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Grayson's Surrender and Taking Cover
     

Grayson's Surrender and Taking Cover

4.0 2
by Catherine Mann
 

These two Wingmen Warriors stories will leave you breathless!

Grayson's Surrender

Nothing frightens Grayson "Cutter" Clark. Yet the sight of Lori Rutledge has the air force flight surgeon almost dropping to his knees. After a year without her, Grayson is now her partner. Suddenly, rescuing a group of orphans from a war-torn country seems

Overview

These two Wingmen Warriors stories will leave you breathless!

Grayson's Surrender

Nothing frightens Grayson "Cutter" Clark. Yet the sight of Lori Rutledge has the air force flight surgeon almost dropping to his knees. After a year without her, Grayson is now her partner. Suddenly, rescuing a group of orphans from a war-torn country seems easy compared to keeping his feelings for Lori locked safely away…especially when she wants his surrender!

Taking Cover

Dr. Kathleen O'Connell's years in the air force taught her a thing or two about handling arrogant top-gun pilots. But there's one hotshot flyboy who's always gotten past her defenses. And now he's her unwelcome partner—on the most dangerous mission of her career. Kathleen thinks she can keep him in line—maybe—but she's not so sure about her own traitorous heart….

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780373606245
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
04/15/2014
Series:
Harlequin Themes Series
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Anything Anywhere Anytime.

Major Grayson Clark whipped the crooked Velcro-backed patch free from his flight suit and slapped it on straight. The stitched squadron motto sure as hell applied today.

Muggy steam radiated from the cement, penetrating Gray's flight boots. Anticipation fired through him hotter than the stored heat from the tarmac.

Prepped and ready on the flight line, the Charleston-based C-17 glistened in the late-day sun. The mammoth aircraft frequently flew heavy-duty cargo around the world, and Gray had logged on for a number of missions. But carting a planeload of orphans out of their war-torn country across the Atlantic would be a first for him.

An incredible first. Talk about job satisfaction. And the military was his life.

"You ready to fly?"

The gravelly voice yanked Gray back to the flight line. He glanced at the seasoned loadmaster waiting beside him. "Hell yeah, Tag. You know me, always ready to log more hours."

"Shouldn't be much longer, Cutter."

Hearing Tag use the call sign "Cutter" reminded Gray of his primary function on this mission. He was a doctor-a "cutter"-first, flyer second. As a flight surgeon, he would assess the children before they left their Eastern European village for the States. He would only strap into the cockpit as a relief pilot.

Gray shrugged, as if that might loosen the T-shirt long since plastered to his body by sweat and restlessness. "Five seconds. Five hours. Won't matter if we melt out here first waiting for the civilian relief team."

"Bet that's them now." Tag nodded toward the Air Force bus lumbering across the ramp like a blue whale. "Head on in while I load 'em up. The auxiliary power unit should be cranking the air by now."

"In a minute." Gray hooked his hands on his hips. He shifted his weight from foot to foot, itchy to leave, ready to roll. But the aircraft commander and copilot wouldn't need him while they ran the checklists.

Gray peered through his aviator sunglasses at the setting sun, already soaring toward the Carolina sky in spirit. Doctor. Pilot. He'd met his every goal head-on and won.

Except one.

"Damn." Gray spit out the curse while sweat trickled down his spine. He'd gone five days without thinking about her. He had thought this would be it, a Lori-thought-free week.

His first in a year.

Now all the talk of the children's relief organization accompanying them had nudged her right back into his mind. Lori lived for that kind of thing, making contributions, volunteering on her days off to countless NGOs- nongovernmental organizations. Always trying to make a home for everyone, even a wanderer like him.

The bus rumbled to a stop. Gray shook off the past as easily as Lori had walked out of his life. Or so he tried to tell himself. He didn't need memories screwing with his concentration before a flight.

Gray backed a step. "I think I'll head in after all, Tag."

"Good idea. I'll just get our guests settled." The load-master paused as if waiting to make sure Gray would leave. Tag waved him away. "See you when we're airborne."

When Gray backed another step, the loadmaster sighed and scratched his salt-and-pepper buzz cut, then along his neck. Could even an experienced crew dog like Tag be uptight about the flight? Should be a simple in and out operation. Renegade guerrilla fighting in Sen-tavo's civil war had left the area. But it would sweep through again, soon, thus the orphanage's SOS plea that an NGO negotiate military evacuation for the children.

