A fictional chronicle of military women, including a few of the first to attend West Point.
Personal, professional, and romantic dramas abound in this this sequel to Doll and VanDyke’s, debut novel, Refined by Fire (2014). The first installment introduced Lori and Trish, two of the first female students at West Point in the 1970s. In this one, the authors take them to Germany, where they get their first taste of real Army life in Cadet Troop Leadership Training. Meanwhile, Maura, Amelia, and Anne from the first book struggle to find their paths as women in the military, balancing their personal desires and professional obligations. Maura, assigned as Lori’s sponsor, forms a bond with her, and any reservations Lori might have about not being assigned to a fellow West Pointer quickly fade. But Maura also must consider her growing attraction to Eric, a firmly off-limits colonel; Amelia wonders whether or not she should get married; and Anne is faced with a family crisis. After Lori and Trish head back to West Point, they and their college friends have their own problems to deal with, including sexism from their fellow students and those higher up the chain of command. Doll and VanDyke draw on their own military experience, and their attention to period details and military rules and regulations is commendable and persuasive. The book’s unusual subject—women in the military—is also refreshing, as are its myriad depictions of female friendship. Unfortunately, the story is less a propulsive narrative than a series of events strung together, and the prose is often stiff. It’s hard to imagine anyone in a real-life dinner conversation saying, for instance, “I love the opportunities that come from being in the Army.”
A well-intentioned but disappointing tale of women’s military experiences, but one that will likely be of interest to Army buffs.