This is probably my favorite book in the Night Stalkers series. It is the second in the series, but I think it’s probably the most interesting. The story follows Kee Smith, a mixed race tough girl who survived the Street – capital S and as she describes in the book, it’s a place you survive not somewhere you live. The love interest is Lieutenant Archibald Stevenson III. A really nice all-around guy who comes from high class but is down-to-Earth and really likable.
The story picks up when Kee is assigned to the D Battalion of SOAR. Right off the bat she makes it clear she wants nothing to do with Emily Beale and helping to create a “girlie-chopper”. It’s funny to watch her go from thinking Emily Beale is just a cute little waif who has no skills to being terrified and impressed by her. Kee takes her place as gunner in Emily’s chopper and seeks only to do her job and prove she belongs there. On one of her early missions, she helps to rescue Dilya, an orphan refugee from a gun battle. The girl clings to her and Kee becomes her guardian without even realizing it. The story then begins to be told by Kee, Dilya, and Archie. The author blends seemlessly through the three, giving different points of view and interesting insights into what is going on in each person’s head. The love story between Kee and Archie is almost a battle developing as it grows between the two individuals – Kee fighting with everything in her to not get close to people and Archie just wanting to love her and Dilya.
The book is emotional, tumultuous, and wonderful. I loved the addition of Dilya. She is a fascinating character and it’s interesting to see how her culture clashes with that of her new guardian’s. The relationships in the story that Kee develops are fraught with hair-thin trust and emotional baggage all over the place, but the author makes her coming to terms with emotions and attachments believable and not awkwardly rushed. As always, the battles and military lifestyle add an interesting and realistic backdrop to the entire story and provides insight into the different characters. I also enjoy learning the small tidbits of middle eastern life that appear in the novels.