Afterburn by Sonia Hightower

BLURB: Their love burns hot, but will it stay fueled?

Crystal is an enlisted mechanic with a tragic past. Grant is an officer and a pilot with a broken heart. When faced with a difficult decision, will Crystal choose wisely or lose the best thing that ever happened to her?

The love between them burns hot, but their relationship won’t stay fueled if they can’t beat the obstacles that stand in their way. Besides breaking the fraternization rules, Grant and Crystal have the difference of race between them…but can they prove to the rest of the world, and to each other, that love is color blind?

Afterburn is about overcoming one’s past, not judging others, learning to forgive, and what it’s like to be a woman in a “man’s world.”

Working with the military gives me a unique perspective on a lot of things. For one, the amount of training I must endure yearly on subjects such as security, EEO, and sexual harassment. It’s a necessary evil to make sure one knows the good from the bad. It’s not about if it offends you, it’s about if it will offend the person sitting two seats from you. A very delicate issue indeed.

Enter Sonia Hightower’s Afterburn. It not only tackles the subject of interracial relationships but the sexual harassment that still goes on today in the military–despite all the mandatory training. While I read this novel, I became enraged at what was happening to Crystal. My agitation grew when she allowed the harassment to happen not only to her but a fellow co-worker. However, I also know when it’s close quarters, no amount of complaint to a CO could stop the potential backlash. It’s a sad state of affairs, really. Still, I loved that Crystal found the courage to not only report it but stand her ground.

Now onto the reason she did–Grant. Grant’s had his share of the discrimination pool as well. Again, Ms Hightower sucked me emotionally to what he went through. While I don’t see the color of someone’s skin, I know others in this world refuse to be color blind. More’s the pity for them. He took a chance on a fair-skinned woman once and it bit him in the backside. I think that taking that leap again showed perseverance on his part to look beyond what people think.

Of course being the person I am, I have a few parts that didn’t sink well with me. The back story of both characters, for instance, I found way too brief and left me with too many questions. I believe deciding to enlist is a big step in a person’s life. I would have liked to see why they made their decision. Sure, I could draw a picture of it and guess but I didn’t want to. I wanted to know who these characters were before the Air Force. Beyond Grant’s rejection and Crystal’s heartbreak of losing her parents.

Another thing I thought a bit jarring was how fast they went into the sack together. I would have liked to see more interaction between the two and Crystal, given that she’s dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, show a little more distrust in the beginning as far as warming up to Grant. It was almost a little too insta-love for me.

Regardless, I thought the writing to be well done and most important–even with my nick picks–I was emotionally engaged with the characters. I rooted for them to win in the end and have their happily ever after.

Thank you, Ms Hightower, for giving me the opportunity to read your book. I’ll be looking forward to more.