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on July 13, 2012
HUGE accomplishment...Having Commanded at Air Force Special Ops and across the Pacific, I can attest that the deep research done by the authors brings the details to life with crystal clear accuracy. While painted as a "Fiction" work, the personal life events are real today amongst America's Warriors...life...death...and rebirth. Bonnie & Bob have dealt with this the "Best" I have ever seen or read...blistering exchanges...humor from bright to dark...and of course, the most delicate of feelings...Love. The emotions from war to family stay with you long after you have put the book down. Paul Hester, General, USAF (ret)
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on March 30, 2013
The endorsements on Bonnie Latino's book, Your Gift To Me, praise her accurate portrayal of a military spouse, and they are, I am certain, well-deserved. I have had few opportunities to interact with our country's outstanding military men and women, but her book made me feel so proud to live in a country that produces such extraordinary, brave and dedicated soldiers. Having said that, I have, however, had multiple opportunities to interact on a very personal level with grief and loss. While losing both parents to different illnesses, I was losing my beloved husband to a slow degenerative and painful disease, which lasted eight years. All the self-help books in the world cannot compare with what Your Gift To Me has done to help me relate to my losses and to begin to feel something akin to Hope stirring somewhere inside. Would highly recommend this book to survivors of any losses, whether it be depression, guilt, death, dying, or maybe even just trying to live.
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on July 6, 2012
Your Gift to Me is a hybrid -- a story of love and war spliced with historical fiction. The characters are almost too robust for simple romance. Ted and Emily's tale reminds us of wounds that don't heal, fears that won't go away, and life that remains forever disastrous and wonderful at the same time. Each has lost a soul mate -- Emily's husband dies in a fiery helocopter crash in Iraq, Ted's wife loses her fight with cancer. And with this background, Latino and Vale explore that most agonizing of situations -- do promises and bonds exist after death and if they do, how can the partner left behind reconnect with someone else?

Within the circle of this overriding question, the small military community supports and comforts each of them. Who else can understand this reality better? Emily and Ted's waltz includes a shakey courtship, sabatoge, and the threat of further tragedy. Latino and Vale write with a deep understanding of the joy and horror new love brings. Emily thinks, "Ted's obsession with flight was obvious. Like Gary had, Ted would always put flight first. She had no intention of competing with the ethereal mistress of flight. Not again. Not with a pilot assigned to a wing that, for no apparent reason, had airplanes falling out of the sky. Two pilots in Ted Foley's chain of command were dead. Dead!"

I read this book almost straight through -- relishing well-drawn side-kicks like "N'Awlins" and chuckling at the intimate interactions in this private society. Using prose that is both elegant and subtle, the authors write: "Ted walked a few steps beyond the foyer to the study. The strict military protocol between a general and a subordinate officer temporarily dissolved between old friends. Unobserved by others, their long-time relationship overcame the obligatory 'Yes, sir/No, sir' responses that pepper the conversation of military personnel of different ranks. Instead, the bond of personal friendship filled their conversation, a rare moment both of them treasured. Over the years, Ted had won John's trust and respect. Thus, he had also earned the courtesy of being on equal footing during private moments. Absolute professionals, neither man ever forgot which was the lieutenant general and which, a colonel. The fact was as absolute as eye color."

Warm, engaging - and oh so thought provoking, Your Gift to Me celebrates the resilience of human connections across time and space and mortality. This book will revisit you at night - often.

Joyce Faulkner
President of Military Writers Society of America
Author of Windshift, USERNAME, In the Shadow of Suribachi
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on March 6, 2013
You know how you read a book and think that the author just read your mind? Well, in Your Gift To Me, these authors read your HEART! Never has a story opened up the deepest needs of characters' hearts and then gone on to share how to meld those needs into mutual balms of comfort both main characters could use to connect and soothe. Heartache, fear, love, and humor all share a home in these pages to weave a story that you just can't stop reading!! THANK YOU, Bonnie Bartel Latino and Bob Vale, for writing such a wonderful book that makes me want to call up these characters and make a lunch date to meet them!
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on September 8, 2012
I have been eager to write a review of Your Gift to Me. It is important to me to do so for several reasons. First, it is an amazing heart-felt story with a great message. It is written like a great symphony and the words are lyrically composed. I am also an author but I only wish I could write like this. Secondly, Bonnie is a dear friend and somewhat of a mentor to me. Knowing her as I do, I am not surprised at the success this book has achieved in a very short time. Congratulations Bonnie and Bob!

With that said, I have delayed writing this review as I have struggled to encapsulate this intensely entertaining and emotionally driven story that draws you in and will not let you go. I have now realized I cannot sum this story up in a paragraph or two, so I'll just share what I think and feel. Your Gift to Me is fictional, but it plays out in real-life daily in the ranks of those who serve and protect us in the American Armed Forces. It is life. Your Gift to Me made me laugh out loud and shed tears, all within one sitting, but Your Gift to Me is more than entertainment. I already know it is serving as a healing for many who have read this beautiful story. Your Gift to Me is an important book that will be enjoyed for generations to come. I love Your Gift to Me. Read it! You will love it too.
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on July 8, 2012

