Monday, January 8, 2018

The Soldier and The Author - A Spoiler Alert Review Revealing Why Not Recommended...

Immediately upon graduation from college, with a degree in nursing, I joined the Air Force as a registered nurse. My stint in the Air Force surpassed my original goal of fulfilling only the minimum requirement of time. My passion while there grew each day for a job which I loved more than I dreamed possible. Upon joining, my thought was that I would use my time invested in military service as a means of developing discipline and resolve, nothing more.
My parents were both driven and focused. I, however, was lazy and spacey. It surprised me when I found it impossible to walk away from the mandatory two years. Instead, I retired from the service after twenty-two years. Most likely, I would not have left then, but my mother died at the same time that I was up for re-enlistment. Demands of settling her estate became my focus, so I retired from my job as Lieutenant Colonel in service to my great country.
It was a sad day when I left. The surprise party, which my friends threw for me, did not erase the feelings of moroseness and a little fear of what I would do now with my life. At the young age of forty-two, having obtained the status of Lt. Colonel, my life had revolved around the demands of caring for my patients as well as serving in a noble field. Nothing else in the world seemed appealing after years of feeling essential and respected while service my country. Still I owed it to my mother to make sure that all of her affairs were in order. Clarissa's estate was vast and involved. As an only child, there was no one else to make critical decisions over her several properties and a significant amount of funds held in a sizable trust.
My plane landed on a beautiful, bright blue spring day in Mobile, Alabama. It was impossible for me not to wear my uniform despite the unseasonably warm afternoon. When I served, I bemoaned wearing the dark blue each morning. Now, I refused to wear anything else. I had become "married to my job." Purposefully, I left my home on Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama very early on that bright morning, for my new home in Fairhope, Alabama. My Mother, Clarissa, had purchased this massive estate upon the death of my Father, Clarence Barker, years earlier.
"Bailey, I may we well live like a queen. Your Father was miserly for all of my life. Better I enjoy the money than leaving it to you to squander."
I guess she had forgotten that I was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, not the immature child of yesteryear. Clarence had built a large factory which manufactured table linens from a tiny cottage industry into a sprawling compound. He was famous in our town of Charleston, SC.
As a child, I dreamed of breaking away from the demands of being Bailey Barker, child of wealth and privilege, to Officer Bailey Barker, the world traveler. It seems that I had always dreamed of being an officer in the Air Force. The nursing degree was merely a way of establishing myself and gaining entrance into a world of measured decorum. Dreams of becoming an officer drove me to excel in school and later in college. Working as a nurse was not my dream but provided me the means of quickly obtaining status as an officer in the Air Force. As time passed, I discovered that taking care of the wounded veterans in my charge was an honorable and sincere career. Suddenly, the status of officer diminished in my mind, and my job as Registered Nurse provided the catalyst of joy and purpose for each day.
As I now walked across the field in Mobile, I wondered if I had made a mistake.
Well, Colonel Barker, what will you do now?
~~~

The Soldier and The Author

By Linda Heavner Gerald

I had mixed feelings related to this book. It started with the cover that shows a male soldier, while the actual soldier, the main character, is female. But there were questions as I continued to read--questions about logic and plausibility. The basic storyline is interesting from a romantic and faith-based standpoint; it was not enough.

The lead chapter self-describes the main character, Bailey Barker, noting that she was "lazy and spacey" when younger, but shows that she moved on to become a dedicated registered nurse and military officer for 22 years. She rarely spent time with her mother and admitted she had some anger that she was not quite able to understand... yet she feels obligated to handle her mother's estate, now, that she is dead.

She comes home, discovering that her mother had a live-in lover, who was now living in the guest house, working as a writer... there is nothing included about his actual work, discussing genres or what his latest work is...he stays "mother's lover" to me... That is, until he and Bailey look into the other's eyes and falls in love... Then, Bailey starts wearing all of her mother's clothes, instead of buying her own or even a combination of some of the special clothes... They soon plan to marry...

In the meantime, readers are teased about a young woman who has psychological problems. We are presented with her ramblings and they are extreme enough to question why she is not committed, and later she is sent back... 

Oliver has told Bailey nothing about his background. Interestingly, he shares that his arrangement with Bailey's mother was that she owned the house and he paid the bills... Nothing further is said about that extensive estate that was mentioned in the first chapter... The soldier is apparently willing to accept anything Oliver says...

Then he decides the location of their honeymoon. He takes her back to where he lived with his first wife. Coincidentally, after many years, it is during that visit that the police suddenly discover the individual who had killed his first wife... Again, Bailey seems to think nothing about being whisked away to part of her new husband's problematic past...

Bailey begins to discover that her mother was very involved with local activities, including visiting the orphanage, where she had been hoping to adopt a beautiful young girl. We discover that she is the grandchild of a neighbor of the estate and that the grandfather had once tried to burn down the estate...

Bailey thinks she should be able to solve any differences or problems, so she visits the grandfather and becomes friends. Now there is no mention that there was any police involvement when this man set the  fire... This seems to be a pattern, because when the young lady gets involved in the story again, she talks about killing Bailey's mother... In fact, she says it three different times, but again nothing is discussed about any police investigation. Oliver says that she died from cancer that came on her quickly, but by this time there is enough to suspect that she may have been murdered... Who knows?

The attempts to engender suspense fails miserably since nothing is ever done to clarify exactly what happened. Oliver successfully keeps holding things back with Bailey blindly being in love. Then deciding they all need to start church and everything is placed in God's hands...

The whole book feels contrived, scripted. Loose ends appear constantly, leaving the reader wondering what is going on... To further complicate the matter, the woman in the hospital is allowed to see people without anybody else in attendance... She attacked both Bailey and her father, in addition to really wild accusations... Also, the grandfather neighbor had begun to visit her and again, there was no visible coverage of visitations where apparently another fire being set was planned...

The book itself appears to be self-published and reveals inexperience in formatting, questionable editing issues. The book ends by the author telling what is needed to catch the readers up to what time changes had occurred and what happened. There is a constant, I have to say, unreal emphasis on devotional love and faith, that it seems is the main thrust of the story.

If this had been a straight Christian romance, it would, in my opinion, be better received... Throwing in hints of insanity, post-traumatic concerns, criminal acts, including those that are life-threatening, show an inexperienced writer who is striving to expand into genres for which she is not prepared. She is playing with topics that are clearly beyond her knowledge and it shows. Medical and legal issues are not treated lightly in today's fiction. And claiming that all things are handled by God, in today's world, is almost condescending to the savvy reader. This author clearly needs to start reading outside of her own work and stop playing with medical issues that are treated much too lightly... 

No, I cannot recommend this book. However, this is the first time reading this author so do check out other reviews as you consider options...


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