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by Susan Grant
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Love Spell, 2002 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

It's a routine flight from San Francisco to Hawaii until a sudden and very odd-looking thunderstorm causes co-pilot, Jordan Cady's 747 to veer off its flight path. Mere minutes later she watches helpless and in horror as her plane is swallowed up by a huge, menacing object hovering just above. With the events of 9/11 still fresh in everyone's minds, Jordan, her crew and then the passengers of Flight 58 are convinced they've been targeted by terrorists -- very sophisticated hijackers from the looks of things. When the pilot suffers a fatal heart attack, Jordan must assume command of the plane and of 290 terrified passengers. She wastes little time in rallying everyone to fight back any way they can despite their captors seemingly friendly overtures -- hours have passed and there have been no attempts to storm the plane. During this time, and with the help of an onboard computer genius, booby traps are rigged and when a small boarding party does finally approach it's thwarted.

Once Kao Vantaar-Moray is able to speak to Jordan without being knocked unconscious or otherwise threatened, he grimly informs her that she and her passengers are the only survivors of a deadly meteor storm that's destroyed all life on Earth. Kao goes on to assure her that his people, indeed, all planets and citizens within the Alliance, mean them no harm. As Jordan and Kao work more and more closely together to see to the day-to-day needs of the survivors, their attraction can't be dismissed. Jordan is eager to learn everything about this controlled, brooding loner, including his brutal treatment as a POW at the hands of the Talagars, the Alliance's sworn enemies and scourge of the galaxy. Kao too, feels himself drawn to Jordan's tireless strength and to the resilient band of survivors in a way he can't begin to understand. But as the two fall in love, they're unaware that enemies and traitors are hiding in plain sight and that the promise of relocation to a new world may be nothing more than an illusion.

Susan Grant is a breath of fresh air in the futuristic/fantasy romance sub-genre -- indeed she's been dubbed the 'inventor of aviator romance', a label well-founded since the fact that she herself is a commercial airline pilot gives her stories authenticity. Fine writing, wonderfully drawn characters, unique plots, plenty of action, and well-thought-out alien worlds give Contact that extra edge. This is Ms. Grant's fourth release, but only the first of her books that I've read so I'll be making a point of looking up her other titles -- and hoping she's planned a sequel to this one, if only to allow me to find out more about the pale-skinned Talagars.

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