The deadliest animal in the jungle is the two legged kind.
Nina Truman is a missionary nurse, serving in a tiny Guatemalan town not far from the Mexican border. It's a fulfilling life, tending to the village poor, a way to serve in the country from which she was adopted. The day she leaves on furlough, is the day her life falls apart. Her bus is ambushed and she must flee from forces who inexplicably wish her dead. Trapped between a ruthless drug lord and his assassins, a corrupt police chief, and colleagues with ulterior motives, her friends may prove just as deadly as her enemies as she uncovers a plot tangled deep in the roots of her own past.
Nina's only hope of survival lies in the hands of Shaw Wilder, a man who despises missionaries and the God they serve. His skill is in handling a landmine detection dog, not helping a woman he blames for the death of his sister. When the lethal drug kingpin El Escorpion seeks to capture Nina, and the local police are no help, Shaw has to choose: flee into the Guatemalan jungle with a naive woman who has vowed never to take a life or follow his own spiritual demons and walk away. His choice may leave them both imprisoned in a jungle from which neither will escape.
Goodness, what a ride! You jump right in immediately and the action never stops! There's hardly a moment of downtime and peace for these characters. I mean, you know things are going to be crazy when the opening sentence is: Nina never imagined her life would end on a bus. It does get a little harry every other moment, but you're so involved in the story that you barely have time to wonder when things are ever going to slow down. This is the kind of story that you want to have several available hours for reading. Because once you start it, you aren't going to want to put the book down as there's never a good moment to stop reading! It's exciting and scary and fun all at the same time. Plus a little romance helps sweeten the plot even further. ;)
Nina and Shaw are wonderfully flawed people. Nina, who has always felt called to be a missionary yet still struggles with doubts and fears like anyone else, and Shaw, who refuses to believe that God is good and would love nothing more than to deny His existence. But God has bigger plans for both of them. Nina is being chased by people out to kill her or kidnap her or both and Shaw ends up right in the middle of her situation, exactly where he doesn't want to be. But he can't seem to help himself. With their foes on their tail, and with no idea who they can trust, off they run into the jungle. Like I said, there's not much peace and quiet to be found in their story. But somehow, Ms. Mentink sprinkles little spurts of amusement and fun intermingled into the adrenalin rush. Which means we get a few cute moments between our would-be couple. And they are pretty cute!
And Axel! I loved Axel. He's such a fun addition, yet fierce enough to defend his master every single time. Yes, Axel's a dog. But a protective and awesome dog! He's a trusted friend who gets them out of scrape after scrape and just when things look awfully dark, Axel shows his determination and loyalty time and again. They'd be rather lost without him around actually. There was a moment where he had me really worried and I was so, so happy things didn't go the way I thought they had!
As a matter of fact, that's what Ms. Mentink does really well. She led me down her path and where I thought we were going to end up was completely different from where we actually did. She kept me on pins and needles much of the time! There were a few rough spots however. I confess to being quite irritated with Nina's father. He kept so much from her and even at the end, I still wasn't satisfied with his explanation. Also, some parts of the ending felt a little too convenient for me. Still, after all the fear and frustration of Shaw and Nina's adventure, I was very happy they got their happy ending. :)
So. The fun of this story is that, while you have a good idea how it's going to end, you still have absolutely no idea how you're going to get there! I say go get this book and sit back and enjoy the ride. There's never a dull moment in the jungle! :D
This is where it would end, her strange journey. She imagined consumption by fire, ignoring the fact that death would come first from the choking smoke. Her knees weakened and she dropped to the floor, head spinning and face wet with acid tears.
The boy's face appeared again, and his hands thrust through the opening. They were such tiny hands, so delicate and finely boned. How could those hands reach through such overwhelming heat? Those yearning fingers reached out for the father.
Something flickered deep inside Nina and she forced herself to her feet. Maybe if she could turn the man on his side. Grabbing hold of his thick shoulder, she heaved him into position, hoping not to hear the crack of broken bones as she did so. Sweat ran down her face, stinking the multiple cuts as she tried to shove him toward the window.