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Book Review: Unglorious War by Maxine Flam

Our latest I Love Romance Blog review selection is Unglorious War by Maxine Flam. What a read! 😀

The novel was a gift copy provided well before I became an official reviewer on ILRB. Going into this review, I should state that even though I love reading historical romance, this is not one of my favorite time periods to read about (and I only have two or three that I try to avoid). I don’t claim ignorance about the Vietnam War. My own father served, and has his own stories – at least what he is allowed to reveal. Much of what he did remains classified. However, to be fair as both reader and reviewer, I reserved judgment until the book was finished.

Unglorious War is an appropriate title, for reading the story proved to be a rather enlightening experience. The characters were compelling. Marla, especially, was someone I grew to further respect as the tale progressed. The secondary characters were just as fascinating.

I must congratulate the author for her historical accuracy. She clearly did her research, and this book has the seal of approval from three war Veterans.

One issue I saw – both from the standpoint of a writer and a reader – was the head-hopping interspersed throughout the story. The approach was unusual overall, hinting at more of an omniscient narrator. Still, this fact wasn’t enough to pull me out of the fictional world, in most cases.

The varied emotions on the page were real, and the love story was deeply moving. The connection between Marla and Thomas was believable and heartfelt, even with the threat of war all around them.

As for an HEA or HFN – the one aspect a romance reader yearns for – I’d probably label the novel historical fiction with elements of romance. Possibly with a hint of inspirational romance, and definitely a military romance. We have to be realistic too with any tale about war. With the intent of being remotely authentic, it can’t be all hearts, flowers, and butterflies. I am not a person who likes to give away spoilers. I will do my best to avoid doing so here.

ONE WARNING: When something bad happens, don’t give up on this read. There is so much more to discover, to be resolved. And the ending is…well, open to interpretation.

In any case, my rating for this read is three hearts ❤️❤️❤️ – for a well told story and a realistic romance. Nice job, Maxine! 🙂

Book Info:

Major Thomas Harrison Smith is critically wounded while escaping from a POW camp deep inside Laos during the Vietnam War. Stabilized by medical personnel in Vietnam and Japan, he is flown to Oahu, Hawaii for surgery and rehabilitation. Emaciated, dehydrated, and half-dead from torture and constant beatings, he meets Lt. Marla Bristol, a nurse-therapist assigned to his case. During Major Smith s recovery, he and Lt. Bristol fall in love and marry, but the military wants Major Smith to do another tour of duty and if Major Smith does return to Vietnam, will he see his beloved Marla again?

Who is Lt. Anthony Lambello and what part does he play in whether Major Smith returns from NAM? Thomas and Marla are scared but each pray to God that they should be reunited soon. They find their faith tested and God answers their prayers, but is it the way that they hope for?

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/bP0AAr

Here is an excerpt.

AUTHOR: Maxine Flam

TITLE: Unglorious War

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational, Military Romance

RELEASE DATE: February 19, 2009-2012

PUBLISHER: Flamingo Publications

ISBN/ASIN: 098211740X/9780982117415

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Marie Lavender

You can find an ebook copy for free on Smashwords! 😉

Up next time: Kurt Seyt & Shura by Nermin Bezmen

Thanks for reading our latest book review on ILRB!

 

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Book Review: Dear Heart by Linda Lingle

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Dear Heart by Linda Lingle.

This is an interesting story laid out as a compilation of diary entries that tell the story of responsibility overcoming true love.

The narrator is married and her love interest is, too. But, when a work relationship becomes so much more – they have to navigate their way through to each other. The idea of cheating on your spouse is distasteful to me, but the story goes on in a way that you can’t help but feel for the pair.

After a whirlwind romance, life takes hold and everything changes.

Will the soul mates reunite? Or will their everyday lives keep them apart?

I really enjoyed the format of this story and how the author was able to bring it to a comfortable close. While adultery might not be a topic that everyone is comfortable with, the love story at the center of it will keep you reading.

This was something that I would definitely suggest! – I give Dear Heart by Linda Lingle 3 HEARTS!

Recommended Read

Book Info:

Deirdre Reid and Hartley Tate feel an immediate attraction when they meet at the office where they will work together and fall in love. There is only one problem: they are married to others and Lee has four daughters to whom he is devoted.

For 15 months Deirdre and Lee carry on a passionate affair. Then Lee’s wife is offered a big promotion across the country. With his heart breaking, Lee leaves Deirdre in San Francisco and moves East with his family so his wife can advance her high-powered career.

Soon, unforeseen circumstances have Deirdre second-guessing her insistence on a clean break. She resists every impulse to fly to Lee’s side, but on the first anniversary of their parting, Deirdre grows increasingly regretful and melancholy. Then she receives a surprising Christmas present which sets in motion a 38-year ritual that, against all odds, keeps alive the love she shared with Lee.

