In “The Woman Left Behind,” Linda Howard returns to the scene — in a manner of speaking — of her last book, “Troublemaker,” to the paramilitary group working out of Washington, DC. Jina Modell works in communications and plays video games in the break room with many of the other gamers she works with. They assist teams in counter-terrorist operations without breaking a sweat.
But the innocuous video games Jina plays against her coworkers reveal a talent that her superiors want to use, and she is reassigned to work with one of the elite “GO-team” groups as a drone operator to give the team an eye in the sky for more protection. Jina’s torn — she has never considered herself an athlete, but she’s also not a quitter. So no matter how difficult the training is, and it’s intense, she stays the course. Even when it comes to parachuting — which terrifies her — she doesn’t quit.
When Jina is assigned to Levi’s team, the chemistry between them is instant. Howard is an expert at writing about physical attraction and sexual tension, and the connection between Jina and Levi is palpable. But a relationship is out of the question so long as they are working together.
Readers will love learning about what military training involves and how Jina gets through it. Learning about drones and paramilitary operations is also quite fascinating. The camaraderie between the rough-and-tough guys on the team and Jina makes for some touching reading, with a generous dose of humor thrown in.
It’s when they are on a mission and things go south that Jina is left behind. There’s an explosion, and the rest of the team thinks Jina is dead. She can hear them talking but can’t communicate back to them that she’s still alive. It’s her grit, her intelligence, and her determination that get her through what is an impossible situation as she finds her way back to the team and to the guy she loves.
Unlike the previous book about this elite group of guys, “Troublemaker,” there’s no dog in this plot. This reviewer loved the dog. Maybe next time?
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, William Morrow, for review purposes.