Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Review: 'The Soldier And The Author' by Linda Heavner Gerald

Florida author Linda Heavner Gerald has retired from her medical background and is living and writing along the Gulf of Mexico. She has already established a solid reputation as a writer of twelve mystery thrillers, winning awards both in this country and abroad, having been awarded the Florida Authors and Publishers Association award for Fiction. Linda's keen eye for evil in her books is matched by her conviction that 'regardless of our actions, God is always ready to welcome us back with forgiveness.' Rather than simply titillate her readers with superbly terrifying stories and psychological drama she offers a bit of a rainbow at the end - a sense of hope or encouragement for the characters of her books. ‘ Her goal is to demonstrate that God loves all of us. No one is beyond his redemptive grace.’ In ANNAPOLIS SUMMERS Linda turned her penetrating eye to the act of bullying as the theme - sustaining and surviving bullies in a story that is rich in color and the fine settings for which she is becoming highly respected. Now in THE SOLDIER AND THE AUTHOR Linda marries medicine and military in introducing a character who suffers from PYSD

Linda's ability to paint a setting for a novel grows with each of her books. In her Prologue she sets the tone – ‘Often, we do not think of our military and the sacrifices they make weekly, daily, hourly, by the minute for our country. Some of the men and women who serve are innocent and very young. How many suddenly question their actions and wish that they had never signed up for the duty now required? Had they volunteered out of anger or a dare only to regret till their grave the heavy toll they are forced to suffer? The emotional consequences of service to our great country must be staggering. The loss of a fellow soldier must be impossible to bear but so is the loss of a limb or severe injury. How many return changed? Does anyone return the same? The Soldier and The Author describes a soldier named Bailey Barker who retires from the Air Force after twenty-two years of service as a combat nurse. The author is Oliver Greene, a famous, wealthy, and handsome man.’

But on to the story as per the synopsis – ‘After twenty-two years of service to her beloved United States Air Force, Bailey Barker decides to retire. She does so with trepidation. Upon the recent death of her mother, Clarissa, the young Lt. Colonel decides that she must focus on the estate which she inherits. The fortune entails a significant amount of money and land. As she walks across the airfield in Mobile, Alabama, finally “free,” Bailey bemoans the loss of her officer status and position as a registered nurse. Fear assaults her when she realizes that she has never enjoyed the luxury of wasting time. How does one waste a day? Her last deployment to Afghanistan inflicted a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome upon this dedicated soldier who sacrificed so much. Finally arriving at the swanky mansion, which her mother named Sunny, she realizes many more challenges other than settling the massive estate await her. Bailey’s refusal to visit her mom for the past five years now brings incriminating thoughts. What kind of daughter never checks on her dying mother? Immediately on arrival at the swanky mansion, Sunny, the soldier learns that her mother lived with a handsome, much younger, famous author for the past five years? This stranger loved her mom filling her final days with excitement and joy. Where was she when her mother died of cancer? The entire town of Fairhope, Alabama claim to have loved the woman with platinum hair and her famous lover, the author Oliver Greene. Now, the village is hesitant to welcome the child who spurned the “belle of the town.” Bailey quickly discovers that Oliver Greene is not only kind. He is gorgeous. In no time, the arms which once held her mother, now embrace her. Shame that she would dare to entertain her mother’s lover assaults her as well as the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress from her last deployment to Afghanistan. The young woman has no time to regret her decision of retirement as circumstances pull her into the bizarre life of the beautiful Clarissa Barker.’

Once again Linda Heavner Gerard has accomplished a novel with a strong message for all ages so eloquently written that it becomes obvious that we are in the presence of a very fine author indeed. Grady Harp, December 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.