"A strong woman is someone who is able to smile this morning like she wasn't crying last night."
— Harriet Morgan
The fabled quote which leads this review is admittedly one of universal appeal as it applies to an innumerable class of women. For there are millions—if not billions—of women the world over to whom the powerful words of truth relate. And even in imaginary worlds of fiction are we honored to make the acquaintances of such women. Women like the admirable leading lady of Lee Alan's delightfully captivating effort, Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1).
Anna Price, also known as "Little Bird," is an aspiring writer and a big dreamer. Anna has, since her childhood, dreamt of becoming a world famous author, but self-doubt, in the very essence of its negativity, has always had the stronger upper hand over her impressionable mind—forever planting its crusty seeds of unbelief . . . and the fear of failure.
Welcome to Kingman, Arizona, the setting place of this physically warm-blooded, although spiritually ice cold romantic thriller starring Anna Price, Julia Price, Corey T. Young, Tony Ackerman, Bill Moyer, and James L.B. Peterson.
The Battered Woman Affliction.
In act I, we come to meet our principal player, the beautiful, though dilapidated Anna, as she toils hours of her young life away working as a waitress in a small town greasy spoon. The job is a necessity as Anna direly needs it to support not only herself, but also her abusive boyfriend, Tony, whose sole ambitions in life are to wallow in rancorous self-hatred, drink his vulnerable liver into a cirrhotic stupor, and lay his angry, balled fists into the rawboned woman who is Anna.
Unable to liberate herself from the oppressive and enslaved hand that she has been dealt, Anna, irrefutably beaten into submission, continues to endure a great deal of unhappy torment at the enraged mitts of the man she once loved.
After arriving home from a difficult day's work—where the roof above her head is bronze and the floors beneath her feet are iron—Anna only desires to do two things: take a hot bath to relax her sore muscles and go to bed. But lo and behold, Tony is there, in a drunken sleep on the ragged old couch the couple own, surrounded by a pigsty of strewn beer cans, vodka bottles, overflowing ashtrays, and what have you—which in Tony Ackerman's case is entirely archetypal. Sighing in her exhaust, Anna commences to tidy up the area, only to unfortunately awaken the sleeping mad dog who is Tony Ackerman, and conjure up his fiery wrath.
As the long seconds pass into even longer minutes, Tony manages to berate the weary Anna for not bringing His Laziness any dinner home from her diner gig, punch her so hard that she literally falls backward into their bathtub—nearly injuring herself, grab a clenched handful of her hair in order to yank her aching head around . . . as if she were a rag doll of some sort, and get himself stabbed by his fed up victim in her own act of self-defense.
While her attacker lays sprawled on their kitchen floor, presumably bleeding out, our Anna, now terrified and not knowing what to do, can only think one thought: leave! And she does . . . not once looking back.
In act II, we are introduced to Julia, also known as "Big Bird," and Anna's older sister. And it is to Julia's comfortable bungalow in Scottsdale, Arizona where Anna heads after she flees from the dump she shared with Tony in the wake of his stabbing. Anna wills her beat up old station wagon to transport her from Kingman to Scottsdale in one piece. And luckily, the beat up old station wagon obliges. Once there (in Scottsdale), Anna is embraced and nourished back to some semblance of radiant health by her doting big sister, Julia. And as time strolls along, Anna's life begins to positively change . . . in a major way, what with a new wardrobe, a new makeover, and a new job. Anna even resumes to believe that there is still hope for her in journalism—a field that she has dreamt of becoming a great writer in since her girlhood. And with both this newfound confidence and the way too lovable Julia's tireless encouragement, Anna applies to community college where she selects an English course that includes creative writing and journalism. In all due time, she gets accepted . . . much to her doubtful surprise.
The Matchstick Men.
In act III, the Free Bird script enters James "Jim" Peterson, a Republican Congressman for the 1st District of Arizona, and Bill Moyer, a bedraggled crack cocaine addict and insufficient excuse for an attorney at law. Anna merges into the lives of this extremely questionable duo after she is unprofessionally hired by Moyer to fill an administrative assistant vacancy in his disorganized law office. Peterson, while visiting the office for an appointment with Moyer, is immediately taken with the lovely Anna and deliberately issues her his business card at his departure, insisting that she call him. And Anna promises him that she will.
