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Against All Odds (Heroes of Quantico Series, Book 1)
by Irene, Hannon

Published: 2009-02-01
Paperback : 334 pages
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Her life is in danger--and so is his heart. For FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Evan Cooper and his partner, dignitary protection duty should have been a piece of cake. Unfortunately, beautiful but determined Monica Callahan isn't making it easy. Estranged from her diplomat father--who is involved ...
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Introduction

Her life is in danger--and so is his heart. For FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Evan Cooper and his partner, dignitary protection duty should have been a piece of cake. Unfortunately, beautiful but determined Monica Callahan isn't making it easy. Estranged from her diplomat father--who is involved in a sensitive hostage situation in the Middle East--she refuses to be intimidated by a related terrorist threat back in the States. That is, until a chilling warning convinces her that the danger is very real--and escalating. As Coop and his partner do their best to keep her safe, the threat against Monica is rising. And with every second that ticks by, Coop knows that the odds of saving the only woman who has ever breached the walls around his heart are dropping. After all, terrorists aren't known for their patience--or their mercy. Irene Hannon is the author of more than twenty-five novels. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, and the Reviewer's Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. A former corporate communications executive with a Fortune 500 company, Irene now writes full time. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, long walks, cooking, gardening, traveling, and spending time with family. She and her husband make their home in Missouri. For more information about Irene and her books, visit her website at www.irenehannon.com.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

“You two look like something the cat dragged in.” He turned
to Coop.
“Especially you. Get some caffeine.” He motioned to a
coffeemaker on a small table against the wall.

After exchanging a look with Mark, Coop rose in silence and
filled a disposable cup three-quarters full, stirring in two packets
of creamer to cut the bitterness of the noxious swill that masquerade
as coffee. Nothing got past Les, Coop reflected. One
quick, assessing glance was all it had taken for the man to figure
out who had fared the worse from a night of barhopping.
His astute powers of observation were no surprise, though.
A former green beret and HRT operator, Les had headed the
Hostage Rescue Team for the past two years. And he'd earned
the respect of every HRT member with his keen insights and cutto-
the-chase manner. He'd also earned the nickname Bulldog,
thanks to his stocky build, close-cropped gray hair, and square
jaw-not to mention his tenacious determination.

As Coop retook his seat, grimacing at his first sip of the vile
brew, he ignored the twitch in Mark's lips and focused on Les.

“I've got a job for you two. Ever hear of David Callahan?”
Mark shot Coop a silent query. At the almost impercepti-
ble shake of his partner's head, he answered for both of them.

“No.”

“Didn't think so. He keeps a low profile. Here's some background
you can review later.” He tossed a file across the desk,
and Coop fumbled with his coffee as he grabbed for it, the murky
liquid sloshing dangerously close to the rim of the cup.

Les scowled at him and chewed his cigar. “Keep drinking that
coffee.” Settling back in his chair, he ignored the flush that rose
on Coop's neck. “David Callahan works for the State Department.
Has for forty years. He's been in about every hot spot
in the world where the United States has a vested interest. By
reputation, he's a savvy diplomat and a tough but fair negotiator.
When you see the secretary of state shaking hands with foreign
leaders after a diplomatic coup, you can bet David Callahan had
a hand in it. I assume you're both versed on the current hostage
situation in Afghanistan.”

It was a statement, not a question.

To Coop's relief, Mark took pity on him and accepted the
volley. The coffee was starting to work, but he wasn't yet ready
to dive into this game.

“Yes. The basics, anyway. An unidentified terrorist group
kidnapped three Americans a week ago and is demanding the
release of a number of extremists who are in custody, as well
as a large ransom. The hostages are a wire service reporter, the
director of a humanitarian organization, and a State Department
employee. The last I heard, things were at a stalemate.”

“That's right. It's a dicey situation. Callahan is holding firm
to our nonnegotiation policy with terrorists, but he's facing
immense pressure to convince the State Department and the
Afghan government to reconsider that stance. And the terrorists
just raised the stakes.”
... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Early in Against All Odds, David Callahan faces a moral dilemma: compromise his principles and protect his daughter-or hold fast to all he believes and put her life at risk. Is there a “right” answer in this situation? Why or why not? What would you do in his place?

2. Monica has been estranged from her father for many years. Do you think she was justified in cutting him off? Why or why not? Are you estranged from anyone in your life? Why? What would it take to repair the damage to that relationship?

