REVIEW: One Small Victory by Maryann Miller
Dear Ms Miller,
Thank you for submitting this novel to us for possible review. And for including an excerpt! Never underestimate that since it helps us choose what we’re going to try. And while the subject matter for the book might seem a real downer for some, the way you handled it moved it to a different level from a lot of the books that come our way.
“Life can change in just an instant. That’s the harsh reality that Jenny Jasik faces when her son is killed in an automobile accident, but never in her wildest dreams did she ever expect to be working undercover as a member of a drug task force. She is, after all, just a Mom. In the course of her work, she discovers that she is capable of much more than running a household and managing her floral shop.”
Until I went to your website to snag this synopsis, I didn’t realize that you had based this on a real life incident. Which makes the whole book even more interesting to me. My hat is off to the real woman who stepped up and decided to make a difference.
What Jenny endures with the loss of Michael is heart wrenching. I’ve known friends who have lost children and I can’t imagine the pain. Yet you’ve portrayed it exactly as some of them have described to me including the anger, pain, and betrayal. Also how it lasts, can sideswipe you at any time and how hard it is on siblings. I hope you haven’t written this from personal experience as it’s something I would never wish on a parent. One of my friends relies on butterflies too.
The task force is never made to seem glamorous nor exciting. Instead, Jenny has to talk herself into continuing with it and steel her nerves for each new step deeper into the sting. I like how you also show how it affects those around her who have to watch her change and listen to the lies she’s forced to tell for safety reasons. I do wonder what’s going to happen with the person Jenny discovers something about during the operation. At least she’s scared of the gun she has to use and doesn’t seem like she’s going to take to being a gun totin’ mama even though she rose to the occasion and worked to save herself as the deal went down.
I mentioned above how realistically Michael’s death is portrayed and the circumstances surrounding Jenny’s actions for the police affect her children but I also want to commend how you portray their relationship with their mother and their long absent father. Scott has that “pushing his boundaries” and “going from teenager to man” stuff going while younger Alicia is scared by the arguments around her and so desperate for her father’s attention. Thank you for mentioning counseling for the children. A friend of mine said this probably saved her son’s life after her oldest child died.
There’s a nice mix of Jenny’s social and work life along with being a mom to go with her undercover actions. I do like to see this worked into stories as it grounds the characters in reality for me.
Some of the minor characters have quite a few POV scenes that I wondered about but then some scenes Jenny couldn’t have been at for us to see them through her perspective. I hope after the trial and conviction of the drug dealers, the local PD gets to keep a lot of the money from those lovely works of art at the ranch house. One question though, since all this takes place in a small-ish town, what would be the risk to Jenny and her family of the dealers getting someone to find out who she is?
Another good quality in the story is the attention paid to Steve’s professional life. He’s not turned into some tough, macho, ex-SEAL guy who Must Protect at all costs. He initially doubts Jenny’s commitment yet comes to be her main champion in the police department when he sees how determined she is. But there are also the nice little touches like how accident scenes affect him and when he tries to help Jenny through the initial aftermath of the sting take down.
This is more women’s fiction with the possibility, still unrealized, of a romance than a romance or even romantic suspense. These two have a rocky start as Jenny is still dealing with the fresh grief of losing her son then having to hear of the – unfounded – police suspicions about him. I like the slow way these two start to reach out to each other – very tentatively, very unsure of what the other wants or has in mind and the way that Jenny is honest about wanting to try a relationship but only after the trial when her life will be more back to normal.
I hope that the seriousness of the subject and the focus on Jenny’s activities instead of on a romance don’t deter people from giving this one a try. It’s well written, emotionally intense and hopefully will find a wide audience. B