Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff

Jeffrey Stepakoff’s Fireworks Over Toccoa is a romance set around World War II — a time when decisions between young couples were made in haste and passionately.  Lily Davis runs against the grain of her family and society’s expectations, but she’s trying to curb her wayward inclinations and carve out her own life.

“It was a gorgeously plated meal that was ordered for her, one she was reluctant to disturb with immutable matters rendered by the fork, but even more loath to send back untouched.”  (Page 10 of ARC)

Lily meets Paul Woodward, and they fall in love just before he is shipped off to the war overseas.  She spends three years alone, living at home with her parents as their marital home stands empty.  In many ways, her life was put on hold, but just as her “life” was coming back to her it is turned upside down.  She meets a fireworks technician and her soul mate, Jake Russo.

“The smell from the furnaces lingered.  It ruminated through the woods well beyond the razor-wire-topped fences that surrounded the muddy camp like a nightmare that remains upon waking.  Indeed, it was a smell that would haunt him for the rest of his life.  Sulfurous and singed, coppery sweet, the remains of deer after a wildfire.  It was nauseating, the stench of madness.”  (Page 222 of ARC)

Readers will be immediately drawn into Lily’s story and the effects of war on Jake, Lily, America, and the entire world.  There was much more WWII in this novel than readers may expect, but it is integrated well from how it impacts the characters and their decisions to their environments.  However, one element that may bother readers is that Lily’s granddaughter Colleen is introduced early on in the story and by the end seems little more than a plot device to get Lily to revisit her past.  Readers may feel cheated in that the lesson they expect Lily’s story to illustrate for Colleen is not as clearly defined and interaction between the two characters is very flat — especially given parallels drawn between their lives.  Overall, Fireworks Over Toccoa is a well-written romance that offers a look at a tough time in America’s history, the passions of young love, and the duty-bound decisions many of us have made.

For more information about the author or the novel and to enter the sweepstakes (through 3/30/10), visit the Web site.

As an aside, I’m trying to keep track of where I first see reviews of books, and in this case, I saw Fireworks on The Printed Page and BookNAround.

This is my 21st book for the 2010 New Authors Challenge.

FTC Disclosure: I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press for sending me a free copy for review.  Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated.

© 2010, Serena Agusto-Cox of Savvy Verse & Wit. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Savvy Verse & Wit or Serena’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I've seen a lot of mixed reviews for this one. I still wouldn't mind reading it one of these days though.

  2. Tribute Books says

    must read this one, like the time period. Thanks!

  3. I really enjoyed this book.

  4. I read this a couple of months back and really enjoyed it. Great review Serena.


  5. bookaholic says

    I gotta check this one out!

  6. nomadreader says

    I've been waffling on wanting to read this one because of the mixed reviews. I don't read much romance, but I think I will give this one a try. Thanks!

  7. Maria the Bookworm says

    What a beautiful cover! I'll have to check this one out 😀

  8. S. Krishna says

    The fact that this is a romance has made me hesitate on whether I want to read it, but your review makes it sound interesting. I'll have to give it a try.

  9. Laura Fabiani says

    Thanks for this review! This is the third I read and it's enough to make me want to read this book.

  10. Sandy Nawrot says

    When I first heard about the book (I think some were featuring it on their "Waiting For" meme) I was really excited about it. After the reviews, I am undecided. Obviously I am drawn to the WWII aspect of the book, but I'm not much of a romance person. I guess it has got to be a REALLY great romance to get me interested!

  11. bermudaonion says

    I'm not much for romances, so I hope the war story draws me in!

  12. I just finished this book yesterday and while I admit that it was a nice romance that read very quickly, I wasn't as impressed with it as thought I would be 🙁

  13. I agree that Colleen is a plot device. To be honest, I didn't even think to mention that in my review. It's almost like you forget she's even there. I also was surprised at how much WWII was in there, and I agree that it was a well-written romance…coming from someone who doesn't even really like romances!

    Diary of an Eccentric