Blog Tour: What the Carpenter Saw by Vicki Reese (Pre-Release Reviews, Guest Post)
Wounded warrior Jake Cramer returned from the Middle East missing part of one leg and with a partially paralyzed left arm. He feels useless in his family’s construction business, but carpentry is all he knows. He needs to relearn how to work and how to live. He can’t even consider finding a man to love. Who would want him this way?
Alex Ford is a top-of-the-line architect who’s tired of big cities and wants to settle down, maybe run a small inn. The mansion he inherited from his grandparents might be the ticket to his dream, but it needs a lot of work. When he meets the handsome builder, he knows he’s made the right decision. He just needs to convince Jake that his scars don’t matter. Unfortunately, Alex’s greedy family has other ideas, and they’re determined to ruin Alex’s plans and take the inheritance for themselves—even if they have to kill to do it.
JAKE CRAMER stared out the kitchen window at the thick woods behind his dad’s house. A mixture of brilliantly colored hardwoods and evergreens edged with a gurgling stream—so different from the harsh rock and sand of the Middle East. Though he wasn’t cold, he shivered a little as wisps of steam rose from the water, forming tendrils of icy fog along the bank. Frost had coated the lawn and garden overnight and was still visible in the areas the sun hadn’t yet touched. South Central Pennsylvania was so much better than the Middle East, and he loved the small town of Robinwood. It was the kind of place where you knew your neighbors and the shopkeepers by their first names. The kind of place that was great to grow up in, raise a family in. The kind of place it was good to come back to.
“Jake? You okay?” his dad, Micah, aka Big Mike, asked.
Mike came to stand next to him as Jake nodded. “Yeah. Just looking at the trees. I missed this when I was over there.”
“I know what you mean. Though where I was stationed wasn’t as bad as Afghanistan, I can’t say I was fond of the desert when I was there.” His dad clapped him on the shoulder, and Jake fought back a wince. The scars there still bothered him, but he refused to let it show.
His dad handed him a coffee thermos. “You ready to get to work? Your brother’s already on his way.”
Jake nodded and turned from the view. His dad had served in the Gulf War. Different area, same scenery. The Pennsylvania landscape held Jake’s heart. And work with the family construction company was exactly what he needed. Hammers and saws and wood. Building things, not blowing them up or shooting them full of holes. Though coming home hadn’t been easy. His family, especially his mom, had coddled him to the point of smothering him. He loved them all dearly, but he also needed to find his own way. It was slow, but he was getting there. “I’m coming. We working on the Johnson place today? I’ve got the cabinets ready to go in.”
“No. There’s a delay on the flooring for the kitchen. We’re working the McKenzie lot today. I want to get it under roof before the cold sets in. Sam will handle the crew there. I need you to go to the old Wilson place and make a list of what we’ll need to do there and in what order. The new owner wants to do a complete overhaul. He’s turning the old mansion into a B and B. I’ll meet you there after I do a supply run for your brother.”
“Works for me.” Jake shivered and grabbed his heavy jacket from the peg next to the back door as Mike opened it. Though he’d been back for a month, the cold October air still chilled him after the heat of the Middle East. Even with the cold, he’d rather be working a site than doing paperwork, but Mike was the boss, and Jake didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter.
The chill also made his left arm and leg ache more. At least, what was left of his leg. Because of his injuries, he could no longer do ladder work, definitely not roofing. He was still too unsteady to work a sloping roof. But honestly, he didn’t mind too much. The awkwardness and pain meant he had most of his leg, unlike a lot of other servicemen and women he knew. Sure, metal held parts of it together and it ended below the knee, but that was enough for him to get around with a prosthetic. He rarely needed to use the hated wheelchair anymore. As for his arm, it still worked, sort of. Just not nearly as well as before. Heavy scar tissue and tendon damage made it more of something to fill his sleeve than an actual working arm, though the therapists said he would get some use back the more he worked it. But he’d lived, unlike two other members of his team. And it was also the reason he was stuck doing estimates instead of site work.
(for more, go to:
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/what-the-carpenter-saw-by-vicki-reese-7326-b and click on “excerpt”)
Release Date Aug 3, 2016
File Formats epub, mobi, pdf
$5.99 (on sale now for preorder for $4.49)
Question: Can you talk about the challenges you faced writing about someone with this disability and how much research went into this story?
The men and women who give their all to protect us and our country are my heroes. Many members of my family and friends have served this country honorably over the years. All but one of them came back whole. One friend returned minus an arm, part of one leg, his hearing, and more. This was years ago before we had the advancements we have today, but the military gave him the help he needed. Fitted with prosthetics and given lessons in lip reading, he not only learned to cope with his disabilities, but embraced them and went on to become a construction manager. No, he couldn’t do the construction work itself, but he could manage the men who worked for/with him and see what needed done and direct others to do it. He didn’t let his problems stop him. He went on to marry, raise a family, and make a success even with his challenges.
