Love in the no-fly zone…
Distraught over the loss of her brother in a fighter jet accident, Tinklee Pinkerton decides to follow in his footsteps and prove the tragedy wasn’t his fault. But when she’s chosen as the first woman to fly the Air Force’s F-35, her plan for a life that revolves around work is thrown off course by a handsome, mysterious stranger…
Thanks to Locke’s seductive British accent, sweet nature, and one too many beers, Tink is soon inspired to throw caution to the wind and herself into his arms. She thinks maybe love can heal after all—until she discovers Locke is her superior officer. Tink has no problem risking her life in the air, but with everything on the line, is she brave enough to risk her heart on the ground?
First off let me thank NetGalley and Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing Corp. for providing me with an ARC of this novel. Secondly, it was an amazing awesome novel. The storyline excellently done and the emotions that go through you -as they did me- as you read make it all that much better. If you can't feel it, you can’t get it. My opinion. You have to feel what is on the pages. This is a touchy subject and as a military brat I think I grew to appreciate it more for the truth that is in the words of this story.
*** small spoiler alert ***
Tinklee Pinkerton has had a rough start to what should have been her dream come true. But instead she in a tailspin. Her older brother Colin was killed in a crash while she watched from the tower. Their dream had always been to fly together and now… she was alone. Still she was determined to get up in the jet that killed him and prove it was not pilot error as it had been labeled. For now though she is determined to have a breakdown on the beach after a few beers. What she isn’t expecting is to whack some poor dude in the head with the bottle she tossed while cursing Karma. Talk about Karma. HA! But the poor kids ‘run of bad luck’ doesn’t stop there. No, that would be too easy. She falls in the surf, bashes the poor dude in the nose with her head when he tries to help her up and… yeah he totes doesn’t walk away. He does tell her she is crazy though. (laughs) When she gets a good look at him.. well let’s just say that British accent isn't the only thing making her girly parts heat up. blonde hair, blue eyes and that accent. The girl was hooked from the first word. As they get to ‘know’ each other… one thing does lead to another and Tink has a one night stand she won’t forget anytime soon.
The next morning things go from crazy to fucked in 1.3 seconds. Since she was the only girl in the class she got razed as soon as she walked in, of course her name being Tink didn’t help. (Her mom really needed to be smacked. LOL) But she wasn’t going to let them defeat her. When she notices her boot strap is tied to the table she tries to undo it when the instructors walked in and the class started Tinklee got a surprise she wasn’t expecting. In walks mister sexy. Locke Sinclair… one of her flight instructors. Talk about Karma. (The bitch is relentless...) As she looked up and they noticed each other Tink goes to raise up and smacks her head on the table, hard. When she curses and jumps up she forgets she is tied to the table. This lands her on her back, her head smacking into the floor., Talk about a one, two punch. (-snorts- It’s Karma’s payback for Locke from the beach) Needless to say they are not expecting to see each other, especially -there-.
As time passes and things in the classes heat up, flights are simulated and then its time for their final tests in the flight simulators. As it would be Tink is given a flight plan that starts normal but soon turns bad. Its as if she is replaying her brothers video of his accident again. She panics but is able to pull it together and fix the jet. Simulation or not it hits her hard. A sucker punch to a gut that is already churning for so many reasons. She storms out of the building and is one pissed off chick. how would they do that to her? Did they need to see if she could handle it? As she is abusing her jeep by punching the dashboard an officer approaches her. A special forces captain. he has a one sided convo with her and she leaves. She needs to chill out.
Again, as things progress the schooling and classes keep going on and Locke and Tink try to stay away from each other but can’t then the demons inside Tink keep showing themselves… Can she get passed them? Even with his help? She isn’t sure. Locke is determined to try and not give up on her. When her brothers file of his accident is up to be presented to the class as an example of things that can go wrong during a flight her classmates, her fellow officers are against it. Even Tink is mortified at first but.. it needs to be addressed. No need to show weakness by protesting it. As they get started it goes from good to bad. At the end of the video -which she has seen so many times now- there are questions but Locke is the only one to speak. When he starts Tink has heard enough, not giving him time to finish. She feels he has betrayed her by not agreeing it was a jet issue not her brothers fault.
She storms out and runs into Ash. Again, when she is pissed off. this time though things are a bit different. He gets her to leave base with him to get something to eat. They talk, Tink kind of relaxes a bit. Seems Ash knew her brother as so many people on base had. When it was time to go he asked Tink to let him take her on a real date. But he was gone before she could answer. She wasn't really doing anything wrong but she didn't feel for Ash what she did for Locke. Confusion seems to be her friend lately as does Karma. The next time she sees Ash its for him to tell her he is shipping out ot the war. He and his team are Africa bound. She’s sad of course that he is leaving but it gives her time to think of a way to get out of the whole date thing. Even Locke says she is leading him on with not telling him but it can wait. She won’t tell him before he ships out to war.
As you can imagine.. the next day things change courts. Ash shows up at her house after midnight and again this is after she and Locke have had it out.. so things are tense but Ash manages to get her to relax some. They joke around and Tink makes him spill his beer. She goes to get a shirt for him and then there is a knock on the door. Guess who it is??? Yes Locke. A very drunk Locke for that matter. He sees Ash in only pants, flips and me being men decide to whip their dicks out and compare size. They beat the piss out of each other until Tink is able to break it up. This was not what any of them needed. Ash was shipping out in a few hours and now Locke.. was hurt. And all because of her. The next morning she makes it to the hanger in time to say bye to Ash and make sure all is okay. They are fine to her relief she isn't losing a friend. At the naming ceremony where the flyers get their call signs eh is given Karma. (Gooooo figure.) But she did -during a flying maneuver- beat out Locke.
