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Hover
by Anne A. Walker
Forge, $24.99, 333pp
Published: June 2015

Helicopter rescues are an integral, essential component of naval activities, especially for joint missions with SEAL teams, as it is the pilot’s responsibility to insert the SEALs on some missions, and to pull them the hell out when the party’s over. The faster and more accurate the pilot is, the better the odds are that the team members return intact, instead of MIA, or splattered about, or in body bags. Sara Denning is one of the Navy’s best pilots, even if her superior officer, Commander Claggett, doesn’t seem to think so. Sara keeps a low profile and concentrates on her work, refusing her room-mate Emily’s invitations to “live a little” – go out and party sometimes, or at least read a novel instead of all those equipment manuals. 

But when the Navy needs its absolute best pilots for a top secret mission and uses undercover SEALs to identify and recruit them, Sara finds herself the object of all sorts of attention.  If it were just a matter of flying birds skillfully, there’d be no problem; but some pilots, even her best friend, resent being eclipsed, while others are just jerks. Then there is the heart-thuddingly handsome and compelling Eric Marxen, who takes an inordinate interest in Sara, professionally and personally.  This is all new territory for the self-isolating Sara, and the irony that she is living the sort of romance Emily loves to read is completely lost on her.

Love and danger. Two parts military adventure to one part romance, Hover conveys the tensions, splendors, and terrors S&R pilots experience on a ship at sea, in the air, and on shore leave. The narrative voice is authentic, because the author, Anne Wilson, was herself a Navy pilot who flew search and rescue and worked with SEAL reams. It also portrays accurately some of the difficulties women in the military face, as well as the reality that, when it comes time to respond to a mayday, you want the most competent, reliable person at the controls of the rescue chopper. Heinlein predicted that women would make splendid pilots and captains in Starship Troopers; it’s good to see his perspicacity is being validated. As for the romance angle, the author seems to be happily married, so maybe there’s more truth than fiction there too.

This looks to be the beginning of a series, and I certainly hope so, because I definitely want to read more of Sara Denning’s adventures. Wilson served nine years; that should be good source material for a number of volumes. Here’s an outstanding new writer and heroine! – Chris R. Paige

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