Desert Isle Keeper Review

Over The Edge

Suzanne Brockmann
2001, Contemporary Romance
Ivy, $6.99, 416 pages, Amazon ASIN 0804119708
Part of a series

Grade: A
Sensuality: Hot

Ordinarily, action-packed books (or movies for that matter) just aren't my thing. Shoot-em-ups, hijackings, SEALS and the like seldom sustain my attention for any length of time. My husband will never understand my desire to read a romantic comedy while he has the latest action/adventure/suspense flick blaring. So why did I choose to review Suzanne Brockmann's latest? About a year ago my local romance reader's group chose Suzanne Brockmann's The Unsung Hero as our monthly selection. I promptly placed it on my night stand and ignored it for a good three weeks before finally picking it up and turning a page. And another. Before long I was falling in love and eager to read each and every word of that dreaded book.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Stanley Wolchonok of the elite SEAL Team 16 troubleshooters has earned a reputation as a man able to diffuse any messy situation with his calm, cool thinking and impressive countenance. Though respected and liked by his peers, Stan has never allowed any of them into his private life. When he witnesses Naval Reservist Lieutenant Helo Pilot Teri Howe (who he has the major hots for) freeze up in obvious fear while she's being sexually harassed, everything changes. Confused at her reaction to the abuse and expecting nothing in return, he steps in to help his dream girl. She rewards him with an unexpected hug.

Stan's "fix-it" instinct kicks into high gear when Teri confides the origins behind the incident to him. To get her away from the harassing creep he pulls a few strings to bring her along to pilot his crew on a training mission. Unfortunately, the make-believe mission soon turns frighteningly real when a plane carrying a senator's daughter is hijacked by five ruthless terrorists and is forced to land in a hellhole called Kazbekistan.

Stan and Teri, along with several familiar characters from Brockmann's previous single title SEAL stories, work together to save the lives of the innocent hostages while dealing with personal crises of the heart. Sam Starrett and Alyssa Locke are back dancing around each other, desperately trying to deny their undeniable and painful attraction. Adding yet another enriching level to the book is the heart-wrenching story of young love and survival during the Denmark Holocaust that is told in flashbacks by an aging survivor.

Despite the breakneck speed of the plot and the multiple story arcs, this book never loses sight of its characters. It is intensely emotional, and at times there is violence that is truly upsetting, particularly in the case of one female secondary character. The violence isn't sensationalized; it serves an important purpose in the plot and really gives the reader a window into the souls of the central characters. The intense situation is also relieved by refreshing moments of humor, which make this book immensely readable.

Although Stan, who has craggy features and a "fighters face," desires Teri something fierce, he believes she deserves someone carefree and handsome so he constantly doubts himself. He even goes so far as trying to fix her up with a sweet, sensitive, movie-star-handsome fellow SEAL. This insecurity in the otherwise confident Stan was only one of his many endearing qualities. And Teri, beautiful, highly skilled and darn good at what she does is emotionally damaged and very sympathetic - but never pathetic. Stan's easy way puts her at ease and gives her the strength and confidence to overcome her fears. She wants him desperately but will face one of her toughest challenges yet as she tries to convince him that her feelings run much deeper than the simple hero worship he believes she feels for him.

There is a lot going on in Over The Edge and I'll be the first to admit that books like these usually either make my head spin or bore me to tears. But this story flows so smoothly that I never felt lost or short-changed. Each and every character comes vibrantly alive and the stories blend beautifully. Underneath all of the tough talk and realistic vulgar language there are some of the "bittersweetest" scenes I've read all year. It just enforces my feelings that excellence lies not so much in the story or the plot trappings, as in the talent of the author who tells it. Books where every word is as interesting, entertaining, heart-wrenching or innately sweet as those in Over The Edge are all too rare. Grab yourself a copy and hold on tight.

-- Laurie Shallah

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