Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: The Soldier's Woman by Megan Ziese -- A Novella

In today's world environment where the United States is at war on two fronts in the world and where there are constant incidents of terrorism through the world, this story of The Soldier's Woman is a contemporary romance with a theme which resonates on many levels, not the least of which is the grief so many families are experiencing these days, as well as the sense of lives cut short and futures made null and void.

One such mother has sought to find a creative way to overcome the terrible loss of her only son. Having donated some of his sperm to a local sperm bank, Nigel's mother has found a career woman, a person of great personal and professional independence, who has agreed to be artificially inseminated with her son's sperm and bring her grandchildren into the world. Sera started her own business when she was 20 years old and it has now grown into a highly successful enterprise. She is ready for a family but is not ready for the involvement of a man in her life. The opportunity to be pregnant and to become a mother with only her and the grandmother to be involved with her babies sounds like the perfect circumstance and she is ready and willing to enter into this arrangement.

Nigel's mother is a caring and loving person who is delighted to be available to babysit while Sera is involved in running her business. In this way she is able to assuage her loss and fill her life with the grandchildren Nigel's death could have prevented from ever being born. There is only one problem: Nigel isn't dead, and after only three months of her pregnancy gone, Sera is introduced to the father of her babies (she is carrying twins). From this point on the story is somewhat a classic romance -- Sera is not open to Nigel's presence but understands that now that he is alive and back, he does have a right to be involved in her care and the planning of the babies' future. Nigel finds himself drawn to Sera but is not very successful in getting her to be more open to his bid for friendship, much less anything more romantic.

This is a cute story and a fun read, but I do think there is some deeper value here. There are probably many families who would love to be able to do just what Nigel's mother has done: make possible the continuation of his life and his presence in the world through the birth of his children. It is using contemporary science creatively, and as such, is a very gentle story of one woman's way of handling the death of her son. That he did not die is, of course, a classic romance novel complication, but Ziese is a very adept writer and handles the situation in what I think is a believable and realistic manner. I think this theme is an important one, and I would have liked the story to be a bit longer, more well-developed, and given the length which allows a greater friendship between Sera and Nigel before they became lovers. All in all I really liked it and will probably read it again. (I read some of these so fast that I almost have to go back and re-read in order to really get more out of the story.) All things considered, I give this novella a rating of 3.75 out of 5.

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