“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.
When Raquelita Muro and Matthew Buchanan meet by chance on a Greyhound bus between Texas and Tallahassee, neither suspects Fate is about to take over.
Raquelita, a gentle girl under the heel of her abusive mother, finds this kind young man a miracle. Matthew, an idealistic young soldier, discovers this sweet-natured girl is an angel in need of a guardian. However, the next stop on Matthew’s journey is Fort Benning to report for deployment to Vietnam, while Raquelita’s destination is set at her mother’s whim. Regardless of the forces tearing them apart, they discover a way to secretly span the distance, to end up closer than ever. But Fate is rarely kind. The vagaries of war—and the unstable tempers of Raquelita’s mother—intervene, leaving both ill-fated lovers feeling there is no hope for their love.
Set in the turbulent era of the Vietnam War, Raquelita’s and Matthew’s story is one of love, loss, lost faith, shattered memories, deferred dreams and broken promises. Will Fate tear apart these two damaged souls, leaving them desperately alone forever, or will they finally overcome Fate, their bond stronger than they ever thought possible?
Debut author Victoria Saccenti has written a complex, heart-wrenching tale of a chance meeting that changes lives, and the intricate ways that bonds of family and obligation can both hurt and heal. The love story here is startlingly sudden, but also quite sweet, as Raquelita and Matthew recognize their connection within moments of meeting and somehow manage to establish a bond so strong that it can withstand physical and emotional trauma.
Destiny’s Plan has a plot that spans eras and continents, as the author weaves in not only the Vietnam War but also goes back to an important family episode during the Spanish Civil War. The author has clearly done her research, as the historical elements are well presented. Not only do we get the facts of a deployment to Vietnam and what that might look like, but we also get the sights and sounds of the late 1960s through the inclusion of the music, fashion, and political and social upheavals of the time.
Raquelita’s life is hard and complicated. One of the pieces of the story that I most enjoyed was getting to know the members of her family, from her damaged and cruel mother Isabel to her mysterious godfather Xavi, her loving father Emilio, and the aunt, uncle and cousin who give Raquelita a chance to experience a normal, loving home life. Raquelita’s younger sister Marité is adorable, and I understand she’ll be the central figure in her own book next.
Another element that really appealed to me in Destiny’s Plan was the fact that love is shown in different ages and stages in this book. Yes, Raquelita and Matthew are the main characters and love story, but we also see several more mature adult relationships as well, and it’s both unusual and refreshing to see true love, emotional and physical, shown as not only the territory of the younger generation.
A slight disclaimer: I’m not usually a romance reader, and so I don’t have much in the way of comparison. I have a feeling that the plot elements that didn’t really work for me in this book are probably things that would appeal to someone who enjoys romances — but as this is not a preferred genre for me, I had to push myself a bit to get over it. Likewise, I was a bit taken aback by the many explicitly intimate scenes, but again, I think I just generally don’t read romances and didn’t know what to expect.
Overall, I’d say the time period gives this book an interesting and unusual flavor, and the characters are well-developed and memorable. If you enjoy swooningly romantic stories with underlying drama and painful obstacles, check out Destiny’s Plan!
To learn more about the author, check out my spotlight post here.
Title: Destiny’s Plan
Author: Victoria Saccenti
Publisher: Smashwords Editions
Publication date: September 15, 2015
Length: 435 pages
Genre: Historical romance