The Admiral's Bride

Bodyguard

Body Language

The Defiant Hero

Everyday, Average Jones

Forbidden

Freedom's Price

Get Lucky

Harvard's Education
Heartthrob

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Kiss and Tell

Love With the Proper Stranger

Time Enough for Love
Undercover Princess

The Unsung Hero

 
Over The Edge by Suzanne Brockmann
(Ballantine, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8041-1970-8
****
I wonder if there are others like me out there. Suzanne Brockmannís latest Navy SEAL adventure has been languishing in my TBR pile for a couple of weeks. Each time I was ready to start reading something new, Iíd pick it up, glance at the cover, then put it back down again. While Iíve enjoyed the previous books in Brockmannís Troubleshooters series, it seems the recent tragic events have made an indelible mark on what I used to define as light entertainment.

Now, as my attention continually drifts out the window behind my computer, I stare out at Coronado, the home of the Navy SEALs that are featured in Brockmannís books and I canít help but wonder about the flesh and blood SEALs that share my community. For some unexplainable reason, picking up a fictional account of their lives, at this time, was oddly painful.

But wouldnít you know it. A copy of the book arrived for review, forcing me to get on with it. Once I cracked the cover, I was hooked and was surprised to find the reading somewhat cathartic. Of all the books in the series, this one stands out as my favorite.

For those who have followed the series, Over The Edge follows the same skillfully woven pattern set in previous books. The primary romantic plot, in this case featuring Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok and Navy Reserve helicopter pilot Lt. (jg) Teri Howe. A World War II subplot, and a terrorist situation in which the terrorists are not merely stereotypical villains, their actions are difficult to read and, unfortunately, realistic.

And, oh yes, Sam and Alyssa return. The on-again, off-again relationship between Lt. Sam Starrett and FBI sharpshooter Alyssa Locke takes a dramatic turn here. Without elaborating, Iíll simply say that in their last scene together, I felt as if the rug was yanked out from under me. Iím getting to the point that Iím finding the twists and turns of their story too excruciating to continue to read (and when they finally get their own book, you bet Iíll be first in line to buy it).

When Over The Edge opens, Lt. Teri Howe is grappling with the unwanted attentions of a Lt. Commander on base. Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok canít help but notice and, true to his nature, steps into help. He arranges for Teri to join his SEAL team on a training mission in the Azores. Unfortunately, in mid-flight, they are diverted to Kazbekistan to assist in the rescue mission of a plane thatís been hijacked by terrorists. Suddenly, Stanís plan to move Teri from harmís way has put her directly into an even more dangerous situation. A situation that Teri thrives on. Sheís thrilled to be a member of the team.

Teri is my favorite heroine of the series. Sheís brave, intelligent and vulnerable in a way that is sympathetically rendered. Although circumstances in her background have made her leery in her interactions with men, she truly shines as a helicopter pilot in perilous situations. In one of the final climatic scenes, Teri has an opportunity to really show what sheís made of. I wish this scene had been longer. Sheís finally given the opportunity to show precisely how tough she is and itís over in a few short paragraphs. Dragging out the suspense at that moment would have given it much more impact.

This pair is particularly well suited. Which made it difficult for me to understand exactly why Stan felt so incapable of maintaining a relationship with Teri, or anyone else for that matter. I would have liked a bit more background on why Stan was compelled to "fix" everyoneís problems. Even at his own expense. I did like the little tidbit that Stan liked to renovate old bungalows and collect Stickley antique furniture. But one small thing nagged at me throughout the entire book. I kept wondering how Stan could have possibly afforded an ocean view bungalow. Around here, weíre talking well over a million for a little fixer-upper like that. I kept waiting to hear of Stanís wealthy background, but when it never happened I chalked it up to artistic license. Unfortunately, wondering about things like that really pull me out of the story.

In all three books in the series, I often found the subplots to be more interesting than the romantic thread. Thatís certainly the case here. Israeli envoy Helen Rosenís remembrances of the Nazi occupation of Denmark while struggling with the onset of Alzheimerís, is particularly poignant. Thereís also the intriguing relationship between FBI agent Max Bhagat and hostage Gina Vitagliano. It will be interesting to see what direction their relationship takes in future books.

If youíve hesitated, like I did, to read Over the Edge, donít. Itís an outstanding addition to the series.

--Karen Lynch


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