Thursday, December 1, 2011

ARC Review: Hot Zone

Hot Zone
Catherine Mann
Romantic Suspense
Elite Force/Book 2
Sourcebooks Casablanca/December 1, 2011

From the author's website ~

Days full of danger…
For Pararescueman Master Sergeant Hugh Franco, it’s all about saving other people’s lives. Then he moves on. But when he pulls beautiful Amelia Bailey and her adopted nephew from the rubble of a catastrophic earthquake, he finds himself entangled in their lives in ways he could never have imagined…

And desire-filled nights…
Amelia’s trip to the Bahamas to help with an international adoption has been no vacation, but the hardest part is yet to come. As Amelia and Hugh are pulled unawares into a deadly smuggling scheme, simmering beneath their growing need to protect each other is a compelling attraction they’re both determined to deny…

The second book in Catherine Mann's Elite Force series about a group of Pararescuemen pulls you in tight and never lets go. It takes place in the beautiful Bahamas but this time it's more deadly than beautiful after an earthquake shatters the region. The team is sent to help in the recovery after the devastating earthquake, risking their lives in the unstable environment.

Hugh Franco doesn't mind the more dangerous jobs, he volunteers for them. Some might say he has a death wish, and they might be right. Hugh takes his job very seriously but feels he has nothing to keep him here and everything waiting for him on the other side. Mann does a good job conveying Hugh's feelings of longing for his deceased wife and daughter and his hope that he will be with them again in death. He's not a reckless, loose cannon type rather he feels that he's the one who should take the most dangerous missions since he has no one waiting at home for him. The people he loved most are dead.

Amelia Bailey went to the Bahamas to help her sister and her husband with the adoption of their son. She never expected to be fighting for her life and the life of her nephew. It's in those desperate hours that she meets her hero and the man who will have a far greater impact on her life than she ever imagined. Amelia is a prosecutor back in Alabama so her expertise is in the courtroom, not trying to keep herself and her nephew alive while buried underneath the rubble of a building. The way Amelia reacts to her situation was very realistic. She tries to be calm and in control but has her moments of panic like anyone would. I do think a lot of that calmness was because she was also responsible for her nephew. She's a fighter and doesn't give up.

The scenes when Amelia and Hugh first meet during the rescue are amazing. Seeing Hugh's training at work, how not only his physical abilities but his mental abilities all play a part in the rescue was fascinating. Trying to stay calm and in command while keeping a civilian calm and knowing that any moment they could be crushed made for some very stress-filled scenes. Of course I knew they would live through it, occurring as it did at the beginning of the book. But I still felt that tension as each moment passed as their lives were still in jeopardy.

After the rescue neither Amelia or Hugh can put the other out of their thoughts. Amelia is recovering from her injuries and needs to find her sister and her brother-in-law. Hugh is still part of the rescue team but finds time to check on Amelia. It's that pull towards each other that finds them together again in dangerous circumstances. This is definitely an action oriented novel and even during the slower scenes, you could feel the energy of the surroundings just below the surface. It's a story where I liked all the plots and sub-plots but I did enjoy Amelia and Hugh's the best. I liked them together as they fought for their lives and still found those little moments to learn about each other. Their romance may start as gratitude on Amelia's part and fascination on Hugh's but it becomes much deeper the more they know of each other.

There is a flirtatious second romance blooming between Major Liam McCabe and a rescue worker. They were a fun pair - him a total player and her not falling for his lines. Which makes him change his plan of attack and stop the BS with this woman who has captured his interest. I liked this pair a lot and hope they get their own story. We also see an established couple dealing with the stress of the dangerous situation and loss. Mann does well showing how they must rely on each other through the crisis.

Ms. Mann does a wonderful job showing all the different emotions played out during a crisis. I enjoyed the tropical setting coupled with the danger and instability running through the story. The obstacles Amelia and Hugh had to overcome were huge and at times held a dose of implausibility to them but in the end Hot Zone proved to be a spectacular ride.

Rating: A

Elite Forces series ~

Cover Me
Hot Zone
Under Fire (May 2012)


  1. I love Cathy Mann's books! And I agree completely about not just the physical, but the mental work these guys do. The first book had that same quality. Can't wait to read this one!

  2. I have the first book in this series but haven't read it yet. I've been trying to get some og my more neglected genres read bad I've already read quite a bot of RS this year. But I really must start reading faster and the heck with reality tv *g*

  3. sounds pretty good, leslie! I'm definitively going to have to check out Ms Mann's writing!! :)

    and I like that it's about pararescueman :)

  4. Sounds good, Leslie! I'll have to check the first book. :)

  5. Lori ~ I'm wishing I had more time to read her back list. Really enjoying this series!

    Kristie ~ Reality TV is a hard habit to kick - good luck with that!

    Nath ~ I love the pararescuemen and the chance to read all the different rescues scenarios.

    Hils ~ It's a good series. Definitely give it a try.:)