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Tall, lean, with hair the color of straw and eyes the color of sapphires, Billy Roy Briggs looked about the same as he had when he'd caught Bekah's attention back in high school. He definitely hadn't changed since Bekah had seen him walk out on their marriage six years ago, right before their son, Travis, was born.
Billy Roy wore faded jeans, a dark-blue cowboy shirt rolled up to mid-forearm, and a beat-up Stetson his daddy had given him when he'd still been throwing fastballs back in high school. The ostrich cowboy boots stood out because he'd tucked his pants legs into them—in true cowboy fashion, as he'd told her on more than one occasion. Red stubble gleamed on his chin and cheeks. The dark tan had come from working at oil rigs around the state. He'd been on the road for the last few years and seldom returned home.
Bekah hoped he wouldn't notice her. The last thing she needed tonight was another round in that unwinnable fight. She'd learned to let go of Billy Roy, and she liked the direction her life had gone since she'd become a momma and a Marine. Her brunette hair normally dropped to her shoulders, but tonight she'd worn it up because she'd been working in the barn at her granny's house before being invited out.
Darlton's Bar & Grille was a small place where the scent of working men lingered in the air. Diesel fuel, oil field, fresh-cut hay, and barnyard smells all contributed to the mix. The dining area held a couple dozen tables and booths, had sawdust on the floor to absorb spilled beer, and had framed pictures of country-and-western singers on the wall. Connie had chosen a table under concert pictures and album covers of Taylor Swift.
Callum's Creek was a small town, but it held all of Bekah's life except for the last couple years when she'd been activated—first to Iraq, later to Afghanistan. Her daddy was buried in this town after his eighteen-wheeler went out of control when she was four. Her mother, grieving and unstable after losing her husband, had run off and stranded her there when she was six. So her grandpa and granny had finished raising her. Four years ago, she had helped her granny bury her grandpa, and Bekah had never felt more alone in her life.
Even though she'd had a baby six years ago at age nineteen, she'd kept her figure, but she knew that was more from her Marine reservist career than anything she'd done on her own. Working and being a mom didn't allow much time for an exercise regimen. But the Marines made up for that.
Unfortunately, with everything going on in the world lately, she had also been called into trouble spots around the globe. She hated being taken away from Travis, but she took pride in serving her country and knew that she was making a difference. She'd been activated twice, most recently to Afghanistan's Helmand province.
In fact, she'd only gotten back a month ago and was still struggling to reacclimatize to the civilian world. There was a big difference being back home in Callum's Creek, Oklahoma, and being in Afghanistan, where her life was in constant danger from the Taliban. She was dark from the unforgiving sun, and her lips felt like they were going to be chapped for life. Walking around in civilian clothes—jeans and a T-shirt and a baseball cap—instead of desert fatigues and BDUs felt strange. She kept looking for the assault rifle she normally carried as well.
"Well, well. Look what the cat dragged in." Connie Hiller sat up in her chair at the table she shared with Bekah. Connie glared daggers at Billy Roy and his companions. "He's got some nerve showing up here."
Connie was five feet four inches tall—a couple inches shorter than Bekah—and had more generous curves. The years since high school had added a few pounds that she hadn't needed, but she was attractive and knew how to make it all look good. Tonight she wore a silky red blouse and jeans that looked like they'd been painted on. Her hair was frosted blonde with two blue streaks through it and cut so that it ended at the nape of her neck.
For a moment, Bekah thought Connie was talking about Billy Roy. Then she realized that Connie's ex, Buck Miller, was with Bekah's ex-husband. Getting back from Afghanistan and discovering that Connie and Buck had stopped dating—because Buck had found someone else—wasn't surprising. Neither Connie nor Buck had a good record when it came to being committed. One of them had been bound to break it off. Connie was just miffed that Buck had pulled the trigger first.
Buck was one of Billy Roy's typical hangers-on. Rawboned and raucous, with a shock of brown hair and tattoos showing along his bare arms because he wore a work shirt with the sleeves ripped off, he looked small-town. A stained and frayed John Deere hat was pushed back crookedly from his sunburned face. He wore a lockback knife on his belt, which also sported a huge oval buckle. The wary way he looked around the bar and grill reminded Bekah of a coyote scenting the wind. Coyotes tended to be timid unless they were in a pack. But Billy Roy was all wolf.
