Hot Zone by Catherine Mann

Why I read it:  I picked this one up from NetGalley – I hadn’t read this author before and I really like romantic suspense and military romance so I thought this might be a good fit for me.  Also, nice cover.
I actually got a bit confused about which book to read because shortly after I saw Cover Me was on a super Kindle special so I bought it (it may have been free I don’t remember but if I paid for it it was only about 99c or something).  I started reading Cover Me because I thought THAT was the NetGalley ARC and I promised to read and review it around release time.  I realised when I was about 1/3-1/2 way in that I had the wrong book (which was a bit of a relief because I was not into it I’m afraid) and put it down and picked this one up.  You probably didn’t need to know that…
What it’s about:  (the blurb from Goodreads) Master sergeant Hugh Franco lives only to save others, until he plucks beautiful attorney Amelia Bailey from the wreckage of an earthquake and finds himself embroiled in ways he never expected. On the run from kidnappers, Hugh must call on all his training to protect them. But Amelia’s fiery touch threatens to crack his world—and his heart—wide open.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I’m sad to say that this book didn’t work for me all that much.  I did like the way the book started – it’s kind of my favourite thing – heroine is in a dire situation and hero comes riding to the rescue – in this case, Amelia is trapped under rubble in an earthquake an PJ Hugh Franco comes to the rescue.  I liked that intense first meeting and I liked the instant drama the opening created.  Unfortunately after that, things went downhill for me.  

First of all, I thought there was just too much going on.  There was a secondary romantic storyline between Amelia’s brother and sister-in-law and then another semi-storyline involving Liam McCabe (Hugh’s boss) and rescue dog-handler, Rachel.  It seems that Liam and Rachel will feature in the next book.    There was quite a bit of page time devoted to these storylines and I felt there was not enough focus on the main story.

There was this thing that happened repeatedly in the book where the scene would end at a pivotal moment (no problem with that, builds tension, I get it, great).  However, next time that couple/scene was mentioned NOTHING HAPPENED.  For example,  one pivotal moment was when Amelia and Hugh went missing and Liam and Rachel are using her dog to try and find them.  The scene was built to and ends where the dog has the scent.    So, I was all ramped up and ready to read about the rest of the search when, sandwiched quietly in between another bit of narrative a couple of pages later, we find that the dog lost the scent in the parking lot.  So all of that build, for nothing.  This was repeated over and over again in the book and it wasn’t something I really enjoyed. 

The other thing which was a bit much for me was that each character had this amazingly tragic backstory.  **spoiler** (highlight to read)  for example, Aidan and Amelia’s father committed suicide AFTER he’d been caught raping under-age girls (one of whom was 14 yo Aidan’s 14 yo girlfriend, just to make it even worse), he makes a plea bargain and agrees to serve 5 years jail (is that realistic?) and says to Aidan he would rather die than go to jail so Aidan GIVES HIM A GUN and THEN daddy shoots himself.  ** end spoiler**  I mean, wow.  But ALL of the main characters have some SUPER TRAGIC history and backstory and it was just too much.  At least, too much for me.

Another thing is that Aidan (not suprisingly given the above) has major hangups about parenthood but he GETS OVER IT in like 2 pages in this book.  Um, no, I don’t think so.

I felt the book became too unrealistic for me to go with.  I am happy to suspend my disbelief to a certain degree in my romantic suspense but this one was way beyond my personal limit and once it was reached, well, kind of everything became unrealistic.

There were some things I liked – I liked the beginning, like I said.  There were individual scenes and lines I enjoyed and I did think the scenes with baby Joshua were pretty good. Thankfully there were no sex scenes where bullets were flying – in fact, the sex scenes were quite good actually, now that I reflect on them (:D).

And, I did like this:-

“Not that I wouldn’t welcome the chance to be with you again, but it’s clear you need something else from me right now.”  

“What would that be?”

His fingers forked through her silken blonde – dirty – locks.  “I’m going to wash your hair.”

You may be surprised to know that he doesn’t just wash her hair 😉

What else? Having tried to read 2 books from this author now I’ve come to the conclusion that her books and I just don’t go together well.  I’ve read a few other reviews of Hot Zone – some were okay and others were really positive.  So, others have really enjoyed this one.  It may be that I’m an outlier but I don’t think I’ll try another one from this author.  As always, YMMV.

Grade:  D+/C-

6 comments on “Hot Zone by Catherine Mann

  1. Mandi

    You know – I've been wanting to try this author too but I've read similar reviews to I'm holding off for now.Have you read Cindy Gerard? She writes awesome rom-suspense.

  2. Chris


  3. Kaetrin

    Hi Mandi – Yes, I have read Cindy Gerard. I thought her EDEN series was teh awesome. I have read some of her BOI stories and have thought there were either okay or better. I certainly like CG's style better than CM's. I saw that a lot of people liked CM but I just couldn't get into it and with 700 books on my TBR and tons of new books out all the time, well…@ Chris – indeed! It was a bit of a struggle to finish actually. If it hadn't been a review book I probably wouldn't have to be honest. As it was, I kept finding reasons not to read and as a consequence it took me a really long time to finish and is TOTALLY ruining my reading stats already!!

  4. nath

    I've been meaning to try this author as Leslie really enjoys her books… It's nice though to have a different opinion… and I get what you mean. Sometimes, authors overdo it with backgrounds. One character is fine… but everyone of them? Sigh.

  5. Kaetrin

    Hi Nath. I think I don't mesh with this author's books but you might like her. Let me know if you give her a try and what you think! Different views are always welcome. 🙂

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