Honor MacKenzie has been trying to soldier on after an unscrupulous reporter’s salacious stories forced her to give up the career she loved as a firefighter. Her career and work as a Search and Rescue (SAR) trainer and crew member sustained her following 9/11 when her fiancee, John, went into the rubble that remained of the World Trade Center to hunt for survivors — and never came back out.
Matt Phillips, an award-winning journalist, also carries emotional scars. Ten years ago, his wife, Faith, died shortly after giving birth to their twin sons, Steve and Warner. Left alone at the age of twenty-eight to raise his sons alone, Matt gave up his risky SAR work, focusing his energy on his boys.
When an airliner crashes on the interstate, Matt and Honor meet at the accident scene. Their mutual attraction is undeniable, but Honor’s past experience precludes her from trusting a reporter. And as crazy as Matt instantly feels about Honor, he must proceed cautiously to ensure that his boys are not hurt.
When Honor accepts a position in New York for which she moves away from Baltimore, Matt wonders if her feelings for him and his sons can ever be enough to bring her back home. Meanwhile, Honor struggles to find the courage to open up to Matt about her feelings and allow herself to enter into a relationship with him.
When Honor joins the search for a missing twelve-year-old girl and ends up getting lost herself, Matt does not hesitate before joining the search for her. Can he find her in time? And if he does, will they finally abandon their fears and the memories of their pasts so that they can fully love each other?
Honor Redeemed is the second book in prolific author Loree Lough’s “First Responder” series. In the initial installment, From Ashes To Honor, Lough apparently tells the story of the scandal that drove Honor out of the fire department. Thus, at the outset of Honor Redeemed, Honor is emotionally and psychologically damaged, and automatically suspicious of any journalist, no matter how charming.
And charming is precisely the word that describes Matt. he is handsome and witty, and the most enjoyable portions of the book are the scenes in which Matt and Honor engage in flirtatious, clever bantering. Lough also depicts a lovingly antagonistic relationship between the twin boys, Steve and Warner. They are precocious but bright opposites, and their father referees their squabbles, often while suppressing a laugh and feeling thankful that their verbal sparring and competitive nature are neither malicious nor mean-spirited. They are believable, normal brothers who seem devoid of any ill effects from growing up without a mother, probably because Matt is portrayed as a devoted and protective father.
Matt is understandably reluctant to commence a relationship with Honor only to have it fail after his sons have become attached to her. Still, he cannot deny that he is in love with her, although he refuses to push or pressure her. He does investigate the scandal and confronts the reporter who destroys Honor’s career, threatening to expose him if he fails to print a retraction, but respects Honor’s rather puzzling request that he not pursue the matter further.
As for Honor, although Lough includes enough exposition for readers who have not read From Ashes to Honor to basically understand what Honor has endured, a ful understanding of her psyche would clearly require reading the first volume in the series. As Honor Redeemed progresses, Lough reveals more details, shedding light on Honor’s complex psychological problems, but her behavior never fully makes sense or rings completely true, although she is an imminently likable and sympathetic character for whom readers will find themselves desiring only a happy ending.
Although the publisher’s synopsis promises significant SAR drama, the book focuses on the will-they-or-won’t-they relationship of Honor and Matt, with their common history as SAR workers as a backdrop and foundation for their complicated feelings for each other. There is virtually no SAR action — even when Matt learns that Honor has been missing for two days since venturing out in search of the missing granddaughter of their mutual friend.
The book ends abruptly and its epilogue is wholly unexpected. A cliff-hanger ending would have been preferable to the unsatisfactory resolution offered by Lough, especially because she has adeptly made her reader care deeply about both Matt and Honor by that point. Hopefully, the third book in the series, A Man of Honor, reveals to fans of Matt and Honor what Lough has in store for the pair.