Billy Roy usually attracted a crowd around Callum's Creek. He'd been the best pitcher the high school had ever turned out, and he'd been the one everyone thought would make it as a major league baseball player. Instead, after the first year on the road, the triple-A team he'd been playing for had cut him and sent him back home. Billy Roy had performed well in front of a small-town crowd, but he hadn't been able to convert that to success in triple-A ball. He'd claimed he had a shoulder injury that none of the team doctors could find.
The drinking and carousing hadn't helped his career. Bekah had discovered her then-husband's infidelity on Facebook when Connie and some of her other friends had brought their computers over to show her. That had nearly killed Bekah. Especially the fact that she was the last to know. Even her granny had known what would happen, because she'd seen right through Billy Roy from the start. Bekah had felt foolish and it had been a hard thing to accept, but she eventually got over it. She had more going on in her life these days than Billy Roy could have ever given her.
"Do you see them?" Connie was seething. That was one of the things she did best. "They come in here like they know no shame."
Jeanne Salver and Karol Tatum added their own disapproving noises to Connie's scathing comment, following her lead the way they usually did. These two were more Connie's friends than Bekah's. Bekah had known them back in high school, but she'd never gotten close. Jeanne and Karol looked and dressed enough alike that they could have been mistaken for sisters.
"Just stay put," Bekah whispered and reached out to take Connie's upper arm. "You don't want this to turn into something. We just came here for a drink. Not an argument."
Connie swiveled her heavily mascaraed gaze onto Bekah. "Buck cheated on me. Don't tell me you've already forgot how that feels."
"No. But I don't want this to be a scene. This was just a night out. A couple of beers, remember?"
"Well, Billy Roy and his crew shouldn't have shown up here then, should they?" Connie pulled her arm from Bekah's grip. "I thought maybe you being in the Marines would teach you something about not being such a doormat."
That stung. Bekah took pride in her service as a Marine reservist. But just because someone put on a uniform didn't make them a superhero—or radically change that person's life. Becoming a Marine reservist three years ago did change Bekah's life, though. She made a little more money for those weekends and training camps, and she was able to use other programs to better her life and Travis's. It was a slow, small change, but it was welcome. She'd gotten a little more in control of things. She enjoyed that.
Billy Roy went to the bar and leaned over the counter. He slid over a little and half-sat on one of the stools. Then he proceeded to flirt with the girl working there.
The bartender blossomed under Billy Roy's attentions. She was blonde and pretty, probably all of twenty-one years old. The young woman leaned into the bar and devoted all of her attention to Billy Roy, who preened like a tomcat. Bekah could practically hear him purring as he grinned at the young woman and told stories.
During their high school years, Billy Roy had told Bekah stories about how he was going to become a big-time Major League Baseball pitcher and how they'd go off to see the world together. She had believed those stories because she'd wanted to, because she'd wanted more than the little town that she'd grown up in.
After being a Marine reservist for three years and being stationed overseas for two short support tours that had been filled with violence and death, Bekah had begun to think the world outside Callum's Creek wasn't as wonderful as she'd imagined. In fact, she knew several parts of that world weren't wonderful at all. Those experiences gave her a greater appreciation for the smallness of her hometown, but they also made Callum's Creek feel very small.
Connie stared at Bekah in disbelief. "Are you just going to let him stand up there like that? Hitting on that girl in front of you?"
Bekah gripped the icy-cold glass of Diet Coke in front of her. She'd only had one beer because she'd driven herself tonight. She'd insisted. Primarily so she could go home when she was ready. Connie had a tendency to stay too late, and Bekah had gotten trapped with her every now and again when they'd been younger.
"He isn't my problem anymore."
The bartender's laughter pealed over the jukebox playing Toby Keith in a corner of the room.
"Do you see the way Billy Roy's carrying on with that tramp?" Connie's eyes blazed.
"If she buys into whatever Billy Roy is selling, then he's her problem. Not mine. I've already had my cure." Bekah picked up her drink and drained the contents. She glanced at her watch. "It's after midnight. I think I'm going to call it a night and go on home."
"It's still early." Jeanne and Karol joined in on the chorus of that particular guilt song.
Bekah forced a grin at Connie and the other women. "One of us is raising a six-year-old. Mornings come a lot earlier."
Connie shook her head. "Don't let him run you off. It's taken me almost two weeks to get you to go out."
"He's not running me off. And I've been busy."
"A steady diet of slinging hash at a greasy spoon and working on your granny's place isn't any way to spend your life."