As their destiny unfolds, Deirdre and Lee dream about finding their way back to each other’s arms, and an unlikely guide emerges to light the path of their journey.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/mBrG5D

Here’s a peek at the book…

Dear Heart —

I was so sorry to learn about Jean. I know you must be feeling adrift, as I did after Bill passed, and I wish I could be there with you to let you know that everything will be okay. But, after nearly forty years of suppressing my impulses to abandon everything and fly to your side, I simply cannot give in to them now. What I can do, however, is finally give voice to our most cherished memories which, after all of these years imprisoned, can at last be freed to exist within the light. 

Why now? Because it is safe. There is no one left to be hurt by the knowledge of what we shared for those fifteen short, wonderful months. There’s the children, of course, but they are older now than we were when we met, and unlikely, in this day and age, to be shocked by what we did – especially since, when the time came to decide which road we would take, we opted not to disrupt their lives, nor Jean’s, nor Bill’s. I have never regretted that decision, Dear Heart, though the pain of parting left me shell-shocked for all of these years. 

That is not to say that I haven’t thought about you every day since the heartbreaking morning we said goodbye, or often wished that things were still like they were all of those years ago when, after watching Soldier of Fortune on our first night together, you became my Clark, even though you looked nothing like Clark Gable, except for the mustache, and I became your Susan, even though I looked nothing like Susan Hayward, except for the color of my hair.

But it was never about looks with us, was it? It was a visceral attraction, shockingly strong, and immediately apparent. Seeing you walk by my office on your first day at Cunningham, Miller, Bender, and Schade took my breath away and, somehow in that instant, I knew that I had just glimpsed my soul mate.  And when you shook my hand at the meet-and-greet, and a thrill coursed through me like electricity, and when I saw that you experienced it too, I knew that Fate had brought us together and that we were going to be lovers. It was preposterous, really, because up to that point neither I, during fourteen years with Bill, nor you, during sixteen years with Jean, had ever considered cheating, or even looked at another person with the slightest interest.

But my relationship with Bill was not like ours; with Bill, it had been a practical attraction, not a sexual one. Bill had been drawn to my energy and outgoing personality, and I to his ability to provide stability and security, which I desperately needed after my parents died. We were helpmates, not soul mates, partners journeying through life, not as explorers and adventurers, like we were, Dear Heart, but rather like Eleanor and Franklin after Lucy Mercer. And, although we had a comfortable life, it lacked the vitality that a sexual component brings to a relationship. I did not dream of Bill’s touch, nor imagine the feel of his body on mine every waking moment such that I could think of nothing else. I did not eschew sleep to indulge the fantasies of my restless libido, nor walk through life in a perpetual state of arousal, a phenomenon which I had not experienced until you came into my life.

Oh, Dear Heart, how I’ve longed to hear you call me Susie once more, how I’ve ached for you every night! And, although I highly doubt that I could get this old, arthritic body of mine to ebb and flow like it used to, I yearn for one more afternoon with you, making sheet music in decibels so loud that we surely must have scared the gulls and the fish in the bay.

But time moves on. I have long since stopped dyeing my hair that rich, auburn color you loved so much and I’ve put on a few pounds that I can’t seem to shed no matter how little I eat. And, though you have seen me at my worst and loved me still, thirty-five and full-figured is one thing, but old and plump is another, especially when you throw in grey hair and the probability that the breath required to fund just one more BIG O with you would surely be my last.

Still, after years of putting one foot in front of the other and trying not to dwell on what was, I am finally able to give myself up to the experience without fear that I will die from the pain of wanting you and not being able to have you. I have been through the worst of it and have come out the other side – battered and bloodied, yes, forever changed, certainly, but better for having known you and the rapture that comes when two souls, created from the same wisp of angel’s breath, unite in love, if only for an instant.

As I take these first steps down the road of our experience, I realize that there are those who will see this as a quest for redemption, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, once upon a time we found the Holy Grail of love and fulfillment and were forced to relinquish it, but not because we were unworthy. Our hearts were pure, of this I am certain, but Fate had other plans for us, and sent us on a journey to prove our love was true. It was an arduous trip of longing and desire, sorrow and pain. But there were also respites along the way, of indescribable happiness and unexpected blessings.

Although I may never again know the fire of your embrace, I will experience it nonetheless as I retrace the steps of our story – slowly and with deliberation so that I can savor every morsel of our time together. Call it self-indulgent, or the fanciful undertaking of a silly old fool, but also call it a labor of love, Dear Heart, because most of all, that is what this is.

