||Nov 21, 2011
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Edge of Survival
Romantic Suspense stories set in unusual locations.
Dr. Cameran Young knew her assignment wouldn't be easy. As lead biologist on the Environment Impact Assessment team, her findings would determine the future of a large mining project in the northern Canadian bush. She expected rough conditions and hostile miners—but she didn't expect to find a dead body her first day on the job.
Former SAS Sergeant Daniel Fox forged a career as a helicopter pilot, working as far from the rest of the human race as possible. The thrill of flying makes his civilian life bearable, and he lives by his mantra: don't get involved. But when he's charged with transporting the biologist to her research vessel, he can't help but get involved in the murder investigation—and with Cameran, who awakens emotions he's desperate to suppress.
In the harsh and rugged wilderness, Daniel and Cameran must battle their intense and growing attraction while keeping ahead of a killer who will stop at nothing to silence her...
From the Book...
"Hey, boys! The strippers are here!"
Guffaws of laughter hooted through the crowd as Cam dropped her backpack to the bare wooden floor and released a whoosh of air. "Yeah, yeah. Very funny."
She leaned on the bar, adjusted her ball cap, feeling hot and lightheaded. Her hands shook, her mouth tasted of aviation fuel and dirt. Not a good way to start a twelve-week stint in the Canadian wilderness. She slipped her hand into the back pocket of her worn-out jeans and grabbed her wallet, relieved to have almost reached her destination.
"Give me a cranberry juice and a tomato juice, please," Cam asked the bartender. On today's four flights—so far—she'd used up half her emergency granola bars. A helicopter was supposed to pick them up here in Frenchmans Bight for the short hop to the ship where they'd be stationed for the next three months, but the pilot wasn't here yet.
The bartender put the cranberry juice in front of her and she chugged back half the glass and left the rest on the bar. She needed a quick sugar fix. The tomato juice would stop her stomach from feeling as if her throat had been cut.
"Vikki? What do you want to drink?"
"Get me a vodka and tonic, hon, and make it a double if this ship we're on really is dry." The blonde made dry sound like leprous.
Vikki Salinger was a Ph.D. student in the lab where Cam was now a post-doctoral research fellow. They'd been friends as undergraduates, but the other girl had taken a break from science to earn a mint modeling. Needless to say, Cam didn't have any catwalk in her past, present or future.
Vikki looked around the shabby room for somewhere to sit. Cam took stock of her surroundings and figured this remote Labrador mining community wouldn't know what hit it. Every person in the bar had a Y chromosome, and testosterone lit the air like campfire smoke.
Cam paid the bartender and, drinks in hand, shoved her backpack across the floor with her foot toward the table Vikki chose. Cam left Vikki's luggage where it sat, blocking the entrance like some oversized Barbie accessory. Yes, she was cranky. Eighteen hours of traveling had taken some of the pep out of her usually sunny demeanor.
An older guy with bushy silver eyebrows, wearing mud-caked boots and a black-and-gray plaid shirt, sidled over from the herd of men.
"So, what're two purdy things like you doing in a roughneck joint like this?" His cheeks were ruddy, and a gold tooth winked from deep inside his mouth.
Vikki leaned back and let her eyes travel over him the way she did every man who came within touching distance. Age didn't matter. The fact she was already screwing Cam's boss, her own Ph.D. supervisor, didn't matter either.
"What's your name?" Vikki asked.
"I'm Dwight Wineberg. I'm in charge of the exploratory mining operation 'round here." He puffed out his chest and hid the hand with his wedding band beneath the table.
Cam took a long draw of tomato juice and watched the interaction from beneath her lashes. In terms of attractiveness, Dwight turned her stomach, which, as a reaction based purely on looks, proved she was just as shallow as he was.
Vikki curved her lips into a smile, and the whole bar lit up like dry tinder in a forest fire. Cam grinned around her straw. She eyed the menu written on a chalkboard behind the bar—moose stew and caribou burgers? Ugh. Hopefully she'd get something more appetizing on the ship.