"It is for me." Although she didn't want to, Bekah felt more than a little angry at Connie. The constant onslaught of Coke and rum was taking its toll on Connie, stripping away her good judgment, and that always made for a bad time. Bekah had had reservations about coming out with her friends tonight for just that reason. But she'd been hungry for the companionship of friends and maybe a little more than ready for the illusion of a normal life. Whatever that was.
"You don't have to back down from Billy Roy." Connie frowned in displeasure.
"I'm not backing down."
Bekah sighed. "Look, I'm not going to sit here and argue with you. I don't have anything to prove where Billy Roy is concerned. It's late and I'm leaving." She stood up.
"Sure." Connie looked away from her and stood up as well. Bekah knew something was going to happen, and she knew there wasn't a thing she could do to stop it. "Billy Roy Briggs, since you're so quick to flash that cash around and buy your buddies drinks, do you have any of that child support money you owe for your boy? 'Cause if you do, Bekah is right here and you can pay her."
Silently, Bekah cursed the circumstances. If Connie hadn't been drinking, if Billy Roy hadn't shown up, if Connie's ex-boyfriend hadn't been in the entourage, if Billy Roy hadn't skipped out on the court-arranged payments, tonight wouldn't have been so dicey.
And if Billy Roy hadn't been so prideful.
Stung by Connie's accusation, Billy Roy wiped beer foam from his upper lip with the back of his hand and turned to face her. He was instantly the center of attention in Darlton's, and he stepped into the limelight with the authority of one of those old Hollywood leading men Bekah's granny loved watching so much. He craved attention and knew how to play the hometown crowd. He leaned back against the bar and hooked his elbows on the smooth wood. Theatrically, in a move he'd practiced, he shoved his hat back with a thumb. And smiled.
Excerpted from DEPLOYED by MEL ODOM Copyright © 2012 by Mel Odom. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted November 21, 2012
In Deployed, award-winning author Mel Odom fashions a cast as diverse as any you might encounter in a trip to the mall. Small town single mother to hot-shot southern lawyer; witness protected street fighter to teenaged clerk at an auto parts store are all cobbled together into an instrument of war when the reservists of Marine Corps Charlie Company are activated and deployed to war ravaged Somalia.
Mr. Odom shines a harsh light on the transformation citizen soldiers make when pulled from their kitchens, offices, and work sites to answer the call to serve. In this first book of his new series, Called To Serve, we see the what it costs military reservists to shift gears from normal domesticity into trained fighters; to change their very skin as it were. Fictional shape shifters have nothing on the men and women of Charlie Company.
The action is fast paced with no punches pulled, the dialog crisp and relevant, the characterizations poignant. Meet these Marines and you won’t want to miss a single word of the upcoming sequels.
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 8, 2013
Posted September 3, 2013
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I had a hard time following the book at first and could not figure out how all the different characters fit together but when they were sent overseas to serve together in the Marines it answered the questions I had.
Pike, a hardened young man in the Witness Protection Program will do just about anything for his young friend and Bekah, a single young mother who is raising her young child with the help of her grandmother are two of the Marines the reader is introduced to.
Posted September 2, 2013
Filled with lots of action this book is a great read for those who enjoy military fiction. I wish God was brought more into the story to really define this as a Christian fiction novel therefore I deducted a star. I do appreciate the descriptive battles and experiences of the Marines. I kept thinking these are descriptions in a novel -what must reality be like for those who really live this life? Thank God for those who serve in the US military!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 23, 2013
Fantastic book! Bekah Shaw joined the marines in order to support her young son Travis when her husband left her. Her grandmother cared for the boy when she was sent first to Afghanistan and later to Somalia. When she returned home after her tour in Afghanistan, she went with her friend Connie to a local bar where they encountered both Billy Roy, her former husband, and Buck, who had cheated on Connie. When Buck hit Connie, Bekah intervened and using her marine training subdued Buck in spite of the knife he had. But when police came, Bekah was blamed and taken to jail. Her friend Connie didn't even back her up. But before she could go to trial, she was reactivated. Then the scene switched to a prison where Heath, a lawyer, was visiting his client Darnell Lester who was scheduled to die for killing a police officer. Heath was trying to get the sentence changed to life in prison so Darnell could have a positive influence on his daughter and grandchildren. Before Heath accomplished that he was called to active duty and sent to Somalia on the same plane as Bekah and Ralph Caxton, the man from the auto parts store in her town. And then there was another character, Pike Morgan, a mechanic in the witness protection program, whose young friend was concerned about his sister being turned into a drug addict. After he had solved that problem, he too ended up in Somalia. Interspersed with the stories of the private lives of these Americans that would be interrupted with a military tour in Somalia was the story of Daud, a leader of a small group who were trying to stop the al-Shabaab terrorists, but were not in favor of the Transitional Federal Government the Americans were trying to shore up. Once in Somalia the Americans bonded as they fought together against the al-Shabaab terrorists, with Bekah as a leader under Heath. The story is truly exciting and heartwarming. It was one adventure after another and you won't want to stop reading until you finish the book. And the ending is awesome. If you love adventure, suspense, and incredible drama, this book is fantastic!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 11, 2013
