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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hot Zone by Catherine Mann

Hot Zone by Catherine Mann
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (316 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Camellia


The haunted eyes of pararescueman Hugh Franco should have been her first clue that deep pain roiled beneath the surface. But if Amelia couldn't see the damage, how could she be expected to know he'd break her heart?


Amelia Bailey's not the kind of girl who usually needs rescuing...but there are anything but usual circumstances.

Strong characters that never falter in their determination to serve “that others may live” make Hot Zone an adrenaline-pumping journey through hellish experiences and emotional upheavals.

Amelia Bailey, a tough, no-holds-barred county prosecutor, entombed under a collapsed hotel, tamps down hysteria and claustrophobia. By wiggling her arm through a small hole, she can touch thirteen-month-old Joshua, her adopted nephew whom she had told her brother and sister-in-law she would take care of. She vows to do whatever it takes to keep him alive until help arrives. The ensuing dangers that Amelia meets and overcomes are hair-raising, yet read as if they are late-breaking news.

Master Sergeant Hugh Franco, a pararescueman, truly does serve “that others may live”. He has found no other reason to live since the death of his wife and daughter. He seems to work at the most dangerous assigns as if they are getting him one day closer to joining them.

When his involvement with Amelia and Joshua doesn’t end when he rescues them from the rubble, Hugh has a personal battle to fight. He balks again and again at the long-dormant emotions coming alive and making him vulnerable, making him care, maybe even love. He is somewhat of a Superman at rescues, but afraid of caring emotions.

The earthquake demolished city, the looting and crimes, the human trafficking, the jungle dangers, and human depravity keep the reader in a breath-holding mode much of the time. Amelia, so out of her depth and dependent on Hugh, creates an anxiety that keeps the reader turning pages to see how in the world they escape the many perils.

The secondary characters like three-time divorced Major Liam McCabe and the rescue dog handler Rachel Flores should have a book all their own. They are a unique couple that deals with the horrors of their jobs in ways that give the reader insight into two complex personalities that have a special connection.

Other characters that struggle with personal problems are Amelia’s brother Dr. Aiden Bailey and his nurse wife Lizabeth. They help save as many as they can in the make-shift hospital, as they look for and inquire about Amelia and Joshua in their down time from doing surgeries. But the family issue they much come to terms with threatens to derail their marriage.

Of course, the antagonists, especially the Guardian and crew are a despicable lot that ramps up the action to the max. How their twisted minds justify human trafficking is abhorrent.

The sex scenes to “decompress” and the sex scenes with love create a wrinkle in time. They help block out the horrors and terrors of that has happened. These scenes also enhance connections that help get the characters on the road back to normalcy and to a life with hope for happy-ever-afters.

Catherine Mann’s powerful writing style sweeps the reader into pulse-pounding dangers, gripping suspense, and spine-tingling passion. Moreover, she creates super heroes that send the heart racing. The women she creates have their share of flaws but are strong, intelligent, passionate and worthy of love. Hot Zone assails the senses, offers up an-off-beat sort of humor, and stirs emotions from the very depths of one’s being—a transporting read.