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Two stories with sharply contrasting roles for women and the military captured my attention for this week’s reviews. No Peace with the Dawn by E.B. Wheeler and Jeffery Bateman takes place during World War I and the second Breach of Trust by Kathi Oram Peterson is set in today’s modern world. Both are well written, exciting stories featuring men and women of exceptional valor.
NO PEACE WITH THE DAWN by E.B. Wheeler and Jeffery Bateman
If I had received No Peace with the Dawn by E. B. Wheeler and Jeffery Bateman before the 2016 Whitney Awards deadline, it would have definitely had my nomination. It’s an outstanding World War I novel that takes place partly in Logan, Utah, and partly in Europe. It follows a group of college students attending the agricultural college beginning in 1915 as the war in Europe looms closer. In 1917 the United States enters the war and students are caught up in enlisting, being drafted, and joining support groups. The college becomes a training center for new recruits.
Clara, the daughter of an emotionally abusive father, is an early feminist who deeply resents her exclusion from traditionally male classes and activities. She loves mechanics and has fixed up an old Model-T Ford which she drives around town and to classes. When the war comes, she signs up to work in a canteen, but when she gets the chance she switches to driving an ambulance in the war zone. She fights her attraction to Reed or any man, but winds up falling in love with him once she’s convinced he’s nothing like her father.
Reed appears easy-going, successful, and self-confident both academically and in collegiate sports. Suspecting it won’t be long before the US enters the war, he signs up for a summer at a military training camp. When war does come, he is quickly selected for officer training. He starts out teasing and challenging Clara, but develops deep respect for her determination and quick mind. Flirting turns to serious regard.
Reed’s close friend, Joseph, is a Washakie Shoshone with a passion for fine horses. Joseph lives with his uncle and has a beautiful mare he races at the county fair. When the war comes, he isn’t allowed to enlist because he’s an Indian and Indians weren’t considered citizens at that time. However, lack of citizenship didn’t keep him from being drafted. In France he becomes a valuable scout for the Army.
Trudi is Clara’s closest friend. She, too, suffers through the war though she never leaves Logan. She and her family are immigrants, her father is Swiss and her mother, German. Trudi organizes relief efforts and exhausts herself supporting community, school, and military causes. Still she finds herself frequently under suspicion because of her German accent.
The story follows an excellent plot line and weaves the stories of individual, well-developed characters into the real events that took place a hundred years ago. The authors didn’t stint on research and bring both the day to day events of the time period and the harsh realities of war into focus. Neither do they shy away from the bias and social prejudices of that era. Both those looking for a compelling historical novel and those who simply love a great action story will enjoy this one. There is some violence, but it would be difficult to describe war scenes accurately without it.
E.B. Wheeler attended Brigham Young University, but got her degree in history from Utah State University. She teaches Utah history at USU and lives with her family in the nearby mountains. No Peace with the Dawn is her third novel.
Jeffery Bateman retired from the U.S, Air Force as a colonel after thirty-two years of service. He received his Masters in history from Utah State University and an MS in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. He has been published numerous times in various military publications and in the Utah Historical Quarterly. He teaches at Utah State University. In addition to coauthoring No Peace with the Dawn, his book On the Death Beat will be released later this year.
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NO PEACE WITH THE DAWN by E.B. Wheeler and Jeffery Bateman, published by Bonneville Books an Imprint of Cedar Fort Publishing, 288 pages, soft cover $17.99. Also available for eReaders.
BREACH OF TRUST by Kathi Oram Peterson
Lieutenant Commander Cooper Lane is a survivor. After several brushes with death, she wants only to retire from active duty as a military helicopter pilot and go home to her husband and baby daughter, but that isn’t to be. Her chopper goes down in flames and she finds herself hidden in a remote Afghan village for four long years. Rescued by two Navy Seals who are running from the Taliban, she at last, arrives at Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington D.C. to begin an extensive recovery both for injuries that were never properly cared for when her helicopter went down and PTSD. There she learns that her husband, believing she was dead, has remarried, and another woman is raising her daughter. On the day she returns to her old home in Wyoming and attempts to contact him, he is murdered and the sheriff considers her the prime suspect.
Navy SEAL Axe Talbot is shocked to discover Lieutenant Commander Lane alive, hidden in an Afghan village and knows she will be discovered and killed if left behind. After a torturous struggle to reach an extraction point and return to the US, he makes his way to Montana to recuperate until someone takes a shot at him. Fearing his estranged father is out for revenge for his actions years ago, Axe decides to go to Wyoming to check on Cooper. He arrives there to find her father and the sheriff at odds and Cooper in danger of being arrested. Fearing incarceration will push Cooper over the edge because of her PTSD and his conviction someone is framing her, he convinces her and her dad she should accompany him to DC to seek help from an old friend. In the process they discover a trail of mysterious deaths, political intrigue, and more danger.
The characters in this story are so real, readers will feel they know them or they’re patterned after people we all know from recent news casts. The dialog is realistic and careful research has gone into the various backgrounds. Every time the motivation and the culprit for the murders begin to cast suspicion in the reader’s mind, there’s a surprise that directs suspicion in another direction. Suspense readers will love this one.
In addition to a suspenseful tale, Breach of Trust raises questions of trust and honor. The author raises legitimate questions concerning following orders and carrying out tasks “by the book.” The characters in this story face questions of loyalty and trust on a personal level, in their relationships, and as citizens. Matters of trust, integrity, patriotism, and loyalty set in today’s world of suspicion, political ambition, betrayal, and distrust creates a well-crafted story readers will not soon forget.
Kathi Oram Peterson has a degree in English from the University of Utah. She was raised in southeastern Idaho, though she now lives in Salt Lake City. Breach of Trust is her ninth novel.
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BREACH OF TRUST by Kathi Oram Peterson, published by Covenant Communications, 221 pages, soft cover $16.99. Also available on CD and for eReaders.