Bell Bridge Books, $2.99, ISBN 978-1-61194-5-379
Contemporary Romance, 2014
We are back at Deborah Smith’s sometimes too-fantastic-to-be-real version of the South, and this story is linked to the series that started with The Crossroads Café. In fact, I’d advise against reading this story before that book, as this story makes references to various secondary characters in an off-hand manner that may leave some people scratching their heads. Also, given that this is a modern-day version of the epistolary romance (email and phone calls instead of letters), the characters’ handles may be hard to sort out if the reader is unfamiliar with these characters.
Anyway, this time the focus is on Lucy Parmenter. She was a victim of sexual violence, but finding refuge in the Rainbow Goddess Farm has slowly allowed her to feel more at ease around other people again. In this story, she finds herself in correspondence Army Captain Gus MacBride, who is stationed in Afghanistan. If you have read the previous books in the author’s The MacBrides series, you may recall Gus as being the brother of the heroines of those two books. The correspondence takes the form of phone call exchanges and email. The whole thing can be funny, but also serious at times, as these two discover that they have shared demons and fuzzy feelings to bring them together.
One frustrating thing about reading Deborah Smith’s The Apple Pie Knights is that I know she can create some amazing magic out of a story with such a premise. She can be really good at creating walking wounded characters who let their inner goodness, instead of their issues, define them and make them push themselves to become better people. Unfortunately, reading this short story is like getting only a nibble of a piece of Godiva chocolate. The whole thing ends very quickly before the going gets really good, and I am left wanting more – so much more.
It is at this point that I discover that The Apple Pie Knights is actually a prequel to the full length book the author intends to write about Gus and Lucy. On one hand, I’m pleased that I’d be finally getting a long work from the author after all this while. On the other hand, I actually wish this is the full length work – there is something more special, more precious about a relationship that develops over long distance without the hero and the heroine actually meeting face to face, but I suppose that’s something more mainstream fiction than the author would like her work to be.
Oh well, this short story is still a pleasant read, all things considered. I just wish I’d read it closer to the release of that book, though.