The mini-series A Year of Loving Dangerously saved the best for last. Sharon Sala’s book Familiar Stranger gives us the story of Jonah, the secretive head of SPEAR. It fills in the background relationship between him and Simon, the terrorist who has spent the past year trying to kill Jonah and bring down SPEAR. While there is plenty of action, fundamentally this book is an affirmation of the importance of home and family and roots. It’s also a thank you to all the men and women who have suffered in wars so we can be free. I closed it feeling touched to my soul and deeply satisfied.
In real life, Jonah is David Wilson – a 50 year old Vietnam veteran. When he was young, he and Cara were deeply in love as only two young people can be. She was not happy with his decision to enlist and go to Vietnam, but they promised to write. He never got her letters, she never got his. Her parents intercepted them. When Cara found out she was pregnant, she married Ray Justice and built a happy life with him. David went on to work with SPEAR.
They say you never forget your first love. David knows that the inevitable confrontation with Simon is coming, but he is tired. Tired of being rootless, friendless, homeless and tired of not being loved – so he sets out to find Cara, who is a widow, and make his peace with her.
They say you never forget your first love. Yes, Cara did have a happy marriage, but she has never forgotten David and their love. When she sees him, the years roll away and passion has them both in its grip. This is one case where first glance leads to an instant sexual consummation is perfectly believable.
I am not going to say much more about the plot; to do so will spoil the story. I found Familiar Stranger to be a seamless mixture of emotion and adventure that speaks to the deepest longings of the human heart for family, home, roots and someone to love and to love you. All this was interwoven with flashbacks to the younger days of David before he became Jonah and his complex relationship with the man known as Simon. There is action, and emotion and for me, who grew up in the days of the Vietnam War – it was almost too much at times. I had to stop and wipe away tears.
The characters are excellent. Cara is all kindness and love – a warm fire and a light to the lost and lonely David, who is a man of fundamental goodness and bedrock honor. I can’t remember when I have so wanted a man and woman to have a happy ending as I have with these two.
So, after a long road, I come to the end of this series. For a series that has more often than not been only average, it certainly ended on a high note. I plan to come back to this book again and I don’t think I will forget it any time soon. Thank you Sharon Sala, for this heartwarming and inspiring story.