Monday, February 4, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Free Fall" by Catherine Mann

Jose James
Stella Carson

SUMMARY from Goodreads:

Pararescueman Jose "Cuervo" James can't imagine committing to anything other than his job. But when he parachutes deep into East Africa to rescue wounded Interpol agent Stella Carson—a woman from his past—he finds himself ensnared in more ways than he can count. Racing through the jungle to stop separatists from attacking the U.S. embassy, Jose and Stella must call upon their training to survive. Could this be their second chance at passion…or will the rebels end their future before it begins?

I love a good second chance story.  And oh my, this is Catherine Mann at her best. Free Fall is book four in the Elite Force series, and these stories just keep getting better with each successive book.  

After a whirlwind global romance, Jose James and Stella Carson are broken up.  Their stressful jobs, their emotionally damaging pasts, their conflicting dreams, all conspire to keep them apart.  However, there is this one thing....the are in love with one another and they can't seem to give that up no matter how many times they keep hurting each other.  

I love the parity between the characters. Stella is a kick-ass  Interpol agent trying to stop criminal activity in Africa.  He is a USAF Pararescue jumper whose mission is to recover downed and injured crew members in austere and non-permissive enviornments (yup, that's from their website)  He is medically and military trained. I love that it is her job to put her life on the line as much as it is his. 

The tension in the relationship is not whether to love or not, but rather, do they love one another ENOUGH.  Sometimes, people have different values, dreams for the future. Stella, growing up in a broken home, wants a family.  This is non-negotiable.  Jose is from an alcoholic family and doesn't want to risk the possibility of passing on that sickness.  
The relationship dilemma is tightly woven around the story of a terrorist group looking to raise havoc by obtaining and releasing the names of operatives around the world. There are some nice surprises regarding Stella's history that works well to enhance the drama.  And I enjoyed the use of flashbacks to give us the background of Jose and Stella's love affair.  

My little critique is that there are one too many times where the characters resolve to never let the other go and then proceed to do things that drive each other away.  It doesn't overwhelm the overall story, but I did take notice. 

IN A NUTSHELL: If you are a fan of romantic suspense or of Catherine Mann, this is a not-to-be-missed installment of the Elite Force series. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks for the ARC via Netgalley. 

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