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REVIEW

"Remarkable SF/Romantic Suspense novel takes aviation romance to new heights"

Susan Grant takes aviation romance to new levels with her latest release, CONTACT, which is a remarkable blend of science fiction and romantic suspense. Like her previous interstellar romances, CONTACT is set in the near future, but unlike those novels it contains the sadder-but-wiser mentality of post September 11th. Like her heroine, Jordan Cady, Grant flies 747s trans-Pacific for United Airlines, giving us her very unique prospective.

United Flight 58 is making a routine flight from Honolulu to San Francisco, when it virtually disappears from radar. In spite of an extensive search, no pieces of wreckage can be located in the Pacific Ocean in the area in which the plane was last seen. It is logically assumed that there are no survivors. While the rest of Jordan's family struggles to come to grips with her loss, her young daughter Roberta "Boo" insists that her mother still lives ... Not in the ocean, she claims, but somewhere in the sky.

Following the orders of the Captain, First Officer Cady contacts Air Traffic Control requesting permission to evade an unexpected electrical storm in their direct flight path. With permission granted, the 747 makes the evasive maneuver only to find the storm once more in its path. A second deviation yields the same result. When a huge ovoid form suddenly looms outside her window, it becomes clear that what they are witnessing is not a storm, but an unusual aircraft. The anticipated crash never occurs as the craft opens its immense jaws and consumes their plane. A single mother, Jordan's first thought goes to her child. Boo had been unusually agitated before this flight, and Jordan had promised her that she'd return safely home. If she was to do that, she would have to keep a clear head and prepare to face whatever had abducted them. She soon has more than her hands full when the shock causes the Captain to suffer a fatal heart attack leaving her in command of the aircraft and its passengers.

The starship "Savior", named for its commander, Ilya Morey, has been assigned to patrol the rim of Alliance territory and dispatch any Talagar invaders. They are in the right place at the right time when calamity strikes a previously uncharted world. Their only regret is that they couldn't save more of the planet's inhabitants. Morey sends his adopted son, Ko Vantaar-Morey, to interface with the survivors. Ko had survived a similar calamity on his home world as a boy of three. More recently Ko had been a captive in a Talagar P.O.W. camp. When he'd come of age he'd enlisted with the Alliance forces to fight the enemy menace, and make his adoptive father, a famed Alliance hero, proud. Ko had been fed misinformation, leading to the capture of his squad. He alone had survived the captivity. He holds himself responsible for the worst defeat in the Alliance's war against the Talagar Empire, and continues to have nightmares about the two experiences. Traumatic stress, and survivor's guilt are his constant companions. He's been withdrawn, and apathetic about his own future, since the time of his release. His father hopes that this new assignment, aiding Earth's survivors, will renew his spirit as well as expunge his military record. Ko only hopes that this act will restore his father to well deserved glory, in spite of his own personal disgrace.

With no apparent hijacker inside the plane, and several outside of it, Jordan has to devise a new game plan. When two of the "hijackers" approach a door to communicate, Jordan and crew deploy an emergency slide, injuring the imposing male (Ko) and an albino female (Trist, who is of Talagar descent). The male soon returns for another try. This time she decides to let him enter the plane. They are ready for him.

Ko's second attempt to communicate with the passengers is enough to convince him of their will to survive, but their victory is short-lived. Removed from the safety of her airplane, Jordan is forced to hear Ko out. It is evident by the advanced technology his ship possesses that she is dealing with an alien abduction. (It should be explained here that the aliens, including those of Talagar descent are human.) Jordan is informed that a freak meteor shower had resulted in the total destruction of her home planet. From the point of view of the Savior's crew, this had been a rescue rather than a kidnapping. While Jordan comes to grips with the tragedy and ponders her next move, Ms. Grant kindly spares the reader similar trauma by revealing the disaster to be false. There is no indication as to whether it is a simple mistake, or a master plan, or who might know the truth of the matter. This gives the story an interesting duality, a tale driven by both characters and plot.

The passengers of UAL flight 58 are confined to special quarters for their own protection. With the help of the linguist, Trist, Ko prepares the survivors for relocation. Jordan finds Ko as admirable and honorable, as he is attractive. He is a man of rare compassion and strength, just the kind of man she needs in her life. She finds herself looking forward to their daily briefings. Ko is attracted to Jordan as well. She is the first woman to spark his interest after his incarceration. She is everything he's ever dreamed of. He admires her courage and strength as well as her beauty. The term soul-mates is vastly overused, but these two are undeniably kindred spirits. They share common interests, and their chemistry is incredible. Jordan views each of his livid battle scars as a badge of courage. She knows all about courage, and the results of its lack. Here at last is a man who would be there for her. But he had his duties, and she had hers. When the Earth survivors were finally relocated, their parting would be inevitable.

Provided with necessities and computer access, one of the refugees discovers the truth of their situation. But who has been lying to them and why? What emerges is a tale of grief, madness, and the ultimate betrayal. In a true test of character, Ko will have to decide where his loyalties lie.

Astounding! This is a book you'll want to savor. Grant keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The reaction of the passengers to their asumed plight is reminiscent of that to the broadcast of "War of the Worlds", but just when you think you know what's going on, the author throws out another curve. The story will keep you guessing 'til the very last page. CONTACT has it all, science fiction, suspense, and a romance that will leave you sighing. Let me just say that this book was impossible to put down, and I will leave you to ponder the implications for Earth, now that contact has been made.

Copyright 2002

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted September 23, 2002

SUMMARY

A beautiful co-pilot faces a terrible choice when her plane is hijacked on a late-night flight over the Pacific. Can she trust the dark-eyed stranger who has seized both her plane and her heart?

Author Interview

 

Contact
by Susan Grant

Love Spell
October 1, 2002
Available: October 1, 2002
ISBN #0505524996
EAN #9780505524997
384 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Susan Grant

Sureblood
The Warlord's Daughter
Mysteria Lane
Moonstruck
How To Lose An Extraterrestrial in 10 Days
Bewitched, Bothered & BeVampyred, Season 2: Fangs Again
My Favorite Earthling
Your Planet or Mine?
Mysteria
Bewitched, Bothered & BeVampyred: Season 1
The Scarlet Empress
The Legend of Banzai Maguire
The Star Princess
The Only One
A Mother's Way
The Star Prince
The Star King
Once a Pirate


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