By Break of Day
By Break of Day is the fifteenth book in the Night Stalkers series, about a team of special ops pilots who handle all sorts of missions for the Army. While fifteen feels like a lot of books, the series seems to be made up of smaller book groups, making it much easier to follow along. While this series has a lot of fans, I found it hard to get into the story, and the attention to detail distracted far too much from the actual plot.
Kara Moretti is a drone pilot, and acts as the eyes and ears for her group, the Night Stalkers. She guides them on their missions, a voice in their ear giving direction, keeping them alive. She likes being behind the scenes, is one of the best at her job, and she totally has a thing for fellow pilot Justin Roberts. Justin has been into Kara since the first time they met, but has never been able to get through her shell, and flirting was as far as things went. But then they end up working together on a top secret mission with the Activity, they are thrown together past the flirting, to the point where Justin is invited home with Kara during their leave. But the Activity isn’t done with them yet, and there is more to their mission than originally suspected.
The thing is, I’m not much a fan of Justin or Kara. Justin is a really interesting character, right up until he walks and talks like every Texan cliché you can imagine. Kara is incredibly talented at what she does, yet she walks around talking like a teenager, unable to stop thinking about how hot and sweaty Justin looks working out shirtless. I had a hard time taking either one seriously, even as they were operating helicopters and drones on overseas missions. But, that said, the two work together really well. Kara’s tough-girl image is 100% true, but she’s able to soften up and pull back when with Justin. And he may come across as incredibly laid back, but has no problem standing firm to defend either of them.
The middle section is definitely my favorite part of this book – we get to see Kara and Justin outside the military as they go to New York City during their leave. Justin meets Kara’s family, and it’s easy to see how Kara’s character evolved – gotta love big Italian families! Justin’s mom even makes an appearance, but although we hear about his siblings a great deal, there’s a lot he keeps a secret. Well, maybe not a secret per se, but that he just doesn’t talk about. It was a huge surprise to me to find out at this point that his family is quite wealthy. It was a huge surprise to Kara, too!
But then we get back to military missions, and while the second half flows better than the first, it just didn’t work for me.
As much as I enjoyed the chemistry between the leads, however, there were a lot of things that bothered me. First, the book is incredibly easy to put down until you get almost halfway through. The story starts on base, with more than one mission for Justin and Kara, and although the action is interesting, there are so many technical military details that I had trouble following what was going on. For example, I don’t need to know the model of the helicopter Justin flies, or the specs for Kara’s drone. It’s fine to just say “sniper rifle,” I don’t need “PSG1 sniper rifle.” I appreciate an attention to detail, but there’s a line where things become too bogged down in details to be interesting, especially in fiction. This book flew (pun intended) straight past it. I’m pretty sure it’s on the opposite side of the world from it.
Second, I almost went insane from the abundance of stereotypes. Justin is from Texas, so he wears a cowboy hat, boots, and speaks with a drawl the size of the state. Kara is a New Yorker, and Italian, so she knows mafia members. You know, the kind who are “businessmen.” Oh, and she also finishes other people’s sentences. Because we all know how much Italians like to talk, specifically over each other.
On top of those things, we come to issue number three; there are huge time jumps that I could not follow. Maybe it was just the copy I was reading, but the formatting gave me no clue that time had passed by that degree. Instead of the same conversation, or even a few minutes later, the time difference between one paragraph and the next could be days. It certainly didn’t help when combined with all the military details. I spent a lot of time confused.
If you are into military romances, By Break of Day is probably right up your alley. But in the end, the first half of the story is nothing but technical details, and I had trouble following along; and then the same thing happens again at the end. And there are some issues I had with the policies behind the scenes (for instance, generally, you aren’t supposed to serve with people you are in a relationship with, but apparently all of this group is just too good to kick to the curb). For me, it was an okay read, but not a particularly memorable one.