Calisto's Reviews > Hot Zone

Hot Zone by Catherine Mann
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's review
Nov 02, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: netgalley, military-hotness
Recommended for: fans of military romance
Read from November 15 to 25, 2011

Entertaining if somewhat unfocused and ultimately over the top.

Master Sergeant Hugh Franco rescues trapped Amanda Bailey from the wreckage of her hotel in earthquake ravaged Bahamas only to land in the middle of a black market kidnapping ring. Now, he must use all his skill as an elite pararescueman in order to keep them alive.

Let me start with gushing about the beginning of this story. The rescue from the hotel wreckage was nail-biting, awesomesauce, amazing. More than once, I was tempted to peak at the end, just to ensure that characters had lived and what a payoff when that rescue is completed. Even in the lull aftermath of the rescue, this story held the intensity and surprised me with the romantic tension despite the devastation of the surroundings.

It simply worked. The characters were likeable and their reactions to the situation felt real. Even the shag in the closet was appropriate (and trust me, I'm ubber critical about inappropriate/tacked on smut scenes).

However... Once the story moves away from the earthquake rescue and into the black market kidnapping ring, it felt like a completely different book. Like a sequel to a great story that doesn't quite match up to the emotional intensity of the original. This part of the story (I do consider it a mash-up of two linked stories) starts off with a bang of Rambo vs. van chase.

The problem is not in the chase itself, but that it comes in the heels of an emotionally intense first part. This makes the chase and subsequent second rescue feel way over the top. Add that to the intrusion of secondary and tertiary story-lines (and their accompanying POVs which includes the - sympathetic? - 'villain') and suddenly the emotional impact of the beginning starts to fray, losing its impact.

Had the rescues, earthquake vs. kidnapping ring, been completely separate, both would have ultimately had more cohesion and rated higher for me.

As it stands, Hot Zone is a solid story with very likeable characters that starts out with an amazing bang and, although it loses its intensity, remains an entertaining read.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.
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