Review: I Own the Dawn by M L Buchman

Title: I Own the Dawn

Author:  M L Buchman

Publisher:  Sourcebooks

Available in Digital:

I Own the Dawn: The Night Stalkers

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Name: Archibald Jeffrey Stevenson III
Rank: First Lieutenant, Dap Hawk Copilot
Mission: Strategy and execution of special ops maneuvers

Name: Kee Smith
Rank: Sergeant, Night Stalker Gunner and Sharpshooter
Mission: Whatever it takes to get the job done

You Wouldn’t Think It Could Get Worse, Until It Does…

When a special mission slowly unravels, it is up to Kee and Archie to get their team out of an impossible situation with international implications. With her weaponry knowledge and his strategic thinking, plus the explosive attraction that puts them into exact synchrony, together they might just have a fighting chance.


I don’t read many military romances, and I’m not sure why.  I loved the urgency and the tension; one mistake could mean injury or death for Kee or one of the members of her special ops team.  Given her impulsiveness and single-minded determination to carry out a mission, that could spell trouble for her crewmates.  Add in the distraction from a forbidden romance on top of that and Kee and Archie could be in for a rocky ride.  Scratch that – they are guaranteed to have a nearly disastrous time!

Kee is a hard woman to like, and she actually likes it that way.  She is not a character that I am used to reading.  Volatile and  prickly, she doesn’t let anyone get close to her.  She guards her past unrelentingly, and while she doesn’t mind a roll in the sheets, there is no way she is going to trust her heart to some guy.  That’s just not happening.  Too complicated, and with her life on the line with every mission, it’s too distracting.  That is, until she is transferred to Emily Beale’s SOAR team, where she meets Archibald Jeffrey Stevenson III, a guy who is everything that she is not. A graduate of West Point,  from a wealthy background, Archie is also an officer and a relationship with him could spell big trouble.  He could get court-martialed, and Kee wouldn’t emerge unscathed should their relationship become public knowledge.   Kee decides that it’s just not worth it, until an unplanned vacation to Italy breaks down her best intentions to stay away from him.

While I was reading I Own the Dawn, I actually felt more comfortable with Archie.  He is a character I immediately liked and could relate to.   Kee, on the other hand, made me uncomfortable.  She comes from the streets, and she is unbelievably tough.  She is also an unapologetic killer.  Trained as a sharpshooter, she rarely misses a target.  I found myself uneasy in her head at times, because she has to be cool under pressure, ready to eliminate her assigned target, which is usually an enemy combatant.  People die when Kee pulls the trigger of her rifle, and sometimes that didn’t sit well with me.  I guess I am not used to heroines in contemporary romances being capable of carrying out deadly missions or murdering gang members.  I know that I am far too wimpy for the life and death confrontations that are part of Kee’s life.  It was difficult for me to embrace Kee’s  profession.  There are definitely gender biases at work, here, too, which I am chagrined to admit.  I don’t know how I would have felt if Archie had been the sharpshooter, or if he had been the hard-ass in this story. 

The relationship between Archie and Kee develops slowly, and I enjoyed the tension that boiled between them.  Kee keeps him at arms length, emotionally, afraid that a long-term commitment with him would never work.  Their backgrounds are too different, she believes, and so she does everything she can to keep from getting her feelings destroyed.  Physical pleasure is one thing, but she just can’t bring herself to trust him with her heart.  Archie, on the other hand, is bewildered by the abrupt change in Kee’s attitude towards him, and after avoiding the situation, he finally lays everything on the line and tells her how he feels.  I have to admit that I was getting frustrated with both of them, and while I expected Kee to be unable to communicate her  feelings for Archie, I was so disappointed that it took him so long to finally confront Kee about the issue of their relationship.  Any longer and I think I would have hurled the book against the nearest wall.  Maybe I was giving Archie too much credit.

There were a few plot points that I didn’t like or find believable, the first being their vacation to Italy just a few weeks after Kee is assigned to Emily’s crew.  It was too convenient, and made the super secret mission they were recalled for even more over the top.  I also found it unlikely that Dilya, the Uzbek orphan that Kee is caring for, would be allowed to continue living at the base or would be allowed to continue on with the crew’s other super secret and super dangerous mission after the young stowaway was discovered onboard the chopper.  They had just been shot at and nearly taken out of the sky.  I found it hard to swallow that Emily would allow a young child to stay onboard when they were heading into even more dangerous territory, not to mention the distraction she presented to the crew.

Even though I Own The Dawn didn’t always work for me, I enjoyed the story and characters enough to want to learn more about them.  The Night is Mine is the first book in the series, and I haven’t read it yet.  It follows Emily and Mark’s story, and I am assuming the next book will be about Connie Davis, a new arrival at the base.  I liked her the little bit she was in the book, and I’m curious to see who she ends up with.  I also found this exposure to military romance exciting, so I’m eager to explore other titles.  If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher