Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: Eye of the Beholder by Merline Lovelace

This was a very interesting military novel. The main character, Miranda "Randi" Morgan is a USAF Captain, C-130 Hercules pilot, and single mom. She's been serving in the 137th Air Lift Wing based out of Oklahoma since the birth of her son, Spencer. She was deployed to Afghanistan for 6 months, along with her best friend and ex-lover Captain Tyler Keane. During a dangerous mission, Ty got hit and had to land his craft in an abandoned Soviet base. Once landed, he and his crew were fired at from all angles. He called for help, but Randi knew the help wouldn't be there fast enough, so she landed her plane to rescue Ty and his crew. Once his crew was on board, Ty radioed in to have the backups detonate his load of munitions so that the enemy wouldn't be able to use them. He then headed for Randi's plane, but was shot, which threw him off the runway where he disrupted a landmine. Randi immediately took her plane and both crews to safety. Unfortunately, she was the only one who saw or heard the landmine, and now Ty's father, Sam Keane, has made a case against her for leaving his son to die in a foreign country.

Randi and her sisters, Sarah and Melissa, grew up with their grandparents on the family ranch where Randi now lives with her son. She also runs the numerous family businesses and rents out land to hunters and farmers. Interestingly, there are a number of runestones to be found in Oklahoma, and one of them is on the Morgan property. Sam Keane makes a significant donation of $10,000,000 to the University of Oklahoma to research these runes, but only if Miranda Morgan agrees to let them investigate the stone on her property. The handsome Dr. Pete Engstrom, UO physics professor and one of two developers of this new technology, shows up on Randi's doorstep the afternoon of Ty's funeral. She eventually consents to let him and his team onto her property.

They all know that Sam Keane has an ulterior motive for dating these runestones, and Pete threatens to stop the project if he finds out that Sam is using him to hurt anyone, especially Randi.

An intense love story pursues between Randi and Pete. Randi goes thru military investigations and ends up hiring Pete to examine a piece of her aircraft against a piece of fuselage known to have been damaged by a landmine. His results are close enough to prove that a landmine did go off near Randi's craft, which validates her story about Ty.

Before the investigation is complete, Sam tries to get custody of Randi's son on the basis that Randi and Ty had an affair shortly before she became pregnant and divorced her husband, thus opening the possibility that Spencer is Ty's son, and for abandonment during her months overseas. Randi refuses to have her son's DNA tested, as she believes it doesn't matter who Spencer's father is, and it's up to him to find out when he's old enough to make that decision. Pete shuts down his project after learning of this new development between Sam and Randi because Sam is so obviously trying to ruin Randi's life at every turn.

A twist is thrown in when Pete's lab assistant and co-developer, Anne Gillette, tries to kill Randi once and then tries to kill Randi, Pete, and Absol the dog, because Randi keeps getting in the way of the project and fame Anne feels she deserves.

In the end, they discover an ancient grave close to the runestone on the Morgan property, which they believe to be a Viking grave. Randi's charges are dismissed after Pete's findings, and she offers to let Sam be a part of Spencer's life, as a grandfather, whether they are blood-related or not. And Randi and Pete admit their love for one another and hint at spending the rest of their lives together.

The end!

Overall story rating: 8/10
Recommendation: 18+ for language and some mature content

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