SEAL it With a Kiss

 
Sign, SEAL, Deliver by Rogenna Brewer
(Harl. Super. #980, 5.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-70980-3
***
Rogenna Brewer has continued her series about Navy Seals, but with a slight change in emphasis. Most of Sign, SEAL, Deliver is about two naval aviators, one who's even a Top Gun. Unlike her first book, emphasis on the Seals is kept to a minimum.

Zach Prince and Michelle Dann, friends since childhood, are both naval aviators aboard the same ship. Zach is ready to pop the question to Michelle, but she's not interested. She sees Zach as a love'em and leave'em type and doesn't take him seriously. When they receive a serious verbal reprimand from a superior officer for fraternization, Michelle knows she'll be the one to be kicked out of the Navy. It certainly won't be the cocky Top Gun pilot.

On a mission to Turkey over less-then-friendly skies, Michelle's plane is shot down. The action picks up a month later as Zach is drowning his sorrows in booze. Thinking that Michelle is dead, his life is headed down the tubes. However, a videotape from the enemy featuring a downed pilot will soon give Zach's life new impetus.

While Zach is pickling his liver, Michelle is using her wits to survive and then to escape her captors.

At first, I was convinced that Sign, SEAL, Deliver was better and certainly more interesting than SEAL It With a Kiss. I was really enjoying it--until the action shifts to Michelle's rescue in the desert. At this point, with Michelle and Zach separated, the story becomes less focused. Back story is then interspersed at random, with a plot line surfacing from an incident that's thirteen years old. Giving it major attention seems gratuitous, as if there wasn't enough action to sustain the story line and so another conflict was necessary. That other conflict weakens the story rather than making it more compelling.

What dilutes the plot line are the introductions of amnesia, Michelle's new suitor, a conspiracy plot and the emphasis of thirteen-year-old hurts. All of these cause the story to fall apart, much like petals falling from a rose that's past its prime.

Something else nagged at me, too. Michelle and Zach have known each other since infancy and Zach wants to marry her, but I never felt a true friendship, a commonality or a bond. They don't share confidences or even seem that concerned about the other. Also, don't plan on a prolonged meeting with Tabby and Marc from book one, either. If I hadn't read SEAL It With a Kiss, I don't think that their appearance in this book would have made an impression.

One thing that I do like and appreciate is Ms. Brewer's use of humor, particularly in the dialog between the men. It's frequently toned down and less than the salty military language that we'd hear in the movies, but it is funny and very appropriate. It's G-rated language with R-rated undertones.

All in all, I was disappointed in Sign, SEAL, Deliver. It's as though the plot crashed when Michelle's plane hit the ground. Unlike Rogenna Brewer's first SEAL book, this book does not get my Seal of Approval.

--Linda Mowery


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