We’ve all had it happen. You’re reading a book, really into it, and something happens that just pulls you out of the moment entirely. That perfectly describes my experience with On Target. Two-thirds of the book were compelling and fast-paced, yet, once I got distracted, I began to notice little things that bothered me. However, there weren’t enough of the little things to keep me from enjoying the story overall.
U.S. Air Force Sergeant Shane O’Riley’s marriage is practically over until a terrorist attack close to home forces him to reevaluate the situation. Shane is basically the all-American hero who simply wants a traditional family and to keep that family safe.
Sherry O’Riley is employed by a volunteer organization that aids communities around the world by spreading health education, building homes, and providing immunizations. She, along with two adopted children from her first marriage, travel the world doing just that – so much so, that she has little time to make a home with her husband. Until the terrorist attack on the camp where Sherry currently works, divorce was the answer. After the attack, both Sherry and Shane put their differences aside to work together to protect their children and deal with the repercussions, one of which involves a member of the small family that has seen too much and has something the terrorists want. The attack on the island sparks a series of events involving Sherry and Shane’s family and a small terrorist group working around Hurlburt Field in the Navarre/Pensacola, Florida area.
As Sherry and Shane fight to protect their family, both see glimpses of the happiness they previously shared. The problem they face in their marriage is discovering how to capture that happiness and prevent some of the old issues of separation from coming between them. It is evident that both love each other, they just haven’t learned to set aside time to work out issues and focus exclusively on their relationship.
Secondary to Sherry and Shane’s story is the subplot involving Sherry’s best friend and coworker and a member of Shane’s flight crew. The two have a history that includes a previous sexual encounter in which he called her by the wrong name and she promptly threw him off, thereby creating his call sign of Rodeo. By helping Sherry and Shane, these characters are forced to face each other again and deal with a strong attraction that still exists.
The characters in the story are believable in their pigheadedness and the problems of Sherry and Shane’s marriage are realistic ones couples often face. They can go from happy to ballistic in a minute or less and have serious communication issues, however, I liked them both because of their flaws.
My problems with the story stem from the language and believability. When the Eastern-European terrorist who is supposed to be evil and money driven uses the phrase “great goodness” in his thought process, I was jolted out of the story completely. Curses and foul language I expect, this I did not. There were also a few too many “ohmigods” as well. In terms of believability, I was also hindered by the fact that I grew up in the general area described and I can’t see it as an area of terrorist activity. If anything, I always felt more protected there. However, this is a personal issue and most readers will probably not have a problem with the believability of the location.
I liked On Target mainly for its portrayal of how communication problems and the lack of “alone” time can adversely affect a marriage. The characters were solid and sympatric. There are problems with the story, but I would certainly recommend it as a beach read for more than just its coastal setting.