Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Admiral's Bride by Suzanne Brockmann

The Admiral's Bride (1999) (MIRA Books)
Suzanne Brockmann
Grade: A
Genre: romantic suspense / adventure
Sex scenes: mild
Source: second-hand bookshop, Koh Tao
Tall, Dark and Dangerous: ... (7) The Admiral's Bride
Romance RBC 2014: An AAR Top 100 Romance 2000 

Dr Zoe Lange has just been presented with the biggest challenge of her career. A biological warfare specialist, she’s more than familiar with going undercover. What’s different about this mission is that she’ll be assisting Admiral Jake Robinson and they need to recover six canisters of Triple X, a deadly nerve agent that has the power to knock out entire cities. Admiral Jake Robinson is a legend – Zoe owes her very existence to him. Over 20 years ago during the Vietnam War, Jake and his elite team of Navy SEALs undertook missions that no one else dared: rescuing whole camps of prisoners of war from enemy clutches and in particular, a team of men who had been left for dead by their superiors in the depths of the forest, including Zoe’s dad.

Still distraught over the death of his wife Daisy three years ago and recovering from a recent life-threatening injury, Jake finds himself in the curious position of having to prove his mettle to his men who consider him too old for field work. When the mission requires that Jake and Zoe become husband and wife in order to infiltrate the compound where the canisters are being held, Jake is reluctant to commit despite being fully aware that this relationship will be purely superficial. As Zoe hides her true feelings, knowing that Jake is unwilling to reciprocate, their mission forces the pair into ever-closer quarters until it's impossible to deny the attraction between them ...

I found this gem while scouring second-hand bookshops when I was in Koh Tao. I had quickly became addicted to Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series, but it’s not the easiest of tasks getting my hands on any of her other books and so I was determined to treasure this find. I enforced on myself a strict rule of buying a single book and reading it before I bought another, and this was perhaps my third book, read and enjoyed on the gorgeous sand of Sairee Beach. I’m sorely tempted to hunt down the other books in this series, but even eBay isn’t throwing up very good options.

This is another title where I’m regretting my original RBC 2014 allocation as in retrospect, it wouldn’t be very difficult to fill the ‘AAR Top 100 Romance 2000’ category. What The Admiral’s Bride is a great example of, is a May-December romance. In a nutshell, this is where the hero and heroine are respectively in the prime and later years of their life (hence, May-December). Jake is 50 years old and throughout the book, is forced to show his team that he’s fit enough to do the job. Zoe is 30 and has idolised Jake all her life after he saved her father’s life. When this mission finally gives her the opportunity to meet and work with Jake, Zoe finds herself not only respecting him, but falling in love with the man. Zoe has no qualms at all about the age gap or what people might think and on a number of occasions, she reprimands Jake’s men for underestimating his abilities. She’s a great example of what I love about Brockmann heroines: headstrong, smart and able to stand her own ground.

As with a number of my other favourite authors (Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Lisa Kleypas, I could go on), I do prefer Suzanne Brockmann’s older titles. There’s just something about these books being contemporary for their time (yet not contemporary to 2014 standards) that makes them timeless, in a way that books written now, aren’t. The Admiral’s Bride closely rivals how much I love Gone Too Far. It’s difficult to pin down which I love more, but the latter does have the advantage of an incredible amount of sexual tension spread over five other books in the Troubleshooters series. Regardless, this novel represents some of the best of Suzanne Brockmann and if you can get your hands on a copy, you'll see why.

Image courtesy of Book Depository.

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