A former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot’s debut novel about a sailor who overcomes her fear of drowning to assist a Navy SEAL team on a top-secret mission.
After losing her twin brother in a kayaking accident, Lt. Sara Denning would feel safer flying helicopters for the Navy if her training didn’t require so many simulated emergency water landings. As Sara details the procedure for freeing herself from the helicopter cabin and swimming to safety—“Left hand on bulkhead, right arm across torso, grab and pull”—we are fully submerged in the minutiae of military life, rarely coming up for air except when Sara’s roommate, Emily, encourages her to take a break. Sara is too busy living out her brother’s military dreams to have a life outside work. For Emily, succeeding in a male-dominated industry means balancing work with predictable but reasonable feminine pursuits, like reading romance novels and dressing up when she’s not in uniform. For Sara, succeeding in a male-dominated industry means working twice as hard as the men without standing out—and we soon see why. When Lt. Eric Marxen recommends Sara for a Navy Commendation Medal for keeping her cool in a smoke-filled helicopter, Eric’s sudden interest in Sara inevitably breeds resentment among the other pilots; and her boss, Cmdr. Claggett, can’t hide his disdain. Fortunately, their opinions don’t matter: a group of SEALs needs an ace pilot for their latest mission, and after they've seen her in action, Sara is now at the top of their list. Sara’s earnestness pays off as the worst-case scenarios she simulated in her training come to fruition in a nail-biting rescue mission.
Tightly written training scenes make for a smart, absorbing thriller when the reluctant heroine is put to the test.