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Karen Foley

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





Dear Author

REVIEW: Overnight Sensation by Karen Foley

Dear Ms. Foley,

book review Sometimes I’m in the mood for a short, hot story and when I am, I usually turn to Harlequin Blaze books. Most are straight contemporaries, feature believable heroes and heroines and cut to the chase since there isn’t much space for authors to tack on additional subplots. “Overnight Sensation” looked like it had a good plot, one featuring an actress heroine on location to shoot a movie about the special ops hero’s adventures in the jungle. So far, so good.

I loved the first section which seemed straight out of the beginning of “Romancing the Stone.” It also reminded me of a book I’d read once about exotic travel that went bust (“I Should Have Stayed Home: The Worst Trips of the Great Writers.”). Though honestly, how could anyone think traveling in a linen suit makes sense.

On a more serious note, a friend of mine is in the military working in the hospital in Landstuhl, Germany and says that, like the heroine’s brother, the injured come in there from Iraq, are patched up for the journey home and sent out before the medical people feel they can really have much of an affect on the patient’s health. He says it’s hard to see these young people so badly wounded and know the hard road ahead of them to recovery. Or in the case of Ivy’s brother, a short road to an early death.

I do love the twist on one of my usual pet peeves, namely inappropriately timed sex during life or death situations. Here, in real life, Garrett was badly injured and on the run from a vicious drug cartel, was delirious for a few days after the elderly missionary found him, then mindful of the need for silence until he could be rescued by the military. So he didn’t actually do any of the steamy things which are going to show up in the film nor was his savior a hot young thang whom he was unable to resist yet able to boink in many and varied ways despite his awful injuries and undoubted pain. He’s totally aware that this bit is added to the film to increase the romantic appeal to some movie goers and the sex appeal to others.

This is a Blaze Harlequin and as such, it’s expected that the sex scenes will be hot. That’s the whole point. Ivy’s not a virgin heroine. She’s known for having some torrid affairs with her male costars. The idea behind staying with Garrett for three days to “practice” what went on between himself and Helena in order to improve the authenticity of her portrayal on film is a cute reason to allow some hawt sex to take place. I like that it’s actually Garrett who feels the deepest emotional response and who’s already in love with Ivy while she initially is just physically attracted to him.

It’s understandable that with four older sisters and his own sense of honor, Garrett would feel duty bound to keep his word to a dying Devon James to watch out for Devon’s sister. Yet at times, he comes off as a stalker – following her career is one thing and perfectly all right if slightly obsessive. Even suggesting her for the role in the movie and using his pull with his brother-in-law the director is okay. But using his government connections to check out her private life is wrong and made me squirm. Even he admits that if Ivy finds out how much he’s focused on her during the past few years, she’ll think he’s a crazy whacko.

The scenes dealing with the movie shoot are fun to read. You show it’s far from glamorous under the hot lights filming take 17 of a love scene beside an actor with grabbing hands. The wardrobe woman is a bitch though the makeup artist is kind to Ivy and concerned about her. The male star, Eric, is a piece of work though probably not too far from a real Hollywood box office star, used to throwing his weight around onset and being followed by and adored by female fans and his costars. I was sort of glad that he didn’t take over the book and was quickly moved away from the main action when he wasn’t needed.

Ivy has already been through a lot in her life. She’s lost her parents and seen the injuries that ended up killing her Marine brother. With those in mind, she has a lot of motivation to get her part right. I liked watching her get into her role and try to do it justice, even if it does end up not being the true account of Garrett’s adventures in Colombia. She’s a professional and acts like it. She wants to think she got the role due to her talents and not through Garrett and I like how she confronts Finn to be sure of this. I also like that she’s not afraid to tell Eric off despite the fact that he’s a star and she’s not.

With a Blaze book, you as an author don’t have a tremendous amount of time or space to expand the relationship between the characters. You’ve got to set the plot, explain the characters then get on with their attraction to each other. In many Blaze books I’ve read, this is done quite well. Here, I did feel the physical attraction between Ivy and Garrett. And since Garrett has been keeping tabs on Ivy, as well as using her for his source of inspiration during his grueling recovery from his horrendous injuries, I can believe his feelings for her.

Yet I felt I needed to see more from her side beyond just surface attraction and concern for what he went through that formed the basis for the movie script. In addition, the conflicts between them, that Garrett walked away from a supposed intense, though short, relationship with Helena and could do the same with her and that she had a history of thinking she was in love with costars during filming, only for these relationships to fall apart once the film was finished, could have been good ones if they’d been explored more. True the epilogue shows that they’ve had a year to become closer and figure out if their relationship could make it for the long haul but I wanted more in the actual story.

The lack of time to explore as much about a couple’s relationship as I’d like to see is a problem I’ve had with Blaze books before so perhaps it’s just an inherent mismatch between that line and myself. Maybe I should just stop expecting to see all the stages of a couple falling in love when “Blaze” is on the cover? B-


This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon, Harlequin, or Powells or ebook format.