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Sophia Kell Hagin’s debut novel, Whatever Gods May Be (Bold Strokes Books) features Jamie Gwynmorgan, a 17-year-old woman who enlists in the Marine Corps because she has nowhere else to go. After surviving Boot Camp, Jamie is assigned to Sniper/Scout school because of her prowess with a rifle. Once out of Sniper/Scout school, she is sent to the Philippines as a replacement sniper’s spotter in the effort to suppress an insurgent group trying to overthrow the Philippine government. The older man imparts his considerable knowledge to Jamie while keeping them both alive. When he is wounded and shipped home, Jamie is his replacement.
There are twists and turns throughout the book and to give any one of them in a review would be a disservice to the reader. Suffice it to say that each twist and each turn is believable and will keep the reader turning pages as fast as she can.
This is a book about war—war with a known enemy, war with an unseen enemy, war with one’s self, war at its worst, war at its best. The author uses military jargon throughout, talks about weapons, and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. This book is about the US military being in a foreign country, it is about killing or being killed, it is about a Marine’s life and life in the Marines. More importantly, it is about a young woman’s indomitable will to survive whatever horrors she is forced to endure.
This is not an easy read on so many levels. The content of this book may disturb the reader because of its intensity and no-holds-barred telling of Gwynmorgan’s story. The reader may be tempted to judge this book on its surface, but that would be a disservice to both the reader and the author.
Let it be said that this is not your run-of-the-mill lesbian fiction. The publisher has designated this a romance for reasons passing all understanding. There are romantic elements, yes; but this is not your typical lesbian romance. This is more, much more than a simple romance.
Kudos to BSB for departing from their norm and publishing this book. This book deserves a wide audience, if for no other reason than to say to lesbian publishers, your readers want more than what is being served up to them now. This book is a start.
WHATEVER GODS MAY BE
by Sophia Kell Hagin
Bold Strokes Books