Brace for Impact by Becky HarmonBrace for Impact by Becky Harmon is a romance between two rather reluctant women who always seem to be at different points in the love-avoid cycle when fate puts them together. But they have all that physical smoldering going on, and that forms the basis of the story.

Lucy Donovan is an air marshal who does little with her life except for work and hideaway in her renovation project cabin. She travels incognito on flights across the world and the US ensuring the safety of passengers on different airlines. She is randomly assigned and often works rest days. As the story begins, Lucy demonstrates how she hides and becomes unmemorable to other passengers. She dresses casually and reads trash. Her only relationships with women are one-nighters, and Lucy is very clear about wanting nothing more long-lasting. And she never sleeps with pilots.

Enter Dex Anderson, who is a pilot for Eastern Airlines, an ex-Army pilot who has never completely recovered from her military service. She wasn’t hurt physically and did not get shot out of the sky, but the emotional pressure of what she saw in Iraq and Afghanistan and moving troops back to the US at the end of her service has left her feelings walled-off.

Random chance ensures that they meet briefly, and then Dex passes Lucy a note suggesting they meet up. Lucy decides against the meetup and returns to her cabin. Dex gets on with her life. But nothing is that simple is it?

The Characters

Lucy has a family background that ensures she is both walled off emotionally and expecting to be left. She has little experience of a relationship, but when she meets neighbors and they become friends, she realizes what she is missing in her life. She is lonely without really knowing it, and the story takes her through a journey of understanding as she grows emotionally.

Dex has a loving family, although she has never really recovered from the loss of her mother amidst the emotional trauma of wartime in the Army. She feels that somehow emotionally, she has been left behind in that time whilst the rest of the family has moved on. Her apartment looks unlived in, and she struggles to connect with everyone. Lucy is the first person that has managed to break through to her, although Dex doesn’t understand why.

Bogarts is the donkey that Lucy befriends with carrots and belongs to her neighbors Karen and Sheila. All three appear as a stable background throughout the story as part of Lucy’s life, although Bogarts takes the starring role

The Writing Style

Harmon writes with confidence, and her natural style makes reading a pleasure. I have to say that I particularly admired the writing in this book because Lucy and Dex are very separate people in different places and with different family issues, and the story is structured following their separate lives. The book mirrors the randomness of the meetings, and I ended up wondering as much as they do about what would happen next. It was a very adept piece of storytelling.

The Pros

I loved the backdrop to both Lucy and Dex’s lives and the slow release of the factors that have made the women as they are. It takes some skill to release the details and keep the reader enticed and wanting to know more.

The Cons

There are no cons for me with the writing. However, I must admit that the cover is not to my taste, and if I judged a book by its cover, I probably wouldn’t have read it.

The Conclusion

Brace for Impact is a well written and engaging slow burn romance that keeps you interested and turning the pages. My love of the military comes out when I say I wanted to know more about Dex and more detail about her Army background. I also think that there are more stories to be had around Lucy and Dex.

Excerpt from Brace for Impact by Becky Harmon

The line in front of her stopped as she approached the door of the plane. She watched each person slowly disappear through the opening and into the body of the aircraft. She glanced behind her, hoping Tamika wouldn’t call the next zone. Her eyes flew back toward the group of passengers blocking her entrance. Biting her lip, she hid her anxiety at being trapped in the jetway with a bit of impatient foot tapping.

“Excuse me,” a voice said behind her as she felt a hand placed gently on her shoulder.

She spun, ready to put a stop to the pushy passenger behind her.

“Hey.” Her next words froze on her tongue as she took in the pilot’s uniform.

The woman took a step back, raising her hands in the air. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m running late. May I pass, please?”

Without a thought, Lucy bowed slightly at the waist and used her arm to guide the woman toward the open door. “Your chariot awaits.”

Even she was surprised sometimes at her own words. She liked to blame it on being a Gemini. Flirting was her first—and second—nature. A huge grin spread across the woman’s face, and Lucy felt her gaze slide across her body. She was used to being scrutinized by strangers since she knew few people in her profession and her workplace changed every day. This was different, though. She felt naked and unprepared. After a few seconds, she seemed to have passed the appraisal. The woman continued on, disappearing to the left into the cockpit.

Lucy took a deep breath. She couldn’t remember the last time a woman had stopped her from taking in air. In fact, she really couldn’t remember if that had ever happened before. She glanced at the flight crew welcoming the passengers onto the plane and was disappointed to see that she didn’t recognize any of them. If there had been someone she knew, she would have asked for the name of the pilot and maybe found out more about her.

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