Review of One Day at a Time by Dawn Douglas

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Rating: 4 stars

Homeland Agent Pete Olivera is only on loan to the Evansville Police Department.  Temporary assignments mean going in doing the job and getting out, no emotional entanglements needed or wanted.  Then Officer Joseph West shoots a young boy in self defense and Olivera’s self isolation is compromised by his need to help Pete through the trauma he knows the young officer is going through. Olivera understands the crushing guilt and pain West is feeling because he has been there himself.

Olivera shows up on West’s doorstep and hauls Joe away to Olivera’s rustic cabin in an effect to help Joe comes to terms with the shooting.  Peter’s empathy for Joe starts to turn into a deeper emotion that Joe returns,  A single redemptive weekend has given the men a chance at a relationship and peace if only they will allow themselves to grab at it.

At 65 pages, Dawn Douglas gives us an intense glimpse into the traumatic beginnings of a relationship between two men working in law enforcement.  One, Pete Olivera, is a hardened experienced agent.  Olivera rose out of the Hispanic ghettos of Los Angeles, served in Afghanistan before returning to the States and working in Homeland Security.  A solitary man by choice, he is still able to recognize the depths of Joe’s pain and want to help.  Joseph West is younger with less experience and time on the force.  He has coached baseball teams made up of troubled kids and dreamed of working in the Gang unit of the Evansville PD.  When the youth he shoots in self defense turns out to be someone he once coached, the pain and guilt is trebled and he crumbles.  Dawn Douglas makes it all feel so real.  The portraits she paints of these two men are undeniably some of the most realistic short story characterizations I have read.  Joseph West’s pain is palpable and you can feel the weary wisdom that experience has given Pete Olivera. The cabin is the perfect location for West’s intervention and the descriptions of the rustic setting add the right amount of isolation and peace necessary for it to work.  The author gives us real men, the situation is one we read about daily in the papers, and makes their shared pain that brings them together understandable and easy to empathize with.

Douglas gets all the details right, including Pete’s remote cabin where he goes for peace and quiet whenever possible.  With every moment the men and Joe’s dog, Jack, share out in the woods they allow themselves to open up to each other and the possibility of a continuing relationship. Every hesitant step forward is so beautifully portrayed and always in keeping with the established personas.  No instant love, no overly romantic prose between the men, just authentic dialog and small moments that keep adding up page after page until we reach a totally satisfactory and believable end.  I kept flipping back and going over certain sections, admiring how the author brought character and scene together in a great cohesive portrait of pain and quilt absolved, if only temporarily.

This was the first story  I have read by Douglas. I am going to immediately seek out more.  I admire and recommend One Day At A Time  and can’t wait to see what she will do next.

Cover:  LC Chase is the artist for this remarkable cover.  The naked torsos are offset by the lovely painting of the cabin at the bottom of the cover.  Everything is just right.  Great job.

It’s Football Season and I’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, the Week Ahead in Reviews and A Cocktail

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It’s Labor Day weekend here in the States, a time to hunker down and celebrate the end of summer.  For some families this means a last dash to the beach or the start of school. It is also the start of football season.  It’s the start of tailgating parties, stadium crowds and team colors.  Mine used to be red and yellow, the colors of the  Washington Redskins, my family’s team.  It all started with my Dad.  He loves the Redskins.  We have been fans through thick and thin as they say.  I can even remember Dad taking me to a Redskin home game when they were coached by Vince Lombardi. That was 1969.  My dad and his friend Tom Cox had a group of season tickets and when one of “the gang” couldn’t go, Dad brought me.  What a thrill.  Redskin fans are beyond fanatical, they are legendary.  And every game, RFK shook from the ground to the rafters with their fervor.  I will never forget it as long as I live. Screaming until I was hoarse, the people towering around me as all stood to watch a play on the field and then the ride home, Dad’s either thrilled because we won or furious with a loss. Later on, the ride home included Dad listening to Sonny and Sam (that’s Sonny Jurgenson and Sam Huff) dissect the day’s game.  We had Redskin blankets, hats, and scarves.  We went through the George Allen and Jack Pardee years before we arrived at the Golden Age.  That would be owner Jack Kent Cooke, affectionately known as The Squire, Bobby Beathard the GM, and Joe Gibbs, the Winningest Coach of them all.  From 1981 to 1992, we basked in the glory that was the Redskins and quite frankly made up for all the years it took to get there.

But 10 years ago, the Squire died and Dan Snyder bought the team.  I hung in there as long as I could but the soul went out of them that day.  Dan Snyder single handedly has ruined the Redskins for me (and many others).  How can you back a team when the owner sues it’s fans? When die hard season ticket holders could no longer afford their season tickets because of the economy (some losing everything), the Redskins sued their fans to recover the costs of the passes, even a grandmother living on retirement! No other team did that. Made the headlines, they recanted, a bit.  Still did it though.  Then a small free newspaper takes Dan Snyder to task over his actions.  He sues the newspaper!  I guess free speech is not to be tolerated in Snyder territory.  On and on it goes, one man’s arrogance and bad karma wiping out half a century of fans adoration and goodwill.

And now I give up.  I won’t root for them any longer.  Some will say the very name “Redskins” is cursed.  Perhaps they are right. It’s long past the time to retire a name offensive to so many.  Maybe I will look around for another team to root for.  The Ravens don’t do it for me.  I like the Packers and the Saints.  So who knows?  In the meantime, I have the Capitals and Ted Leonsis to cheer for.  And The Washington Nationals have risen above their “Natinals” days to become an inspiration and a team worthy of cheering for and not just because they are winning, but winning in the right way!  Go, Nats!   Without football, perhaps I will have more time to knit, certainly to read.  And reflect on the past.

This coming week’s reviews are:

Monday:                      Solid As A Stone by Amylea Lyn

Tuesday:                      Gambling Men, The Novel by Amy Lane

Wednesday:                Jewel Bonds series by Megan Derr

Thursday:                    One Day At A Time by Dawn Douglas

Friday:                          Summer Sizzle by Berengaria Brown

Saturday:                      Vocabulary Gone Bad Looks at Sexy(Not) Dirty Talk or Spank Me Harder, Bunny Poo!

Our last summer cocktail to finish out the summer this Labor Day weekend for those of you in the States is the Sidecar!

The Sidecar. 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 lemon wedge
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) Cognac
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) Cointreau or other Triple Sec orange liqueur
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) fresh lemon juice
1 cup ice

Directions:

Spread superfine sugar on small plate. Rub lemon wedge halfway around rim of chilled martini or coupe glass. Dip moistened side of glass in sugar to lightly coat outside rim of glass. Set aside.
In cocktail shaker, combine Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Add ice and shake vigorously until well chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into prepared martini or coupe glass and serve.