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.

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