|Awaken to Danger is the ninth entry in Catherine Mann’s “Wingmen Warriors” series. Fans will recognize the players and it is Nikki Price, adult daughter of J.T. Price, loadmaster, and principal character in a prior novel, who awakens to danger in this story.
In Charleston, South Carolina, Nikki awakens, nude in a strange room, not remembering how she got there. The nightmare worsens when she discovers the guy she had been dating is dead on the floor beside the bed. As she is in the Visiting Officer Quarters on base, the investigative force of the base and the commanding officer of the victim are notified.
Responding is Major Carson Hunt (call name Scorch), who is acting commanding officer. Readers may remember Carson had an inappropriate response to Nikki in a prior story. Inappropriate because she is 12 years younger, the daughter of friend with whom he was imprisoned, and who he knows wants more for his daughter than a marriage to a career officer.
Special Agent Reis is heading the investigation and cannot eliminate Nikki as a suspect. His case does weakens when blood tests reveal Rohypnol (the date rape drug) in her system. However, the principal in the school where she is teaching puts her on administrative leave pending the outcome.
A couple of life threatening incidents complicate the plot, serving to make Nikki and Carson aware that she is a probable target for unknown reasons. Carson struggles to protect her and he and Nikki are thrown together while she tries to cope with the crush she has had on him for a very long time.
Month’s prior, they had ended up in bed and Carson left the next morning before Nikki awakened, and has avoided her since. Deeply hurt, she has since dated look alike flying officers trying to erase him from her system. Carson on the other hand is dealing with what he believes her father wants for her, and a major problem of his-alcoholism.
Although the middle of a book is usually devoted to a rising conflict, Awaken to Danger seems to keep running in place with the characters not dealing with their age-old conflicts and hang-ups. The point of redemption is the familiarity through past stories of the warm characters Mann has drawn, as well as sharp crisp dialogue and seemingly very real details of the challenges of military life.
This story is really about Nikki and Carson and alcoholism and its related support groups as well as the other addictions one can amass. The suspense plot is not well integrated into the master plot, and the genesis for the resolution of the plot comes seemingly from out of nowhere.
Catherine Mann is a terrific military romantic suspense writer, however, this book is one of her weaker efforts.