solid 3 stars
I ripped through Catherine Mann's Elite Force and Dark Ops series so I was looking forward to starting the Special Operations series but this book really dragged for me and I'm not sure why. Have checked that impeccable source Wikipedia and it seems that Special Operations pre-dates the other two series and was written at around the same time as her Wingman Warriors series which I also found a bit meh.
Now I have read this in several chunks, several weeks apart so I apologise for the vagueness of some points of plot.
The outline story is good. Brigid is a photojournalist and Joe is a pilot (can't recall if he was the Green Beret). Brigid and Joe have known each other for two and a half years. Brigid was seeing Joe's best friend when he was killed in a mission gone wrong. Brigid and Joe have strong feelings for each other, have done since the day they met, but have hidden those feelings from each other.
Following her boyfriend's death Brigid has ceased being a photojournalist, until her editor tempts her back with a story too good to miss – accompanying the Spec Ops team on a mission to Cartenia on a goodwill journey which is covering up an attempt to gain evidence on the terrorist responsible for her boyfriend's death. And of course, because the romance wouldn't work otherwise, Joe is also on the mission!
Of course, Cooper (her boyfriend) isn't dead. He was a prisoner of war for a while and when he was released/escaped/rescued his leg was too badly wounded to be saved so he has a prosthetic leg below the knee. For some reason the CIA decides Cooper can be of more assistance to them if everyone believes he is dead so he hides from his family, his best friend and his girlfriend and goes undercover to [drum roll please] gain evidence on the terrorist who was responsible for his injuries and capture.
Alessandro is a drug manufacturer and distributor in Cartenia in league with the terrorists and party to their plot to send cocaine laced with Anthrax to the USA. His mistress, Lena, is desperately unhappy and terrified of him but she cannot escape Cartenia. To show that he is a BAD MAN Alessandro takes cocaine and forces Lena to have sex (and do things so unspeakable that they are only referred to obliquely). Alessandro has recently taken on a new American in his organisation – Cooper. Cooper and Lena are drawn to each other even though he can't afford the distraction and she has her son to worry about (as well as the psychotic, drug-taking, violent Alessandro). Also, can't remember is his name Alessandro Arragon or does he change name half way through?
Anyway, there are traitors aplenty, Alessandro loses the plot there's a gloriously OTT kidnapping and yet it was all a bit of a struggle. I think it was because, like most of these novels, the romance required the two protagonists to believe things about each other (she still loves her old boyfriend, he doesn't feel that way about her) that have no basis in reality.
Also, Ms Mann's later books are darker and more gritty – the Wingman Warriors and this book seem a bit PG-rated.
I'm already dubious about whether to read books 2 and 3 or just DNF them. or is it DNBTS (did not bother to start)?