Monday, August 12, 2013
Review: Catchin' Up With The Folks . . . "Short Rides" by Lorelei James
Cam McKay is a man who has been severely injured as a result of his service in the Iraqi Conflict and yet has worked through lots of his issues with the help and support of his intrepid spouse, the delightful Domini and her wonderful sense of humor, her knowledge of the world, and her incredible patience with Cam as he continues to struggle with his PTSD issues. Here he has encountered one of the worst crime scenes ever to be seen in Sundance, Wyoming, with its small town life and its deep sense of family and friendship. Dealing with the crime itself, dealing with the fact that it was two people he had known nearly forever, dealing with the recriminations and grief of the victims' families throws Cam into a tailspin, all on Valentine's Day. And as if that isn't enough, it's all happening while Domini and his six kids are planning a romping good evening to surprise their dad who they are prepared to crown "King of Hearts." It's a warm and wonderful story that is built around the core of a terrible tragedy--warm and wonderful because of Domini's care and unconditional love and the patience and love of his kids in the face of his terrible sadness. Terrible because it brings back all the nightmares, the sense of hopelessness, the survivor guilt that had been far less of a problem in recent years. Yet this short story is a lesson in the power of patience and love to bring light into darkness and to how there is no statute of limitations on the power of love to heal wounds.
Chassie West Glanzer and her hunky husbands Edgard and Trevor have a whole different set of troubles landing on their doorstep. Trevor and Chassie are set to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary as well as their eighth anniversary as a triad since Edgard became a permanent part of their relationship. Now they have three children and the bigotry of an extremely conservative community rears its head in the form of bullying at their son's grade school. A first grader handling epithets against his family for their "perverted" lifestyle is way beyond acceptable and on the eve of a special get-away weekend, these three loving and very dedicated parents must face the task of explaining the actions of those who would seek to make this little six year old boy feel bad about the love shared by his folks. This story is very much focused on how these three deal with this challenge, but it is also about how they celebrate their love, how it has grown and matured in their years together, and how they are looking to the future together. Ms James never backs away from the tough stuff here. While I don't include spoilers, I will give you a clue that this novella has included one of the finest incidents in all of this series--what it really means to care about and support those we love. It's a tremendous part of this anthology and not to be missed.
Lastly, there is Keely McKay Donahue, caught in the throes of pregnancy hormones, dealing with her high-powered handsome and type A personality husband. After four years of marriage it is a well-known fact that these two have figured out that make-up sex is absolutely the best. And it's a good thing, because they know how to mix it up as well. They most definitely have their own particular dynamic, and even as they work through the issues of pregnancy successfully, there is the new challenge of what it means to be parents to lots of kids in a very short span of time. Yet again there is the factor of family loyalty, of knowing that in spite of everything that has happened in the past, in spite of the fact that Jack still thinks Keely's dad hasn't really accepted him, there is that sense of "circling the wagons" when potential tragedy is making an appearance in Keely and Jack's life and both of them have to face the possibilities that their lives may never be the same.
All in all, this is a wonderful book and one that I was not initially aware was even "out there." But I found it on Amazon and am delighted to have experienced it. Also made me want to go back and re-read some of the original stories about these special people. This book has been out since April, 2013, but it is worth the time and effort to enjoy. Don't miss it.