Genres: Romantic Suspense
Judith’s review of Under Fire (Elite Force #3) by Catherine Mann
A decorated hero, pararescueman Liam McCabe lives to serve. Six months ago, he and Rachel Flores met in the horrific aftermath of an earthquake in the Bahamas. They were tempted by an explosive attraction, yet parted ways. Still, Liam has thought about Rachel every day—and night—since.
Now, after ignoring all his phone calls for six months, Rachel has turned up on base with a wild story about a high-ranking military traitor. She claims no one but Liam can help her—and she won’t trust anyone else.
With nothing but her word and the testimony of a discharged military cop to go on, Liam would be insane to risk his career—even his life—to help this woman who left him in the dust.
Liam and Rachel couldn’t be more different and yet they are very similar and have a surprising number of qualities in common. Both are sensitive and caring people and both have committed their time, energy, and considerable talents to rescuing those caught in difficult circumstances, whether the victims of a tragedy or disaster, or someone who is a prisoner of severe PTSD. Liam is a man who is nearing the end of his active days as a pararescueman, really wants to do that for the rest of his life but knows that his body is nixing that notion. Rachel is trying to overcome a case of burn-out from dealing with so much death and wounding by training service animals for the handicapped or those disabled by PTSD. There attraction was of short duration, but that being said, neither of these intense and caring people can forget each other. Yet Rachel has refused to even acknowledge Liam’s attempts to re-establish contact since returning to the States six months previously. Yet the one person Rachel knows will put himself on the line to help her with his considerable networking and military contacts is Liam, and after all other alternative is exhausted, it is to Liam that she flees.
This tale reminded me of novels like Ice Station Zebra and other Cold War intrigues where the corruption and infiltration of evil was significant in military ranks. Yet this story is really about greed and power, the ambitions of a man who lives very close to the line between insanity and health, and about a man whose deep wounds of the spirit are not enough to keep him from trying to do the right thing. Yet his concerns are dismissed as if he were a mentally disabled child. It is just one more evidence (and it happens in real life, too) that PTSD victims are not taken seriously, are like many with who have emotional and mental problems today in that they are considered to have a communicable disease. Ms Mann has written a book that calls the reader’s attention most pointedly although it is all in the context of a very good story.
This novel is also deeply saturated with fear: Liam’s fear of long-term committed relationships although that is what he wants down deep, more than he even realizes. Rachel’s fear of being hurt emotionally more than she can stand; the fear of the PTSD soldier who knows what he knows, but is not taken seriously and who worries he will be discarded; and the fear of those in high places as they have to spend more and more time and effort protecting themselves and their future. It is a novel that penetrates the wishful thinking of readers who want to believe that all our military personnel are driven by high purpose. One would think we all know that isn’t so. Yet it is a compelling novel that is filled with hope and the belief that good really does overcome evil, that there are people out there who will love us as we are, that it is possible to find long-term happiness no matter how many emotional detours one has taken in the past.
There is no hiding the fact that this is a suspense tale through and through, but all mixed up in it is the poignant and up-and-down story of Rachel and Liam’s romantic journey. Their paths are full of ups and downs and emotional potholes, but one has to recognize that these two have the tensile strength to stay the course, even when they are most tempted to turn away from one another. I have to say that I was glued to the page–read the whole thing from start to finish in one sitting. It’s just that good. And of course, you can’t go wrong looking at that gorgeous torso on the cover.
It’s a delightful and sensuous book, and I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.
This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here