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A Troubling Tale of One Woman Behind Iraqi Lines and Her Journey Home 

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Enemy Combatant by Ron Albury Published November 25th 2013 by Createspace ISBN 1494201887
I tend to be attracted to beauty and all things feminine, and the titles I read reflect that. I read poetry, vegan cookbooks, and women's fiction; never in a million years would I ever imagine myself gravitating towards political fiction, and certainly not books pertaining to military life and combat in Iraq.  The violence, strategic missions and men's comradery existing between soldiers that have experienced combat together are lost on me. I see them as irrelevant in my own life, and frankly, boring. 

I received a review copy of Enemy Combatant, and was attracted to it immediately because of its stunning cover art. I briefly skimmed the back face of the oversized paperback I held in my hand, looking for clues as to its content, but none were forthcoming. I was intrigued by more artful photography and the question, "Is she saving our country or destroying it?" I began to read.

Ron Albury's newly self-published novel, Enemy Combatant, begins in the unwinding of anti-terrorist agent, Samantha's, past self. As one of two siblings of a single mother, Samantha and her sister, Chris, live in shadows and silence, young girls whittled down into one, invisible presence trying to stay out of striking range of their drunken mother. One month to the day after 9/11, Chris is removed from the home and placed in state care following a brutal beating, and Samantha is left on her own, spending her days aimlessly wandering and contemplating suicide.

Samantha joins the military not to begin a new life, but to bring meaning to her death. What she discovers in basic training, however, is a level playing field with the other recruits, in which she was no longer identified as "the daughter of a drunken whore" or assigned temporary value based on her skills under the bleachers and on her knees..  Her former identity is stripped of her, and along with it, the inhibitions that kept her a prisoner of her low birth. She gives herself, willingly and in entirety, to the army, and is formed into a human weapon of worth and authentic, earned value.


 
The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret, #3)The Temptation of Lila and Ethan by Jessica Sorensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pub. date: May 6, 2014

Can true love ever survive in the brackish absence of light?

While superficially, The Temptation of Lila and Ethan is set in the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas, its true landscape lays within the treacherous darkness secreted within the title characters' separate pasts.

In the same meaningless way describing an ocean as being deep is factually correct, yet misses the point entirely, it would be simplistic and lacking to the point of irrelevance to limit Jessica Sorenson's work of fiction by depicting it as merely a romance novel.