REVIEW: Shattered by JoAnn Ross
Dear Ms Ross,
Last fall I read the previous book in this series, “Crossfire.” Yes, this would be me reading a book about a (former) Navy SEAL. The same me who often laments the high rate of SEAL heroes on the ground. “Crossfire” worked better for me than it appeared to do for Jane and unfortunately it also worked better than does “Shattered.”
Army Night Stalker helicopter pilot Shane Garrett survived the clusterfuck operation in Afghanistan that cost him his leg. But surviving Army doctor Kirby Campbell was another matter. Shane nobly sent her away then got on with his rehab. Now outfitted with a prosthetic leg that’s almost better than his own was, he teaches private flying lessons and does some lecturing at the military academy in South Carolina near where the sniper evens of “Crossfire” took place.
Former Army doctor Kirby Campbell put her heart on the line when she went to see Shane shortly after his evacuation from Iraq. And he stomped it flat even though he never left his bed during the whole time she was offering it. Since then, she’s continued to work as a doctor with Worldwide Medical Relief and is currently trying to help the desperately poor people of a Central American country ruled by an oily-smooth dictator.
It’s while she’s in Washington, DC speaking to a Senate committee about conditions there that her fellow doctor and best friend is taken hostage by rebels. They don’t know the US government won’t hand over money for Rachel’s release but Kirby knows that if Rachel isn’t rescued quickly, she’ll probably be killed. Now it’s up to the Phoenix Team to do what the US can’t do – and that’s get Rachel out of there. Kirby’s not going to be left behind nor is Shane, once he learns the woman he’s never stopped loving is putting her life on the line.
The first part of “Shattered” jumps back and forth as we get the conclusion of the spec ops mission that wove through much of “Crossfire.” When the first book ended, Shane was in desperate shape having been badly injured. Now we see exactly what happened to him and watch while SEALs Zach Tremayne and Quinn McKade as well as a CIA spook, an Air Force Combat Controller and some Army Rangers battle their way through the snow covered mountains of the Hindu Kush before landing in the relief camp where Kirby is currently working.
Then it jumps to the scenes where Kirby and Shane first met and began having wild nookie while they were off duty – and occasionally on. Then the action finally settles down to what’s happening now in Monteleon and the US as the Phoenix Team gets ready for the rescue. I was glad when the action in the book stopped switching back and forth and we could just move forward.
Kirby is – for the most part – a heroine I like. Shortly before I began this book, I had just finished one with yet another tall, willowy, lithe heroine whose legs go on for miles. Since I look nothing like that, I sent up a silent prayer to get a book with a heroine more like me. Kirby, with the exception of her blonde hair, is perfect. Curvy and vertically challenged. Thank you. She’s also intelligent, passionate about her profession and the work she’s currently doing. She asks smart questions, follows directions and generally avoids TSTL moves. I would wish that she’d made Shane grovel just a tad more since he broke her heart but since he’s obviously head over heels about her and it appears that she’s got him tied in knots, okay.
Shane and all the other Spec Ops guys in this book walk on water. Or so I would believe after reading this book. I liked the action sequences here. They’re very military and sound like what I’ve heard from the military men I know. It’s all understated black humor, dead on seriousness about getting the job done and determination to succeed. It’s when the men are around nonmilitary people that I tended to notice a gushing, fan girl squee factor. It’s not as bad as the “worship at the altar of SEALs” that I’ve read in other books but it’s definitely there.
There were also points in the story that made me wonder why you included them. When the injured Shane is brought to Kirby’s camp, she spends precious minutes debating with Quinn and Zach the proper military procedure. Yeah, they all know it. They’re aware of what they’ve done by bringing Shane there but his leg is shattered, he’s lying in his own frozen blood and he’s probably going to die if he doesn’t get medical care. So stop arguing already Kirby and help him. Which she finally does.
Then we get two chapters of Kirby bonding with the wives of other Phoenix Team members. It’s like a teenage slumber party with wine and discussions of sex. I didn’t need this a book labeled as a “High Risk Novel.” I also wondered about the history lesson Kirby imparts to Shane in a sleazy dive on their way to the rescue as well as the political science discussion Shane and a CIA operative have after a shoot out. Surreal, would describe my reactions to them. WTF am I reading here? would be another.
Quinn, Zach and the other Phoenix Team people along with Shane and Kirby take great care with the rescue plans. Lots of money that this uber rich organization has appears to be spent, special contacts are contacted to produce the special stuff needed that they require to pull it all off. More secretive people get involved once they reach Monteleon and there’s even an undercover agent among the rebels.
But then you spring the news on us that Shane is supposed to go to a nearby government base and steal a helicopter to fly them out. A copter that apparently they all just hope like hell is going to be there. WTF!! I thought. All those plans, all that money, all those other people putting themselves at risk in a country run by a dictator complete with goon squads and the escape plan hinges on the hope that they’re going to be able to get a copter to fly their asses out of there? My cat listened to me rant in disbelief and major points got deducted from the final grade here.
Still, I did like huge sections of the book. It was nice to see poor Michael the former priest find his true love even if she turns out to be a little squirrely, IMO. I hope they’re very happy doing their relief work among gun toting children. I could easily have passed on the slightly emo moments that passed between the men since I found them almost impossible to believe. As I said earlier, Kirby deserved more than one grovel, though it was sincere and lengthy. I liked the way you placed them in a location that will probably make them very happy. But the “gee kids, let’s hope we can find transport out of this jungle hellhole” part of the rescue just about did me in. C+