Christine London Contemporary Romance Novelist
Against the Current pits hero against villain in a heart pounding rescue mission gone wrong. Grant Cooper, head pilot of an H-65 helicopter out of Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, is the man in control of his life. Or so he thinks until an emergency endangers his ex-lover's life. Julie MacKinnon couldn't suffer Grant's command. One sinking vessel, four surly smugglers and a breech in regulations shake them to the core. Can he save her and his crew in time without sacrificing himself?
Grant Cooper is England's finest. He's on a four-year tour of duty as an exchange flight officer to the United States Coast Guard. Always the man in control, he's the model of the perfect Search And Rescue pilot.
It's not command that Julie MacKinnon fancies. She dumped him once in protest. After all, there are enough constraints in her life as an Emergency room nurse and volunteer Coast Guard Auxiliary crewwoman. When fate throws the two back together in the middle of a heart pounding emergency, will Grant be able to put the requirements of his position aside long enough to save his crew and their love?
Sideways rain blew across the windscreen, high intensity searchlights barely penetrating the gathering gloom and the ferocity of the storm that threatened the survival of any imprisoned by its rage. Commander Grant Cooper pushed the collective gingerly, the nose of the H-65 Dolphin helicopter dipping beneath the traffic bed on the Golden Gate Bridge in desperate search of survivors.
“There!” Lieutenant John Manning pointed a forefinger across the instrument panel into the sheeting rain.
“God damned crosswinds.” Grant gritted his teeth as he struggled with the collective and the cyclic, trying to keep the pitch of the helicopter stable.
“Okay Murphy. Time to hook up and earn your pay.” John said into the microphone imbedded in his copilot’s helmet. “He’s there at two o’clock. Getting fucking close to the piling.”
“Bleedin’ idiot. I’ll never know what gets into people to go out when the weather’s been forecast for rain with gale force gusts. Much worse than this and we’ll not be able to stay up.” Grant felt the tension in his shoulders, and a tightening of his gut as he hyper focused on maintaining the integrity of the copter.
John slid a glance toward his commanding officer, approbation warring with worry on his face. But then, this was a hell of a storm that had blow in off the Pacific as a lioness on wounded prey. “It’s too windy for the basket. Murphy’ll have to go it alone.”
“I’ve got it,” Grant answered John’s implicit concern.
“God, I love this job!” Murphy’s voice came through the crew helmets. “Cowabunga.”
Grant knew that exclamation could mean only one thing. Murphy was out the cargo door on his way down to the choppy frigid waters below. “Easy does it, Murph.”
“Piece a cake, sir,” Murphy’s voice was muffled by the roar of the wind cutting under the bridge. “You keep it stable for me and I’ll have this duffuss inside before you can sing the National Anthem.”
“Oh say can you see…” The voice of first class petty officer Sandy Richards sang out in accompaniment to her partner’s descent. They had been a team for eighteen months out of Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco. Murphy the rescue swimmer, Richards the flight mech operating the hoist, they worked in tandem as one cohesive unit. Sandy made sure Murph had safe journey from copter to sea; Murphy, donned in dry suit, secured the victim’s safety.
“It’s a bit brisk out here Commander. Water temp’s gonna keep me from performing my husbandly duties for the next week.”
“You just keep those jewels intact. I don’t want to make any extra stops tonight.” Grant suppressed a shudder at the memory of losing a crewman out of flight school. As Royal Navy exchange instructor for advanced flight training stationed in Alabama, it had been early in the first year of his two-year tour. Well before transferring to finish the second half of his four-year commitment abroad as flight officer out of San Francisco. It hadn’t happened on his watch, but the loss affected the entire class at Mobile. Every time a crewman was lost, it was as if a family member had passed. The cost of freedom. Not the kind the Department of Defense preserves with soldiers and brute force, but freedom of choice. In the case of this rescue, the choice to take a pleasure boat out on the bay at noon when everything looked calm; the freedom to ignore the responsibilities of a civilian sailor to monitor the weather believing yourself invincible to the whims of Mother Nature, the freedom to be arrogant and unwise.
Every member, from the lowliest petty officer to the Commandant, works to support the Coast Guard mission: Police of the Sea, to preserve life and limb on the waters within the boundaries of the United States. Grant’s drive went beyond this, representing her majesty’s best of the best. As lead pilot, he was an integral part of the life and death piece of the mission assigned to Search and Rescue (SAR) units.
