Hours to Kill – Susan Sleeman

Hours to Kill Susan Sleeman
Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman
Also by this author: Seconds to Live, Minutes to Die
Series: Homeland Heroes #3
Published by Bethany House Publishers on March 16, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Romance, Suspense
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Just as Homeland Security Agent Addison Leigh reaches the pinnacle of her cyber investigation into a firearms smuggling ring, she's attacked and left for dead. Her estranged husband, ICE Agent Mack Jordan, is notified that she's at the hospital in a coma. He may have let his past military trauma ruin their short marriage, but she never gave up on their relationship, and he remains her next of kin.
Mack rushes to her bedside, where he promises to hunt down the man who attacked her. Mack failed her once when he bailed on their marriage, and he's not about to let her down again. But when she wakes up in the hospital, she remembers neither the attack nor ever being married to Mack. And when a second attempt to take her life is made, it's clear something very sinister is going on, and Mack and Addison are in for the ride of their lives.

Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman is the final book in her Homeland Heroes trilogy. Out of the three novels, this one was definitely my favorite, though maybe it was in part due to my partiality toward the male protagonist, Mack Jordan. A Texas man with his cowboy boots and Southern drawl, I found him endearing and relatable from the first book, Seconds to Live. I rooted for him from day one. Sleeman finally gave him the conclusion he deserved in Hours to Kill. This is a Christian romance novel, so I knew it’d have a “happily ever after” going into the book. Even with that, I still enjoyed Hours to Kill more than other books in the series.

Mack and Addy separated over a year ago. They’ve loved each other throughout the time apart but have never spoken of their affections. A madman threatens Addy’s family, and the gunrunner is about to do something big. She needs Mack’s help and that of his specialized RED Team. After a car “accident,” Addison loses her memory–of the case, of the RED Team, and of Mack. All she knows is that she has to stop the gunrunner before it’s too late…and something about Mack sets her heart aflame. What annoyed me most about this book’s predecessor was that the romance seemed to trump a terrorist attack. With Hours to Kill, the relationship between Mack and Addy took a backseat. While they explored their affections for each other, they were both focused on stopping the bad guys from smuggling firearms into the United States.

Throughout the three novels, Sleeman hints toward how Hours to Kill is going to end. You read of characters’ hopes and dreams, and you experience their frustrations in a heartbreaking kidnapping case going cold. The final book of the trilogy ties up loose ends, which I expected before even opening the cover. You don’t lead up to something throughout an entire series, only to leave your readers hanging. Sleeman left me smiling at the conclusion of Hours to Kill. My shoulders rose and fell as I sighed, deeply satisfied. The plot was thought-provoking, the intensity palpable, and the relationship real.

Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman, though, was imperfect. Again, I felt like she patronized me a little with her name-dropping. Not people, but techniques and technology. In the movie Get Smart with Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell, the characters constantly ask each other, “You don’t have one of these?” in reference to fancy devices. Hours to Kill did something similar, and that got on my nerves. I didn’t need to know of the complex doohickeys at the RED Team’s disposal; just move on and let the characters do their jobs. Sleeman would also write things like, “Addy didn’t need to explain to Mack that…” Great…I don’t necessarily need you to spell it out to me, either. It’s okay to generalize on occasion. Sometimes, Susan Sleeman would pay too much attention to the one leaf on this one tree and lose track of the surrounding forest.

I enjoyed Hours to Kill. It’s the first book I’ve read in a while that had me saying, “Just one more chapter.” I wouldn’t put Susan Sleeman’s work as high in quality as some of the other romantic suspense authors I’ve read like Patricia Bradley, Elizabeth Goddard, and Lynette Eason. If you want a quick, satisfying series with lessons on crime-fighting technological advancements, you should pick up Homeland Heroes. You may enjoy them, you may not. But, I do guarantee you’ll be smiling after you read the final page.