Tuesday, July 5, 2016

ARC Review: Into the Blue by Chanel Cleeton

Series:     Wild Aces #2
Pub. Date:July 5, 2016
Publisher:Berkley Publishing
Length:320 pages

With this second installment of the Wild Aces series,  I do believe Chanel Cleeton has made her way onto my auto-buy list. Having suffered from burn out in the contemporary romance genre this year, I'm so happy to have found another author whose stories pull emotion from the reader with engaging plots, realistic situations and captivating characters. And can I get an amen for mature heroines?!? We need more over-30 heroines in the romance genre these days... the new adult trend is giving me a complex!

Into the Blue is a second chance romance featuring fighter pilot Eric "Thor" Jansen and his high school sweetheart and ex-fiancee, Becca Madison. Thor was Joker's wingman in the last installment... but I didn't remember much about him prior to starting this book. Thor is having some PTSD-like problems following Joker's death and decides to take some leave to get his head straight. On a whim he decides to head to his hometown, where he had left his fiancee ten years prior. You see, Thor chose his desire to be a fighter pilot over his fiancee... and he did it via a Dear Jane letter. While I can't knock his career path, I knew there was likely to be a lot of angst and drama with our couple given how the relationship ended. I liked Thor, and loved that he was described a little like Prince Harry.

I am usually all about the hero in these books... but oddly enough, I was cattywampus with this pair. I had such a great connection to the heroine, Becca, that Thor really took second fiddle to her character. I loved that Becca was intelligent, educated and career-driven. I also loved that she mature and kept the drama to a minimum. It was obvious that Eric really did a number on her heart, and Chanel Cleeton did a good job at drawing me into that heartbreak. I was glad that Becca talked out her issues with her best gal pal rather than acting out against our hero as that is what usually turns me off a heroine.

Part of the emotional connection to this story for me came from Becca's educational and career choices, which are similar to my own. I was really able to put myself in Becca's shoes, probably because I have walked a similar path. Becca's desire to go to law school and work as an attorney conflicted with Thor's desire for the transient military life. My degree and career are a melding of Becca and Thor's experience, so numerous things were resonating with me, particularly the choices and sacrifices that had to be made by each of them. Luckily they got this second chance to rectify their losses, and that made me happy for them. This is not to say that I would want a second chance with any of the relationships I sacrificed for my education and career... but I'm not bitter enough to begrudge others their HEA (most of the time).

Because this is a second chance, we don't have the instalove feel even though most of the book occurs over a ten day period.  I thought the pace unfolded nicely and I enjoyed all of the interactions between our couple. I didn't find their relationship quite as steamy as Noah and Jordan from Fly With Me, but there was definitely enough heat to satisfy fans of erotic romance.

Easy continues to steal my attention whenever he is in the scene and I'm on tenterhooks waiting for his book. I know it's going to be crazy emotional so I should start stockpiling my tissues now. It's sure to be one of my most-anticipated books of 2017.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Berkley Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Wild Aces

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