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Review: The SEAL’s Angel by Petie McCarty #MysterySuspense #StrongHeroine

“I’ll tell you what I’m fighting for. Not for England, nor her allies, nor any patriotic cause. It’s all come down to the hope of being with you.” ― Lisa Kleypas, Love in the Afternoon

“War always reaches the depths of horror because of idiots who perpetuate terror from generation to generation under the pretext of vengeance.” ― Guy Sajer, The Forgotten Soldier

“The footprints of an Angel in your life are Love.” ― Genevieve Gerard

Cory Rigatero is one strong young woman. A young woman who has suffered loss and betrayal, pain and suffering, and still keeps right on getting up in the morning, fighting to keep her family’s legacy, Bel Tesoro, “Beautiful Treasure” the family resort on the edge of Cory has lost everything. Her parents. Her brother, a SEAL, listed MIA two years ago. Now, it is her and Vern, her manager and general handyman at Bel Tesoro, a pile of bills, and a desperate need to keep Bel Tesoro alive.

Her brother Brian’s last words before he left her all alone six years ago were, “I prayed for a guardian angel for you last night to dog your steps while I’m gone…”

She is going to need that angel – because bad things are happening at Bel Tesoro. Things that may land Bel Tesoro in the hands of Percy “Senior” Standish, local rich bully, who is determined to buy Bel Tesoro out from under Cory and raze it to the ground in order to build honeymoon cottages as part of his own huge, overblown, high class resort on the other side of the lake. And if bad – read, ‘expensive’ – things continue to happen, she may have no other choice.

Of course, the bad things didn’t start happening until “Mac” shows up, all bearded, long haired Harley riding drifter. Vern trusts him, so Cory lets him stay to work. But when two of her resort clients nearly drown due to sabotaged kayaks, and Cory herself nearly dies when the dock collapses, trapping her under the pilings, Mac becomes suspect number one for the sabotage.

There are layers of story here. The sabotage at the resort. A mysterious package from her brother, who has been listed as dead for the last two years. And a break in by two foreign speaking men, “Where’s Formula?” Cory is terrified now not only of losing Bel Tesoro – but of losing her life.

I loved this book. Really loved it. The story line is well-developed, and the characters are believable. There is mystery, suspense, thrills. Cory is a strong woman character without being over-the-top, and highly likable. The pace is fast, and Cory barely has the chance to catch her breath as things spin out of control around her. And the very ending? Well, it was, in a word, a great ending. You will have to read it to find out what happens, but it left me with a huge smile on my face. Again, I loved this book and highly recommend it to mystery and suspense lovers with a quirky sense of humor.

As an aside – a major character in the book? Lucky Luciano. If you aren’t familiar with America Mobster History, Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, and Meyer Lansky were three of the most famous American mobsters in history. History comes into play here in Lucky’s story and how it crosses and melds with Cory’s great-grandfather, Brocconi “Brock” Rigatero’s history as he built Bel Tesoro. Lucky’s history crosses my own, as my own grandfather was Lewis Archer Cooper, Chief of Police in Hot Springs, Arkansas during the period. Family stories say that Arch, besides being COP, also owned bars and, uh, hum, “bath houses,” with Lucky. Seeing as how Lucky was arrested in Hot Springs by a federal agent who was investigating “Other Matters” in Hot Springs at the time, I got a huge kick out of reading about Lucky’s part in this story! Oh, and as for one of my pet peeves? GREAT COVER!! It caught my eye right away and led me to read the blurb, which made me want to read the book. Awesome!

I received this book from Reading Alley in exchange for a realistic review. This is the third Mystery Angel Romance. Each stand-alone love story has an angel hidden in the plot, and the angel’s identity is not revealed until the finale unless the reader figures it out first.

About the Author

Petie McCartyPetie McCarty spent a large part of her career working as a biologist at Walt Disney World — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” — where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night. She eventually said good-bye to her “day” job in order to write her stories full-time. Petie is a member of Romance Writers of America, and she shares homes in Tennessee and Florida with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English Springer Spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a noisy Nanday Conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.

