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giftby Bonnie Bartel Latino & Bob Vale


2014 #1 Adult Fiction, North Texas Book Festival Awards 

2013 Winner of The Kindle Book Review ‘Best Indie Book’

2012 Gold Medal: Military Writers Society of America

2012 Silver Medal for Inspirational/Healing Fiction: Branson, MO

Emotionally scarred years after her husband died in a fiery Special Operations helicopter crash, Gulf War widow and Alabamian, Emily Ann Meade, is having a near-life-experience. She clings to her vow never to get involved with another man committed to a dangerous profession…until she meets F-16 pilot, Ted Foley, in Hawaii. Although they are mutually attracted, the charismatic widower’s fighter wing in Japan recently lost two pilots in unexplained air crashes.

Allowing her mind to wander through fields of dreams on which she can’t afford the emotional mortgage, Emily lowers her barriers. She discovers Ted’s greatest virtue: he makes the ordinary feel sacred.  Healing in shared confidences solidifies their bond. When another crash reignites her fears, the relationship shatters. Unless Emily finds a path through her emotional minefields, she risks rejecting the only type of man to whom she is genuinely attracted, a man who leads by example and from the front. And that man’s life could be in danger! 

“…What would you get if Stephen Ambrose, Patricia Cornwell, and Max Lucado teamed up to create a story? The result, I suspect, would turn out to be something very close to the compelling narrative found in YOUR GIFT TO ME… You owe yourself the attention this book deserves.”

“A smart, thought provoking read. Air Force Fighter Pilot Ted Foley and Alabamian Emily Ann Meade are on a collision course of their souls. Part love story, part thriller, YOUR GIFT TO ME is original and fresh. One second I had goose bumps from head to toe, the next I was slapping my knee and laughing aloud.”

 “. . .  an accurate, smart and sensitive look at military lives and military wives.”

CIR:  What inspired Your Gift to Me?

LATINO:  I lost my father to cancer; the next day I lost his fiancé, who was like my mother, plus another lifelong friend in a car accident. They were victims of road rage. For a long time, it was as if a piece of my mind broke. A lifelong journalist, I never had any desire to write fiction. However, I felt “called” to write a story that would illustrate in an entertaining and compelling way, all that I learned about the compounding effects of grief. I used my Air Force wife and Stars and Stripes backgrounds to create the story. Your Gift to Me is primarily set in the Pacific where I lived for five years.

CIR:  You co-authored this book with Bob Vale.  What was that like?

LATINO:  Funny—and maddening. I co-authored Your Gift to Me with a man I have still never met. I “met” Bob Vale online in 1996 in a professional military forum. He’s a New Jersey Yankee, and I’m an Alabamian with an accent as thick as day-old cheese grits. The first few times we talked on the phone, we needed an interpreter. The actual writing was even funnier. I’d write a scene and have the characters drinking sweet tea, then send it to Bob. When I received his revision, I discovered halfway through the scene that my tea had become lemonade.

CIR:  This book has received some awards.  What makes it so outstanding?

LATINO:  Perhaps it is unique in that (1) it has won two national awards from military affiliated organizations—despite the fact that the co-authors have never met. (2) My co-author, Bob Vale, wrote a lot of the lyrical, literary prose. Because of my personal and professional military backgrounds, I wrote practically all of the military scenes. (3) Our reviews show that it appeals to women—and men; military and civilians. I think it appeals to men because it’s far more a love story than classic romance. Male reviewers have also said our sub-plot drew them in.

CIR:  It appeals to many groups.  Who was your intended target audience?

LATINO:  Our Amazon reviews show that it particularly appeals to those who have known deep grief. Military personnel and their families are our secondary target. Our reviews have shown that is also appeals to civilians who want a realistic glimpse into the challenges of today’s military way of life. People who love Southern fiction are another target. Although the story is set in Hawaii, where I lived for several years while my husband was in the Air Force, much of the novel is Southern in feel.

Learn more about Bonnie Bartel Latino or Your Gift to Me at the book’s website.

Lia London, host of this site, read and enjoyed this thoughtful romance.  See review here.