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Posted February 13, 2011
Disclaimer: I haven't actually finished this book and I'm not sure whether I will. My viewpoint comes as the spouse of a soldier who fought in the Middle East. Because of that, I can't see the story as simply a fun romance read.
All The Right Reasons has a lot of potential with mixing cultures and highlighting the similarities and contrasts of all mentioned. It doesn't quite make it. The story here is clearly more important than the cultural accuracy. That's fine: it is contemporary fiction, but readers should be aware of several things.
The military is a separate culture. Writing about a soldier with reality means understanding that culture and it's very hard to understand without being immersed in it, particularly when Hollywood almost always presents it with huge inaccuracy. I can't help but sigh when authors do the same. I didn't buy Lucas as a soldier, or ex-soldier. If he was, he's one of the very few who would turn against the military when he's out and chase others away from joining. It's not realistic. That doesn't tend to happen. Soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, whatever they've gone through, are 99% likely to be fully proud of what they've done, even to the point of reenlisting to continue what they're doing. Most of them do. Most would stand beside someone else who wants to join and even walk them to the recruiter. Yes, they all come home scarred in some way, but people who never leave home are just as likely to carry scars from other things. A soldier's background before he joins says how he will deal with war. That, we never find out. (At least, not by the time I got 2/3rds through it.) A shame, since Lucas is inherently likeable and I would have enjoyed more of his story than Joy's.
Joy, the Gypsy girl, represents why others need to stand up for those who won't stand up for themselves. I'm never sure whether she agrees with her family ideologies or whether she doesn't. Her ambivialence irritates me and it goes on for far too long. I think the story could have been about half the length it is with some of the "because I'm a Gyspy" stuff pulled out. The Gypsy men are shown as villains for wanting their cultural beliefs to be passed along, and yet there are passages that complain about how non-Gypsies were disrespectful of them and how wrong it is.
Stereotyping the Amish as nothing more than house builders irritated me, also. I didn't find any reason for that brief clip.
It felt like compassion was shown toward one culture, with a huge lecture as to why it was wrong to stereotype them and put them down for who they are and the choices they make, and yet, the same was done by the author toward both the military and the Gypsy culture. I didn't find any real understanding of the backgrounds of any of the characters. They seemed more political tools for the author to protest, but without anything really backing it up.
About the time I found myself skimming to find the story in between the miscellaneous scenes, I set it down. Maybe I just couldn't get past the anti-military feel of it. I don't think that was the author's intent; I think she was trying to show compassion for returning soldiers. That didn't quite come through as it should have, in the same way those who protest war actually hurt the soldiers and their families more than they help.
I do have another Sandy James novel on hand and I'll give that one a try.
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Posted May 13, 2013
5 HEARTS - Reviewer Top Pick: "Ms. James knows how to tell such an emotionally driven story and she just tears at your heart while allowing you to personally get to know Lucas and all the challenges he's facing since returning home from the war in Iraq. This author writes her stories from the heart and each one is compelling in its own way. Ms. James did a fabulous job in telling this story and I would highly recommend the Damaged Heroes series to other readers." -- Diana Coyle, Night Owl Romance
5 BLUE RIBBONS: "All the Right Reasons is the third book in Damaged Heroes series. Dan Patch Raceway and the characters from Murphy's Law are back as secondary characters, along with a whole set of new ones. As the series title suggests, Sandy James pens each of her main characters with adversities they must cope with. Lucas and Joy were so believable and likable. Joy's quirky carefree attitude, and Lucas's schooled cautious one were such a delightful contrast. I have had the wonderful opportunity to read all of her releases in the series. My only problem is deciding which one I'd pick if I had to choose a favorite. Sandy James is a truly talented author who does a magnificent job with creating works that touch the heart. Every time I pick up one of her novels, it's like stepping into spring time, warm and refreshing. I look forward to book four." -- Pamela Denise, Romance Junkies
5 KISSES, Recommended Read: "This is book three in the Damaged Heroes series and by far one of the best. You don't have to read them in order to get the scope of the story. I really loved how this is a stand alone story. When you want to believe in true love you really want to pick up All the Right Reasons it is truly a beautiful sweet read to remember." -- Tina, Two Lips Reviews
5 CUPS: "What an emotional story, filled with anger and bitterness, love and joy, heartache and pain, acceptance and trust. Lucas and Joy's story is all that. Ms. James takes you into the most intimate parts of her characters and shows you the real essence that makes them come to life, in turn capturing the reader's attention and holding on till the last word. This is a book that you will want to add to your bookshelf. This reader is ready to explore the other stories in the Damaged Hero Series." -- Matilda, Coffee Time Romance & More
5 HEARTS: "Sandy James has once again surpassed my expectations with this third book in the Damaged Heroes series. This was by far the best one I've read and I absolutely loved the others. The differences in these two main characters were so profound it seemed nothing could ever work out between them. Each of them came into their budding relationship with a myriad of circumstances which weighed heavily on any actions they might take. The two were emotionally involved long before their physical connection. When they came together, their encounters sizzled. James gave us this story in such a way that it moved quickly, was poignant and definitely a page turner. I didn't want to put it down. The storyline offered several shocking actions which kept me mesmerized. This is definitely James at her best. I highly recommend this book (and this series) to anyone who enjoys confrontation with an unlikely ending. You'll definitely be thrilled you read this b