01 December 2011

REVIEW: Hot Zone by Catherine Mann

Catherine Mann
ISBN #: 9781402244988
Sourcebooks, Inc.
December 2011       
Romantic Suspense



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 . . .


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 in a compelling attraction they're both determined to deny.

Generic man titty. And why is the author's name covering his face? SIGH.

The world had caved in on Amelia Bailey. Literally. Aftershocks from the earthquake still rumbled the gritty earth under her cheek, jarring her out of her hazy micro nap.


I wanted to read HOT ZONE because I was intrigued by the book's description. It had everything going for it and as a former Army vet, I'm a sucker for military set romantic suspense stories. Amelia and Hugh were intriguing with an unique and interesting layered background. Amelia's father had been a pedophile who prayed on her brother's girlfriend, which led Amelia to become a lawyer; Hugh's wife and child died in a plane crash, which pushed him into a career where he rescues people giving little regard for his life or his safety. This is not a spoiler as these facts are mentioned in the first or second chapter, by the way. Anyhoo, despite these interesting back-stories I had a hard time buying into their instant romance given the situation they were in.

Amelia has travelled to the Bahama's to assist her brother and his wife with the adoption of their new son. While there a major earthquake strikes and Amelia is trapped inside the debris with her nephew. Hugh comes in to save her and gets trapped as well. While they are trapped they talk to each other and a bond is formed between them. I didn't understand the sexual attraction/awareness that flared up between them. I mean, her nephew is trapped with them, his condition unknown, Amelia is hurt as well, yet they are thinking about sex and how they are attracted to the other person. The way it was written didn't ring true for me. I would've bought the attraction more if the author would've held back until they were rescued and they saw each other again. As it was written pulled me out of the story.

I loved the idea of Hugh's job and the men on his team. I felt their sense of camaraderie; however, I wish their stories were integrated more into the main plot. There was a significant side plot with Hugh's boss that in my honest opinion did not add to what should have been the focus on Hugh and Amelia. Of course, I am well known for my annoyance for major side plots that don't add to the hero and heroine's story (cough cough, J.R. Ward). I wish more of HOT ZONE focused on Hugh and Amelia fighting through their situations instead of the other characters (Hugh's boss who's name I can't remember at the moment and Amelia's brother and his wife). While cute, didn't add to the main story, IMHO.

I'm debating if I'm going to read this author again. I loved the military aspect and the unique roll the unit plays in the story. However, I was underwhelmed by romance. The hero and heroine's instant attraction and the completely predictable suspense plot. Though my love for the military plot will probably make me pick up this author again, it will because of how well she writes that world and the disaster situations and not for how she writes romance or suspense.

Received copy from publisher for review.


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2 people posted their 2 cents:

Kat Latham said...

I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. In fact, I named it one of my contemporaries to covet in December. It's funny because some of the things you reacted strongly against are the things that rang truest for me.

The visceral reaction Amelia and Hugh have for each other when they're stuck in the rubble felt so powerful to me. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my own body, with all the fear and, yes, excitement mingling together, so I totally got why there was all kinds of tension between them, including sexual tension.

Like you, I usually hate major subplots, but I don't hate them so much in romantic suspense. I think they can serve an important purpose: cranking up the tension. And I think the author did a great job of that here.

It's always interesting to see how something that works so well for one person really doesn't for another.

Lynette said...

LOL. Yes, I can see where that would've worked for you, because they WERE great characters. I guess the whole thinking about sexual attraction/ sex while trapped didn't work for me because while it's cool on television, it doesn't really work like that in real life. At least not in my experience.

I should've stated in my review that my strong EWWW reaction is probably due to my real life experiences. I HAVE been in an intense life/death situation (not an earthquake or anything, just people brandishing guns at me overseas where I didn't know the language) with a guy I was attracted to (we were dating) and the last thing I was thinking about was oh, he's hot. I can't wait to get out of here to do him. LOL.

Also, I've worked for a police department and know many of the officers (and a lot of them are married to each other in the same department) and they often work side by side. While your in the moment, you're in the zone so to speak and adrenaline/training take over and not your hormones. I understand afterward, but in the moment. NO!!!!!!

I also beg to disagree about the subplots. While I understood the Major's purpose, even his story and how he used humor to diffuse the stress (I worked in Casualty and Mortuary Affairs in the Army and WE ALWAYS used humor/jokes to deal with the tension in the office especially when we were dealing with the death of an active duty soldier), his story did not add to the overall story arc and seemed like just an excuse to set up another book.

I did like the writing. Like I said, I just couldn't buy into the romance or the predictable suspense. Didn't you figure out what was going to happen right away? Or is that a weird quirk I have? Or just one of the weird quirks I have, I have many!

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