REVIEW:  Coming Up for Air by Karen Foley

REVIEW: Coming Up for Air by Karen Foley

Dear Ms. Foley:

I wished I had liked this book more because it was fairly non offensive with likable characters but it read underwhelming to me primarily because most of the story felt forced.

Coming up for air karen foleyJenna is a Blackhawk pilot who has made a vow to never get involved with another pilot. One night she hooks up with a major from a bar frequented by people who lived and worked on the nearby Fort Bragg base. She believes him to be Chase Rawlins, a special forces guy, about to be deployed. In other words, a good bet for a good time. The likelihood she will run into him again is slim.

The problem is that it is not Chase Rawlins, but rather his identical twin brother, Chance, whose world is being rocked by Jenna during a one night stand. Chance is an apache pilot and the two run into each other in Kabul.

Jenna feels her position as a female troop amongst the men keenly and I thought it was well evidenced by the mere difference in their call signs:

“Why is your call sign T-Rex?””What?” Chance was unprepared for the sudden change in subject. Call signs were the nicknames given to aviation pilots and crew members. “I guess because as an Apache pilot, I’m one of the biggest, baddest predators out there. And because I’m from Texas and T-Rex sort of sounds like a shortened version of Texas. Why?””Do you know what my call sign is?” she finally asked.Chance shook his head. “I have no idea.””Goalie.””Ah. As in everyone tries to hit on the goalie?” He’d not only hit on her, he’d scored. Big-time.

Chance shows little sympathy or understanding for Jenna’s position. Given his own long time experience in the military, I was surprised at how clueless he was, responding that her showing interest in him would merely be a sign she was a “human.” Jenna was rude about her assumptions of Army pilots, but Chance doesn’t acknowledge that her flirtation or dalliance with him could affect the way in which the men around her and in subordinate positions.

I also couldn’t figure out why Chance was chasing her so assiduously. I guess their one sexual experience was so mind blowing he can’t forget her. The romance between the two consist of a one night stand followed by few days spent together at various military bases overseas. Jenna’s worries about being talked about for her sexuality slides away as easily as her panties and cavorts with Chance in her Blackhawk helicopter. I’m sure that rumor won’t spread around the base faster than a grain of sand in a sandstorm. And who cares that they don’t have condoms. She’s on the pill and they’ve both passed a military physical (does that work on everyone in the military? “hey baby, no condoms needed, I’ve had my military physical”).

When Chance chides Jenna for not being open to a relationship, I wonder (along with Jenna) what relationship is he talking about? They’ve had two sexual encounters at that time. Jenna is just as frustrating. She agrees to a “relationship” but only if they can see other people. Jenna rationalizes that if she allows them both this emotional out, she won’t be hurt when Chance inevitably strays. I wonder (along with Chance) why she even calls it a relationship.

There is an attempt to insert some character growth. Chance has some intense sibling rivalry with his special ops brother but the story is mostly about Jenna and her fake bad relationship with her father and her inability to have a good relationship with another pilot. Hook up with someone else, then, Jenna! Alas, everything about this book seemed forced and this feeling was only enhanced with how Jenna’s relationship and feelings for her father were resolved at the end of the story.

Finally, when Jenna, the heroine, says un-ironically that The Notebook was “only one of the best movies ever made” the story’s credibility took a long slide downward. C

Best regards