AUTHOR: Linda Lingle

TITLE: Dear Heart

GENRE: contemporary romance, second chance romance

RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2018

PUBLISHER: Solstice Publishing – Summer Solstice Imprint

ISBN/ASIN: B07CX91BYM

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: Take My Heart by J.J. Sorel

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Book Review: Valentine in Venice by Kaya Quinsey

As a special Valentine’s Day edition of the weekly I Love Romance Blog review, this week’s selection is Valentine in Venice by Kaya Quinsey.

This is another short story that I wish were longer (What can I say? I love to read!), but if you’re looking for a quick, entertaining story this Valentine’s Day – check this one out.

Valentine remembers when she first visited Venice in high school. Although the sights and sounds are amazing, she definitely remembers her first kiss. Ten years later, she returns to Venice – plus one camera and minus one husband. But, fate isn’t done with her yet and Valentine is about to get her happily ever after…I think.

Though a short story, the author has done a great job of describing Venice.  The way the story was told, I was taken back to my own trips to Italy and strolls down the canals of the ancient city. Considerably less steamy than last week’s selection, but heavier on the romance – this story was definitely enjoyable.

“Happily ever after…I think?”

I know, you’re wondering what that was about. The setup is there for the HEA, but we’re left to imagine it for ourselves. I actually found myself flipping a couple pages ahead to see if there was more story – then, I was a little bereft. What happened to Valentine? Did she move to Venice? Did she go back to Chicago? I’ve certainly answered all those questions for myself and Valentine is doing just fine where she is.

It is well-written and entertaining, but the speedy, cliffhanger ending was jarring – I give Valentine in Venice by Kaya Quinsey 3 HEARTS!

Recommended Read

Book Info:

Valentine Wells returns to Venice. After having visited ten years earlier when she was just sixteen years old, it was where she had impulsively met Lorenzo Dipachio. Her first kiss. Her first love.

Now twenty-six, Valentine is a successful wedding photographer in Chicago. Still impulsive, Valentine is recently divorced after being married for about a minute in Las Vegas. And she doesn’t miss the irony of being a divorced wedding photographer. Also dealing with her mother’s recent diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s, Valentine’s father convinces her that she needs a break.

Now that she is back in Venice, Valentine wants to prove to herself that she’s no longer the impulsive, daring girl who got married (and quickly divorced) in Vegas to a man she barely knew. Now, she is living by a new set of rules: planned, cautious, and carefully executed.

But her plan is challenged when she falls (literally) into the path of her first love, Lorenzo. And with Valentine’s Day around the corner, will Valentine be able to keep herself from making another big mistake?

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3LGKNM

AUTHOR: Kaya Quinsey

TITLE: Valentine in Venice

GENRE: contemporary romance, holiday romance, sweet romance, second chance romance

RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2019

PUBLISHER: Books to Go Now

ISBN/ASIN: B07MPDCLN6

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: Bedroom, Boardroom by Gemma Snow

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Book Review: Aloha, Baby! by Ann Omasta

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Aloha, Baby! by Ann Omasta. If you’re looking for a quick, entertaining read – this is the novella for you! ❤

Set in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, Leilani is a resort stakeholder-employee who gives her virginity and heart away to a handsome tourist. But, as the title suggests, it really can happen the first time. After some indecision, Lani sets out to spread the news. Along with her best friends, Honi and Kai, they agree on a baby-raising pact.

When feelings are hurt, jealousy rears its ugly head. But, happily ever after makes a sweet surprise ending.

Well written and enjoyable, but the fast pace and short length leave some holes in the romance – I give Aloha, Baby! by Ann Omasta 3 HEARTS!

Recommended Read

If you read more for the story than the heat, definitely add this to your reading list. 🙂

Book Info:

Alone and pregnant…

Leilani Kehele never thought those words would describe her, yet that is exactly how she finds herself in Aloha, Baby!

Feeling like a huge disappointment to her family, Lani turns to her two handsome and loyal best friends, Kai and Honi, for advice.

In an attempt to arrange the best possible outcome for this challenging situation, the three hatch a plan to give Lani’s baby a father. Will it work? Will Lani and her baby discover their happily-ever-after ending?

This novella is part of The Escape Series, which includes the Kindle Scout winning book, Getting Lei’d, Cruising for Love, Island Hopping, and the sweet short story, Coconutty Christmas. You can read and enjoy these books in any order!

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/bPZJpl

You can get your copy of Aloha, Baby! FREE by signing up for Ann’s mailing list HERE.

Discover the whole series

by Ann!Nice author tagline! We agree! 😉

Readers, be sure to also check out book one of the series, Getting Lei’d! 😀

AUTHOR: Ann Omasta

TITLE: Aloha, Baby! (book four of The Escape Series)

GENRE: romantic comedy

RELEASE DATE: December 17, 2015

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B019J9377U

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: NEW RELEASE – Legends of Lust: Erotic Myths from around the World by Autumn Bardot

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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