Dear Mrs. Reavis,
I was thrilled to learn that your latest book would tie together two series of yours that I love, the Navajo Family Blessings and the Fort Bragg series. But while I enjoyed the book, I couldn’t help but compare it, unfavorably, to both of them. It starts out with a lot of promise yet ultimately ends up frustrating me as I wish for what it could have been.
Neither Army Specialist Will Barron nor recently divorced, single mother Arly Meehan can afford to indulge in any type of romantic entanglement. They know it and even their families know it. But the reasons go deeper than the fact that Will is soon to be deployed into harm’s way and they barely know each other. Arly’s well connected ex-husband is the type who grabs at what he doesn’t have, even if he really doesn’t want what he’s reaching for and right now he’s making waves like he’s going to try and get custody of their young son, Scottie. While Will is a half-Navajo former holy man whose sense of place has gotten lost since before he joined the Army and volunteered for the paratroopers in a vague hope to be stationed in his long dead father’s home state of North Carolina. Will is searching for his place in the world while Arly is searching for stable life for herself and her son. They realize it’s madness to act on their mutual attraction and sense of comfort in each other’s presence yet life keeps bringing them back together.
The characters you usually write are generally quiet and introspective people, while the plots are mostly character rather than action centered. In this story, I didn’t really get a feel for either Will or Arly. Plus the action seemed very disjointed. Both of these series are at the point where they are character heavy and while I enjoyed seeing these people again, there were so many of them that in the end they served to distract from time that needed to be spent with Will and Arly. If this had been a full length novel rather than a 250 page category book, I’d have loved to see even more of their inclusion but there simply wasn’t room for it. And to make matters worse, you build up several scenes then end up truncating them, I assume for space considerations.
I also have a problem with the resolution of some of the plot threads. Throughout the book, Arly’s ex-husband is a threatening presence. He threatens to make trouble for Will if he keeps seeing Arly, he threatens to try and use his family’s money and influence to take Scottie and yet the story ends without resolving either of these issues. Both Will and Arly’s families aren’t thrilled at their romance and the feeling I got was tenuous acceptance rather than overwhelming joy at their marriage. Will makes some progress to understanding himself and coming to terms with his past family history yet even this winds up feeling like he’s decided to just accept what he can’t change and go on with his life.
I’d like to say that I believe in Will and Arly’s chances for a HEA, that they’ve worked out all their problems and things are rosy, yet I just don’t see it. They rush into marriage, Will’s still in the Army, we don’t know about the threats to Scottie’s custody and to top things off, now Arly’s pregnant. I wanna believe but yet I can’t stop looking at all these dark clouds in their lives. Usually you can pull me into a HEA despite everything that conspires to pull a couple apart but not this time. C