This is a love of a book all the way around reassuring us that there is sunshine after rain. I knew I would like Your Gift to Me as soon as I heard about it, and immediately ordered the paperback copy. I was not disappointed. This book is a keeper -- a clean, beautifully written romance story, filled with clever analogies, that comes to life in a military setting -- a military setting that is contemplative rather than action-packed, as the characters learn to how to live their lives in their sometimes dangerous world. Emily Meade, a Southerner who has been widowed 10 years, after the crash of her husband's fighter-aircraft, moves back to beautiful Hawaii, hoping to find happiness in old memories. This book explores the manifestations profound grief -- the incredulity at the loss, the depression, the inability sometimes to even get out of bed, and the dimming of one's emotions. Still not recovered from her husband's death after a very long time, Emily has thrown herself into her investigative writing and avoids getting intimately involved with any potential suitors. Then old Air Force friends introduce her to Colonel Ted Foley. Ironically, the Air Force pilot who lost his wife to cancer only one year before, shows Emily, the long-time widow, how to get through her grief and live again. Everything within Emily resists falling in love with Ted, because she does not want the past to repeat itself -- possibly becoming the widow of an Air Force pilot a second time. Although she has built protective wall around her emotions, Emily can't help falling in love with Ted. However, when Ted is called out to help look for a downed pilot and she sees him in his Air Force uniform, she has a flashback of the day she was notified of her husband's death, and in a panic, decides to call off the romance. The task of ringing Emily back to reality falls to her best friend, the unforgettable N'Awlins, a fellow Southerner with an warm-hearted, sanguine personality. (Anybody who reads the book will enjoy N'Awlins; just about everybody has a goofy character like her in their life!) Emily is in anguish over her need for Ted, whom she instinctively knows she needs in her life, but whom she has pushed away with a grim finality. I loved this book with its believable characters whom I seem to know so well, having been an Air Force wife myself. I loved seeing the names of so many Air Force bases sprinkled throughout the book -- ones where our family was stationed, or only visited, and ones that I have only heard about. Bonnie and Bob's descriptions (and it's hard to believe this book was written by two separate people) of the people and places I experienced while a military wife are all so familiar and accurate that it was like a trip home!
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on July 6, 2012
As a career USAF fighter pilot I have seen first hand, too many times, the devastation and aftermath that that comes with the "official notification visit" so vividly captured in "Your Gift to Me." I have seen all the lingering aspects that a crash has on the survivors and the mostly unspoken fears that military aviator's wives live with day in and day out. While on active duty I eventually began to wish that I had a magic video camera that could see into the future and could show a woman who's life had just been shattered that there would be love and laughter and new life some where down the road. Bonnie and Bob did a great job of capturing all of that in their book. They also did a good job of humanizing those of us who are sometimes labeled "zipper suited sun gods" and showing that some actually have a sensitive romantic side. And that well kept secret, "surely, surely" is true. Military aviation is a way of life that captivates all those strong enough to endure it. This GREAT BOOK gets it right!!!!Your Gift to Me
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on September 28, 2012
This isn't your usual military romance with boat loads of testosterone and brain dead alpha males whose prime target is to save the country and damsels in distress. This is a wonderfully elaborated love story between two people who have both lost their partners. Still fighting to overcome their terrible loss, they are trying more or less successfully to move on with their lives and find love again.

The character development of the hero/heroine was masterly done, the emotions and fears depicted in such subtly manner that I didn't miss the sexual tension.

Besides the romance, there was a sub-plot involving racism and sabotage, which was very well integrated into the story line and added some "military suspense" to the plot.

The story line included some "paranormal" elements and extensive reference was made to the religious aspects involved in the story line. Usually I don't like this combination. However, taking the content of the story into consideration, I think that the "paranormal" element was used elegantly, without turning into kitschy. The same goes for the two scenes that involved the priests and their point of views. Very well done!

Wonderful! I absolutely loved this book from cover to cover!
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on August 28, 2013
This book caught my eye because of the subject matter. That being the Military. Unless you have lived some of that life you truly don't understand the emotions and sacrifices our military men and women go through along with their families. This story by Bonnie shows the strong connection between love and death, and as she said how God gives the gift of life but sometimes needs to recall that gift. I cried and I laughed along with the people in the book. Every bit of this work of fiction could easily have been played out in real life, it is the way things happen when involving military lives. I can speak a lot from experience. I am married to a military man for over 50 years and we spent 20 of that in the Army and traveling away from friends and family. I also worked with the military myself as a civilian - both Army and Air Force so what I haven't lived through I have seen through other people's eyes and experiences. It is not all moonlight and roses and you have to take the bad with the good. I think this is what Bonnie was trying to portray. As a jouranlist and working for Stars and Stripes -- she has seen and knows a lot too. We waited every week for tha Stars and Stripes to come out to read what was going on in the world while stationed in Turkey many years ago. I hope Bonnie continues to write from the heart.
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on September 22, 2012
Your Gift to Me is a novel with several subplots but one theme remains throughout the story: Unavoidable sacrifices and the resiliant human spirit. The story opens with a scene from Desert Storm as a pilot meets his death during battle - but the "kill" may not be what it seems. In the meantime, the pilot's widow has trouble dealing with her loss - the nights of worry she spent every time her husband set foot into his aircraft, the loneliness she endured every time he was sent away on tour or to training camps leaving her alone for months at a time and all the moments she was forced to say the right thing, act a certain way and attend the proper functions because it could further her husbands career, was something she swore not to endure every again.
Then her friend sets her up on a blind date.
Against her better judgement she falls in love with the fighter pilot. But it doesn't come easy. Too many memories of her first husband, the anxieties of being a military wife and the pain of letting go and opening up to love again is too difficult.
In the meantime, the fighter pilot is conducting an internal investigation that may prove one of their own is sabatoging aircraft and murdering his own crews - including the Desert Storm officer.
The story also touches on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how widows of lost servicemembers can be just affected by PTSD as those who serve in battle. The author also provides a lot of insight into military lives, politics and service. More importantly, this story reminds us of all the sacrifices made by our servicemembers and their families and it also illustrates that when tested, the human spirit can overcome the greatest challenges of life, including loss. And with love, hearts can heal and open up again - on all levels I believe this author's book was "Your Gift to Me."
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