Men and women stood inside the bus, ten scheduled from the NGO, as well as additional military medical personnel and extra loadmasters. Gray pivoted on his boot heel just as a pair of long, khakiencased feminine legs descended the bus steps. Great legs, like-

What a sap. Must be because he had Lori on the brain. No need to imagine those legs belonged to-

Her.

Lori Rutledge stepped from the bus. The woman who'd dumped him flat a year ago, which made her the smartest damn woman alive in his opinion.

The late-day sun caressed her face. She flipped her bourbon-brown braid over her shoulder. Khakis and a crisp white cotton shirt bearing her NGO's logo nipped and tucked along gentle curves, smoothly, without a wrinkle or mar of perspiration. Lori rarely lost her cool. Except for those moments when her incredible legs had been wrapped around his waist and-

Don't go there, pal.

She lowered a foot to the next step and paused. Her eyes met his across the runway, then widened below the slash of her brows. The piercing brown of her eyes darkened in contrast with her ivory skin.

Air abandoned his lungs like an aircraft in a rapid decompression. He couldn't have looked away if a bomb detonated in the middle of the runway.

He shouldn't be surprised. He'd long ago given up trying to figure out what about this woman drew him. Chemistry was a damned unpredictable beast.

She certainly wasn't his type. Lori had one of those wholesome, pretty faces, minimal makeup, not like the Officer's Club babes who waited around for a chance at a flyboy. His mother had called Lori a classic beauty, like one of the princesses from his little sister's old storybooks.

Except princesses weren't usually drawn with full, pouty lips that made a man think thoughts far from princely.

His mouth quirked into a grin as it had when he'd seen those same lips for the first time over a year ago.

Lori blinked. Her face went blank, and she cleared the bus steps.

What did he expect? That she would blush flame red and run screaming back onto the bus? That wasn't Lo-ri's style, and quite frankly there hadn't been enough between them to warrant such a strong reaction. They were just old lovers, after all. No big deal. Right?

You probably shouldn't go there, either, pal.

Lori glided toward him, an official-looking knapsack slung over her shoulder. Stopping in front of Gray, she smiled, a perfect smile if it weren't for the tiny strain lines in the corners of her eyes. No awkward looks or shuffling, just practical and open like the woman.

"Hello, Lori."

"Gray." His name fell from her soft lips with a light Southern drawl, whiskey warm and just as potent. She nodded toward his arm. "Nice patch there, Major."

He glanced down at his patch. Anything Anywhere Anytime.

The insinuation crackled along the humidity- and memory-laden air.

Gray let his gaze slide back to her, strapping bravado on like a parachute. "Wanna test the motto out?"

Her laugh was husky, if a bit tight. "Same old Gray."

"Guess that's a no."

Her chin tipped. "Been there. Done that. Lost the T-shirt."

His arms folded over his chest. "You left it at my place."

"I figured you could use it to shine your boots."

"Probably the safest bet."

She laughed again, the great husky laugh of hers that rolled right into him. Just as fast she had his hormones bombarding the defenses of his reason. Of course sex, great sex, incredible anything, anywhere, anytime sex had never been their problem. But the minute they'd set their feet on the floor…

He'd told her from the start he wasn't what she needed. It had taken her three months to agree with him and leave.

Yeah, damn smart woman. He wasn't what she needed now any more than he had been then. "Are you here as a volunteer?"

"I'm heading the team."

Gray straightened and reassessed her. Not that he was surprised. Imperturbable, competent Lori could manage a full-scale deployment without breaking a sweat.

"Really?"

"I'm director for the southeast branch that just opened in Charleston." She hitched the canvas knapsack higher.

"What about you?"

"Double duty. Doctor and flyer. Putting all that training to good use and making the taxpayers' money work for them." This wasn't so bad. Keeping it light. Shoot the breeze, catch up, move on. Gray settled back into his comfort zone.

"It's…nice seeing everyone again. But I thought Captain O'Connell was the flight surgeon tasked for this one. At least, she was the one who briefed us on the medical aspect."

"I'm filling in. O'Connell has the stomach flu. She went DNIF, uh, duties not including flying, at the last minute."

"Just our luck, huh?" Lori's gaze locked with his for three beats before skittering away to the others in her group. "I should listen to what Tag has to say. See you later."

Gray looked down the length of the 174-foot aircraft. "Not much chance of missing each other."

