Megan Crane’s Sergeant’s Christmas Siege is the second Alaska Force romance I’ve read, nabbing this second one after loving the first, Sniper’s Pride. (Let me take a moment to say that I missed out on the actual first in the series, Seal’s Honor. My reading order is not the series order if you’re keen to check them out.) In comparing the two, I would say that Christmas Siege was heavier on suspense than rom and I definitely enjoyed Sniper’s romance more. But Crane sure can write and, therefore, it’s always pleasurable to follow her protagonists’ journey. In this case, with a hero and heroine consistently, relentless verbally sparring, a dearth of tender moments, made for a romance that could’ve used some ramping up. Alaskan state trooper and investigator, Kate Holiday, arrives at Grizzly Harbor, where Alaska Force runs its save-the-vulnerable operations. Kate suspects they’re a paramilitary group with nefarious purposes, only one of which is to upstage conventional law enforcement, such as her own outfit.
To understand Kate’s antipathy towards Alaska Force, her iciness, suspicions, the reader has to understand her childhood. For the first 18 years of her life, Kate was at the cruel whim of her survivalist parents. The reader also has to understand how Kate escaped from them, testified against them, and made law enforcement against groups similar theirs her life’s mission. Kate’s childhood and her adult confrontation of her family make for the brunt of the novel.
When cooled, collected, lethal Kate arrives in Grizzly Harbor, Alaska Force’s commander, Isaac Gentry, sends his biggest, most lethal, and lethally charming “soldier” to meet with her, the Mississippi-drawling sweet-talker, Templeton Cross. It isn’t long, however, before a body left in Kate’s hydro-plane sees Templeton convince her that Alaska Force is neither to be suspected, or feared. They’re being framed and it might just be that her family, even from jail, may have more to do with any danger to her, or their state than Isaac, Templeton, or the rest of Alaska Force’s men and women.
The strength of Crane’s latest Alaska Force novel lies in her evocation of the Alaskan landscape and weather. I particularly loved her descriptions of Templeton and Kate’s airborne journeys, as well as their early-morning runs. The runs were full of verbal sparring. This “banter” could be entertaining at times, but Kate has such a chip on her shoulder and Templeton is such a laid-back, grinning behemoth that I had a hard time warming up to them. There isn’t a moment when Kate doesn’t let up her antagonism. Except in the bed-sport, of which there isn’t much (which was a wise choice on Crane’s part, given her leads) and then, Kate spends a lot of time regretting it. There’s tons of mental lusting, though, if you enjoy that. Templeton drawls and charms; Kate snaps and confronts. The three-year-long HEA comes whiplash fast in some ways and too slow in others, as we’re told about a lengthy long-distance thing. I can’t say I warmed to Sergeant’s Christmas Wish as much as I loved Sniper’s Pride, but I do enjoy the ambiance of the series overall. I’m also super-curious to see what Crane will do with her next hero, the enigmatic Alaska Force leader, Isaac Gentry, and the curmudgeonly Grizzly-Harbor café-and-diner owner, Caradine Scott. I’ll definitely be back for the next installment and hope my romance sweet-tooth is satisfied. Sergeant’s Christmas Siege, with Miss Austen’s help, is “almost pretty,” Northanger Abbey.
Megan Crane’s Sergeant’s Christmas Wish is published by Jove Berkley. It was released in October 2019 and may be found at your preferred vendor, along with the previous two in the series. I received an e-galley from Jove Berkley, via Netgalley.