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Honor Redeemed

Honor Redeemed, February 2012
by Loree Lough

Abingdon Press
Featuring: Matt Phillips; Honor Mackenzie
304 pages
ISBN: 1426713169
EAN: 9781426713163
Kindle: B006YWRPF6
Paperback / e-Book
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"A search-and-rescue dog trainer connects with a reporter in the wake of 9/11"

Fresh Fiction Review

Honor Redeemed
Loree Lough

Reviewed by Patricia Woodside
Posted January 14, 2012

Inspirational | Suspense

Honor Mackenzie, a Search and Rescue team leader and dog trainer, is trying to rise above a past tarnished by innuendo and character aspersions at the hands of an unscrupulous journalist. Upon meeting Matt Phillips, a Baltimore reporter, she wants nothing to do with him or any others of his kind. Because she knows his kind, or at least Honor thinks she does. But Matt, a widower with twin ten year-old sons, forces Honor to reconsider her opinion as well as her determination to remain alone. When Honor goes from search expert to missing victim, Matt leads the effort to rescue her. But will he be too late?

HONOR REDEEMED is book two of the First Responder series, a series intended to pay homage, in the wake of 9/11, to those who put their lives on the line day in and day out. It meets that objective, shining a light on a segment of emergency personnel that is often overlooked, the responder dogs and their handlers.

Coming from a family of firefighters, I wanted to love this book, but I didn't. I found some of the progression in Honor and Matt's relationship to be dubious relational leaps. Then, and most importantly, because this was a romance, I expected a happy ending. I didn't get one. Rather, the ending sets up book three by leaving open the door for that HEA, but my disappointment leaves me unmotivated to read the next book to see whether the possibility holds up.

Learn more about Honor Redeemed


"Honor Mackenzie works hard guarding the dark secrets of her past as she does training Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs. As for reporter Matt Phillips, not even his former SAR work is as important as protecting his twins.

Then a jumbo jet crash puts them face-to-face at the grisly scene--and forces Matt and Honor to reconsidertheir long-standing ""single forever"" status. Yet Matt has issues with Honor’s past, and is still struggling with them when he's told Honor has disappeared during a rescue effort.

Matt leads the search team, desparate to find Honor before a blizzard moves in. But even if he does, will they find their way back to each other or go back to living life alone? "


November 1
Patapsco State Park, near Baltimore, Maryland

Honor Mackenzie shivered, and not just because the temper- ature had dipped to near-freezing. The far-off wail of a coyote harmonized with the moaning wind, and the creak of leafless trees only intensified the ghostly atmosphere.

Crisscrossing beams of high-powered flashlights sliced through the sleety black haze and shimmered from the river's surface. The Patapsco River seemed alive tonight, pulsing and undulating like a monstrous turbid snake. From deep in the woods, Honor felt the cagey stares of a thousand unblinking eyes and shivered again as she panned a wide arc, walking backward every few steps; the crash had probably sent every critter scurrying . . . but that's what she'd told herself those scary hours with Uncle Mike, and the night a feral dog bul- leted from the underbrush, teeth bared and snarling and—

"Is it just me," Elton huffed, jogging up beside her, "or do I smell gas?"

She jumped, then jumped again to make the first one look like an attempt to maneuver around a tree root. "Maybe it's that swill you claim takes off the chill." Elton was a good guy but got way too much pleasure from scaring her out of her shoes.

A puckish grin warned her to brace herself, but before he could deliver a biting comeback, a frantic baritone blasted through the fog: "Over here!"

"Sending up a flare," hollered another.

Most of the Boeing 747 that plummeted from the mid- November sky during rush hour had landed square in the middle of I-95. The cops shut down all lanes in both directions to enable the two available medevac copters to airlift passengers of the airliner—and those in the vehicles it had crushed—to Baltimore's shock trauma. And because eyewitnesses reported seeing fiery bits of the plane falling due north of the explosion, Honor's search and rescue squad was sent into Patapsco State Park. Her unit included a couple of young guys just return- ing from Texas, where they'd earned wilderness certifications. Like thoroughbreds at the gate, both chomped at the bit to prove they could keep up with more experienced personnel. With any luck, they hadn't yet heard the rumors about her past and wouldn't pummel her with the usual acerbic questions when the mission ended.

The scent of jet fuel grew stronger with every step, and she thanked God for the sleet. Yes, it added to their physical discomforts, but it would douse any embers hiding in the wreckage. Helped her focus on the task, instead of potential taunts, too. Elton stopped walking so fast that his boots sent up a spray of damp leaves. His voice was barely a whisper when he grated, "Oh, my God!"

Honor followed his line of vision. "Oh, my God" was right. Honor Redeemed

There, in the clearing a few yards to their left, was the tail section of the airliner. Like a beached whale, it teetered belly up on the bank, one mangled wing pointing skyward, the top half of the airline's logo submerged in riverbed muck. Twin witch-finger pillars of smoke spiraled upward, as if reaching for the treetops in a last-ditch attempt to pull itself free of the sludge.

A nanosecond later, they were on the move again, hop- ping over rivulets carved into the earth by rushing rainwater, ducking under low-lying pine boughs as they picked their way closer. Two pink palms slapped against a window, and between them, the bloodied and terrified face of a boy no more than ten. The sight startled Elton so badly that he lost his footing in the slimy mud. Arms windmilling, he staggered backward a step or two before regaining his balance. "Donaldson!" he bellowed.

"Kent? That you?"

"No," Elton snarled, "it's your old maid auntie." He muttered something under his breath, then added, "Fire up the radio. Let 'em know we need more boots on the ground. And equip- ment, on the double. We've got survivors!"

Well, at least one survivor, Honor thought, closing in on the craft. She hopped onto the rain-slicked wing and inched nearer the window, then lay her palm against the glass and matched the kid's handprint, finger for finger. "You're okay," she said, trying to look like she believed it. Not an easy feat, now that she'd aimed her flashlight's beam over his shoul- der. Only God knew what he'd seen, or which of his family members lay motionless at his feet. She'd seen that fran- tic expression before, and it reminded her of the day when the Susquehanna overflowed its banks and slammed through a Boy Scout camp. After hours of searching for one still-missing kid, something made her look up, and she found him, clinging to a tree. Though the water had receded, he'd been too frantic to climb down. She'd probably said "Don't be scared" a dozen times before he found his voice. "Why do grown-ups always say dumb things like that?" he'd demanded.

And she'd never uttered the words again.

"You're okay," she repeated now. "Help is on the way." "Mackenzie, get down from there."

The poor kid's pleading, teary eyes locked with hers, seeking reassurance and hope, and she couldn't look away. Wouldn't walk away, either.

In the window's reflection, she saw Elton behind her, point- ing toward the biggest column of smoke. "I'm dead serious, Mack. Get down from there," he repeated, this time through clenched teeth.

A second later, the heat of yellow and orange flames flared on her right. The boy saw it, too, as evidenced by a pitiful wail that, because of the thick, double-paned window, no one out- side the airplane could hear. "Help is coming," she said again.

And please God, she prayed, let it get here fast.

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