What is the nature of risk? That question lies at the heart of Morgenroth's riveting second novel, set primarily on the rugged Gulf of Alaska. Ellie Somers, a fearless Coast Guard helicopter pilot, finds herself in a horrible position when one of her more daring acts at sea results in the death of a colleague. Downgraded to a desk job, she resigns from the Coast Guard. Her life quickly spirals out of control, and she crosses paths with Nicolas Andreakis, a rogue whose own recklessness once pulled Ellie into a treacherous search and rescue mission. The pair feed on each other's desperation during a Las Vegas gambling binge. The son of a shipping billionaire, Nicolas has nothing to lose, and Morgenroth (Kill Me First) deftly reveals the underside of life when Ellie gets caught up in his schemes and decadent lifestyle. Ellie's fight for selfesteem during this intriguing detour in her life leads her to dark places and causes her to take ever more dangerous chancesshoplifting, skydiving and worse. A startling plot twist compels Ellie's former boyfriend and one of her alienated colleagues to risk their careers as they try to save her from Nicolas's influence and clear her name at the same time. While offering fresh insight into characters who live their lives on the edge, Morgenroth's juxtaposition of the heroic, deathdefying feats of the Coast Guard against highrolling Las Vegas ratchets up the tension, making this an unusual and effective thriller.
Firstrate thriller about a Coast Guard helicopter pilot crazier then mosta woman!
Even those who like Lieutenant Commander Ellie Somers hold little brief for her sanity. Sure, she's terrific at what she doesmight be, in fact, the best helo pilot on Air Station Sitka (Alaska). Her SAR (Search and Rescue) record is outstanding: 14 people pulled out of the drink (a bitterly cold drink often as not, given the geography), 14 lives that almost certainly would have been lost if not for her. Nevertheless, her colleagues argue, it's well known that Ellie Somers "gets high on risk." Her response is partial acknowledgement while assigning the lion's share of blameif there is blameto male chauvinism. The Coast Guard, Ellie insists, isn't comfortable with female pilots, which means the pressure is on the women not just to perform but to dazzle. Risk, then, is scarcely the issue: the reality of Coast Guard politics is. Still, it would be hard to deny that Ellie's a natural gambler, the daring rescue of Nicolas Andreakis being a case in point. Her equally bold attempt to forestall a smuggling operation, however, makes exactly the opposite point and has disastrous consequences: a copilot killed and Ellie’s soaring career abruptly terminated. Reenter rescued Nickysuperrich, indecently handsometo lead her, if not actually down the primrose path, at least in a hedonistic direction she never expected to go. Suddenly she finds herself among the fleshpots of Las Vegas and hopelessly in love. But is enigmatic Nicky in love with her, too, or is he the doubledealing scoundrel his father maintains he is? When the answers finally come, they’re shattering at first but redemptive in the long term.
An appealing heroine supported by savvy plotting. Morgenroth's second outing (Kill Me First, 1999) proves again that she knows how to weave a spell.
Here's something you hardly ever see: a big girls' adventure book. Kate Morgenroth's SAVED (HarperCollins, $23.95) fits neatly into the actionthriller genre with its hairraising exploits of a daredevil helicopter pilot stationed at a Coast Guard base in Sitka, Alaska. But it makes all the difference in the world to put a woman in the cockpit of one of those monster H60 Jayhawks when it's racing down a cigarette boat full of contraband drugs or navigating a harrowing sea rescue at the height of a raging storm. Writing in fullthrottle style, Morgenroth not only captures the adrenaline rush of the adventure but also delivers a penetrating character study of a woman whose love of danger turns her life into a quasisuicide mission. When one of her reckless stunts gets her kicked out of the service, Ellie Somers goes off with a mysterious savior who introduces her to highstakes gambling, skydiving and other dangerous pastimes. Although the fantasy thickens once Ellie is off the base, Morgenroth comes up with enough action to feed all our passion for thrills.
