"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde
This was gooooood.
First of all, I have to say that I really enjoyed E.M. Lynley's writing. It was solid, it was engaging, it drew me right in. What really impressed me was how she managed to educate me and got me to learn something new about a topic I had no concrete idea about before. Who knew about a separate helo squat not unlike Air Force One? Not me, I can tell you. It made for such an interesting part of the book, and without trying too hard, or sounding like a lecture. Exactly my thing right there.
Jake and Beau were fascinating MCs all on their own. Jake Woodley is struggling a lot with his survivor's guilt and being called a hero after coming back from a mission alive when he couldn't safe all members of his team. While training for his new job as a pilot for the Marine One squadron satisfies him on some levels, it still doesn't keep the dark at bay - that's what his friends are for. But Jim, Jack, Johnny and Jose really aren't ideal companions for an elite soldier with ambitions and such a big heart. Matt "Beau" Beaumont on the other hand has his own demons to fight. After being downsized from a hard-news job, he's now covering dresses and shoes and handbags. So not what he had been dreaming of all these years. No wonder he doesn't say no when a mistakenly sent invitation gets him to the white house. And what do you know? He not only gets some hot sex out of it, but also a possible story that could put him back on the big-news radar in Washington.
What I really liked about these two MCs is their ability to communicate. They talked about their issues and feelings. Most of the time, they really tried to handle each other and their blossoming relationship with care and in an adult way. The only thing I wasn't completely comfortable with was the substance abuse. Jake is an alcoholic. We know it, Beau knows it, his superiors suspect it, and in the end, Jake sees it too. And maybe I focused too much on it, or maybe I just didn't read it "right", but Jake's problems seemed to resolve themselves so easily over time. Sure, he had some cravings and sobriety was not an the easiest feat for him. But still... A time or two I felt like the topic was taken too lightly, or forgotten too easily? But like I said, that might have been just me.
About the sex. Practically all of the sex scenes were fade to black. And that worked well for me, because it fit the story, it worked with the plot and I really didn't need the sex in order to see or feel the connection between the two MCs. But. One thing bugged me. The very first time these two really get down and dirty around 32% or so, the scene goes on and on, until they're both naked, ready to go and one of them is practically begging, thinking about how much he needs it right now. And then... Nothing. It was confusing for a second, then left me feeling a little... cheated out of something. All the foreplay, all the details, all the build-up - and then there is no climax? - pun intended - All the other fade to black scenes were so much better. I had no problem with them whatsoever, I enjoyed them just the way they were. But this very first one? Not cool.
Other than that, I had nothing to complain about. The romance sometimes took the backseat, but since I'm a sucker for the suspense in romantic suspense, I was happy as a fish in water. The crime-solving plot was really good, it kept me on my toes and guessing. I enjoyed the investigation, the suspense and how it all came to a head. I even enjoyed the on-page time of "the other Beaumont".
All in all, this book worked very well for me! Good writing, intriguing characters, interesting plot, suspense and crime, politics and intrigues - hell, yeah! I definitely recommend it!