Opening Line:"Smoke trailing from the ass of his plane and terra firma approaching at meteoric speed, Captain Jimmy Gage figured he was about fifteen seconds away from being roadkill."
I was expecting DEFENDER to be an easy and somewhat silly read, thanks to the cheesy looking guy on the cover and equally ridiculous excerpt on the back but to my surprise this was actually really good.
This first instalment in the Dark-Ops series is well written with a gripping non-stop action storyline. The pace just never stops. In the first 2 chapters alone we see test pilot Jimmy 'Hotwire' Gage crash land his plane in Iraq, get shot, witness his co-pilots murder then get beaten and taken hostage. 3 years later he propels out of his plane into shark infested waters to rescue USO performer Chloe Nelson whose speed boat has just blown up. From there on in it just gets better. Taking us to exotic locations such as the deserts of Iraq and the Mediterranean Sea. We witness life aboard aircraft carriers and foreign military bases as well as getting to walk the winding streets and explore the crowded markets of Turkey.
Catherine Mann has done her homework in researching these situations. The military jargon, although at times overwhelming I'm assuming is correct. She's also included many neat little tidbits regarding a military pilot's life. And her descriptions of Turkey left me able to smell the markets and taste the baklava. Defender has been written using several POV'S and is full of interesting secondary characters. I enjoyed their stories just as much as the love story brewing between our heroes Jimmy and Chloe.
Speaking of Jimmy and Chloe; I really liked this couple. Jimmy, a member of Dark-Ops (a covert test pilot squadron) is a true alpha-male although still recovering mentally from his time as a POW. When team member Chuck Tanaka is kidnapped Chloe becomes an unwelcome intrusion in his life. When he should be out searching for Chuck he's trapped with direct orders to play bodyguard for the troublesome singer. Chloe's character is likeable enough, not quite a wallflower but with some medical issues that have kept her from living life to the fullest until now... Their chemistry together is great and the love scenes tender as the two slowly open up and help each other heal. The bad 'guy' here is different than you will expect and very well done. Plus lots of other fly-boys have been introduced for additional books to the Dark-ops series.
If you like action, suspense and military romance then you won't be disappointed. Just try to ignore the dude on the cover. Cheers.