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No Commitments Kindle Edition
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I was surprised by this book, mostly because I didn't expect to enjoy it at all going in. I found it for free online and decided to read it as part of an a-z book title reading challenge.
The story opens in Nice, France on Bastille Day, 1965. Navy fighter pilot Clay Stoner meets debutante Marianna Haizet at a nightclub where their mutual friends, newlyweds Vic and Darcy, arrange to meet. Clay and Marianna kind of connect, but he thinks she's a tease and she's worried he's getting the wrong idea. Parting without commitments, neither thinks they'll ever see each other again, but soon they're proven wrong. Their casual romance is marked by tragedy, love, and betrayal. Both insist on no commitments, but don't completely stick to that mantra.
One of the things I liked about this book was that it takes on an element of intrigue and danger about midway through, drawing away from the romance angle. At that point, it began to remind me of The Firm. Another thing I liked was the immersion into the times and especially the Vietnam conflict. Clay and Marianna's romance is colored by the conflict, and Clay's views and actions related to it take their lives in an unexpected direction.
On a mixed note, the level and quality of the details in the story reflect solid research, but at times the story becomes bogged down in them. I appreciated the thought and time put into making sure they were accurate, but it isn't until later chapters that the story and the details reach a companionable balance. The story starts off slowly, and the meticulous catalog of Clay and Marianna's initial outings makes for a rough start.
As for the main characters, I found them difficult to relate to in the beginning. Their wild, party lifestyle coupled with their disrespectful and careless attitudes towards each other in their early relationship are off-putting. Clay and Marianna aren't likable people, nor are they loyal or patriotic. But, they are believable. And as they matured and grew closer together, as they tried to become better people, I found myself rooting for them.
In general, No Commitments is a decent book and I ended up liking it in the end, but it probably isn't for everyone and it took me a while to warm up to it. Those who enjoy romance, but don't fancy the standard romance novel formula might find this one to their liking. It's also a good bet for people who like the chance to experience a momentous time in history through the eyes of its youth.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The writing style takes you smoothly from the first page to the last (unfortunately, I can't say the same for the editing, as there were a number of mistakes that a good proofreader should have caught which were really annoying!), and all the characters' personalities were deeply defined and incredibly realistic, even the very minor ones. The dialogues, especially, seemed like listening to actual conversations rather than just reading sentences on a page. One of the things that really made this book exceptional, though, was the author's talented use of imagery so that you felt like you were actually part of the story and understand the characters' experiences. (One example that comes to mind immediately is the time of an exceptionality long Sirocco -- a desert wind from Africa -- and the incredible relief everyone feels when the rains finally come again. No one could possibly fail to understand how tense things were at that time between Clay and Marianna; I felt tense myself just reading about those weather conditions!!)
In addition to being a historical novel (although it's recent history, it's surprising, and very sad, how many Americans DO NOT KNOW THEIR OWN HISTORY!!!), it's also a love story, and it's a beautiful one. The title "No Commitments" comes from their original agreement, which is obvious to everyone who knows them, and eventually to themselves, is nonsense, because they are deeply committed to each other from the beginning. There's lots of romance in this story but, more than that, there is life here, with real struggles, losses, and triumphs and if you want that, then I recommend that you buy this book ASAP!! Happy Reading! ❤️
This is the era of Vietnam, and as the prospect of Stoner's first combat tour approaches, he is conflicted about dropping bombs on civilians - the collateral fallout of all wars - in this case a war in which he does not believe.
It is not long before the affair with Marianna crosses the line from casual sex to a deeper attraction. As Stoner's conflicts with the war grow, so do the emotional conflicts in his relationship with Marianna. Their love story is set among the lazy summer days and warm landscape tones of Southern France. As one reviewer noted, the action here is a bit slow, the sort of literary scenario in which a reader is sometimes tempted to skip pages to find out where the story is going. But the background is so beautifully described in disciplined prose, and the three dimensional characters so interesting, you won't want to put the book down.
When Stoner's conflicts about the war reach a breaking point, he attempts to turn in his wings and refuses to fly. He ends up court-martialed, dismissed from the Navy, and sentenced to a year of confinement. Before he can be transported to his place of confinement, he escapes, and manages to get out of the country, returning to Nice. Marianna joins him there.
What has been a long love story until now, morphs into a thriller, and the action picks up considerably. Stoner is eventually drawn into flying for Utopia International Enterprises. What he doesn't realize is that the firm is a front for international money laundering. The operation reaches into several high corridors of power within the U.S. government. Stoner once again finds himself on the horns of a moral dillema, but this time his choices will have far more deadly consequences.
Val Sharp's first novel is a flawless blend of two story lines (indeed, two genres) that converge seamlessly and mount to an action-filled climax.