Opening Line: “Lieutenant Nola Seabrook accepted that she could face death on Monday. But for the weekend she intended to celebrate life to the fullest.”
I’ve come to the conclusion with Catherine Mann (in particular with her Wingman Warrior series) that while she writes really excellent opening chapters for some reason the rest of the book tends to fall into very forgettable mediocre-ville. As was the case here, within a couple of pages I was thinking this is going to be an amazing read; exciting, sexy and immediately drawing me into the characters lives so that I’m left super curious about their upcoming story. Unfortunately though as things progress Mann struggles to keep that same level of intensity going.
Fully Engaged is still a good read, I’d give it 3.5 stars (5 for the opening chapters) I enjoyed this couple and appreciated reading a romance where both the H/h are recovering from injuries. There’s not many romances out there that have the hero on crutches for the entire read (while still kicking ass) and I can’t think of any I’ve read that deals with the aftermath of a breast cancer survivor. So kudos to Mann for including the C topic without making it a public service announcement. These were just two realistically damaged characters who found each other and compared scars (damn that was a touching scene)
As I said the first couple of chapters here are great. We meet Pararescueman Rick Demassi in an Officers club bar. He’s engaged in a push-up contest, like some kind of training scene out of a Rocky movie, doing them one-handed with a waitress on his back when Air Force pilot Nola Seabrook catches his eye. Rick is exactly what Nola is looking for tonight, a perfect male specimen; strong, virile and most importantly healthy although it takes a while for us to learn why that’s important. Before long our couple is banging away and then just like that Nola is gone.
We then travel 5 years ahead, Rick is in a medical centre learning to walk again after suffering career ending injuries during hurricane Katrina recovery. Nola is ticking names off a list, a list of all the people she’s hurt so that she can close the door on the recovery part of her cancer journey. And while their initial meeting is terse, neither can deny the attraction is still there even though they’re both very different people now.
As it turns out Nola also has a stalker (crazy huh) and when her car blows up in the hospital parking lot Rick steps up to act as her bodyguard. (This made little sense to me because the man can barely walk and still needs a nurse but whatever it got them in close quarters and gave us a stalker/bodyguard storyline.) I should mention that Rick’s daughter also plays a key part in this story and that divorce is also a hot topic. These matters are both handled realistically whereas the whole stalker storyline is pretty silly. Cheers