“Guess it would be ‘God save our gracious queen, our great and glorious Queen...” Murphy’s voice shivered through the noise of the storm. “Suppose the North Sea makes this weather look like a picnic, eh Commander?” His tone changed to one of solicitous authority as he addressed the victim in the water. “I’m a Coast Guard rescue swimmer and I’m here to help you. I’ll secure you, ma’am.”
The sound of a woman’s voice replying was barely audible. “But my boat…it’s gonna…” The rest of her sentence was lost to the wind.
“Geez, that’s a woman out there. What the hell…?” John’s voice tensed with incredulity.
Grant kept his arms and eyes steady performing the delicate balancing act of a helicopter pilot. Autorotation into the bay was bad, losing a blade, lethal. “Have you got her?” he barked into his helmet.
“…the land of the free…and the home of the brave.” Murphy’s voice was winded, the definite thud of bodily impact on the last word, changing ‘brave’ into something more like ‘braumph’. “We’re aboard, sir.”
Grant eased the cyclic forward and collective up. The helo responded, swooping across the frothy grey waters of the bay towards home.
Simply Romance Reviews
SRR GRADE: B+
Take one woman afraid to let go, and a man that’s always played by the book, never even bending the rules, and you get a romance that might burn bright and hot, but in time, reality conflicts with their world, separating them.
Julie MacKinnon is an ER nurse that volunteers as a Coast Guard Auxiliary worker to relieve some of the stress of her job.
Flight Commander for the Search and Rescue, Grant Cooper has always followed the rules by the book, always the first one to volunteer for a flight, always doing things his way, never letting go of control. Even at the risk of losing the woman he loves.
Julie and Grant are people that are mostly dominate personalities, but when Grant keeps pushing Julie for something that she’s sure she can’t give, she breaks things off between them, both left hurting and missing the other. It’s only by chance that their paths cross again.
Seeing her again, spending time with her again, Grant feels like he’s taken his first deep breath since she left him. Determined not to lose her again, he decides to take a different approach with her.
Julie is working with her CG Auxiliary rescue team when things go to hell in a hurry. She gets wounded and in the midst of the chaos, she realizes that Grant is the one in the chopper flying overhead.
When Julie is taken hostage when drug runners head for international waters Grant knows they won’t let her live. Wounded himself, Grant watches and realizes that Julie is about to die before his eyes. Breaking every rule that he holds dear, Grant does something that none of the crew, including Julie herself expect. But will his sacrifice give him what he wants, or does he lose Julie anyway?
Action packed, hot and sexy and just watching as Julie and Grant love hard and fight even harder is enough to make your blood start pounding. Giving us a look into the lives of the Coast Guard, and SAR, a reader gets to appreciate what the men and women in this branch of the service give to us each and every day. This book is without a doubt a keeper.
~Reviewed by Melisa
The Romance Studio
Against the Current
Contemporary erotic romance
Available from Phaze
Commander Grant Cooper was the pilot of an H-65 Dolphin helicopter. He was a Royal Navy exchange instructor for advanced flight training in Mobile, Alabama, and then transferred to the west coast. During a search and rescue mission, they had to save a boater who, as it turned out, was a former girlfriend, Julie MacKinnon. Julie was a nurse in the emergency room at the local hospital and served as an auxiliary member of the Coast Guard.
Julie and Grant had previously had an explosive sexual relationship. Grant was a straight, by-the-book British pilot who always put his responsibilities ahead of his relationship with Julie. Julie had lost a sibling to cystic fibrosis, endured a broken home when her parents could not cope with the loss, and could not, herself, stand anyone that made her settle for less than the best.
Ms. Christine London has written a novella which is not only fast-paced, but volatile. She went into depth with her characterizations and showed a fiery sensual side to sexual encounters. Her secondary characters were depicted in enough depth to make the story flow well. She showed the dynamic actions for the Coast Guard and even went into some of the seriousness faced on a daily basis by the members.
The book was written in such a way that it was almost as if I was standing on the boat during the rescue and hiding in the background when they faced their next encounter. I was spellbound visualizing the forceful danger they must face.
I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a tension-filled, quick, uplifting story about some of our everyday heroes.
Sensuality rating: Explicit
Reviewer: Brenda Talley
May 26, 2008
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