Review: Risk Taker by Lindsay McKenna

There is in every true woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.  Washington Irving

Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes. They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.” Clare Boothe Luce

As we do at such times I turned on my automatic pilot and went through the motions of normalcy on the outside, so that I could concentrate all my powers on surviving the near-mortal wound inside.” Sonia Johnson

Photo of Chief Warrant Officer Monica Narhi
Courtesy of America’s North Shore Journal
This is a much better photo than the book cover!

Chief Warrant Officer Sarah Benson is a U.S. Army Medevac Black Hawk Pilot. She flies the skies of Afghanistan, rescuing wounded men and women, sometimes under heavy fire, ferrying them to safety. Fierce in her commitment to these brave soldiers, she risks everything, including her own life, to save them. She is a true hero.

 And yet, as a woman in a “man’s world” of the Army, she is disrespected and harassed at every turn, with no support from the other pilots of her squadron, and dismissive disrespect from her commander. You see and know all of this about Sarah from the start. And yet, there is no bemoaning her treatment. She is simply quiet, determined, and honorable, going about the business of saving the wounded, sometimes under the ‘lead curtain’ of gunfire and RPGs.

 It isn’t easy being a female in Afghanistan, where not only the Afghans are dismissive, cruel, and murderously violent against women. Even the military personnel Sarah works with, whose lives she saves, can be cruel and violent, seeing her and the other women in the squads as ‘less.’ It is a vicious truth that the military mentality can be incredibly stupid about women and their place in the world, a sad and idiotic truth to be sure. Sarah’s dignity, and the dignity of the other women pilots, both Black Hawk pilots and the Apache pilots, is written brilliantly. It was more than mildly interesting to learn the inner workings of medevac pilots in a war zone. Mckenna has done her homework, making the scenes as realistic as possible, both within the Army, Air Force, and within the SEALS. And she has served herself in the U.S. Navy.

Photo of UH-60 medevac helicopter courtesy of Joshua Carnes
All rights reserved

This is, of course, not simply a book about a woman surviving within the boundaries of an FOB (Forward Operating Base). While that part of the book truly is fascinating to me, this is also a romance. Well, it is Harlequin, it has to be, right? And the actual ‘romance’ portion of the book is much more interesting than others of its ilk. Sarah has been devastated all her life by the cruelties of men. She trusts no man, holding herself separate while giving all of herself to saving those who need her. Ethan Quinn, the Navy Seal love interest is himself a very different man from the common warrior. A warrior in truth, but also a poet, Ethan sees the pain in the woman they call “Blue Eyes” the valiant pilot who holds herself aloof from those around her.

A violent attack by an Army soldier against Sarah on the grounds of the base draws Ethan to her assistance, and begins a friendship with the shy Sarah. What is both interesting and touching about their relationship is the poetry that Ethan writes for her, beautiful stanzas, on beautiful blue papyrus, slipped under her tent flap in the darkness, there for her when she awakes. Though Sarah is terrified of men, for good reason, Ethan’s gentleness touches her, and his poetry (the actual poetry of Darius Gottlieb, Love Poems and Other Elixirs) helps to pull her out of her fear, allowing a relationship to slowly develop between them. Sarah appreciates both his strength and his gentleness, while Ethan is astounded not only by Sarah’s internal and external beauty, but by her bravery as he twice witnesses her flying in under the ‘iron curtain’ to rescue wounded soldiers. She holds her position while under heavy fire in both instances, taking life threatening wounds of her own and yet still saving those under her care. She is, in a word, a kick-ass heroine with a gentle, broken soul. One of my favorite heroines in a long time.

Sarah and Ethan’s next exciting adventure in Afghanistan, Degree of Risk, will be out in March and I have already preordered it. As I rarely ever do that, you can be ascertained that I highly recommend this book to readers of military suspense/romance.

This is another book which I received from Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way influences my review. All thoughts and comments are my own. I must say, though – it is definitely NOT one of the better covers out there. Instead of a woman and a Black Hawk, which would be appropriate, you get a picture of a guy in a T-shirt. Pffft. Sexist. That’s why you are seeing pictures of a Black Hawk and a WOMAN Black Hawk Pilot instead of the stupid looking cover of the book!

Review: SEALed with a Kiss

Meh. Would have been better if it was just Pickett and Tyler.
2.5 stars. Kinda.

