Catherine Mann is a well-known author in the military romance genre, and since I have enjoyed reading other romantic suspense novels that she has written, I was glad for the opportunity to review Grayson’s Surrender and Taking Cover. Both titles were published separately in 2002 but have now been combined and re-released this year. Although both novels may be categorized as contemporary romance, I was pleased to discover that Taking Cover has some elements of romantic suspense, which drew me into the plot, perhaps more so than Grayson’s Surrender. Nevertheless, both of these novels are great reads that quickly and easily pulled me into the lives of these fearless Air Force heroes and the courageous heroines who capture their hearts. “Anything, Anywhere, Anytime” is their motto, and in both novels, the main characters’ actions certainly show this to be the case.
Before I respond to each novel individually, I want to point out the similarities that I found between both stories.
-The heroes are dedicated, brave and honorable men who fear commitment and avoid getting too close to the women they date.
-The heroines are strong-willed and self-reliant, with type-A personalities that entice and challenge their men.
-Each couple as well as many of the supporting characters are multi-dimensional and are imbued with qualities and flaws that make them seem real and believable. Mann does a great job in developing each featured character’s appearance, personality, patterns of behavior, and backstory to lend depth to and strengthen that character’s emotional arc.
-Both novels are narrated from a third-person point of view so readers can get into the minds of each hero and heroine and follow their internal struggles. I am impressed with how smoothly Mann shifts from one character’s perspective to another even within the same scene. This is not easy to accomplish, but Mann does it extremely well.
-The love scenes are sensual rather than overly explicit in nature.
-Both stories have a HEA resolution that left me sighing in contentment.
This is a well-written romance that describes a couple’s efforts to rekindle their relationship a year after they walked away from each other. Major Grayson, “Gray” Clark has the rare distinction of serving as both a pilot and flight surgeon in the Air Force. He thinks he has a great life, everything he wants…except for the one woman he can’t seem to forget, Lori Rutledge.
When a mission to rescue orphans from a war-torn Eastern European village brings Gray and Lori together, their response to each other and the tense dialogue between them clearly show they haven’t closed the door for good on their relationship. Their different ideas of what a future together would entail created a chasm that eventually tore them apart. Lori wants marriage and a family, but the most Gray is willing to offer is living together. Now, even though their reunion is awkward and unsettling, and Gray knows he will be moving away soon, he sees an opportunity to have closure with Lori so they can part on amicable terms. Gray sees the special relationship blossoming between Lori and Magda, one of the orphaned girls rescued, and implements a plan to make all three of them happy. By supporting and encouraging the growing bond between this woman and child, Gray thinks he is giving Lori the family he can’t provide, so he can walk away with no regrets. Unfortunately, Gray doesn’t count on his heart getting involved, which causes his plan to backfire. As Gray begins spending more time with Lori and Magda, he realizes that doing so is only making it harder to walk away from them.
This story is full of ironic situations, like this. The more Gray’s plans fall into place, the less happy he is about the outcome. Furthermore, one of the major reasons Gray refuses to settle down is because of his parents’ marriage. Ironically, Gray’s parents play a significant role in bridging the gap between the couple. His mother is amazingly intuitive and persistent in gently nudging her son toward the happiness that awaits him if he’ll only step up and embrace it. Although a man of few words and generally distant, Gray’s father provides the wisdom that leads Gray to question his choices.
Although the plot is fairly predictable the dynamic characters are what make this story so enjoyable. The rescue mission itself is one of my favorite scenes because it really shows the characters’ moral fiber when you see them in action, handling each crisis that arises with skill and finesse. Another favorite scene is the climax which will easily sweep the romantics-at-heart off their feet. Be forewarned, you may find yourself swooning.
Between the two stories, Taking Cover is my favorite. The drama centers around flight surgeon, Dr. Kathleen O’Connell and “hot shot” pilot, Tanner “Bronco” Bennett. Kathleen is a big believer in following the rules while Tanner likes to break them, and the sparks fly from their frequent verbal sparring. The slight antagonism they display toward each other is really just an effort to mask the intense mutual attraction between them that neither wants to admit.
When they cause a public scene in an argument over Tanner’s need for medical treatment, their commander assigns them to work together on an investigation of a recent C-17 crash. Their mission is two-fold: discover the cause of the crash and prove they can work as a team.
Forced to spend time together, Kathleen and Tanner try to set aside their difference and maintain a professional working relationship during the investigation. However, now they can no longer escape dealing with the metaphorical elephant that’s been in the room with them for the past twelve years: the unresolved passion and lust brimming just beneath the surface whenever they are around each other. Many of their dialogues are teeming with sexual tension, which makes for an interesting read. Despite their differences, Kathleen and Tanner have a charisma and passion that make them a well-suited couple.
Another intriguing aspect that I enjoyed in this story is the increasingly dangerous complications Kathleen and Tanner encounter as they get closer to solving the mystery behind the plane crash. The second half of the book is suspenseful and will put Kathleen’s and Tanner’s teamwork skills to the test, and this time their survival depends on their success. Taking Cover is also a well-written story with a unified and cohesive plot that makes for an engrossing read.
Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author to provide an honest review.
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