3. When Monica was a child, her mother told her that holding a grudge was like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Do you think that's true? Why or why not? How might carrying a grudge affect the life of the grudge-holder?

4. As a child, Monica offered forgiveness to a friend-and was repaid with rejection and ridicule. Has anything similar ever happened to you? How did you handle it?

5. What specific things happen that convince Monica to start down the road to forgiveness with her father? Have you ever struggled with forgiveness? Can you talk about one instance-and how it played out? What does Scripture tell us about forgiveness?

6. The time frame for Against All Odds is very short. Yet by the end of the book, Coop and Monica have established a strong connection. Why do you think their relationship deepened so quickly? Why can such a rapidly accelerating attraction be dangerous?

7. In her speech, Monica says, “Words, like scalpels, can cut. But so can silence.” She also references the song “I Thought You Knew,” which is about the danger of assuming another person knows how you feel. Why is communication important in a relationship? What are the building blocks of good communication?

8. David Callahan sacrificed family for work. In later life, he regrets that decision-and recognizes that some of his reasons for making that choice were selfish. What were those reasons? Do you know anyone whose priorities have been skewed in pursuit of the things they valued? How has it affected their lives? What does Scripture teach us about priorities?

9. In Monica's book, Walk the Talk, she contends that while actions are an important way to express love, people need to hear the words, too-because words are the window to the heart. Do you agree? Why is verbal communication important in maintaining relationships? What are some reasons people might be reluctant to communicate? What can happen when people stop talking-or sharing?

10. When Coop questions Monica about her faith, she says that it's not always easy to believe, and that doubt is part of being human. Have you ever experienced doubt in your own faith? How did you deal with it? Do you, like Coop, ever struggle with the concept of putting your trust in God? What has helped you overcome this?

11. David Callahan puts his life on the line when he goes to the market to deliver the payment for information. What does this say about his character? About his love for Monica? Why are actions just as important as words in conveying our feelings?

12. Coop's father withdrew into grief when his wife died, shutting out his sons. Coop's brother found a surrogate family through his best friend, but Coop felt abandoned and emotionally isolated. Give some examples of how that affected his life. What does his experience say about the importance of a loving parent or parent-figure in a child's development-and the impact the presence or absence of such a relationship can have in later life?

13. All of the characters in this book are driven by strong motivations. Which character did you find the most interesting? Why? Discuss his or her motivation and how it shaped his or her actions.

14. Monica trusted Coop and the HRT to keep her safe-yet they failed. How does this make Coop feel? Have you ever done your best to protect someone and failed? What were the repercussions? How did you deal with them?

15. Coop shies away from the notion of turning his life over to God because he thinks it will diminish his freedom and his individuality. Monica says it's liberating, because when you know you're loved, you trust the other person and that frees you to be exactly who you are. Do you think this is true? Why or why not? Does this same concept apply to human love? Think of a marriage you've witnessed where unconditional love and trust are present. Describe that relationship.

16. How would you describe Tariq's character? What events shaped his life? What are his motivations? What are the motives of his key lieutenants? Talk about some examples from your own life or current events that illustrate the destructive nature of these motivations.

17. What does her father's half-written letter do for Monica? What effect does it have on Coop? Have you had an experience or discovered something that had an immediate and long-lasting effect on your life? Describe it. Why was it so powerful?

18. What are two key messages you took away from this book?





Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Although Against All Odds marks my first foray into romantic suspense, it's actually my 27th novel. And I'm delighted with this story-a fast-paced thriller that features the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team, the estranged daughter of a U.S. diplomat, a volatile hostage situation in the Middle East, and a terrorist who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.

I have to admit, though, that the project was intimidating, since I have NO background in law enforcement. But then one day a plot idea took hold…and wouldn't let go. So I did huge amounts of research, scouring the Net and consulting police officers, FBI agents, physicians, academics and a host of experts in their fields. I also enrolled in our local Citizen Police Academy.

The result? A 41/2-star, “Top Pick” rating from Romantic Times BOOKreviews, which praised the book for its “wonderful array of believable characters, action and suspense that will keep readers glued to each page. Hannon's extraordinary writing, vivid scenes and surprise ending come together for a not-to-be-missed reading experience.”

So grab a copy, settle in by the fire, and let me whisk you away to a world of danger and romance, where lives-and hearts-are on the line…and time is running out.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "suspense"by msharry (see profile) 05/08/13

Hostage Rescue Team sent to protect daughter of American ambassador to Afghanistan threatened by terrorists. Good suspense and satisfying ending

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