"And who are you?"Dwight asked.
"I'm Vikki, and this here is Cameran." Vikki indicated Cam without looking at her and Dwight didn't even pretend to glance away from the blue-eyed blonde.
USA Today. 'Edge of Survival' by Toni Anderson
I found another book for my keeper shelf! Or, considering that I read Toni Anderson's Edge of Survival in electronic format, perhaps I should say keeper folder.
Biologist Dr. Cameran Young expects resistance from members of the remote Labrador mining community where her team arrives to study the migration of Arctic char. What she doesn't expect is to find a dead body. Nor does she expect to be whisked away from the scene of the crime by a cocky British pilot. She's horrified by the murder, and should be grateful the pilot is looking out for her, but she has things to prove. Namely, that a woman with Type 1 diabetes is perfectly capable of leading an environmental impact study in the Canadian wilderness. So it's just as well that the pilot, who's as sexy as he is irritating, has eyes only for Cam's blonde bombshell research partner.
Of course, Cam doesn't realize it's all an act.
Following a wartime incident that resulted in the widely publicized death of an innocent civilian, SAS Sergeant Daniel Fox turned his back on the service — and his squad mates. Now a deliberate loner, he freelances as a helicopter pilot in the most out-of-the-way corners of Canada. Still, he's plagued with crippling nightmares, and despite the risk of losing his pilot's license, he does his damnedest to kill the memories with alcohol.
But he can't drink enough to deaden his concern when the head of the research team he was hired to transport stumbles across a corpse. Now Daniel becomes entangled not only in the murder, but with the headstrong biologist, who's as prickly as she is beautiful. When he learns about her serious medical condition, he tells himself he's furious only because he knows he'll be the one forced to save her butt when she lapses into a coma in the middle of the wilderness.
Except there's something a hell of a lot more dangerous than diabetes stalking her. And with Cam's life on the line, Daniel suddenly realizes he can't lose his only chance at salvation. And Cam finds herself trusting in a man she once thought capable of murder. But she won't get the chance to tell Daniel how she feels. Not if the true killer gets to her first.
Anderson writes with a gritty, fast-paced style, and her narrative is tense and evocative. With Daniel Fox, Anderson created a driven, damaged character — and, boy, can this author write a military hero! — and paired him with a brave, complicated heroine. The result is rich and delicious tension, both emotional and sexual. One of my favorite scenes occurs when Daniel walks in on Cam while she's giving herself an insulin shot and assumes she's a junkie. Cam's fury is something to behold.
I enjoyed the dry, sly humor — another memorable scene involves an ill-timed dose of Viagra — not involving the hero, of course ;-) — and the realistic, empathetic way Anderson presents Daniel's post-traumatic stress disorder and Cam's diabetes. The suspense is solid, with surprises leading to and from the climax. The development of the romantic relationship is believable, poignant, and well-paced — I enjoyed watching Daniel come to terms with Cam's health issues and Cam's struggles to resist taking Daniel's PTSD personally. And as much as I cared about the two main characters, and got totally caught up in the charismatic secondaries, I was actually moved to tears by the plight of the wolverine. Don't make fun. Read the book and you'll see. :-)
One thing I didn't get a sense of was how the hero and the heroine lived while not on the job. Not knowing the characters' "ordinary world" didn't detract from the story, but I was curious about their respective lifestyles. OK, it was Daniel I really wanted to know about. Have I mentioned I adore military heroes?
A few of my favorite bits of prose:
"Rage soldered muscle to bone."
"Daniel hadn't gone hand-to-hand with anything other than a six-pack in two years."
"She was pretty sure Daniel had thumbed his nose at mortality more times than she'd had orgasms. And after the last few weeks that was saying something."
Finally, I want to offer Anderson my congratulations for contributing 15% of her royalties to finding a cure for diabetes. NY Times best-selling author Brenda Novak expresses her appreciation as well, in a heartfelt foreword. So for a whopping dose of entertainment and the opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause — not to mention the chance to stare for hours at that gorgeous cover — check out Edge of Survival.
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