Her chuckle floated over her shoulder, dive bombing his senses with a final sucker punch as she strode up the metal ramp into the back of the plane. He watched the graceful sway of Lori's hips as she joined the group clustered around the loadmaster dispensing instructions and walk-around oxygen bottles.

"Yeah, dumb luck," Gray mumbled offhandedly.

Then it clicked, like a one-second grenade warning about to demolish his comfort zone.

Tag trying to hustle him on board until they were airborne.

Toe-the-line O'Connell bowing out of a primo assignment because of a lame stomach bug.

The copilot, Bronco, grinning like a kid with a secret all day.

Luck, his ass. He'd been set up, and he knew just who to hold responsible for slotting him into thirty hours straight with Lori Rutledge radiating her sweetness all over a plane full of orphans.

A year's worth of frustration, and even some unsuspected anger, upgraded from a simmer to a boil inside Gray with a ready target for once.

Not bothering to circle around to the front hatch steps, Gray lumbered straight up the load ramp, past the small crowd, through the belly of the plane. His flight boots thudded, heavy, echoing the power and invincibility soldiers all needed in combat.

Bronco better have his boots strapped on tight, because there would be hell to pay when Gray got to the cockpit.

Lori watched Gray stride past her like a man on a mission. Of course he was. And she couldn't do anything except stare at his retreating broad shoulders and great butt, all the while praying her knees wouldn't fold.

A few hits off the oxygen bottle dangling from her hand might not be a bad idea, either.

It was just his flight suit turning her into some adolescent drool machine. Who wouldn't look awesome in that woodsy-green, military flight suit? Okay, so Tag didn't send her pulse pumping double time with his baggy uniform. But she and Gray had history, some good, some…really bad.

His coal-black hair glistened in the dim light, tapered up the back in a military cut revealing every inch of that powerful neck.

Her lungs constricted. She eyed the oxygen bottle with longing.

When she'd gone to the military briefing for her team, she'd been prepared for the possibility of seeing Gray again. No problem. They were both adults, after all. The crew members had filed in, faces still familiar from her summer spent with Gray. Bronco, Lancelot, Tag, they hadn't forgotten her, either. Then the flight surgeon had joined them-Kathleen O'Connell.

Relief had squashed the momentary flash of disappointment.

Seeing Gray on the flight line a few minutes ago had blindsided her. Hands hooked on his hips, boot propped on the load ramp, he'd stood-all six feet tall, toned muscle and too handsome, with his best bad-boy grin leaving her vulnerable in a way she hadn't felt since their last fight had stripped her soul bare.

Something she never intended to let happen again.

Grayson and that cute butt could just keep walking. She had her world right where she wanted it with a great job that let her travel yet provided the stability of one place to call home. Forever.

This rescue mission would establish her career and set her life on the right path. The mission definitely promised new lives for seventy-two homeless children.

No way would she let Grayson Clark distract her for one moment of the next thirty hours.

He turned sideways to slip past a portable kitchen locked down on a pallet in the middle of the plane. He whipped off his sunglasses. His jewel-green eyes glinted with determination, the playful major nowhere to be seen.

His strong, square jaw, set and thrust, already carried the black stubble of a five o'clock shadow, although they'd only just reported in. Of course Gray had always looked like he needed a shave ten minutes after he put down his razor.

An image of him leaning over the bathroom sink wearing nothing but a towel as he shaved flashed through her mind, drawing all the air right out of the cavernous aircraft.

Lori's hand clenched on the oxygen tank. "Hey, Tag. How long's this bottle good for?"

"You only need to carry it around in case there's a rapid decompression and you have to get back to your seat." Tag rapped his knuckles against the yellow canister. "So don't worry. This baby carries fifteen minutes worth."

"Fifteen minutes," Lori echoed, watching Gray disappear into the cockpit to prep the plane for their thirty-hour mission. Her lungs already burned.

Gray angled into the cockpit, frustration firing to life like a C-17's jet engines. Bronco and Lancelot bantered checklist call and responses into their headsets.

"Circuit breakers in," Bronco said into the microphone.

Lancelot ran his hands along the circuit breaker panel. "Checked in pilot."

Bronco mirrored the gesture with his panel. "Checked in co."

Gray grabbed Bronco's headset, snapped the earpieces and barked, "What the hell did you think you were doing?"

Bronco yanked around with a shout, eyes blazing, then relaxed into his seat, the blaze dimming to a mischievous sparkle. He swept a hand across the instruments. "Running the checklist, of course."