First off, I wanted to like this book more than I wound up doing. The idea of the story was good. SEALS are different than regular humans, almost supermen in a way. However, they are also very self centered, focused, and self-involved. For very good and understandable reasons, of course. I always love a story where they are put forward in a good light, with understanding of who and what they are and how important it is that they aren’t people to be ‘changed’ but rather to be accepted. Not that they are prefect, by a long shot, but certainly necessary to the world as it is today.

I will admit that part of me completely understood Jax. He came from a background of wealth, but also of neglect, and lost his only friend young, a friend whose family had been there for him when no one else was. However, for most of the book, I would have been just as happy to hit him over the head with a brick. And still would be happy to do so in a way.

Jax went into a marriage for the most shallow of reasons – a leggy, shallow female who appealed to his sex drive but whom he had absolutely no sense of connection to other than what happened in the bedroom. And, as with lust, that faded even more quickly than any sort of connection. Within a year the wife has had a child and left him, only to pass away within four years, leaving their son with his grandmother. In some cases, being with a grandmother is the perfect solution, and as Jax really doesn’t care to be a parent anyway, well, heck, that works, right? Only his Commander’s insistence sends Jax to North Carolina to spend time with a boy he apparently doesn’t want or need in his life. His only point to spending time with his son is to get there, get the kid out of his life, and get on with being a SEAL.

Of course, in true ‘romance novel’ style, he comes to learn that he really does want the boy in his life, but NOT if it interferes with his SEAL life. So, he fully intends to send the boy back to his grandmother, and, this is where he really ticks me off – even though he knows full well that the grandmother is a drunk who is cruel to the boy at every opportunity. That doesn’t matter as much to him as getting back to his “real” life. Bzzz! Can we all say ‘self-centred jerk”?

Yes, it all works out in the end, and if it weren’t for Tyler, the son, and the fact that I really liked Pickett as much as I did, well. Let’s just say the book would be rolling around in the 1-star galaxy. Pickett, the female lead, is soft and warmhearted, but also strong and in control of her own life, even though she has allowed her family to convince her she is not up to the ‘quality’ of their particularly stylish family. I got her, and liked and admired her. Tyler came to the story withdrawn and in incredible pain, with a dead mother, a vituperate grandmother, and a father who looks at him as just another soldier, expected to snap to and behave as any other soldier under his command while they were together. And of course, as he only planned to spend the required 30-days with his son, he couldn’t wait to get it over with so he could get back to SEAL life and forget his responsibilities as a parent. It was deeply painful to watch their interactions during the first half of the book, even when Pickett, the child and family counselor, was doing her level best to show him what a complete and total screw up he was as a parent… gently, of course.

There were a lot of other things that bothered me about the book, technical issues that I doubt anyone would notice but me. “Tyler’s old DOD 1332.30” . . . hum…. The 1332.30 is for the administrative separation of commissioned officers of the Regular Army, Regular Navy, Regular Air Force, or Regular Marine Corps for substandard performance of duty, an act or acts of misconduct, moral or professional dereliction, in the interest of national security, and for the discharge of regular commissioned officers with less than 5 years active commissioned service in certain circumstances.” Hummmm again. So, his Commander had his “old 1332.30” on his desk? A 1332.30 was already previously filed, but Jax is now command personnel, even thought he was previously kicked out of the military for dereliction of some sort? Well, he was certainly derelict in his duties as a father, but that is neither here nor there. It drives me round the bend when authors try to be all knowledgeable about what they are writing about – and even though they quote their “sources” they screw up so badly.

Additionally, I am always disappointed when authors don’t take advantage of beta readers and editors in order to ascertain that their books are error free. Though not as bad as some of the books I have recently read (or, should I say, tried to read) the book needs a good cleaning up of missing and misused words and spelling. Disappointing.

Overall, the Jax character was a bit too much on the selfish side, even for a SEAL, to not irritate me beyond any ability to come to like him in the end. Actually, I would have liked the book better without the Jax character in it. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a romance per-se so would lose a large part of it’s audience, but if the author had made it a story of Pickett taking in a parentless child and the development of the two of them as a family, I think this could have easily been at least four, if not five, stars.

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