This is an Official Review by an Eye On Romance Official Reviewer
for Black Smoke
Robin Leigh Miller
Date of Review: 07/09/07
From the very first page, Robin Leigh Miller pulled me into her story of Samantha Wells and Mark Lowe. The story begins with Samantha buried underground breathing through a tube. Immediately the questions begin. Who is she? Why is she buried? Who is doing this to her? How will she escape? I had to keep reading to find out what happens. The compulsion only grew stronger as I learned more about Samantha Wells and her mission in life.
Samantha Wells is the only child of two parents who were murdered when she was eight. She is raised by her uncle who is a former soldier with connections in all branches of the military and the government (both ours and foreign). Samantha works for him as a rescuer of lost people. She meets Lieutenant Mark Lowe when she is asked to rescue a biologist from the Taliban in Afghanistan. The rest of the story details her struggle not only to rescue a man in a dire situation, but her increasing feelings for a man who does not trust who she is or what she is capable of.
To aid her in her quest, Samantha is joined not only by Mark but also by his teammates, Ben Campbell and Carl Underwood. The four characters have to join together as a unit to accomplish their goal of rescuing those captured. Samantha must conquer their mistrust of a woman in a typical man’s role. When most of us think of special ops soldiers such as Delta Force or Navy Seals, we don’t think of women. Robin Leigh Miller shares her perception of what it must be like for a woman to compete and succeed in this type of lifestyle. She makes Samantha believable. There is enough background information provided to allow us to understand where Samantha is coming from and what has shaped who she is.
The whole tale is set against the contemporary backdrop of the kidnappings of American and British journalists and businessmen by the Taliban and Al-Quaeda. Robin Leigh Miller’s use of events that are actually occurring within our world today gives her story substance and real world resonance. She vividly describes the anguish and bravery felt by not only those captured but by those who must try to rescue them. Her images of the captives and of their condition when found remind the reader that this is happening and is a statement on what is happening without being political or preachy.
The only part of the story that may be difficult for some readers to relate to is Samantha’s spirit guide. This is the voice inside her head that warns her of impending danger and provides her with life advice. At first, I was a little hesitant to believe in this unseen but important character. However, Robin Leigh Miller does a wonderful job of seamlessly intertwining the spirit guide into the novel in such a way that the reader buys into its reality. The events within people’s lives that require them to have faith in something beyond themselves permitted me to allow for the possibility.
I really enjoyed this book. Robin Leigh Miller combines aspects of the supernatural with aspects of the military into a compelling, contemporary romance novel. I found myself rooting for Samantha and Mark to overcome their differences and reach an understanding. It is definitely one that should be on everyone’s must read lists.