Intense, Heart-Pounding Action, Believable Characters. Mel Odom is a great writer. I have read a few of his other books, and am always impressed by his skill and realism. I appreciate a clean story, with no foul language and no prurient scenes even in the combat scenarios. It takes talent to depict the brutality of war without unnecessary sensationalism. Character development is done very well. I understand who the characters are, and I feel connected with them, having their backgrounds explained clearly and compassionately. Tragic events are resolved in satisfying ways. I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 6, 2013
Very dark story of bandit gangs in Somalia and several very different Marine reservists sent as part of the security forces in Somalia. We meet each of the Marines in the midst of their homeland lives which are interrupted by their recalling. The most heartbreaking is the story of Bekah who is a single mother who must leave behind her six-year-old. Through their eyes, we feel the horror of war and the emotional toll it takes on the military on a mission to help the helpless.
The details of the situation in Somalia are vividly illustrated and so tragic. The author gives us a needed insight into the plight of these people living in a land where human life is of little value and death from outlaws or starvation is more likely than not. So sad but the author provides a ray of hope in the darkness with the story of a child. This was not "cozy" reading but had several important lessons learned by the characters. God is still in control.
Posted August 6, 2013
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. I don't usually read military fiction, but I'm glad I read this one. The only thing that I really wanted to know at the end was what happened to Kufow, but other than that, it was really good.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 16, 2013
Bekah is a single mother and a Marine Reservist. When her unit is activated, she is sent to Somalia, where she encounters danger and excitement.
I liked the overall story and there was plenty of action to keep the reader interested. However, this book is rather graphic in the portrayal of war. I realize it is a war book but I didn't need so many descriptions of what was happening to people in the battles.
Posted July 13, 2013
Posted June 30, 2013
Hmm... Where to start?
Honestly, about a third into the book, the whole plot totally changed, so I don't quite know which part to review. For the first seven chapters of the book, we spend time with Sergeant Lance Corporal Bekah Shaw, who is just living as a civilian, since she's a Marine Corps reservist. So, we see her going about life as a single mom, dealing with baby daddy drama that culminates in a bar fight for which she's held responsible.
And then suddenly, just as that's going on, in chapter 8 we're all the sudden in Somalia, following an incredibly violent terrorist whose actions are described in gory, gory detail. (Seriously, this book is NOT for the faint of heart or stomach.)
For the next third of the book or so, we jump around from Bekah's story, to the terrorists, to other Marine reservists who later get called up with Bekah, but it all feels so disjointed and unconnected. As I got into the book, I realized the author must be using this book to set up an entire series, but I feel like it could have been done in a clearer, more guided way. I really spent the whole middle of the book with my head spinning, trying to keep all of the characters and their sudden back stories straight.
Then, for the last third of the book, we're in Somalia for good as the Marines seek to eliminate warring factions of terrorists. As I said earlier, this is an incredibly graphic book, moreso than it probably needs to be. There's something much more violent about reading things like, "bullets riddled his face and his blood spurted out all over Bekah" or "she thrust the grenade under his body and a moment later he exploded, with blood covering the walls all around them" rather than just watching it in a movie, as here my imagination has to come up with the picture and its rather disturbing. I found it to be distracting, but maybe the author wanted to give you the feeling of being right there on the battlefield with the characters.
Anyway, if you're a fan of war stories and don't mind the violence, you might enjoy this contemporary novel based on current events.
Posted June 24, 2013
USMC Lance Corporal Bekah Shaw has seen a lot in her 25 years. She is the mother of 6 year old Travis, a marine reservist, abandoned by her philandering ex-husband Billy Roy (who was uninterested in being a dad, and who also has an extreme amount of animosity towards her.)
Rageh Daud's wife and son were killed by al-Shabaab faction in Somalia, and he is now bent on revenge. He will do whatever it takes, even going back to the mercenary life he knew before his business career and his family, to avenge their honor.
