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by Kate Morgenroth

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Too high, too far, too fast ...

A woman without fear, Lieutenant Commander Ellie Somers has been pushing the boundaries for so long she's forgotten where they are. She is a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pilot operating out of Alaska's Air Station Sitka — the toughest assignment in the service. In battling fierce storms and treacherous terrain, Ellie has


Too high, too far, too fast ...

A woman without fear, Lieutenant Commander Ellie Somers has been pushing the boundaries for so long she's forgotten where they are. She is a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pilot operating out of Alaska's Air Station Sitka — the toughest assignment in the service. In battling fierce storms and treacherous terrain, Ellie has proven herself to be one of the very best ... and more than a little crazy. But one risk too many leaves a crew member dead and her own career destroyed in a twisted wreck of metal and machinery.

Haunted and traumatized, she moves zombielike through an empty life devoid of the excitement of flying — until a stranger enters her bleak personal hell. A man addicted, like her, to the thrill of danger, he's about to lead Ellie places she never dreamed she'd go, into unexplored realms of chance and deadly peril. But there are some borders that shouldn't be crossed. And if Ellie Somers steps over the line, she will never get back ...

Editorial Reviews

Susan Tekulve
Lieutenant Commander Ellie Somers makes a living saving people. The only female Coast Guard helicopter pilot stationed in Alaska, she spends her days perfecting her daredevil reputation and carousing with her fellow crewmen. During a high-speed chase after a suspected drug trafficker, Ellie's hotshot maneuvering costs her the life of a crewmate, her pilot's license and her job. While recovering from her losses in the small town of Sitka, she meets Nicolas Andreakis, a wealthy playboy who whisks her off to Las Vegas. The two thrill seekers gamble for high stakes, go parachuting and tumble into an edgy love affair. As in her debut novel, Kill Me First, Morgenroth challenges traditional gender expectations by placing her heroine in a male-dominated profession. Ellie can fly a helicopter as well as any man, and she holds her own while gambling and parachuting with Nicolas, but she doesn't take a critical, decisive action until very late in the book. However, Morgenroth's hard-boiled narrative style and a final plot twist save this action thriller from its heroine's frustrating passivity.
Publishers Weekly
What is the nature of risk? That question lies at the heart of Morgenroth's riveting second novel, set primarily on the rugged Gulf of Alaska. Ellie Somers, a fearless Coast Guard helicopter pilot, finds herself in a horrible position when one of her more daring acts at sea results in the death of a colleague. Downgraded to a desk job, she resigns from the Coast Guard. Her life quickly spirals out of control, and she crosses paths with Nicolas Andreakis, a rogue whose own recklessness once pulled Ellie into a treacherous search and rescue mission. The pair feed on each other's desperation during a Las Vegas gambling binge. The son of a shipping billionaire, Nicolas has nothing to lose, and Morgenroth (Kill Me First) deftly reveals the underside of life when Ellie gets caught up in his schemes and decadent lifestyle. Ellie's fight for self-esteem during this intriguing detour in her life leads her to dark places and causes her to take ever more dangerous chances shoplifting, skydiving and worse. A startling plot twist compels Ellie's former boyfriend and one of her alienated colleagues to risk their careers as they try to save her from Nicolas's influence and clear her name at the same time. While offering fresh insight into characters who live their lives on the edge, Morgenroth's juxtaposition of the heroic, death-defying feats of the Coast Guard against high-rolling Las Vegas ratchets up the tension, making this an unusual and effective thriller. (Aug. 1) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
First-rate thriller about a Coast Guard helicopter pilot crazier than most-a woman! Even those who like Lieutenant Commander Ellie Somers hold little brief for her sanity. Sure, she's terrific at what she does-might be, in fact, the best helo pilot on Air Station Sitka (Alaska). Her SAR (Search and Rescue) record is outstanding: 14 people pulled out of the drink (a bitterly cold drink often as not, given the geography), 14 lives that almost certainly would have been lost if not for her. Nevertheless, her colleagues argue, it's well known that Ellie Somers "gets high on risk." Her response is partial acknowledgment while assigning the lion's share of blame-if there is blame-to male chauvinism. The Coast Guard, Ellie insists, isn't comfortable with female pilots, which means the pressure is on the women not just to perform but to dazzle. Risk, then, is scarcely the issue: the reality of Coast Guard politics is. Still, it would be hard to deny that Ellie's a natural gambler, the daring rescue of Nicolas Andreakis being a case in point. Her equally bold attempt to forestall a smuggling operation, however, makes exactly the opposite point and has disastrous consequences: a copilot killed and Ellie's soaring career abruptly terminated. Reenter rescued Nicky-super-rich, indecently handsome-to lead her, if not actually down the primrose path, at least in a hedonistic direction she never expected to go. Suddenly, she finds herself among the fleshpots of Las Vegas and hopelessly in love. But is enigmatic Nicky in love with her, too, or is he the double-dealing scoundrel his father maintains he is? When the answers finally come, they're shattering at first but redemptive in the long term. Anappealing heroine supported by savvy plotting. Morgenroth's second outing (Kill Me First, 1999) proves again that she knows how to weave a spell.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"If you want to hear a story about someone who really pulled some crazy shit, I should tell you about this fishing boat captain my father knew," Andy said. He dabbed at the trim of the long liner, the Sea Smoke, with a paintbrush. The water inside Crescent Harbor was calm, the wind ruffling the reflections of the boats. The air smelled of gas and oil and the fresh sharp scent of brine.

