Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Soldier Too by Bev Prescott

Book:  My Soldier Too
Author:  Bev Prescott
Publisher:  Blue Feather Books, Ltd.

Before I get into my review of Bev Prescott’s delightful little debut, I feel compelled to do a little housekeeping:    

In light of all the recent press surrounding the $^%*!#@ jerks pretending to be lesbian bloggers, I want to clarify that I am a living, breathing dyke in good standing, and my lifetime membership fees are paid-in-full (credential number 0223-22-8822-5).  I have one toaster oven, two flannel shirts, and three dogs.  While I am wildly attracted to women with brilliant minds and a keen sense of humor, I’ll admit that I like a nice ass. And to be perfectly transparent; there's a strong likelihood that I will be dumbly transfixed by your cleavage, if it's on display.  Maybe that makes me a pig, but I’m an honest lesbian blogging pig with a good heart.

Okay, now on to the really important stuff, Bev Prescott has graced us with a sweet little debut novel, My Soldier Too.  Isabella Parisi has it all, she loves her job as a social worker with veterans at the VA; she has a handsome, if seriously oppressive boyfriend, and a tight Italian Catholic family.  Madison Brown is a dashing Captain in the Army Reserve, an Iraq War veteran, and a registered nurse who spends her reserve duty in the VA Clinic.  While neither is looking out for love, they find it when Madison rushes in to help Isabella up after she slips on the ice.  Of course, Isabella is straight and Madison refuses to have her heart broken. 

But true love never pays attention to those pesky little details. 

They push.  They pull.  They kiss.  They thrust.  They parry.  They get naked.  Things are looking up, until Daddy Parisi, the oppressive ex-boyfriend, and the Italian Catholic brothers see the girls canoodling on the pier in P’town.  Daddy goes berserk, and things start to unravel.  Isabella’s friend, the General, commits suicide and Madison gets orders to ship off to Afghanistan.  Isabella realizes she can’t be with Madison, and runs back to her family.  Madison, broken hearted, heads back into the war zone.  Isabella finally figures out who and what she really is, but it may be too late to get Madison back.

My Soldier Too is a story with many faces.  It’s part love-at-first-sight romance, part political statement on the cost of war and the state of our soldiers, part cautionary tale, and part declaration of truth.  I appreciate that both Isabella and Madison can recognize the attraction, and that they screw up the courage to take tiny steps to pursue it, even if they’re not really sure what they’re pursuing at first. 

I also appreciate the fear factor, which is oddly more for Madison than for Isabella.  I can perfectly understand that Madison is gun shy with her heart, especially when it comes to a straight woman with a boyfriend.  Isabella, though, isn’t really too awfully shocked or surprised that she’s having such strong feelings for a woman.  I guess this is always a bit of a sticking point for me – do straight women really just flip a switch, come to immediate terms with a same sex sexual relationship, and not obsess over what it means to their lives, career, and friends?

Don’t forget the, “Oh shit!  My brother, the Catholic priest, is absolutely going to wet his frock!!!”

And, to set the record straight, the brother who is a Catholic priest didn’t wet his starched little frock; he just joined the rest of the family in a sanctimonious sing-a-long.

Of course, there were some wonderful scenes in the book.  One of my absolute favorites was when Isabella tippled too many appletinis, ended up getting her butch on, and accosted Madison at the dance club.  Well, technically, she didn’t really accost her, but she was a tad more firm and direct.  Anyway, given the force of the adult beverages, Isabella and Madison end up in a near compromising position, and both sets of friends converge, thinking their respective girl isn’t being treated right.  I loved that the two sets of friends nearly got into a brawl.  That was a beautiful, clever piece of writing.

GRRRLLL FIIIIGHT!!!!!!   Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

This next part is hard to write about without giving too much of the ending away, but I’ll try:  When Madison was injured in Afghanistan, I cried like a baby. 

The kind with uncontrollable blubbering, guttural sobbing, and lingering eye puffiness. 

But, the book ended too soon.  While Isabella and Madison fell in love at first sight and fought a brigade of demons to be together in the end, so much growth and depth had to have happened during the months and months of recovery and rehabilitation.  Those are some of the hardest times any couple, no matter how much they love one another, will ever go through in life.  We certainly didn’t need ten chapters of detail, but I felt a bit cheated that I didn’t get to see the maturation of their relationship through at least some of it.

And that’s not a criticism, so much as a friendly observation from a hopeless romantic.

My Soldier Too is a book that sticks with you.  Not so much for the romance, but more for the wicked combination to the gut.  The parts that sting and linger are the ones dealing with the mental, physical, and emotional injuries to the soldiers, the devastation to the families, and the price paid by warriors with one foot in the closet and the other on an IED. Some day, the American War Machine will figure out that blood is red, bravery is courageous, and love is omnipotent.  Until then, authors like Bev Prescott will keep reminding us, one book at a time.

I’m giving My Soldier Too a 4.6 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.  It’s a solid debut for a new author, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else she has up her sleeve.


  1. Great review, I'm looking forward to curling up with this book. thanks.

  2. I have read this book and really loved it. I can't wait to see what Bev comes up with next. I highly recommend this read!

  3. do straight women really just flip a switch, come to immediate terms with a same sex sexual relationship, and not obsess over what it means to their lives, career, and friends? -- Yes at least it was for me :)

  4. Hey, Anonymous! Thanks for stopping by - I really was asking a question, not just being snarky. I appreciate you weighing in on the subject matter! Best, Salem.

  5. snarky but with a bit of truth to it though....i have heard the thought expressed several times....even by me AND the person that i was involved with at the time:)
    AND just to put the other thought to rest NO there was inkling that i was gay before -- no crushes, no longings, no cravings nada zip for another girl until.....:)

  6. Salem, thanks again for adding My Soldier Too to your list of books to read and review. The feedback is enormously helpful for understanding what worked and didn’t work in the story for readers. Your question, “do straight women really just flip a switch” is an important one. I grappled up front with whether Isabella had too easily come to terms with having fallen in love with Madison when I wrote MST. Ultimately, for a variety of reasons, including the power of love at first sight and meeting one’s soul mate I decided to keep her trajectory the way that I did. However, in hindsight, I could have done a better job of explaining why. At the end of the day, I think the answer to your question depends on the circumstances and people involved because love is both complicated and simple.

  7. Hi Bev, thanks for stopping by to weigh in on this pesky little question. When I go back and read the review, I believe my question “do straight women really just flip a switch . . ." would have been more on point if it had been worded “does any women really just flip a switch…?” After all, it's not so much about admitting the attraction and love, as it is about sucking in a big lungful of air, being soulfully honest, and suddenly living out loud in a world that is unpredictable and not always kind.

    To be fair, it really is a question that can be answered differently by just about everyone. Still, it did make me stop to ask the question. Again, thanks for the input. - Salem

  8. Great review, again. However, i must confess that your first paragraph of being an card carrying pigg made me chortle much. As a Navy vet, I just call that being a sailor, of course. Nothing warms the heart like a well presented port o' call. ahem..why I am here. This story, however, does bring up some of the frustration and anxiety of "playing it straight" when so much can be on the line. DADT is a NoGo and the US needs to recognise that even gay/lesbian blood runs red, white and blue. IMHO

  9. Stoppie -

    Wow, thanks for stopping by and telling us how it really is out in the trenches - as a pig, a twitchy little dyke, and a proud American, I thank you from the bottom of my squishy heart. Drop by any time, and leave a line, your humble opinion is always welcome here.

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