In addition to him, I have my father’s diary and stories that he told me of his times in the field. In his day, PTSD was not recognized, but it was, and is, very real. Years after he returned home, he still had nightmares about the situations he faced.
Basically, the first man was the center of my research. Yes, his injuries were years ago, as were my father’s, but the reality is the same today as it was then. These heroes and heroines come home facing battles that can be worse than the ones they faced in the field. They come back with horrific injuries, whether visible or not. This story is to honor them and the difficulties they face. They are heroes who deserve our respect now, and forever.
Vicki Reese has been married forever to the one person who accepts that she lives in a fantasy world most of the time. She’s even been seen at the beach building worlds for her stories out of sand. In addition to creating fun characters, fantasy worlds, and suspenseful situations, she also enjoys and is very good at things like writing policy and procedures manuals and setting up continuity and organizational spreadsheets, both of which she has actually earned money doing. She has a master’s degree in library science so likes things organized. Okay, so her family thinks having the spice rack alphabetized it a bit much, but she has no trouble finding what she needs when she needs it. And just because her extensive library is cataloged and organized, that doesn’t mean she’s obsessive. Honest. When not writing, Vicki works as an editor, helping other authors with their manuscripts. When not doing either one of those, she can be found in the kitchen whipping up gluten-free, lactose-free, other allergy-free meals for her family. Or watching the world go by from her front porch swing.
Where to find Vicki:
Jake Cramer is finally starting to find some normalcy after struggling to come to terms with life after the war. Missing part of a leg and with a damaged arm, he thought his life was pretty much over. What kind of carpenter could he be with those types of disabilities? Not to mention the chances of finding a man who could see past his scars were pretty much nil.
Prominent architect Alex Ford is ready to step away from the city life and possibly settle down. The idea of a husband and kids, of running a B&B or a small inn appeal to him.
Although it will take a lot of work, Alex plans to transform his grandparents' estate into his dream. Unfortunately, though, it seems other members of his family aren't too happy with his plans.
When Jake comes to give an estimate to the man hiring his father's company, he discovers Alex on the ground barely conscious, appearing like someone had hit him over the head with a wine bottle. Unable to stop thinking about the man, Jake visits him in the hospital and immediately the two men feel a spark between them. Together Alex and Jake work to design the best inn possible while dealing with Alex's greedy family, a murder and Jake's insecurities over his scars. Will these two men be able to get the happily ever after they dream of?
What I Loved: Honestly, this was a nice, easy, light read for me. There wasn't a ton of angst and I was definitely in the mood for something like this at the time.
I loved Alex, he was sweet, smart, funny and strong. He knew what he wanted and he went after it. Jake was very likable as well. I really enjoyed Alex and Jake together as a couple, even if it was a bit fast.
There were also a great group of secondary characters.
What I Liked: There wasn't an overabundance of angst. That was a nice reprieve coming off from reading highly emotional books back to back. I was happy to see that both MCs were strong characters, even with the issues they were having.
What I didn't like: If there is one thing I'd have liked to change, it would be the focus of the story. We had the mystery, the romance and Jakes disability and PTSD. I kind of wished the author would have put more into the romance and Jake overcoming the consequences of his time at war. There was a lot of potential there, as well as opportunity to develop the characters more that way.
With all that said, I had fun reading What the Carpenter Saw and would recommend it.
*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*
There were aspects of this story that I really enjoyed, and aspects that made me want to cringe. The main characters were very likable, but the relationship moved way too fast. It was a definite Insta-love. Sometimes insta-love can work, that wasn't the case here. The author wrote a long enough book that she world have been able to change things up and have the "getting to know you" portion take place over a longer period of time. Maybe start the repairs before all the drama of the story really started.
In fact, she could have done away with the subplot/mystery portion of the story all together. It wasn't well executed and frankly, it failed miserably. The "villains" were a complete joke. They were so bad you couldn't take them seriously, and it was actually quite predictable.
I really wish the author had focused her energy purely on Jake and Alex's story. She could have added enough angst with Jake's background and his PTSD to keep the reader interested and entertained. If I'd beta read this book that's the direction I would have tried to steer her in.
I really did love Jake and Alex. I thought they had a good chemistry. I just wanted more of them. Their families were great supporting characters. I really wish I could say more good things about this story, but it just wasn't all that great. I will say this though, I see this is the first book by this author. I think she has potential, so I'll give her another try down the road perhaps, since it's her first time out of the gate. Hopefully she'll find a good set of beta readers or a good editor for her next book.