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Bravely and Faithfully (Cutter Kauai Sea Adventures, #3) by Edward M. Hochsmann

Take a deep breath before you start because Bravely and Faithfully goes from 0 to 60 right from the start!

The crew of the USCG Cutter Kauai is back on duty and, this time, picks up the distress call of a small family stranded in the path of a major hurricane. It’s a close call for all and so exhilarating as everyone makes it to safety.

Sam Powell, who’s been the CO for the past two years, receives news of a well-deserved promotion. But, of course, Sam’s good fortune will mean he must leave the Kauai and the crew that is so much like family. His replacement, Lieutenant Haley Reardon, is excited to have her first command and immediately realizes she has big shoes to fill. Her new crew is a tight-knit and loyal group, in addition to being highly capable at their jobs, but she is up to the challenge of taking over from their well-regarded former captain.

Back as XO is Lieutenant Junior Grade Benjamin Wyporek. After the last mission left him at death’s door, he’s made a remarkable recovery, but a couple of brutal patrols have him worried about how it may affect his career future. However, as he and his lovely girlfriend, Victoria, approach the six-month mark of sharing an apartment, he’s beginning to think it may be time to level up the relationship. He’s unsure what to expect in the new captain, but he’s one to give everyone a fair shake. He knows and understands that the rest of the crew will take their cues from him and how he reacts.

But before Reardon and the crew can complete a quiet first patrol together, they are called to assist in a dangerous mission involving the shadowy Defense Intelligence Agency. Haley, Ben, and the rest of the Kauai crew will perform bravely and faithfully, but at what cost this time around?

Take a deep breath before you start because Bravely and Faithfully goes from 0 to 60 right from the start. The danger and excitement of the rescue during a hurricane literally had me holding my breath. Afterward, there is little respite for the Kauai (or the reader) as they are drawn right back into the thick of things before you can catch your breath.

The plot of this third adventure delves into exciting areas. Really, Hochmann’s stories always seem to probe unexplored territory. They are never dull or run-of-the-mill, and this one was no different. I enjoyed the political shenanigans which severely handicapped the captain’s and the crew’s abilities to accomplish their assigned mission in a way they felt was right. Orders and circumstances left the new CO with tougher than usual decisions to make on “a helluva break-in patrol.”

This small crew of men and women has just so much heart. When Sam was promoted with the subsequent change in command, I was worried about bringing in such a critical unknown to the series, and frankly, it took me some time to warm up to Haley. She seemed so cold and, unnecessarily, by the book at first. But I liked how she eventually works out the transition and preserves what is so good about this crew, especially with Ben and Hoppy. Speaking of Ben, he’s come back from his pretty catastrophic injury in the previous book, ready to get on with life. Ben just has what it takes. I liked what the author has done with Ben’s always delightful relationship with Victoria.

I really like this author’s writing style. He puts you on the scene and in the moment. Each scene is presented in such a way that you are there with the characters. Dialogue is well written, even when technical language is needed. I never felt confused by jargon, and I felt even more caught up in the action with the use. The unfolding scenes felt realistic and genuine.

From witty banter to a marriage proposal that doesn’t quite go as planned, there are some good laughs to level out the danger and tragedy. There are many emotionally-charged moments in this adventure; along with the excitement and joy, there is great sadness and shock. There are also some tough topics and situations described. I laughed and cried with the characters, and I so look forward to their continued future. They’ve almost become friends and family.

I recommend Bravely and Faithfully and the entire USCG Cutter Kauai Sea Adventures series to readers who enjoy character-driven military action-adventure stories. Although, Bravely and Faithfully is the third book in the series and could be read as a standalone, for the best reading experience, start at the beginning. You won’t be sorry.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

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