Review: Hot Zone by Catherine Mann
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Catherine Mann's website.
A romantic suspense that grabs you from the second chapter…
Hugh Franco lives on the edge as a pararescueman, and worries more about saving the lives of others rather than forming connections. Hugh’s on the straight and narrow until his rescue mission puts him in contact with Amelia. Now he’s checking on her and her nephew in the hospital; concerned with emotions he hasn’t felt in a long time. When Amelia and her nephew are kidnapped, Hugh doesn’t think twice about jumping onto the back of van and doing his damnedest to save them. Even if embedding them into his life is cracking away the emotional blockade around his heart.
Amelia just wants to keep her nephew safe, at least until she can find his mother and father. The survival instinct is raging, and she can’t stop dwelling on her attraction to Hugh. He’s gone out of his way to help her, in more ways then she can count. As the danger increases and she’s forced into closer quarters with Hugh, Amelia has to decide if her feelings are just spurned by the circumstances or if her heart truly falling for this superman.
The second book in Mann’s Elite Force series is definitely not one to judge by the first pages. At first I didn’t believe I would get into the story. The idea of a romance unfolding at the scene of an earthquake seemed a little far-fetched for me. The setting and background were heart breaking, and emotional; nothing escapist about it. Mann has a penchant for grabbing you with emotion—feelings cold, warm, raw and afflicted. The characters were deep and quickly entangled my thoughts until I had to know if Hugh and Amelia were going to overcome the ridiculous odds. When I say ridiculous, I mean just that because everywhere this pair turned there was trouble—earthquake shakes, gun wielding fanatics, you name it. Regardless of the tension and conflicts Mann does a miraculous job of balancing internal issues with external, giving readers a chance to get lost in the minds of two people focused on survival, while dealing with a ton of emotional baggage from their past.
There is one subplot I could have done without, which involves Hugh’s superior, Liam McCabe. The addition of this added a little too much head jumping. I would have enjoyed just a Hugh and Amelia story versus getting involved in the early directions of McCabe’s story that is coming up in the next book. For me this killed or numbed my emotions, and slowed the story down. I was more enthralled with the direct romance between Hugh and Amelia.
Overall, Mann is excellent at keeping the suspense rolling, and once you get into the story you can’t help but wonder if someone is going to end up severely hurt or worse. A good read if you’re looking for something to start on in the suspense arena.
*As reviewed for The Season, can be seen in the upcoming Jan. issue.