By Marilyn Stasio
A hotshot Coast Guard helicopter pilot is the intriguing protagonist in Saved. Lt. Cmdr. Ellie Somers has made it in a man's world but still suffers the consequences of being more than competent in a career not traditionally connected with women. She does have to work harder, the wives of the male pilots are not comfortable around her, and she comes dangerously close to living a life that teases death more than once too often. Her thrillseeking personality, mitigated by the heat of a chase, leads to a deadly crash that has disastrous consequences for her job, her fellow pilots and, most destructively, on her emotional grip.
Somers crashes her copter into the water off of Sitka, Alaska, while in pursuit of a drug boat. One of her crewmembers is killed. Evidence points to Somers' negligence as the cause of the accident. An exlover and Somers' former crewmembers play detective, eventually unraveling the accident's true cause.
Kate Morgenroth spins an exciting account of the daredevil stunts and maneuvers that helicopter pilots undertake on the job.
When Somers loses control of her helicopter and is forced to ditch it in the water, we get a riveting account: "Ellie tried to keep the helo upright as the rotors slowed, but she felt the craft rolling to the left. Then everything happened at once. The helo lurched and the retreating blade impacted the water. It struck with enough force that it nearly ripped the transmission off the top of the aircraft, and inside the cockpit the impact felt like hitting a brick wall going forty."
Morgenroth takes you inside the helicopter and makes your stomach lurch when the ride gets wild. While trying to pull two men out of the water during a storm, Somers flies so low and a rogue wave is so high that she stares out of her windshield "to a solid wall of water." She's so low that the men she's trying to scoop up are looking down at her from the wave's crest.
Tempered with Somers' struggles with low selfesteem, man trouble, fear and selfdestructive behavior, this is a mustread for those who like their women tough but vulnerable.
Many people work at a profession that doesn't really offer them fulfillment and for which they can feel passionate. That is not the case for Lieutenant Commander Ellie Somers who is a helicopter pilot stationed in Sitka, Alaska, with the Coast Guard. In Sitka, the Coast Guard does double duty, managing emergencies over water as well as all inland emergencies, such as lost hikers, or tending to the sick and injured in the remote villages of the Inside Passage. Ellie feels that what she does makes a difference, and each rescue, whether on land or sea, is a rewarding experience. She also has the great good fortune of working with a group of individuals who are truly friends, who support and nurture one another, even if there's a lot of lighthearted ribbing going on.
As the book opens Ellie is piloting a "helo" that is rescuing a boater in an extremely turbulent sea. The rescue is a dramatic one that takes all of Ellie's skill in maneuvering the craft in high winds and water. She comes perilously close to losing control, and the rescue swimmer undertakes a daring retrieval of the victim in the water. Much to the crew's surprise, the person rescued seems energized by the element of danger rather than frightened by the whole experience, which is not the usual reaction.
Ellie's next mission doesn’t go so well. The plan is to intercept a fast drug runner boat. She does some "hot dog" type moves to stop the boat, and it's then that the worst possible thing happens. The helo goes down and one of the crew is killed. Although she suffers a head injury and can't really recall the entire situation, Ellie accepts the fact that she screwed up. As a result, she loses her commission and her livelihood, her career doing the thing that she loves.
Falling into a deep depression, Ellie lapses into a lethargic, apathetic state, sleeping her life away and drinking to excess. When she is approached by Nicolas, an exciting and daring man who offers her a chance to move on, she jumps at it. They end up in Las Vegas, and she becomes hooked into the seductive world of gambling, which is financed by Nicolas, who has a very rich father. She and Nicolas are a perfectly matched dysfunctional pair who thrive on high risk behavior. However, the portrayal of the relationship is very unusual. It does not play out in the way that one might expect.
In the ultimate end game, Nicolas requests Ellie to do something for him that is highly illegal. She feels she knows what his deal is and goes along with his scheme so that she can double cross him. But nothing is as it seems, and I found myself surprised at how things turned out. The lesson learned is that it is dangerous to make judgments until you know all the facts.
I found this to be an intense and fascinating book. Morgenroth described in some detail how helicopters work, but in a way that was interesting to the reader. The pacing of the book was excellent, with a move from the excitement of the high sea rescues to the more cerebrally dangerous world of Las Vegas and the games that Nicolas was playing. The plot was highly original, and I appreciated the lack of clichés around the relationships and situations. I was engrossed in the book for its entire length. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Maddy Van Hertbruggen