Aug 9 2017 1:30pm

In Scarlett Cole’s Under Fire “Flaws Make Life Interesting”

Under Fire by Scarlett Cole

Flaws are a funny thing. There are situational flaws, like if your preacher swore in church. What if she was in the middle of reading scripture and the good book slipped off the podium and fell on the floor, closing and losing her place? A swift shit! would change the intended message (but it would sure as hell be funny). Diamond flaws are common and referred to as inclusions or imperfections. On the one hand, flaws interfere with the path of light, making the diamond less brilliant; on the other, that divergence alters the flow of light reflection and changes the way you look at it. Likewise, with character flaws. Superman is perfect and strong … and boring socially. I mean, how awesome would it be if Lois finally broke through to him and he grabbed her and pressed her against the wall and… well, you get my point. Flaws make life interesting.

Scarlett Cole gets it. She understands the importance of flaws and creates wonderful tension between characters as a result. In Under Fire, the first book in her new Love Over Duty series, Cole introduces us to Sixton Rapp and Dr. Louisa North. Six recently retired from his duty as a Navy SEAL and is excited to begin the newest chapter in his life as a part owner of Eagle Securities he’s starting with his two life-long friends, Mac and Cabe, who also happen to be retired SEALS. Lou is working on a cure for Huntington’s disease and meets Six at a fundraiser where she’s giving the keynote and he’s guarding the proceedings. She’s working to stave off a panic attack because she suffers from chronic anthropophobia (or extreme shyness). It’s so bad she keeps her bangs long enough to cover her eyes so she doesn’t have to look other people in the eye.

It was going to take time to build their special-ops reputation and grow their business, and Six stopped to look at the large board that listed events and names, an idea Mac had had to fill the gap. High-end, discreet security services. Nobody would ever call it exciting work, but it would help pay the bills in return for minimum effort until they were fully booked.

Six grew up in California, a carefree swimmer with great friends who was never short of female companionship. When a childhood friend died while they were in college, Six, Mac and Cabe decided to follow Brock’s dream and enlist in the Navy. It turned out to be the right choice because they thrived serving Uncle Sam. But they all also knew there was more to life, and started planning and saving for their future. Mac and Cabe have been out a couple months longer than Six and have already hit the ground running with the business, but it’s taking Six a little longer to get his civilian legs beneath him.


He’d not only made it, but he’d survived. So why did he feel so lost.

Lou’s father died from Huntington’s disease a decade, and she has dedicated her life to chemistry and finding a cure for the genetic disease that she may or may not have. She doesn’t want to get the test to find out if she’s a gene carrier. She was on the right track until her team tested the toxin on rats and discovered that it “reduced the user’s ability to move at all while remaining fully conscious, leaving them open to pain receptors.” In other words, a pharmaceutical flaw that every government and bad guy in the world would like to get their hands on. Only, this flaw could be the stuff nightmares are made of, not something useful like rubber.

They run into each other nearly a week later at Los Peñasquitos Canyon. Six is enjoying a nice, long run along the trail when he sees a woman walking up the hill toward him. At first, it makes him think of Lou, but he shakes it off as a coincidence since she’s been stuck in his mind. But when he hears a loud crash that sounds like a tank hitting an IED, he hits the dirt. It takes him a minute to realize he’s scrambled for cover, and that she saw it all happen.

“Are you okay?” a female voice said.

Shit, the woman who’d been walking toward him. “I’m fine,” he mumbled, trying to control his breathing.

“I think that was my line, wasn’t it?”

The woman crouched down next to him, but he was too stunned by the whole thing to figure out exactly what was going on. “By the looks of it, there’s an accident on the road over there,” she said.

Six looked up to find Louisa staring back at him through that thick hair of hers. “I don’t know what just happened,” he blurted. For a moment he questioned why he hadn’t made up some kind of excuse like tripping over a branch or needing to stop and tie his shoelaces.

But he told her the truth. It’s like his PTSD recognizes her acute shyness, putting them on a level playing field. Between them, their flaws are not the prominent trait.

It had been a long time since a woman had done more than interest him, but Louisa had intrigued him. Made him curious. Now he wanted to know more about her.

Six is drawn to her from the beginning, and while he’s attracted to her, he genuinely enjoys spending time with her. For a while, he’s content to bank the attraction for companionship. When Lou begins to realize things aren’t quite right in her lab or at her house, she goes to Six for advice. Her instinct was right on when the toxin goes missing, and all of the lab notes are erased from the system. Six wants to help, but because she knows they’re trying to get their firm off the ground, she hires Eagle Securities to track down the toxin and keep her safe (and alive).

The SEAL and the man in him had never been in conflict before. It was crazy that his feelings for her were clouding his judgment.

Of course, Mac and Cabe want him to keep things professional with Lou since she’s a client now, but the heart wants what the heart wants… flaws and all. I love the science in this story, and that both Lou and Six are fortified with enough strength and intelligence to outshine the flaws. 


Learn more about or order a copy of Under Fire by Scarlett Cole, available now: 

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Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and this year her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.

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