Air Force captain Joe Greco had stood silently by when photojournalist Brigid Wheeler fell for his best friend, and he lent her comfort when Cooper was killed. Now he was forced to play protector as they embarked on the most dangerous mission of their lives.
ONE LAST CHANCE
The covert operation was a chance for Brigid to avenge Cooper's death, and nothing would stop her from following Joe into the action. Though the grief they shared had brought them close, they'd never crossed the line. Until now.
ONE LAST BETRAYAL
In the heat of danger Joe and Brigid finally surrendered to the explosive passion that burned between them. Then they discovered a shattering truth: Cooper was alive…and the ultimate betrayal was still to come….
Genre: military romance / romantic suspense
Publishing date: July 2005 (January 2012 for the Kindle edition)
Offensive content: this book is not exactly light. If you have (or had) friends or family in the Armed Forces deployed overseas, it may come too close to home. There are also a few sex scenes (all towards the end of the book), though not excessively graphic.
This is a good book, so much more than just a romance story, but it is not exactly light reading.
From the prologue, set in the middle of the war in Iraq, it extends to topics like the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking (and drug usage), prisoners of war and war injuries.
The story starts when Brigid, a former photojournalist working with the Army in war settings, is called back in action. Two years before Brigid lost her boyfriend, Cooper, in Iraq, and has been laying low since then, unable to overcome grief and live the rest of her life.
Then she's given the opportunity to cover an Air Force mission to a South America country. The mission is to help local authorities in the fight against drug trafficking, but one of the drug lords involved has ties with Islamic terrorists. Which, in turn, were involved in the ambush that killed Cooper and the rest of the men in his unit. She feels that she needs to go, as it will give her more insights on Cooper's death and, eventually, the closure she needs.
Joe is an Air Force pilot, Cooper's former best friend and Brigid's shoulder to cry on since Cooper's death. He's a man bound by rules and codes, and his own past as an orphan of war in Macedonia adds another layer to his character.
Joe's attracted to Brigid ever since they met, but she was Cooper's first, so his code of honor prevents him from taking a step further in their relationship, even though Cooper died over two years ago.
Eventually, Cooper and Brigid do get involved. And a secondary romantic couple emerges mid-book: Cooper, which is very much alive (though permanently scarred) and working undercover for the CIA, and Lena, the secretary (and mistress) of the drug dealer they are all trying to bring to justice.
In the beginning I didn't really like Cooper, for all the deception involving his death, and I still think Joe and Brigid forgave him a bit too fast. And I also didn't like Lena, though, like Cooper, she kind of grew up on me. Understanding that she everything she was doing had the ultimate purpose of protecting her young son is definitely something I can relate to.
After a lot of twists and turns and some nail biting moments, the bad guys are subdued, the United States are protected from yet another terrorist act, and both couples get the happy ending they deserve.
There were a few glitches in the story, the most important for me being Brigid's role in the mission. I'm pretty sure that the Armed Forces allow journalists to accompany them in certain missions, but I'm also pretty sure that it takes a lot for such assignments to become official. To have Brigid in just because she worked with them years before and precisely in a mission that is somewhat connected to the ambush in Iraq is a bit far fetched. Especially because she's notified of this by Joe and there is no mention of any official meeting for such nomination or even mission briefing.
The connection between the drug dealers and the terrorists is also left a bit in the air. Since that connection is crucial for the story to make sense, I think the author could have spent a few more phrases explaining it.
On the positive side, Catherine Mann clearly has an in dept knowledge of the military world, both in terms of people and equipment, which makes the story all the more believable. I loved the descriptions of the new plane Joe is flying, as well as the conversations between the members of his crew, both on and off duty.
All in all, it is still a great book and I recommend it to everyone, as long as you keep in mind that this is not really a fluffy lighthearted romance.
Have a great weekend,