Latakia by J. F. Smith

LatakiaRate: 4 out of 5

Genre: Contemporary, Military
Publication day: December 4, 2011
Length: 340 pages
Publisher: Self-Published

Matthew likes his life in Richmond. He has his friends and his softball and his volunteer work. And he has a very good-looking boyfriend, Brian, who he’s been happily dating for over a year now. So what if his friends tend to question just how good his boyfriend is, and so what if Brian tends to have inexplicable mood swings. And so what if Brian seems to invite Matt’s suspicions on occasion. If he just shows a little faith and trust, he’ll appreciate what he has with Brian the way he should. Right?

But suddenly, Matt finds himself in a desperate life-or-death situation on a trip overseas, and he realizes just how much he misses home, and Brian. He’s luckily rescued by a team of US Special Forces, only to immediately find out they’re a bunch of bigoted jerks. Worse, a quirk of his situation forces him to spend time with them that he’d rather not. And that’s when he finds out that first impressions can be misleading. When called upon, he steps up when every fiber of his being tells him not to, and discovers something deep inside himself that he didn’t realize was even there. And his life will never be the same. He finds that he can, after all, make some very overdue changes in his own life.

What Matt doesn’t realize is that the bond of brotherhood runs both ways. And he winds up changing the lives of several of the men on that Special Forces team as much as they changed his.

All it takes is faith and trust.

My View: Latakia is a hard story to rate. I thought about DNF for the first twenty percent of the book, but since it came highly recommended, I pushed through. In the end, I’m glad I did. The story is worth it, but as a reader, you have to be in the right mental space to enjoy it.

My main issue with the story was the third person omniscient narrator. It was not until the end of chapter one that I realized the narrator supposed to be Matt. I felt as if someone was, over my shoulder, telling me the story. Almost like a Rankin-Bass Christmas movie. We go in and out of Matt’s and the omniscient narrator’s POV until the last fifteen percent of the story when Matt’s POV swaps with Mope’s. Plus, there were other grammatical and structural mistakes that could have been easily solved by a good editor.  And I’m the worse person to criticize those aspects.

I enjoyed all the men in the platoon, their stories, and the events surrounding them. I wasn’t a fan of Matt, Brian, Brett, or Jim. They needed a little bit more to be as good as the Navy crew.

All the events related to the military worked well, and the author did an incredible job keeping them as realistic as possible. There’s a lot packed in this book, but the pacing moved ahead without much dragging.

I don’t consider this book a romance. It has a romantic relationship at its center, but it’s more about faith, courage, and self-discovery. And the faded to black sex scenes didn’t help its case.

Overall, the story is worth five stars, but the delivery took away from it.

What I liked the most: The friendship between Matt and the Fire Team (Mope, Petey, Baya & Desantos).

I wanted more of: Mope’s POV. We only had a chance to see the story through his eyes in the last fifteen percent of the book.

Who should read it: Fans of military stories.

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