While Andy painted, his fellow crewman, Bill, sat on the side of the boat, smoking. Bill was staring out through the tangle of masts toward the twelve-foot breaker of moss-covered rocks and the fogbound peaks of Sugarloaf and Bear.

The buzz of a float plane cut through the quiet evening. Bill lifted his head to follow its invisible progress through the low clouds. "You want to talk crazy, we should be talking about those bush Pilots," he said. "Who flies in this stuff? Can't see a damn thing."

"This skipper gives the bush pilots a run for their money," Andy said. "He'd sail through anything, this guy. It could be blowing forty, fifty knots, and it wouldn't faze him. And this was a while ago, back in the sixties, when you didn't have all this fancy equipment, and you couldn't call in the Coast Guard to pull your sorry ass out of the water if you were going down." He gestured with the paintbrush across the water to where the Coast Guard station was housed on the tip of Japonski Island.

"When he wasn't fishing, this skipper ran fresh fruit and vegetables to the towns up along the Inside Passage to make some money in the off-season. One trip, not long out of Vancouver, the weather turned funny. It was the kindof afternoon you just know a bad one's coming -- kind of like today. Anyway, the skipper could have pulled into a cove and sheltered through the bad weather, but he decided to keep going. He didn't want his produce to go bad, and he was loaded down with stuff. He had potatoes, onions, squash, apples, everything you can think of, crammed into every square inch of space. So he sailed right into that storm. Turned out it was a doozy."

The float plane had landed, and it was quiet but for the strange, high-pitched squeak of the roosting eagles and the slap of a fish jumping and falling back into the water.

"The wind started gusting pretty strong, blowing the tops off the swells, and then the water started breaking over the bow. Well, that just happened to be where they had stored the squash, so with every wave a few dozen squash got washed out into the sound until the waves were filled with these squash. The crew is worried about making it through because the boat is near to rolling the rails, but this skipper, you know what he's doing? He's yelling at the crew to pick up the goddamn squashes. It's blowing near seventy, and they're chasing squashes leaning out over the rails with fishnets, scooping them up and dumping them below. And you know what? They got every goddamned squash and got through the storm too. What do you think of that?"

"I think you missed a spot." Bill pointed to a place on the boat's trim with the end of his cigarette. Then he flicked the dangling ash into the water.

Andy went over the spot with his brush. "You don't think that's the craziest thing you ever heard?"

"I guess I heard crazier." Bill shrugged. "Seems like most guys around here have some story. Bound to happen if you spend enough time on the water -- or enough time in Alaska."

The boats in Crescent Harbor bore names like Stormy Sea, Lady Luck, Safe Harbor, Home Shore, Endurance, By the Grace of God, suggesting that the men who sailed on those boats were aware of the edge of uncertainty on which they lived.

"Hey, Walt, you almost done messing with that engine?" Bill called out.

Andy paused, brush in the air, waiting for the reply, but Walt either didn't hear or didn't answer.

"It's time to go, " Bill said.

"No argument here."

The harbor was deserted. Earlier in the day there had been several commercial fishing boat crews working to get ready for the season. They were easily recognizable in rubber boots, thick workingman's pants, and battered baseball caps. But half an hour ago, the last crew had turned off their Allman Brothers tape and headed to the P Bar for a beer.

The pleasure boaters, dressed in khakis and old sweaters, had left hours earlier. They had stowed their poles and tossed the unused bait -- the tiny herring lying shoulder to shoulder in their Styrofoam beds -- and had gone home early, shaking their heads over the chop out in the gulf. Even the traffic on Lincoln Street had fallen off, with the hum of a passing car infrequently breaking the silence.

Walt emerged from the cabin, his hands dark with grease from the engine. He was attempting to clean them with a gray rag.

"So you guys ready to go?" Walt said.

Bill and Andy were silent.

"Okay, I get the message. Just let me pack up." Walt disappeared back into the cabin. Andy bent to close the paint can and started cleaning the brush. Bill emptied his mug of coffee into the water and set it back inside the boat. The sound of footsteps made him glance up, and he watched idly as a man dressed in sneakers, jeans, and a T-shirt walked down the dock.

As the man passed by, he said a friendly hello. Bill nodded and stubbed his cigarette out on the planks of the dock. When he looked up again, at first he couldn't see where the man had gone. Then he spotted him jumping into a thirty-foot Bayliner a few slips down.

Meet the Author

Kate Morgenroth is the author of Kill Me First. Saved is her second novel. She lives in New York City. For more information check out her website at www.katemorgenroth.com.

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