Series: Men of Marietta #3
Published by Tule Publishing on April 4th 2017
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Keely Andersen hasn’t visited her hometown more than a handful of times in the last ten years, but when her doctoral research sends her back to Marietta for the immediate future, she can’t wait to reconnect with the community and the mountains she missed so much. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Keely’s truck breaks down a few miles outside of town. When help arrives, she finds herself face to face with her brother’s best friend – the guy she used to call big, bad and gorgeous – Jonah Clark.
Still settling back into Marietta after a harrowing stint as an army helicopter pilot, Jonah Clark plans to spend a few days hiking the local mountains to prepare for his job as a pilot for Crawford County’s Search and Rescue team. When he stops to help a stranded driver, Jonah is shocked to find his best friend’s younger sister is the one behind the wheel. Only now, instead of the geeky teen he remembered, Keely is all grown up with curves he can’t resist.
Though the sparks of attraction ignite immediately, they're hesitant to act because of their shared past. But when a project dear to their hearts is threatened, and a boy is lost on Copper Mountain, Keely and Jonah drop everything to fight for what matters, including each other.
The Men of Marietta series, like most of Tule’s Marietta books, comprises standalone stories, which are, well, great. It’s easy as a reader, to dip in and out of this charming fictional town, get sweetened up on a particular pairing as and when you wish. I’ve enjoyed most of the books Marietta no matter the author and ‘Daring the Pilot’ is another cute but sweet read of the brother’s best friend that never happened until it did.
Having known each other for many years before a lengthy career separation of a decade, their visits back home had somehow always made them miss each other – Jonah in between his deployments and Keely in between her travel and research – until their paths converge once again this time around. And like Eliza Doolittle, Keely Anderson’s smart-geek act has become brilliant geek-chic, outdoorsy, artless and near irresistible, and it’s giving Jonah is having a hard time in keeping his hands off her.
Mostly, the story loped on as Jonah and Keely found themselves integrating into the small-town community, as characters (probably from previous books) wove in and out of their lives.It isn’t sufficiently explained why Jonah suddenly saw Keely as a woman rather than just a best friend’s sister, though I would have been happier with a concrete, believable explanation. I liked the chemistry between Keely/Jonah but was less thrilled about the virgin/experienced man trope though, even though neither denied their feelings as they hurtled headlong into this attraction that turned into much more. There’s a little talk about double standards between men and women, though not enough to start a pro-feminist treatise…which really isn’t what the story is about anyway.
I found myself enjoying this read up until the turn at the end where some out-of-character moments made it go awry, as though conflict was created for the sake of dislodging the notion of a smooth-sailing HEA and bring about the grovelling moment until the actual resolution arrived…in a rushed and abrupt way. It didn’t exactly detail the whole experience for me, but I’d certainly hoped for a different ending and a more realistic conclusion that didn’t quite involve a hurried wedding because of an unplanned pregnancy.
That said, ‘Daring the Pilot’ (the title seems like a complete misnomer) is nonetheless a quick but entertaining read, good for a few hours of distraction, as Marietta is always wont to do.