"Yeah, right. Try again."

"Running the checklist, sir" he added, not in the least daunted.

Gray braced a hand across the bulkhead blocking any possible escape route for his so-called friend. "You'd better have a good explanation for this one, pal."

"For what?" Captain Tanner "Bronco" Bennett shrugged, his massive chest filling the seat. An Air Force Academy graduate and football tight end, Bronco was a big, blond poster boy for American patriotism. Rumor had it pro ball teams routinely tried to recruit him. Apparently, Bronco preferred to duke it out on battlefields rather than ball fields.

Bronco had picked one hell of a battle to start today. Gray reached to pop his headset again.

The copilot ducked and draped it around his neck. He plastered on a prim air at odds with his bulk and not quite suppressed laugh. "Please, I'm trying to maintain checklist discipline."

Gray yanked the checklist from his hands and slammed it on the console. "You set me up."

A grin twitched along his close-shaven mug. "Set you up?"

"Don't mess with me today."

"Wouldn't dream of it."

"You just forgot to mention her?"

"Her?"

Gray stepped forward.

Bronco raised his hands in surrender. "So Lori's on the flight. No big deal. You two are history. This shouldn't be a problem if she doesn't mean anything to you. Right?"

A chuckle sounded beside Gray. He pivoted toward the aircraft commander. Lance "Lancelot" Sinclair was stuffing cookies in his mouth, eyes twinkling as he chewed. Lance swallowed and held out a Ziploc bag full of chocolate chip cookies. "Want one? Julia made 'em fresh yesterday." He rattled the bag. "Good stuff, man."

The warm scent of chocolate wafted from the bag to fill the confined space. Just like the kitchen during one of Lori's cooking jags.

Gray suppressed the urge to tell pretty-boy Lancelot where to stuff his cookies.

Focus on one Judas at a time. Gray pinned Bronco with a glare. "What did you promise O'Connell to get her off this flight?"

"She's sick. Stomach flu. Probably puking her gorgeous guts out as we speak."

Gray almost bought it. Almost. Except he knew Bronco and O'Connell better than that. "What'd you guys promise her?" he pressed.

Bronco's gaze ping-ponged around the cockpit before he mumbled, "The Spain deployment."

"Geeez, Bronco!" Gray chewed on a number of curses swarming in his brain. He could have been sunning on the beach next week. What had he ever done to deserve this day?

Let Lori down.

Meet the Author

USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann has books in print in more than 20 countries with Desire, Romantic Suspense, HQN and other Harlequin lines. A five-time RITA finalist, she has won both the RITA and the Bookseller's Best Awards. Catherine resides in Florida with her aviator husband, their four children and a menagerie of pets. For more information, visit: http://catherinemann.com

