Dee Henderson: True Devotion (Uncommon Heroes Book 1)
Kelly and Joe share a love of the sea, a love of sailing, and a love of a man they both lost. They become best friends after the death of Nick - Kelly’s husband, and Joe’s best friend and fellow Navy SEAL.
When a SEAL mission goes wrong, Joe is injured and Nick is killed. The story picks up three years later. Kelly, a lifeguard, is lost at sea when a rescue goes from bad to worse; now she is the one that needs rescuing. Determined to find her, Joe and other SEALs join the Coast Guard for the rescue mission. Hours too late, yet just in the nick of time, Joe finds Kelly. Disoriented from hours at sea, and shaken by a very near brush with death, Kelly confesses that she loves Joe. Surprised yet elated, Joe ponders the implications. He loves Kelly too, but feelings of guilt hold him back. Nevertheless, Joe and Kelly agree to tentatively start dating and see how things evolve. What neither realizes is that the man responsible for Nick’s death has made a comeback and has worked himself into both their lives, now suddenly in mortal danger.
As always Dee Henderson’s attention to detail is immaculate. Kelly’s days as a lifeguard are very realistically described, as is her torment during hours fighting the restless sea. Even more so the missions of the Navy SEALs, from the planning stages to execution, bring the reader into the mission, making you feel like part of the team.
On the negative side, I didn’t form an emotional connection with these characters – a first for me with a Dee Henderson novel. Don’t get me wrong, I came to care about Kelly and I came to care about Joe, but somehow I never got comfortable with their relationship. Henderson handled it beautifully, and again realistically, but throughout the novel it stayed in the back of my mind that Kelly is now dating her husband’s best friend, and that Joe is dating his best friend’s widow. I remained quite uncomfortable with the turn of their relationship, especially since Nick is still a very real presence. It’s been three years since his death, and Kelly still wears her wedding ring. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, but to me it shows she hasn’t let go of him, and that she is by no means ready to start dating anyone – much less his best friend. Joe and Kelly also constantly talk about Nick. I realize that they both loved him, and that he will always be a part of their lives, but there is no need to talk it to death. I honestly would have preferred it if their relationship had stayed platonic throughout the book. In the beginning of the book they are best friends, and the friendship is beautiful, sweet and fun to watch – the romantic aspect didn’t quite fit for me.
Now, I’m not saying people who lose their spouses shouldn’t date or remarry. I’m not even saying that Joe and Kelly dating is wrong – personally I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. Maybe if Nick hadn’t been at the centre of the story the whole time it wouldn’t have bothered me as much. Such as it is, Nick is too strong a presence throughout the novel. At times it felt like he might as well have been right there, watching the two of them kiss. I’m pleased that Joe and Kelly found happiness with each other, but I would have preferred that Nick and Joe had been just colleagues in stead of best friends, or that Nick and Kelly had been only engaged, not married. Somehow the transition of their relationship didn’t work for me.
Also, Henderson's trademark focus on faith is present, but not as strong as in her other works. This time around it seemed to me to be an action novel first, Christian lit second.
Title: True Devotion
Author: Dee Henderson
Number of pages: 336
Publisher: Tyndale House