“Good news travels fast and bad news even faster in these parts. So when one of our brazen warrior leaders was defeated by our resident fairy, the news spread like wildfire.” Woodstock swiped his hand in front of him. “She made her warrior brothers proud, and we decided that her name should reflect this story as it is written in history.”
Cheers erupted as I tried not to choke on my heart.
Woodstock quieted the room.
“Lieutenant Pinkerton, you kicked a royal MIG’s ass!”
I could barely hear or comprehend what he was saying. Kicked a royal MIG’s ass. They were referring to the flight today and Locke. He was the royal MIG. My mind swirled But how in the hell did that translate into a call sign? I tried to piece together the first letters of the words. Kicked. A. Royal. MIG’s. Ass.
From this day forward, and for all eternity, you shall be known as KARMA.”
Some time later on it becomes game time. A call comes in at 4am (ish) to tell them to get their asses on base. As they are all briefed they find out the team is being sent to war. They will be gone anywhere from 6 months to a year maybe longer as they are the only F-35 flyers. Her parents arrive -as do some of the others’- in time later that day to say goodbye to them. Short noticed for them all but it is the military life. They say jump you jump and go about your duties. After a day in the air they land in Germany. So much has happened and they only have a bit of time here. Just enough to eat and sleep but for Tink and Locke its time to talk. And they do along with getting a little closer. Tink isn’t able to hold her emotions in check. She isn;t letting herself feel. And Locke notices. One thing turns to another and they have a fight. She thinks she is so broken but he is not buying it.
Things are tense between them when they arrive in Africa but that quickly changes as they step out of their jets and see all sorts of people waiting around. Red lights and yellow lights are flashing everywhere. They are awaiting the helo’s and the wounded men of Ash’s company. As the helo’s land Tink sees Ash. He is bloody and dirty but he is alive. She and Locke go to the infirmary and see him. Bridges are mended and time moves on. Then the unthinkable happens. Tink, Stitch (her classmate and brothers best friend) herself and two officers (instructors) go up to do a little surveillance. Tink has a panic episode in the cockpit. The same thing that happened to Colin was happening to her. She had to get it together. Thankfully she managed to get her shit together just in time thanks to Stitch calling out her name on the radio. That she was taking as a sign, deciding to never fly again once her feet were on the ground.
But that all changes after -during a flight out- Locke’s jet is shot down while he is protecting Ash and his team from an ambush. He is on the mountain and they haven’t had any contact with him. They won't let anyone go after him.. there is no sign of life and there is a big ass storm rolling in. But Tink as well as Ash knows that it gets worse if the person is out for long. Waiting a full 24 hours from his take down is not acceptable. Ash’s team decided against their commanding officer’s orders that they are going after him. Tink, Stitch, Mojo and Freak decide to take the four jets already out and ready to go for the morning patrols and go get their man. A few of them split off to do things to get the paperwork switched and hurry so they can get the hell out of here before anyone seems them. It’s a dicey and dangerous adventure that pays off. Karma (Tink) spots Duke’s fa (Locke) and the ground team -who has been taking on gun fire from yet another ambush- get to him. They got him. He is hurt badly and when they helo lands with him in it all bets are off. She doesn't care that people will figure out she and Locke are a thing. She just needs him to be okay.
They are all in the dog house. Will they be arrested? When they all gather in the briefing room, Clash, the eval officer and royal pain in the ass smarts off to Tink. But by this time everyone is tired of his high and mighty ass and T-Rex, one of the instructors puts him in his place. Also known as a choke hold of sorts. (snorts) They settle down when the commanding officers come in. Theirs and Ash’s. They classify this mission to save Locke as a top secret -can never be spoken of again- mission. Literally saving all of their asses. But he gives the a piece of his mind, none the less.
After the brief she goes to check on Locke. Bohdi tells her he has to be some bad wounds but should be fine. Locke’s being transferred -thanks to his moms doings- and have surgery to remove a bullet from his chest. Tink stays with hi all night. After of course she tells him she loved him. (grins) Once she puts him on the plane and he is gone.. things go back to ‘normal’ or as normal as they can in the middle of a war. Finally after many weeks of not having anything anything to do but eat, sleep and fly she was wearing down. But they get a reprieve. Seems they need it. But its been four weeks since she has seen or heard from Locke. Is he okay? Where is he? Since no one knew they were coming home Tink gets to enjoy the quiet as she frets over Locke in her own house..
Final thought…. JUST HOLY CRAP!!!! (Takes a deep breath) Okay, um.. yes I left things out.. (grins) I couldn’t ruin it all for ya. Trust me, I loved it! Like totes. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me mad, made me grunt and curse and all of that great stuff… even if some of it was very unladylike. Yes, even did some of this while at work. Ooops.. but I couldn't put it down. Like not at all. I had withdrawals the 24 hour period I was away and couldn’t read. Just rude. (laughs) I wish there was more of this one. It was a great novel!!!
Until next time, keep the pages turnin’ and your mind open.