Over The Edge
by Suzanne Brockmann, contemporary (2001)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-1970-8

Over The Edge is not Sam Starrett and Alyssa Locke's story, Brockmann aficionados, so don't place your hopes too high. Those two do feature rather heavily in this story, as do many, many, many people. In fact, it's a veritable soap opera set in a military encampment.

The main couple is Teri Howe, Lieutenant, helicopter pilot, and Stan Wolchonok, Senior Chief of the SEALs. Together with what seems like every previous cast in Ms Brockmann's full length novels for Ivy and future cast (including Alyssa and Sam), they two go to Kazbekistan to defuse an airplane hijack while on their way to some exercise thingie in some faraway hostile land.

Actually, I'm oversimplifying the story a lot. There's Teri, who just cannot stand up to sexual harassment and who doesn't really do anything in this story. While her character and personality may fit the author's damsel-in-distress agenda, I can't help but to wonder what a woman like her is doing in an all-boys' wasteland when she can't seem to take the heat or kick everybody out of the kitchen. Stan doesn't want to, of course, but oh, he is attracted. He wants, he really wants. She demurs, he wants, and they get together. That's it.

Meanwhile, Alyssa and Sam bicker, bicker, bicker, bicker some more. No doubt this is a set-up for some grand romance that will spillover to the next book (again, not theirs). I have seen readers gush how these two belong together. Huh? All I see is two mentally-stuck-at-15 brats sniping at each other because they can't control their hormones. It's tiresome to see them arguing over who gets the rights to use the pool. How sad can that be?

There's Tom, from The Unsung Hero. There's also John from The Defiant Hero. Watch out for Ken "WildCard" Carmody, who in this book stalks his ex-girlfriend, calls her from Africa every fifteen minutes, punches her new boyfriend, starts in a brawl just because he can't see her (she has a restraining order on him), only to drool over another woman's jugs moments after the bust-up. His book is coming out next year. I can't wait.

I love Stan's saying that WildCard's ex-girlfriend is missing out a lot by not taking in WildCard all over again. His reasoning is something in the vein of WildCard may be obnoxious, irritating, annoying, and still acts like a 15-year old, but he has a heart of gold. Man, I knew it. Who cares about security and stability? A woman can dine on that good man's heart to keep the home fires burning.

If this review seems most incoherent to you, that's because I don't know how to sum up this story. If they are not working to defuse the hijack situation, they are arguing, lusting, or arguing some more over each other. The author takes a huge, bloated cast and zigzags from scenes to scenes so fast that I do not have time to take in every character and invest emotionally in them. In fact, I don't know who Stan or Teri is. All I do know is Stan is one-dimensionally grouchy and reluctantly noble and Teri has big issues about her having sex nine years ago (under the influence of alcohol) with the man who is harassing her now and she just cannot ask him to stay away.

But at the heart of this mess of a soap opera is old lady Helga, whose World War 2 flashbacks are the true heart and soul of this story. You want bittersweet first loves? Tentative friendship between a Nazi soldier and a Danish girl? Helga's memories are much more alive, real, and moving that Stan and Teri's romance prepubescent-style and Alyssa and Sam's, er, "romance". But then again, Helga's not the real heroine here. She's what seems suspiciously like a formula now, the token "senior citizen with wartime memories" that the author utilizes so successfully in The Defiant Hero. Whenever Helga comes into the picture, my enthusiasm soars high. Then comes the young military brats with their hate-you/love-you want-you/don't-want nonsense and it's back to mundane country all over again.

I must admit the airplane hijack scenes are pretty gripping too. But almost everything in Over The Edge runs everywhere without any clear focus or direction. The cast is too big, all of them interacting in almost the same way. Put them all in uniform, and I start seeing the world in monotone.

And it scares me how the fate of the world seems to lie in the hands of these people, who, despite their buff bodies and extra mileage in the stamina department, can't seem to handle a romance outside the Sweet Valley High tenets. Can Ms Brockmann expand Helga's story next? Oh, wait... it's Ken "WildCard" Karmody's story. Another buff stud with the mental capacity of a fifteen-year old football captain. Ho-hum.

Rating: 61

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