3 out of 4 stars
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It is 1990, the time of the Persian Gulf crisis. Thadd Whittaker is 21, a senior at Sonoma State University in California intent on finishing his course in anthropology. After graduation, he plans to join the Air Force so he can fly fighter jets; flying is his passion. Dr. Cheryl Jamison, at 42, is a no-nonsense professor of anthropology at the same school. She has a son of Thadd’s age, has been a widow even before her son Jon was born, and has sworn off romance since her husband Josh died. Josh, an Air Force fighter-jet pilot, was hastily summoned to Vietnam after their wedding; they spent just 24 hours together as man and wife. Four months later, Josh met a fiery death when his plane was downed by a Russian MiG.
By a bizarre twist of fate, Thadd and Cheryl are thrown together in her anthropology class. Used to dating cheerleaders and prom queens, he is flabbergasted to find himself inexplicably drawn to his professor. She, in turn, is magnetized by his eyes; her heart, frozen by a vow to love only Josh for the last 22 years, is defrosted. They are both unable to resist the powerful sexual attraction, and they fall in love. Jon is aghast; his sensible mother is going bonkers!
What supernatural force hovers over these lovers? Will their May-December love endure?
Author Carol Purroy “spent many years as a psychotherapist, utilizing past-life regression as a most efficacious form of therapy.” Her Designs of Destiny contains many references to reincarnation and related phenomena, no doubt taken from her personal experiences. Those who are curious about the afterlife, either in heaven or in another life lived on earth, will find this tale fascinating. Non-believers in life beyond may not like it, though.
In keeping with the main theme of a predestined love affair, the book shows Thadd undergoing hypnotherapy and Cheryl consulting a psychic to explain the mysterious power that draws them to each other. There are other paranormal occurrences, too. Those scenes may be hard to swallow and may need the reader to suspend disbelief.
For a love story which tells about the characters’ unbridled passion for each other, this one is free of explicit sexual content. The use of words like “wanton” and “titillating” to describe the intimate scenes does the trick, and I appreciate that tack. However, there are too many expletives in the book; most of the characters are made to spout them. The author may wish to go easy on the swearing.
While the book is mainly about the intriguing love story, Purroy manages to weave in many other topics of interest. We learn tidbits about the science of anthropology, are introduced to the Pomo tribe in the Rancheria Coastal Reservation, and get to know trivia about the wars in Vietnam and in the Persian Gulf. The author also gives Cheryl and her cohorts the mission to espouse peace and environmental awareness, both worthwhile causes. The variety of subjects tackled is gratifying.
Painting vivid images with her words, the author makes the scenes come alive: the hippies in action, the peaceniks’ marches, the traditions of the Pomo Indians, and the undeniable rush of emotions when falling in love. There is an unexpected twist towards the end; I believe many readers will find it most welcome.
I found the book an enjoyable read, and none of the detours derailed my interest. The author employed an impressive vocabulary, and I noted new words to add to mine. “Ethnography,” “metempsychosis,” and “Daedalian” are but three.
Despite the pleasurable reading experience, I am unable to give the book the perfect rating; the issue of faulty grammar is the main culprit. There are spelling errors, misnamed characters, and wrong punctuation marks. The characters also have a habit of talking to themselves. These musings come in unannounced most times, and the reader has to reread the sentences to get back on track.
Designs of Destiny deserves 3 out of 4 stars for now. The author has to take some remedial measures in the editing department to clinch the fourth star and give the book a brighter destiny.
Designs of Destiny
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