Anna can hardly believe this turn of events in her once woebegone life: a new start living with Julia, a snazzy beauty makeover, some sleek new attire (compliments of Julia's credit card), a new job in a law office, an acceptance letter from the community college to which she applied in order to pursue her passionate dream of journalism in creative writing, and now an unexpected date proposal—from a powerful and prominent U.S. Congressman, no less. It's à la Cinderella. Or is it?
The Mysterious Mr. Young
In act IV, Anna arrives for the first day of her novice course at community college and makes the acquaintance of her lecturer, Mr. Corey T. Young, a handsome, however seemingly insecure professor with whom the entire class—including Anna—get off to an uncomfortably rocky start.
Mr. Young attempts to initiate a rapport with his class of aspiring writers to no avail as he fumbles his dialogue, humiliatingly, and brings on himself swift ridicule from quite a few of the scholars seated in the lecture hall—not including Anna.
The first day only grows worse, eventually leading to Mr. Young's departure from the college altogether. And believing that she is partly to blame for his absence, Anna desperately sets out to find the attractive educator (to whom she finds herself attracted), even lying to extort his home address from a student faculty member.
Now equipped with Mr. Young's residential details, Anna—with an excuse for her visiting him already concocted—drives her beat up old station wagon to the ultra-riche community of Paradise Valley, the most unshared district in all the state of Arizona.
Puzzled, Anna begins to ponder how a meager community college lecturer could afford such a luxurious zip code. And the deeper her enervated, albeit determined station wagon penetrates into the brazen opulence of Paradise Valley, the more Anna oohs and ahhs and questions to herself. She soon gets her answer. And the shocking disclosure of the mysterious Mr. Young sends her heart racing and leaves her tongue utterly speechless, as sparks begin to fly like a Gulfstream G650 between them.
Sometimes They Come Back.
Act V calls for the re-entry of the devil's own Tony Ackerman—a man for whom there awaits a reserved dwelling place of spiritual finality . . . in the bowels of Hades.
Not only did the reptilian Tony survive his stab wound anyway, but he was also forced to live his self-destructive, worthless, and murderous life in the great outdoors, thanks to the wretched cuddle of homelessness in the wake of Anna's emboldened escape. Sorely embittered—not to mention enraged—about the course of all that happened with Anna, and how the 'weak (expletive) whore,' as he so loved to call her, got away after nearly killing him, Tony knows there is only one place where Anna could be hiding . . . and starting anew without him: Julia's house. And it is over the hill and through the woods that he slithers to get there.
For where Tony Ackerman is concerned, Anna Price is his, exclusively. And whomever he must unconditionally destroy to uphold this delusional belief, he will.
In this phenomenally intoxicating and dreadfully perturbed introduction to a 3-part series starring the beautiful heroine Anna Price, rivers of blood flow freely, salty tears cascade like sodium-packed streams, unsuspecting human beings get played like symphonic instruments, millionaires and billionaires callously collide, lucious man-eating love is fervently made, and rest—in its peaceful prudence—skillfully eludes the wicked.
Lee Alan's writing is silky perfection! Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1) is—without even a hint of a doubt—one of the greatest novels I've read so far this year.
Smothered in a mouthwatering gravy of thrills, apprehension, and aspiration, the 146-page novella is both a succulent and deliciously seasoned plot that held my interest with an unrelenting grip of purified intensity. And I was averse to having its mesmerizing hold on me released with the turning of the final page—as the adrenaline loaded cliffhanger left me swooning in maddening suspense. A favorably recommended effort, Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1) is outstanding in absolutely every sense of the word.
With the Thriller shelf in my e-book library already beaming from the privilege of having this well-scribed narrative gracefully placed upon it, I had an imperative duty to quickly unite the anecdote with both its sequel in Little Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 2), and its conclusion in Bird of Prey: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Book 3). Needless to say, I had not been purchasing the follow-up novels fast enough, as I am now in love with Anna Price and can hardly wait to read them, eager to find out what happens next—like whatever became of Hazel, Tony's mother.
Regarding Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1), those of you potential readers should be prepared to have what we literary folks refer to as a "book hangover" no sooner than you've completed it. For assuredly, this storyline will not evaporate from your psyches with ease.
Five emancipation-seeking stars.
• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Honey Badger Publishing, as well as Lee Alan himself, for the author-issued copy of Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1) in exchange for my honest review.
Analysis of "Free Bird: A Romantic Thriller (Anna Series Book 1)" by Lee Alan is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com
Date of Review: Thursday, October 26, 2017