Your Gift to Me
Set primarily in Hawaii, this Military SuperRomance celebrates the redemptive powers of love and laughter.
Nearly ten years after Emily Ann Meade’s husband died in a fiery Special Operations helicopter crash in the Gulf War, grief continues to follow her like a second skin shadow. Still single and emotionally guarded, she clings to her vow never to get involved with another man committed to a dangerous profession … until she meets charismatic F-16 Viper pilot, Colonel Ted Foley, in Hawaii. Although she is attracted to Ted, he is assigned to a fighter wing that has recently lost two pilots in unexplained air crashes.
Ted finds the elusive Emily to be like smoke--smoke that surrounds and envelopes him, but that he can't quite grasp. He is intrigued by the first woman who has made him feel alive since his wife died of breast cancer.
Allowing her mind to wander through fields of dreams on which she can't afford the emotional mortgage, Emily lowers her barriers and discovers Ted’s greatest virtue. He makes the ordinary feel sublime! Healing in shared confidences solidifies their relationship.
As Emily becomes the vivacious woman she was before her husband’s death devastated her spirit, her worst fear resurfaces. Ted’s squadron suffers a third mysterious F-16 crash. Terrified that his life could be in danger, and she will be left to suffer the emotional consequences, she pushes him away . . . again. Their relationship shatters.
Emily must find a path through her emotional minefields or risk never discovering that she is rejecting the only type of man to whom she is genuinely attracted . . . and a man whose life could be in danger!
Ultimately Ted and Emily discover that grief, like joy, is finite, but love is infinite.
Written from alternate he said/she said points of view, the captivating story will appeal to anyone, age eighteen to eighty, who requires both entertainment and substance in their leisure reading.
Your Gift to Me is a hybrid -- a story of love and war spliced with historical fiction. The characters are almost too robust for simple romance. Ted and Emily's tale reminds us of wounds that don't heal, fears that won't go away, and life that remains forever disastrous and wonderful at the same time. Each has lost a soul mate -- Emily's husband dies in a fiery helocopter crash in Iraq, Ted's wife loses her fight with cancer. And with this background, Latino and Vale explore that most agonizing of situations -- do promises and bonds exist after death and if they do, how can the partner left behind reconnect with someone else?
Within the circle of this overriding question, the small military community supports and comforts each of them. Who else can understand this reality better? Emily and Ted's waltz includes a shakey courtship, sabatoge, and the threat of further tragedy. Latino and Vale write with a deep understanding of the joy and horror new love brings. Emily thinks, "Ted’s obsession with flight was obvious. Like Gary had, Ted would always put flight first. She had no intention of competing with the ethereal mistress of flight. Not again. Not with a pilot assigned to a wing that, for no apparent reason, had airplanes falling out of the sky. Two pilots in Ted Foley’s chain of command were dead. Dead!"
I read this book almost straight through -- relishing well-drawn side-kicks like "N'Awlins" and chuckling at the intimate interactions in this private society. Using prose that is both elegant and subtle, the authors write: "Ted walked a few steps beyond the foyer to the study. The strict military protocol between a general and a subordinate officer temporarily dissolved between old friends. Unobserved by others, their long-time relationship overcame the obligatory 'Yes, sir/No, sir' responses that pepper the conversation of military personnel of different ranks. Instead, the bond of personal friendship filled their conversation, a rare moment both of them treasured. Over the years, Ted had won John’s trust and respect. Thus, he had also earned the courtesy of being on equal footing during private moments. Absolute professionals, neither man ever forgot which was the lieutenant general and which, a colonel. The fact was as absolute as eye color."
Warm, engaging – and oh so thought provoking, Your Gift to Me celebrates the resilience of human connections across time and space and mortality. This book will revisit you at night – often.
Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2012)