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Wingspan: The Sky Is Not The Limit. (TTL Series Book 2) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 373 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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In Wingspan, we're not just picking up where we left off with Luke and Tania. We get a funny, sexy, touching look into their lives together. We get to see them deal with near tragedy. And we get to see just what they mean to each other two years down the road, with a child who, by all accounts, and just like his father, has no business existing at all. They have a lovely life together. Until Lily calls, and in true Lily fashion, not only rocks the boat, but damn near sinks it. Who you gonna call? Evidently not Ghostbusters. And Luke is none too happy. He, of all people knows how dangerous spirits can be, even unintentionally. His fierce need to protect his family wars with Tania's equally fierce need to help a man stranded on the other side, and his still-grieving real-world girlfriend. Seeing Luke and Tania's near perfect world rocked to it's core was painful, and left me angry at both of them. But make no mistake, I was filled with just as much empathy for them. All the while, rooting for Kip, stranded in another dimension, just waiting to tell his story and clear his name. Consequences be damned. I wanted Tania to help this man.
This is easily a one sitting read. It's so fast-paced, I couldn't stop. I love the characters, the detail, the sense of place Ryan masterfully constructs. I love the true human emotion, the interactions, the conflicts and resolutions. At no point did I feel I was reading a "ghost story." Because nothing felt beyond the realm of possibility. Not one thing. Not one character. Ryan has obviously done extensive research on aviation as well as the paranormal, and no detail has been overlooked. I also appreciate the inclusion of animal rescue. Pilots N Paws is a a wonderful organization and one dear to my heart.
Searching for an intelligent, well-written, thoroughly entertaining read with real substance? Look no further than Wingspan.
The opening pages take us up in the air with Kip, a veteran pilot who knows what he's doing and loves every minute of it. We're in good hands with this man, and with the author who's taking us along for the ride. The prose seems effortless, and Ryan puts us so firmly in the pilot's POV (Point of View), we feel every hitch and every stomach-turning, then heart-stopping, new glitch. The most chilling thing about this? A real-life news story, and a pilot like Kip, inspired this scene. It isn't "just" fiction.
The real-life story may have been caused by simple mechanical failure, but more is at stake in this story. "... The failures in this fixed-wing--they don't happen," Kip thinks. "Not like this. Not one right after the other, totally unrelated malfunctions. But they're piling up one by one until she's damn near unflyable. I've put aircraft down hard before. More than once. In Iraq, and then in Alaska where I went to forget Iraq. But I've never had three civilians on board expecting me to keep them alive, nor have I contemplated how to find a soft place to land among hundreds of people who don't even realize the sky is about to fall. What's worse--without our engine, we are silent. We're dropping through the air with no noise except the sound of wind rushing over the cockpit and whistling against the trim....this probably won't end well. The four of us are about to make the six o'clock news--I'm just not sure yet what kind of story it's going to be."
Chapter Two opens with Tania, and not the way we want to remember her from Book One, with Luke. Their little miracle of a son is suffering symptoms that eerily parallel the lurid details of the preceding scene.
NOTE: you might want to start with Book One (see my review at The Leighgendarium), even though Book Two can stand alone. You'll miss out on a lot of history and unfolding drama if you don't first meet the ghost of a Civil War soldier who is too angry, too stubborn, too young to die. Luke haunts the site of his death, an old schoolhouse that's slated to be razed along with two Confederate artillery bunkers --until Tania, a paranormal researcher with a gift no equipment can rival, detects Luke's presence.
Tania's "best friend," the blunt and brutal BFF-from-hell, is the kind of woman who alienates people more often than she endears them to her. Why does Tania put up with Lily? Petite and beautiful, tough and agile, Lily takes quite a beating in Book One, physically as well as emotionally. Not until the end of Book Two do we even fathom what this grizzly bear of a girlfriend endures and overcomes.
The way she talks may set your teeth on edge, but I know a Lily in real life. This one comes with the quiet swish of canes and thump of their rubber tips on carpet. She talks like this:
--"How's the brat?" Lily asked.
--"Do you still have that evil cat?"
--"What about the ghost stuff? Still messing around with that?"
Who would guess that Lily would come up with a reason for Tania to resume her former pastime as a ghost hunter? That ship has sailed, Tania says. No way. Not gonna go there again. No more helping a stuck soul move on to the next world.
Tania can't say no to Lily, or to any lost soul she might be able to help, but how will she explain to her husband what she's about to get herself involved in? Ghosts are unpredictable. Even if they mean well, they don't know their own strengths. In a fit of frustration and rage, they can hurl heavy objects dangerously near whatever mortals may be in the way.
The science surrounding Tania's ghosts is what really ratchets up this paranormal into the realm of the believable:
"Energy in the human body is measurable," she said. "We generate between ten and one hundred millivolts by the exchange of sodium and potassium through cell membranes, like a battery. Our heart gives off an electrical pulse that causes it to beat. Our brain waves are detectable with modern equipment. What if, in the act of dying, that energy is released? The effects of energy are finite, but energy itself is never destroyed. It just changes form."
"And what if it changes into something that falls on the extreme end of the spectrum, undetectable by conventional means, but no less real? And taking it one step further, what if something happens during the act of dying that interrupts that transition? Extreme violence. Overwhelming emotion. A good old case of mule-ass stubbornness--who knows. But what if that person's energy doesn't quite make it off the spectrum, but lands somewhere between the known range and the unknown...can't go forward, can't go back. Stuck. What then? And how long until something else happens that blows them out of the rut and back on track for wherever they need to go?"
My husband is an electrical engineer specializing in high-frequency power amplifiers, but I don't even want to know if he'd say Tania's account of electromagnetic impulses and RF signals in this novel would hold up in real life. Has he ever seen a ghost? No. Have a gazillion southerners from Virginia to New Orleans and beyond seen ghost first-hand? Yes! Anne Hite's "Ghost on Black Mountain" comes to mind. (Hite believes, 100 percent, that she was visited by her grandmother's ghost the hour of Grandma's death.)
A little back story may be in order. In "Talking to Luke" we met Tania's former team member Geoff, who now has his own ghost-hunter cable TV show out west. Tania, tasked with summoning help on behalf of Kip, recalls that her favorite Civil War ghost "was just...stuck, for all those years. So I called my friend Geoff Winchell, and he called a friend of his with some experimental equipment, and they brought it to a common location. It was like a massive EMF pump, and it turbocharged the free energy available in the air. And that allowed our ghost to take the next logical step."*
*Just not in the direction anyone had intended.
The tension between Tania and her husband, the unfolding clues about the cause of the tragic air crash, the animal rescues, the dialogue, the wit and humor, the wonder of all that is Luke and Tania together, the agony of making decisions that serve one person at the expense of another -- a lot of themes and issues are packed into one novel. In all, it's worth the $3 price of admission to this show.