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When Tate McKenna, a war correspondent assigned to the Middle East, meets the stunningly beautiful Commander Evan Kane, an ace pilot stationed on the aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz, Tate hesitates, but only briefly, before engaging the dashing flier in enticing conversation at an official dinner in Bahrain given for the US Secretary of State. From that meeting, the two women are drawn into an irresistible relationship in spite of the demands of each of their careers. With a bond that grows stronger and moves more and more toward a desire for a commitment with each passing day, the two women begin to make their plans for a future together back in the States. Thus, Show of Force begins with a profound love affair surrounded by the ever-present danger of their location and circumstances. The two women struggle to carve out time together between each of their assignments, yet their feelings for one another continue to grow.
Tate is placed in potentially perilous situations to get her next story on the war in Afghanistan while Evan flies dangerous missions to assist ground troops fighting the insurgents there. But as Tate begins to grow weary of her tension-filled assignments and Evan looks forward to the end of her final tour of duty, the two women begin talking about how they will make a future together. However, their plans all come to a devastating end when Evan takes off on her last mission only to be shot down over the treacherous mountains of Afghanistan. The ensuing tale presents a shift from pure love story to include the torment of loss and grief and finally a struggle for survival and triumph over evil and misfortune.
The characters in the story are portrayed realistically, with personalities and idiosyncrasies that make them both believable and endearing—or, in one case, downright distressing. The love story between Tate and Evan is classically inspired and tastefully delicious. Evan’s brother and his partner prove to be the familial support needed under the evolving disastrous conditions, coming to Tate’s aid when Evan goes missing in action and they must face the unthinkable together. The anxiety Evan suffers as a result of her war experiences is unnerving. The trepidation the evil Khalid presents is sure to make the reader shudder more than once. In a complex plot involving the Middle East conflict and the horrors of war, and the subsequent shadows of evil that follow our heroes home, Quinn keeps the story flowing with an urgency that will keep the reader turning pages.
The title, Show of Force, suggests many things. It tells of the US fight against terrorists in the Middle East. It tells of familial mustering of support during difficult times. It tells of how two people who love each other must ban together to overcome the trauma of unthinkable acts inflicted in time of war. Last of all, as a group of friends form a ring of comfort and support around Evan and Tate, the final show of force will prove either to be their triumph over adversity or their undoing. No matter which it is they will move through it all together. The contrapuntal cadence of love and support against terror and the psychological distress inflicted by an adversary, real or illusory, will thrust the reader deep into this compelling, edge-of-your-seat tale.
AJ Quinn has given us an electrifying second offering that’s bound to send a shiver through the reader—whether from the aspect of the perfect romance that is Tate and Evan’s destiny—or from the disturbing events that seem to have followed the couple home from the war—Show of Force will not disappoint.
Show of Force
By AJ Quinn
Bold Strokes Books
Paperback, 9780896727946, 310 pp.