Lawyer (and USMC Lieutanant Reservist) Heath Bridger is tired of trying to live up to his father's expectations, and they are not close. It colors many aspects of his life.
This book caught me from the very beginning and I ended up reading it non-stop in just a few hours. I loved how the author bounced back and forth between several seemingly different story lines but seamlessly wove them together in the end. There are other compelling characters, and it appears this book is the first of a new series. I am excited to read the next one!
Posted June 10, 2013
Though I am against divorce (at least in most cases) and women being in the military, this book was quite an adventure. It opened my eyes to some of the horror in other parts of the world, and I could sympathize with most of the characters in one way or another. None of the main characters were Christian, however, so that was a bit disappointing. Bekah had some sort of peace come upon her later-on in the book, but the gospel message was not there. If you're looking for an exciting military read that is clean (though violent), then this book may be something to try, but if you're looking for a strong Christian story, this is not it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2013
Deployed is not my typical read, but I must admit that it was interesting. The beginning was a bit confusing as character after character were introduced in what seemed to have no connection. However, when you learned that all of these seemingly unrelated characters were getting deployed as Marine reservists, the story started falling into place. I found Deployed to be well written, although intense, at times.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 4, 2013
I had never read any books by Mel Odom before this one. Now I am looking forward to reading another as soon as I can! I think he did a great job portraying the challenges that people in the military face as they leave their families to travel to others countries to serve in the military. Some scenes were hard to read in terms of the violence, but I think the author did an accurate depiction of atrocities that happen every day in different parts of the world. All in all, I think it was a great book and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a realistic depiction of serving in the military.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 3, 2013
Bekah Shaw is a single mother divorced from a serious low-life she should never have married in the first place. She joined the Marine reserves, never expecting to be deployed, but has spent six months each in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the opening of the book, Bekah gets into a fight in a bar with a man much larger than her who starts beating her friend. Everyone (including said "friend"), agrees with the aggressor, saying Bekah started it unprovoked and she is arrested. While she's waiting for her trial, she is once again called to active duty, this time to Mogadishu.
I knew this was going to be a hard book to review going into it due to my personal views on women in the military--especially combat, but I worked hard to set that aside and go into it with an open mind. I know some have said a woman would not be leading a fire team, but I did some research and found out that there are actually women marines (or at least one that I know of) that are fire team leaders.
The story felt rather disjointed for the first part of the book as character after character is introduced, but then finally starts to coalesce when they all end up deployed together. I'm not military, so I couldn't speak as to the reality of the combat situations, but it felt very realistic and well done.
That said I'll move on to what really dropped this review in my opinion. This book is marketed as "Christian Fiction". I beg to differ. The book starts with Bekah in a bar for beer with friends. Pretty much everyone introduced in the book is either blatantly non-Christian or the subject is ignored. God is barely mentioned through almost the entire book. A few remembered Bible verses from childhood and an "epiphany" during battle that maybe this moment is why God has you here accompanied by a prayer that you can make that perfect shot does not a Christian book make. I kept waiting for a Christian character to show up, one of the characters to remember enough from childhood to get saved, or even for salvation to just be mentioned! Nada. As a military fiction book, I think it's pretty good. As a Christian fiction book, it fails miserably. Very, VERY disappointed!
Posted February 14, 2013
This was a good book. Bekah is a single mother, waitress and Marine reservist. She has been deployed twice already but shortly after some significant trouble at home, she is activated and sent to
Somalia. Rageh Daud grew up under a man who taught him everything he knew, but none of it was of the respectable nature. He since went to college, married and had a son. While he was a respected businessman, all that changed when he lost his wife and son. Now he is exactly what his father trained him to be.
This book was exceptionally well researched. I liked Bekah. She wants to take care of herself, her son and her granny and became a reservist to do just that. Her ex husband was a louse and I could have happily seen bad things happen to him and other certain characters! The author writes the book from different character's perspectives and I enjoyed getting to know all three of them through their actions and thoughts. The message that God has a plan for each of us is woven quite well into the storyline but isn't 'in your face'. I think the author did a great job with this book.
I rate this one a 4/5. It was good and eye-opening. I will definitely read the next in this series.
Thank you to the author for providing the review copy of this book. I received this book in exchange for an honest review and the opinions stated above are 100% mine.
Posted October 21, 2013
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Posted August 5, 2013
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Posted May 19, 2013
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