Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Genre: military romance
Series: The Night Stalkers, #4
Length: 382 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: December 3, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Name: Lola LaRue
Rank: Chief Warrant Officer 3
Mission: Copilot deadly choppers on the world’s most dangerous missions
Name: Tim Maloney
Mission: Man the guns and charm the ladies
The Past Doesn’t Matter, When Their Future is Doomed
Nothing sticks to “Crazy” Tim Maloney, until he falls hard for a tall Creole beauty with a haunted past and a penchant for reckless flying. Lola LaRue never thought she’d be susceptible to a man’s desire, but even with Tim igniting her deepest passions, it may be too late now…With the nation under an imminent threat of biological warfare, Tim and Lola are the only ones who can stop the madness–and to do that, they’re going to have to trust each other way beyond their limits…
The Night Stalkers are one of my two favorite military romance series; the other is Jessica Scott’s Coming Home. For being in the same genre, the two series are mining almost opposite ends of the trope; Scott focuses on the stresses and strains that having a spouse in deployment can wreck upon family, or about how damn difficult it is to return to civilian of even U.S. Base living after years in the sandbox. Her stories are gritty, real and sometimes heartbreaking.
On the other hand, The Night Stalkers are at the point of the spear. The stories are about soldiers who are currently serving in a forward theater of war. Which means that the stories have to deal with the “hurry up and wait” tension of war and it also requires that all the parties in the romance be soldiers; the women as well as the men. Because their service is in SOAR, The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, all the soldiers have to be the best of the best at what they do.
An argument could be made that The Night Stalkers are damn close to superheroes, but I digress.
The stories have gone around to all the seats on a DAP Black Hawk Helicopter. The pilot, co-pilot and mechanic have each had their HEAs. Now it’s the gunnery specialist’s turn. “Crazy Tim” Maloney is the last man standing among the Night Stalkers; he’s the only man who hasn’t found a warrior woman to be his match. Not until co-pilot and Chief Warrant Officer Lola LaRue nearly breaks his nose with her helmet as part of her “welcome to SOAR” trip to base.
Of course they fall for each other. But there are multiple roadblocks in the way.
LaRue outranks Maloney, which brings the military non-fraternization regulations into play. She is a Warrant Officer, and he is merely a sergeant. Not that the non-frat regs have stopped two of the previous romances in this series; the Major and the Captain in The Night is Mine (review) and the Lieutenant and the Sergeant in I Own the Dawn (review). Deciding that the rules are worth getting around in their case is just part of the story.
Another factor is the Maloney was born into the same social circle that Captain, now Major, Emily Biehl is part of. A social circle that includes the President, the head of the FBI, and the President’s security detail. Maloney is more connected that he admits, even if he was the family black sheep for a while.
Lola LaRue is not merely New Orleans Creole, but from the wrong side of the tracks and she very nearly took the wrong path. That her corrupt cop dad beat her to the point where her only refuge was a Storyville brothel is just one facet of her story.
But Lola doesn’t trust anyone, particularly herself. And she grew up in a place where sex meant either power or control, but not love. She doesn’t quite believe that she’s worthy of being in SOAR, and she especially doesn’t think that she’s good enough for Maloney.
But when the ultimate test of her capability and her loyalty comes, she proves that she’s more than worthy of taking the pilot’s seat, in SOAR and in her heart.
Escape Rating B: The first books in this series anticipated the Army’s change of heart (or regulation) about women serving in combat positions, and therefore in SOAR. It made the first book a bit more fantastic that it is now that the regulations changed in June 2013.
I enjoyed the story of Take Over at Midnight, and it was great to see how the gang is doing. When I say enjoyed, I mean up until 1 am, because I couldn’t put it down.
At the same time, it felt a bit like I’d read the story before. The problems that LaRue and Maloney face are not that much different from Kee and Archie in I Own the Dawn. The difference is in the rank reversal. LaRue keeps thinking that she isn’t good enough for SOAR or for Mahoney, because her background was so rough, very similar to Kee.
The characters of the couple in this story just weren’t differentiated enough from the previous books. Also, we didn’t really get enough detail on why Maloney went bad for a while, or just how awful LaRue’s dad was. We see that he’s a arsehole, but why? (His disgustingness was necessary for the story, but I didn’t get inside her head enough).
A major subplot has to do with Major Emily Beale’s future. Again, I wanted to be more inside her head to understand why her reactions changed so dramatically. Not that there wasn’t reason, but she doesn’t speak about it and we’re not seeing her point of view. Other characters guess or assume what’s going through her head, but for an about-face as sharp as she pulls, I want to hear her point of view from her.
Still and all, this was a fun military romance of the action/adventure/thriller persuasion, and I can’t wait to read the next one, Light Up the Night. I wonder who’s next?