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Grayson's Surrender and Taking Cover 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
SunMtnReviews More than 1 year ago
Catherine Mann is a well-known author in the military romance genre, and since I have enjoyed reading other romantic suspense novels that she has written, I was glad for the opportunity to review Grayson’s Surrender and Taking Cover. Both titles were published separately in 2002 but have now been combined and re-released this year. Although both novels may be categorized as contemporary romance, I was pleased to discover that Taking Cover has some elements of romantic suspense, which drew me into the plot, perhaps more so than Grayson’s Surrender. Nevertheless, both of these novels are great reads that quickly and easily pulled me into the lives of these fearless Air Force heroes and the courageous heroines who capture their hearts. “Anything, Anywhere, Anytime” is their motto, and in both novels, the main characters’ actions certainly show this to be the case.  Before I respond to each novel individually, I want to point out the similarities that I found between both stories.   -The heroes are dedicated, brave and honorable men who fear commitment and avoid getting too close to the women they date. -The heroines are strong-willed and self-reliant, with type-A personalities that entice and challenge their men.  -Each couple as well as many of the supporting characters are multi-dimensional and are imbued with qualities and flaws that make them seem real and believable. Mann does a great job in developing each featured character’s appearance, personality, patterns of behavior, and backstory to lend depth to and strengthen that character’s emotional arc. -Both novels are narrated from a third-person point of view so readers can get into the minds of each hero and heroine and follow their internal struggles. I am impressed with how smoothly Mann shifts from one character’s perspective to another even within the same scene. This is not easy to accomplish, but Mann does it extremely well.  -The love scenes are sensual rather than overly explicit in nature.  -Both stories have a HEA resolution that left me sighing in contentment. Grayson’s Surrender This is a well-written romance that describes a couple’s efforts to rekindle their relationship a year after they walked away from each other. Major Grayson, “Gray” Clark has the rare distinction of serving as both a pilot and flight surgeon in the Air Force. He thinks he has a great life, everything he wants…except for the one woman he can’t seem to forget, Lori Rutledge.  When a mission to rescue orphans from a war-torn Eastern European village brings Gray and Lori together, their response to each other and the tense dialogue between them clearly show they haven’t closed the door for good on their relationship. Their different ideas of what a future together would entail created a chasm that eventually tore them apart.  Lori wants marriage and a family, but the most Gray is willing to offer is living together. Now, even though their reunion is awkward and unsettling, and Gray knows he will be moving away soon, he sees an opportunity to have closure with Lori so they can part on amicable terms. Gray sees the special relationship blossoming between Lori and Magda, one of the orphaned girls rescued, and implements a plan to make all three of them happy. By supporting and encouraging the growing bond between this woman and child, Gray thinks he is giving Lori the family he can’t provide, so he can walk away with no regrets.  Unfortunately, Gray doesn’t count on his heart getting involved, which causes his plan to backfire. As Gray begins spending more time with Lori and Magda, he realizes that doing so is only making it harder to walk away from them.   This story is full of ironic situations, like this. The more Gray’s plans fall into place, the less happy he is about the outcome. Furthermore, one of the major reasons Gray refuses to settle down is because of his parents’ marriage. Ironically, Gray’s parents play a significant role in bridging the gap between the couple. His mother is amazingly intuitive and persistent in gently nudging her son toward the happiness that awaits him if he’ll only step up and embrace it. Although a man of few words and generally distant, Gray’s father provides the wisdom that leads Gray to question his choices.  Although the plot is fairly predictable the dynamic characters are what make this story so enjoyable. The rescue mission itself is one of my favorite scenes because it really shows the characters’ moral fiber when you see them in action, handling each crisis that arises with skill and finesse.  Another favorite scene is the climax which will easily sweep the romantics-at-heart off their feet. Be forewarned, you may find yourself swooning. Taking Cover Between the two stories, Taking Cover is my favorite.  The drama centers around flight surgeon, Dr. Kathleen O’Connell and “hot shot” pilot, Tanner “Bronco” Bennett. Kathleen is a big believer in following the rules while Tanner likes to break them, and the sparks fly from their frequent verbal sparring.  The slight antagonism they display toward each other is really just an effort to mask the intense mutual attraction between them that neither wants to admit.  When they cause a public scene in an argument over Tanner’s need for medical treatment, their commander assigns them to work together on an investigation of a recent C-17 crash. Their mission is two-fold: discover the cause of the crash and prove they can work as a team.  Forced to spend time together, Kathleen and Tanner try to set aside their difference and maintain a professional working relationship during the investigation. However, now they can no longer escape dealing with the metaphorical elephant that’s been in the room with them for the past twelve years: the unresolved passion and lust brimming just beneath the surface whenever they are around each other. Many of their dialogues are teeming with sexual tension, which makes for an interesting read. Despite their differences, Kathleen and Tanner have a charisma and passion that make them a well-suited couple. Another intriguing aspect that I enjoyed in this story is the increasingly dangerous complications Kathleen and Tanner encounter as they get closer to solving the mystery behind the plane crash. The second half of the book is suspenseful and will put Kathleen’s and Tanner’s teamwork skills to the test, and this time their survival depends on their success.  Taking Cover is also a well-written story with a unified and cohesive plot that makes for an engrossing read.  Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author to provide an honest review.  Rating 4.5 stars
blonde_betty More than 1 year ago
By the time I started reading Catherine Mann, her Wingman Warriors books were out of print.  I’d always heard good things, but unless I happened upon on in a used bookstore (I didn’t) opportunities to read them were slim.  This is the biggest reason I was thrilled to learn that Harlequin was rereleasing the first two, Grayson’s Surrender and Taking Cover, in a single paperback.   I’m happy to say they lived up to the hype.  Both were well-told stories with strong characters.  There is more romantic suspense in the second one; the first more heart.  I really enjoyed getting to know these men and women known for their motto of Anything Anywhere Anytime.  I only hope Harlequin decides the remainder of the series is worth reissuing also.  I can’t wait to revisit these flyers and the women who bring them back down to earth. Get your copy before they go away again.  You won't be sorry!