Monday, August 18, 2014

Echoes in the Night


Echoes in the Night
B. J. Betts
Tornado Alley Publication
e-book $ 2.99
Paperback $ 9.99
ISBN: 972-1500370060
168 pages

Twin brothers, Mathew and Marcus Manning grew up as each other's shadow in their home town of Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Being the neighborhood football heroes, they were naturally popular with dreams of college until they received their draft notices.  In 1967  the draft was active.  Even with the prospect of college, if your birthday was on one of the first chosen days of the federal lottery, then you were to be in service to your country in the army.
The brothers realized that their senior prom was their last teenaged celebration without parental supervision..  They were to report to active duty training immediately after graduation.  For most eighteen-year-olds, the destination was Viet Nam.
In 1968 Matthew returned home to bury his brother.  The two had maintained their closeness while being together in the same unit.   For one brother to arrive at home alive and the other in a coffin, created an immense burden of guilt for the surviving twin, Matt.  Could he have prevented his brother from being killed?  Why was his brother dead and not him?
Fighting in Viet Nam during the time of the TET Offensive of 1968 was one of the most gruesome in any battle history.  The fighting on foreign soil was completely different from life in the U.S.
"No cigarettes from this point on. No bug repellent.  No fires.  The Viet Cong can smell you coming for miles.  Take pieces of masking tape and wind it around your dog tags." 
Added to these basic instructions were the heat and humidity, bugs, poisonous snakes that could kill within seconds, elephant grass which could hide your enemy, and rip palm which had razor sharp leaves that could easily rip their clothes and skin.  The constant challenge of helping people who could be your best friend one minute and your enemy, attempting to kill you was a reality difficult for eighteen-year-old boys fighting as men.
This is Matt's story as he reflects on the past few years attempting to understand his brother's secrets and to attempt to deal with his own post traumatic stress of fighting in a war while dealing with his own guilt of living.
The Viet Nam War was a time of extreme division within our country and B. J. Betts perfectly understands being a teenager at the time reflecting the thoughts and perspectives of the time.   Living in the city of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Betts creates a picture of the city and life during that time period.
The characterization in Echoes in the Night is phenomenal.   Seeing the story through Matthew's eyes, while also having the story unfold from his perspective create a multi-dimensional protagonist frequently confronting the shallow-minded former girlfriend antagonist.  
Echoes in the Night moves quickly as a romantic novel involving real situations from the Viet Nam War era. 
B. J. Betts writes of her home town and a time that truly impacted her life forever.  Her previously published novel, Saigon Moon, is to be re-released in August through Tornado Alley Publications.  She is an active member of Romance Writers of America and Romance Authors of the Heartland.
Echoes in the Night is a journey back to the Viet Nam War era by an author who thoroughly understands those who fought as well as those who waited for their return.

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