ON BROKEN WINGS - Chanel Cleeton
A Perfect 10
A Wild Aces Romance , Book 3
Berkley Sensation
ISBN-13:  978-1—101-98700-1
January 2017
Military Romance

Oklahoma – Present Day

A year ago, Dani's husband Michael, or “Joker” his flight nickname, was killed during an F16 jet training mission in Alaska.  Since then Dani gets by as best she can; which means she is not getting by at all.  They had nine years together and both knew at first sight they were meant for one another.  Michael was the Commander of the Flying Aces, and Dani was also the leader of the women, and despite everyone rallying around her, she still can't get over the heartbreak.  Dani knows she has to get on with her life and needs to put their house on the market, if only she can repaint the Air Force blue painted bedroom for the son they hoped to have before she miscarried.  Just going in the hardware store for paint has her realizing she can barely hold on to her sanity, let alone pick a paint color.  It's only her friend, Easy, who comes to her aid in the store that keeps her from totally losing it in aisle twelve.  Easy was one of Michael's other F-16 jet pilots in his group, and was a rock for her through the years.  Easy held her when Michael was gone during her miscarriage.  He was beside her as she talked at Michael's funeral, the last man her husband talked to before he died.  Easy might be considered a woman's man, a player, or manwhore, but he has always been there to help to her and is almost her best friend.  With Easy's help she picks out her paint and he volunteers to come over and paint the bedroom.

It's hard to believe, but the minute he met Dani, Alex (Easy) fell in love.  When he found out she was his Commander's wife, he struggled with his feelings for her.  He drinks, he beds other women, he is nice but not too nice, stuffing his feelings for her as far down as he can.  He held her when she had her miscarriage, he strengthened her at the podium during his best friend's funeral, and there is no way he could do anything to displace Joker's memories in her mind.  Easy will be leaving on another deployment to Afghanistan in three weeks, and helping Dani is something he must do, despite worrying she will be gone when he gets back, and then how could he ever see her again?  Walking the thin line between helpfulness and the pain of wanting Dani with all his might, Alex has had a hard row to hoe, they argue over little things, and hurt each other's feelings.  Dani is jealous when Easy feels she doesn't want him around and talks to other women, until a party the night before he leaves on his next mission.

After the last year, Dani is just now trying to be around the other men of the Wild Aces and their wives and girlfriends.  Jordan is Burn's girlfriend and was with her the night the news came.  All of the men know Easy has loved Dani from the first, but he has asked them to never mention it to her, he doesn't want her to be troubled about his feelings for her.  When Jordan fixes Dani up with a date, Dani determines perhaps it's time to try to get out a little bit.  But a divorced man with hatred for his ex-wife is confusing to her and immediately makes her wish she'd never agreed to this fiasco.  She can feel she is getting closer to Easy, but in her mind that she still is not ready for affection, despite the anxiety she feels when he talks with other women.

Remember Chanel Cleeton; she is the master, the main, the dominant writer of military romances with so much feeling and love and compassion that is found written nowhere else.  I love the way she describes Easy; he worked hard to cultivate his reputation, and he enjoyed it.  In the fighter jet world, the flashiest guy with a larger-than-life personality translated into how Easy handled a jet.  The meek and humble don't make it, you need an arrogance and absolute belief in yourself and your abilities; that little bit of arrogance can mean the difference between life and death in the air.  That is Easy.  Dani, as the wife of the Commander, knows all the men in her husband's command are outstanding and have tried to help her during the past years.  But as women know who've lost a beloved husband, you still long for the love and affection you had before, but giving up the memories of the past is much easier said than done.

Secondary characters are the members of the Wild Aces, including Burn and Thor, and their wives and girlfriends.  They were all with her the past year and have tried their best to help her cope.

ON BROKEN WINGS is a painful, emotional, breath-taking story of the military and how death is so complicated to accept and overcome.  Dani is by turns strong and weak, wanting to find love, but afraid of losing Joker's memories if she lets someone else in her heart.  Easy was there during Joker's accident; is it against the man code to reveal his love for Dani and act on it?  Through tears you will see Easy and Dani come to terms with their feelings for each other, and coming to terms with love and loss.  Can Easy and Dani find their happily-ever-after?  The other two stories in The Wild Aces are FLY WITH ME (May 2016) and INTO THE BLUE (July 2016).  A well-deserved Perfect 10, ON BROKEN WINGS will open you to emotion and an extraordinary story.

Carolyn Crisher