions going on. The biggest is what is going on with the environmental groups that seem to be behind the trouble. Something big is building up, but there isn't enough information yet to know what it is. The Guardians are on alert and determined to protect their people. There is also a personal story that is going on with fellow guardian Jack, who is Carter's twin brother. They don't look at all alike, and Jack has always felt out of step. I like that his fellow Guardians don't let it bother them. I am curious to find out what the full story is. I have a couple ideas, but will wait to see what else is revealed.