Book: Out Of The Ashes
Author: Lori Dillon
Publisher: Aman Press
Genre: Paranormal Psi/Fi
Pompeii’s Coliseum, AD.79. Gladiator Dacian fights well, but loses the fight. However, he does get the attention of a young woman, Sabina, the niece of the Giver of Games. She asks that he be spared and saves his life. She begins to see him, a slave housed in the Gladiator’s Barracks. The volcano, Vesuvius, erupts and Sabina escapes from her father to run to try to save Dacian. They hesitate as Dacian tries to save other gladiators, finally having to abandon them in an effort to save Sabina. They begin to run away from the rocks and ash falling on them, and take refuge in a merchant’s shop with others. Dacian tries to cover Sabina’s body so that she will not be hurt but they are killed by the heated poison air from the volcano.
Their Guardian Angels, Marsha and Hershal, are supposed to help the couple get together after they have failed several times over the centuries to do so. Each failure made their boss, Senior Guardian Angel Smithers, more distressed and he finally orders them to become human and make sure the couple gets together as they are supposed to. Maria and Huberto Angelico are sent to 1944 Pompeii with orders to make sure it happens this time. They befriend Sabrina, who is now known as Signora Serafina Pisano, an archeologist on the Pompeii dig site.
Dacian, now as American soldier, David Corbin, signs on to help on the dig as an Italian from Naples named David Corbelli. He is there to be able to watch the German encampment just over the wall of the dig and report to another soldier, Frank, so they will be able to report to the American units coming up from Sicily. He gets assigned to work with Serafina by Humberto, who is the assistant to the leader on the dig. She is very anti-American and she also has a problem with another archeologist, Giovanni Ragusa. She used to be engaged to Giovanni, but he turned out to not only be a womanizer, but a man who would take credit for other’s work. David tries to keep his head down and just do both of his jobs, working on the dig and keeping an eye on the Germans but Serafina intrigues him, and soon he is paying a lot of attention to her. But can they get together during the middle of a war that they are on different sides of and what will Serafina do if she finds out he is not who he says he is? Is this another failure for the Guardian Angels?
The story is very well written with a good attention to not only character development but history as well. Lori Dillion obviously researched the AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius and how it affected the city of Pompeii to be able to create Dacian and Sabina and make them real to the reader. She also did her research into the archeology and the history around Pompeii in 1944, the time when the Americans were beginning to make their push into Italy during World War II. She has her characters reacting to the fall of Mussolini and his successor as well as their reactions to the German soldiers and the Americans. The dialogue, the descriptions of the area and the occupants are very well researched.
Out of the Ashes was a very delightful surprise. As a paranormal romance, it has the elements of time travel with the characters as well as the very entertaining Guardian Angels Maria and Huberto. Their banter is as comfortable as so many old married couples and is very funny at times. I found myself rooting for David and Serafina to get together, almost because I wanted Maria and Huberto to finally triumph as much as wanting the younger couple to find their own happiness. The pacing of the book was very good, the characters were strong, and the history was very correct. There is no rush to make the characters fall in love, to have sex, or to do anything they would not do according to their personalities, yet the story does not lag in any way but keeps the pace throughout.
This is Lori Dillon’s first book and it is a very fine effort indeed. I look forward to reading more of her work. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance, who has interest in Pompeii or archeology, and who wants a good, well-told story.
Charlayne Elizabeth Denney
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team