By: H.W. “Buzz” Bernard
Published: April 15, 2011

St. Simons Island, Georgia, has never been hit by a Category 5 hurricane. Until now. No one predicted the storm’s sudden force. A crippled Air Force recon plane, trapped in the eye of a violent hurricane. An outspoken tropical weather forecaster, fired from his network TV job before he can issue a warning: the storm is changing course and intensifying. A desperate family searching for a runaway daughter on Georgia’s posh St. Simons Island, cut off from escape as the hurricane roars toward them. A marriage on the rocks; an unrequited sexual attraction; a May-December romance. All will be swept up by the monster storm. Get ready for a white-knuckle adventure.

I saw this book offer on a website I visit regularly…www.weekinrewind.com.  They offer a list books availalbe for download on the Kindle that are free or at reduced prices.  A few weeks ago, this book was listed as free.  It immediately caught my attention because it is set in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.  Not many people have heard of this collection of islands off the coast of Georgia.  Jekyll Island is probably the most well-known, then there is also Sea Island.  You can only reach these islands by crossing the causeway from Brunswick, Georgia.  I have family that has retired in St. Simon’s Island.  When I was a senior in college, I went there for some R & R.  I loved it so much, my husband and I went there for our honeymoon 12 years ago.  Sadly, we haven’t been back, but I remember the island well.  So, when I saw this book, and it was free, I had to get it.

This book is not my typical genre.  It is what I would consider an action/thriller/suspense type of novel.  The story was intense from the very first chapter.  There were times when I had to stop reading and breathe because I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath while reading.  If I could have, I would have read this book in one sitting.  Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t allow that.  But, since I had downloaded this to the Kindle App on my iPod touch, I was able to read it often – while riding the car, waiting in the dr’s. office, in bed, and in restaurants.  I really liked reading on the iPod and will likely download more books that way.

Since I live in Iowa and have never been exposed to hurricanes I was worried I wouldn’t understand what it was like.  Bernard was able to give the reader enough technical information about hurricanes to help the reader understand them, but not overwhelm or bore them with facts.  His descriptions of the rain and wind and their destruction allowed me to picture exactly what was happening on the island.  I found it all very interesting and having had straightline winds of 120 mph just go through our area, I got a much better understanding of the force and destruction of hurricanes. 
There were several characters in the story, but each chapter was devoted to a setting in the story….the TV Network, The Hurricane Center, The Hurricane Hunter, and St. Simon’s Island.  So, this helped keep track of everyone and who they were connected with.  This story is told over the course of only 1 day in the lives of these characters, with some flashbacks,….and what a day it was.  I had no idea there was actually “hurricane hunters”, airplanes that flew into the hurricanes to measure them.  That was fascinating to me!  I really learned a lot about weather patterns and risks others take to bring us those reports.

As I said, the book was very intense and all of the obstacles along the way kept the reader wanting to turn the pages faster and faster.  The story does not have a happy ending for everyone which I think made it more believable.  I also appreciated that while there was a lot of action and suspense, there was also romance throughout the story. 

I was impressed to find that this is Bernrd’s debut novel.  I hope in his retirement he continues to write.  I see he has a new book set to come out in about a year.  So, I will be watching for that.  I will be telling my relatives in St. Simon’s Island about this book even though they have likely already heard about it and maybe even know the author.  I give this 4 out of 5 stars.  This is a great summer (or anytime) read for those who like the thrilling page-turners. 

H.W. “Buzz” Bernard is a retired meteorologist who worked for thirteen years at the Atlanta-based Weather Channel. He considers St. Simons Island his second home. Visit him at www.buzzbernard.com

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