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REVIEW: Mitzi’s Marine by Rogenna Brewer

Dear Ms. Brewer:

Mitzi’s Marine is about a solder who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost his best friend, his brother, and his leg. I like these stories because I really want to believe that these soldiers can come home and live happy lives. Maybe it is romanticism of the worst kind but I think we all have loved ones that are fighting or have fought and you don’t want them to just live, but actually prosper and while the Marine in this story gets his HEA, I found the romance to be bittersweet and a bit incomplete.

Mitzi's Marine by Rogenna BrewerMitzi Zahn and Bruce Calhoun grew up next door to each other. They were each other’s firsts and meant to be the other’s last. Bruce signed up for the Marines and became a part of Marine Recon and Mitzi went into the Navy and became an AIRR, an aviation rescue swimmer. She is part of the team that goes in and rescues the Navy SEALS and Marine Recon. Bruce and Mitzi fell in love but their respective enlistments kept them apart more than they were together but Bruce felt like Mitzi was slipping away from him and proposed, to her and her family’s utter delight. Freddie Zahn, Jr., Mitzi’s older brother, was Bruce’s best friend.

When an RPG rips apart an Army truck containing Bruce, his brother, Luke, and Freddie, only Bruce walks away but with a left leg that has to be amputated. Torn up with grief at his losses, Bruce drives Mitzi away. Eighteen months later, he walks back into his hometown where Mitzi is stationed as a recruiter and realizes he misses Mitzi more than he misses his left leg. The problem is that Bruce still wants to reenlist. More and more amputees are making it back to the front lines. Mitzi, however, wants to settle down. She always has and Mitzi has moved on. She’s dating a new guy, a former Army soldier and current high school basketball coach.

The best parts of this book were when Mitzi and Bruce were both grappling with missing Freddie. There were some great scenes such as Mitzi affixing Freddie’s watch on Bruce’s wrist and the times that they spent together at night trying not to think about the past, but not being able to help themselves. It seemed apparent that you knew a ton about the Armed Forces and I actually felt like I learned something. I did have a problem with how the two sides of the recruiting process weren’t well addressed.  Bruce didn’t want his youngest brother to sign up but he was a recruiter and had no compunctions about guiding a young woman on how to get around the rules so she could sign up. The failure to address his hypocrisy bothered me.

There were a number of issues raised in the book that were never resolved. The story seemed like it couldn’t decide what the emotional conflict was for either character. There was another vet in Bruce’s town that had an amputated right leg and was currently homeless. Was this supposed to represent what would happen to Bruce if he didn’t get back into the field? Was this what was keeping him away from committing to Mitzi again or from pursuing her again? Was it because he truly belonged in the field? Was it because he felt guilty he was alive? None of these questions were well matched by the ending.  Perhaps the story was mean to address  all of these things but none of them were well articulated. Mitzi seemed to be more understandable. She wanted to marry and settle down. Or did she? She thought about reenlisting which would take her back out into the field and into combat. It’s not that I don’t think that characters can be conflicted, but it seemed like the emotional conflicts changed to suit the story rather than naturally evolving.

Some appeared to be setups for books far down the road such as Bruce’s 18 year old brother’s entry into the army and a love triangle of his own. I felt, though, that the stories weren’t well integrated into the overarching plot in this one. There were too many characters introduced in this story and not enough time spent with each of them. One reason that all these people were difficult to keep track of was that you used both the first name to the last name to refer to the characters (I.e., Bruce or Calhoun) and it became confusing and it wasn’t consistent, nor was it dependent on which character’s POV we were seeing.

There is also an interesting love triangle and I really vacillated between who would be better for Mitzi. Again, the issues involved here didn’t seem to be worked through but rather the denouement was presented in a summary fashion. How did Bruce arrive at the conclusion that he did? Or Mitzi? Was it just the sex that drove them back together?

The subtle and not so subtle maneuvering and competition between Bruce and the guy Mitzi was dating (Dan) provided a nice bit of levity. But the triangle became uncomfortable for me because I felt that Mitzi acted without honor toward Dan when he was nothing but sweetness and kindness with her. SPOILER[spoiler] If she was conflicted about Bruce, great, but she shouldn’t have cheated on Dan. [/spoiler]

For all my complaints though, I really liked the voice and the style of writing. I liked how you imparted a lot of information without boring me or making me feel like you were being didactic. If only I had believed in the romance more. C.

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. jmc
    Apr 29, 2011 @ 15:14:48

    Years ago, Brewer wrote a SuperRomance trilogy based on Navy Seals, back before everyone was writing them. I remember liking her plot ideas and her strong, independent heroines, but thinking that often the books needed a longer format in order for everything to develop better. Do you think more page space would solve the unconnectedness problem?

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  2. Jane
    Apr 29, 2011 @ 20:56:06

    @jmc: She really lends the books a lot of authenticity. I don’t know that a longer page length would have solved the problems. I didn’t get a sense that she had really decided on which direction she wanted to go with the characters.

    Like the ending has Bruce going in one direction and Mitzi in the other and I wondered what led them down that path unless we are supposed to believe that LOVE conquers all and that none of the internal meanderings and machinations matter in the face of LOVE.

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  3. trinity
    May 02, 2011 @ 14:02:20

    I can’t read a book where the heroines name is Mitzi…I really can’t…
    A total turn off…..Ugh what was the author thinking?

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  4. Mouse
    May 04, 2011 @ 01:20:06

    Marines are NOT soldiers. They’re Marines. Referring to them as soldiers will make any Marine within a 20-mile radius twitch. :)

    I can’t read Marine stories. Mostly based on things like the cover. Three stripes (12 years), Staff Sergeant, in Recon and only has three medals? And that belt hanging all over the place?

    Not that the author is responsible for the cover, but it illustrates the point that books involving the military are riddled with mistakes.

    For instance, in your review:
    When an RPG rips apart an Army truck containing Bruce, his brother, Luke, and Freddie, only Bruce walks away but with a left leg that has to be amputated.

    Why was a Marine Recon unit in an Army truck?! *confused*

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  5. Jane
    May 04, 2011 @ 08:14:55

    @Mouse Ah, questions I haven’t even thought of! It’s so authentic sounding in the book. I went back and the book says that Mitzi is a Chief Petty Officer and he is a Marine Corp gunnery sergeant. Soldier might have been my own interpretation. I don’t see any mentions of medals in the book.

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  6. Lynne Connolly
    May 06, 2011 @ 10:46:02

    I don’t think it’s fair to take the cover into consideration, to be honest.
    I’ve just read a Mills and Boon/Harlequin book which featured a Bollywood star as heroine, but the woman on the cover is blonde! (er, no!)
    So Brewer might have got the details perfectly right, but the cover artist chose a picture of a marine or a stock uniform from the closet and went with that.

    ReplyReply

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