So, I started this series by Traci Hunter Abramson on Tripwire (book 10). Oops. Funny enough, I didn’t feel totally lost because each book of this series is meant to stand partially on its own. While I heard a lot about this series from one of my managers (she reads anything/everything by Abramson), I didn’t plunge through the rest of this series from beginning to end until this last month.
To give the rundown: this series is about a five-man squad of Navy SEALs who all happen to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hence the “Saint Squad”).
It starts with Freefall, about the squad’s second in command, Lieutenant Brent Miller and Amy Whitmore… Except it doesn’t really start there because Amy Whitmore is the younger sister of Matt Whitmore, who has his own trilogy from Undercurrents. I really enjoyed the first half of Freefall as Brent and Amy try to escape a hostile country without any contact from the rest of the squad. Then Brent decides to be stupid for the second half of the book as they try to stop multiple terrorist attacks in the States. If it was just the first half, this could have been my favorite book… Alas… Brent’s stupidity puts it down for me.
Lockdown (book 2) is my manager’s favorite (the same manager who reads all of Mrs. Abramson’s books) because it deals with the psychological problems of a school shooting and how to prevent them. It’s also Tristan and Riley’s book, which makes it important to book 5 since Tristan is basically Quinn’s adopted brother and he dates Riley’s sister, Taylor.
Saint Squad book 11, Redemption, deals with Eric (the abused kid all grown up) so this one is kind of necessary to best appreciate that one.
Crossfire (book 3) is about Seth. The team tries to contact his ex-fiance: CIA Agent Vanessa as she’s undercover in the same hostile country of Freefall. This book is a must read for later books, as this is when Kel is shot (which dominates the plot for book 4) and the backstory for Seth and Vanessa is highly referenced in books 6 and 8.
Backlash (book 4) is about Kel, the squad’s commander, and his wife, Marilyn. As mentioned above, he’s shot and put on medical leave for most of this book. This is the first time the squad itself becomes a target, particularly Kel and Seth (and Vanessa and Marilyn in turn). In this book, we gain a new member to the squad: Jay Wellman who–guess what?–was introduced in the Undercurrent series as the son of CJ’s swim trainer. Small world, huh? It’s like the author planned it. 😛
Smokescreen (book 5) is the first time that the target is someone who is totally unrelated to protection/security agencies. Taylor is Riley’s sister (from book 2), but she’s a naive artist caught as a bystander in terrorizing tech transportation. I was a little disappointed it didn’t go into more detail about sniper shooting since the book’s about Quinn: the squad’s best sniper. I like Quinn because he’s quiet, but I actually like him more in other books. Is that weird?
Code Word (book 6) brings in Jay’s story as the newest member of the squad. Again, the Undercurrents Trilogy is suggested pre-reading as Jay’s father and CJ Whitmore (with Matt) come into play. It deals with mobsters in the states, which brings an interesting flair. Even though it rounds off well enough, I would definitely follow up with Lock and Key (book 7) since it’s a direct continuation of Jay and Carina’s story.
Drop Zone (book 8) is probably my favorite because it takes great ideas from the other books and expands them. Like Freefall, it separates squad members and forces them to work alone (to rely on the others, AND to be the one the others rely on). Like Crossfire, it focuses on Seth and Vanessa since Paige (the girl of interest) is Vanessa’s assistant. Like Backlash, the target is the SEALs themselves, and despite their superhero-like skills, they’re put in vulnerable/inescapable positions that actually made me wonder how they’d get out. (That was the biggest point that peaked my interest in this book). Then, like Code Word, it’s about a new member of the squad who’s not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is just trying to find his place in the group. Also like Freefall, the tension starts early, then keeps up even after they solve the first issue.
Last of all, this is the first book with a sneak peak of The Guardians series–particularly Kade (who is my favorite character of Abramson’s).
Books 9 and 10 are about Craig (the newest member of the Saint Squad by 6 weeks) and Sienna Blake (sister of Kendra Blake from Obsession). Since Spotlight includes the wedding of Kendra and Charlie Whitmore, it’s helpful to read the “stand-alone” book first.
I actually really liked Obsession because it’s the only book I could read the villain’s perspective because no names or future plots were revealed. (Sure, I still knew who the villain was the moment his name was first mentioned, but that’s probably just because I’m an avid reader).
Tripwire (book 10) might be my least favorite because the climax was… anti-climatic. It’s also the least involved with the Saint Squad, though it does introduce three new characters who might show up again.
Also, book 9 might be prerequisite reading for book 12 (Covert Ops) since that one deals with Craig and Sienna’s wedding.
I HATE dramatic irony (where the reader knows something the characters don’t), so I SKIPPED all the sections from the villains’ perspectives (where villains are named and plots are revealed in every single one of these books).
Other Common Themes:
All books except Backlash and Code Word end with a proposal. Even though all these books are PG clean and all the main characters (except Damian and Paige) are members of a church with high moral standards, they all end up sleeping under the same roof with their significant other before marriage.
Funny enough, all of Abramson’s books involve some relocation, and long descriptions of the character’s new home.
They all have strong elements of action and romance. Most of them are pretty good at entering the climax around 80% of the book, then not relenting until about 95%. (Obviously, I read these all in ebook format). Several of them have nice tension as you think they’ve solved the issue, but then it kicks alive again. This is more common in her later books.
Overall, I give the series a solid ****4 Stars****. For the most part, these are books I’ll pick up when I want a quick, entertaining, and easy read.
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