Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mission: Christmas by Lindsay McKenna & Susan Grant

Contemporary Reading Challenge: February 2009
(hosted by Brie of Musings Of A Bibliophile – full details here)

Category: Contemporary Romance

Series: No

This is an anthology of two novellas.

The Christmas Wild Bunch by Lindsay McKenna

When pilot Mike Murdoch learns a woman has been sent in to tame his unruly task force, he’s prepared to hate her. But the more he flies with Dallas Klein, the more she gets under his skin… and into his heart. Can their love withstand a dangerous Christmas Day mission?

Major Dallas Klein has gained an impressive and impeccable reputation flying combat helicopters and serving with The Black Jaguar Squadron, an all-female team, stopping Peruvian drug shipments from entering North America. She is now assigned as the Executive Officer to the Nogales Border Patrol Unit, an all-men team, that’s also known as the Wild Bunch for their unruly antics and behaviour. It is hoped that her management style and woman’s touch will bring some semblance of order to this group of smart, gutsy but errant men.

Agent Mike Murdoch takes one look at his new X.O. and his scowl grows deeper. His Commanding Officer’s new weapon. A woman, and a very attractive one at that. As they invariably spend time together, he can’t help being attracted to her … not only is she beautiful, she is also intelligent, capable, warm and had flown drug flights in South America (something that shocks him) … how can he not fall in love with her?

Dallas and Mike’s feelings for each other blossom as they learn more about each other. Their love story is a natural progression - builds through daily interaction, the sharing of thoughts and secrets, and the danger of being wounded while hunting drug smugglers. While I appreciated that they took time to get to know each other before jumping into bed, I thought their love story was a little flat. Nice, but flat. There was no emotional upheaval to wrench my heart or make me truly care for the characters.

There is quite a bit of flying jargon, which clearly shows that the author knew what she was writing. I thought it got a bit in the way of the love story, but then I had no interest in planes and flying.

All in all, this is a pleasant, average read. 3 out of 5

Snowbound With A Prince by Susan Grant

On a humanitarian Christmas drop in Northern Europe, USAF pilot Kat Wallace reunites with Prince Alek, a rebel leader out to restore his people’s freedom. Cut off from the outside world, they join forces to survive…and battle a fiery attraction.

Aleksas Barons, the Crown Prince of Virsland, first met Kat about seven years ago, when he was sent by his ailing father to America to train as a pilot. Kat was one of his trainers. Nicknamed “Hell-Kat”, she was gorgeous, had a big spirit and an even bigger heart. A heart that was big enough to see through his antics and bad behaviour – he wasn’t called the “Playboy” and “Heartbreak Prince” for nothing – she saw his fear of failing, of not living up to expectations. She befriended him, encouraged him, and when he didn’t perform up to par in his tests, she didn’t hesitate to fail him and the USAF sent him packing. On his way home, he remembered everything that Kat ever said to him, for he was already more than a little in love with her.

Alek went home, expecting everything to be the same as before. He arrived in the midst of a military coup, was ambushed, then witnessed his father’s assassination. To the rest of the world, the King and Crown Prince of Virsland died that day.

Six years later, Kat, now a USAF Captain, was to fly humanitarian aid to … Virsland. She had never forgotten that handsome, charming bad-boy prince. She hadn’t forgotten how she was already half in love with him, but couldn’t and didn’t let that love show. Part of her still couldn’t accept that Alek had died. Then she came face to face with the leader of the freedom fighters of Virsland.

I love this story. I truly do. I read it about a month ago, and I still remember it vividly now. This story is only 114 pages long but the author managed to pack enough details – characterization, emotion, back story, ambiance, action – and made this short modern-day fairy tale come alive.

I love Alek and Kat. They are a great couple, each complementing the other. As with other Susan Grant couples, these characters take centre-stage. I love how six years hadn’t dim their love for, and memories of, each other and when they meet again, their love only grows stronger. This is heart-melting stuff.

I absolutely must mention the fictional kingdom of Virsland. The author painted such a beautiful, evocative picture of this place that it brings to mind the real Lapland in Finland.

This quick, fantastic read is a keeper. 4.5 out of 5

Read the author’s write-up and the excerpt of this story here.

*** Shout-out to my friend, K. Thanks very much for sending me this book, otherwise I would’ve missed Susan’s story and that would indeed be a shame.


Anonymous said...

The Susan Grant story sounds really appealing but I'm not much into anthologies. Actually, I don't think I ever bought one. Hmmm.

Very nice reviews. I especially like this: "Agent Mike Murdoch takes one look at his new X.O. and his scowl grows deeper." LOL

Brandy said...

Were these new stories? The Susan Grant one sounds right up my interesting scale.

Jace said...

Taja: I'm not much into anthologies either ... that was why I didn't buy this book. But then, my dear friend K sent it to me after she read it, and I'm so pleased that I didn't miss Susan's story. :)

I'm glad you like the reviews. Let's hope the words will stay a while longer. ;)

Brandy: This book was released late last year - in time for Christmas, I think - so yes, the stories are fairly new. I hope you'll read Susan's story, and if you do, please let me know what you think of it. :)

kat said...

thanks for the review. you did a great jo as always with it!
I'm so glad you liked the book. I loved Susan Grant's story too. the characters were so vivid and the story so good for such a short book. I really liked Susan Grant before, but after that story she becamean auto-buy for me.

Jace said...

K, I hope I'd have the opportunity in the future to send you a book that you'd enjoy as much as I've enjoyed this one. :)

Phyl said...

How timely! I had just finished the McKenna story when your post went up and finally got to read Grant's today. You were spot-on with McKenna's--"nice, but flat." I, too, would have liked feeling an emotional connection to Mike & Dallas. I did find the setting very interesting & unusual, though, so I was glad to read it for that.

I, too, liked Grant's story much better. Again, there was that emotional connection. One drawback was that the ending felt rushed and forced. The result of a word count restriction, I'm sure. But an interesting adventure and well worth the read.

Jace said...

Hi Phyl. :) McKenna's story was something different for me because it was quite heavy on the flying jargon ... I think it jarred the love story a bit.

As for the Grant story, I loved the fairy-tale feel to it. A modern day cinderella who found her prince charming. :D Yes, the ending was rushed ... I guess that's to be expected of a 114-page story. I'd love it if there were a full-length story on Kat & Alek or one of Tobias (with Kat & Alek in it) some time in the future. :)