I signed up for the blog tour of Robert McEvilla’s new romance, THE GOATS OF SANTO DOMINGO, because of the title. If you have goats in your title, the book either has to be extraordinary, or extraordinarily funny–intentionally, or not. McEvilla’s story of love and political intrigue is extraordinary.
From the beginning, I was hooked in by McEvilla’s evocative scene setting. You know exactly where you are as you begin to read. You know exactly how the humidity would be curling your hair, how the air would smell, how the streets would sound. It is very easy to step into the world of John Romero’s Santo Domingo–goats and all.
The world is so familiar because it is the first novel McEvilla has based on his experiences in the Dominican Republic. The world is so enjoyable because McEvilla is such a great writer.
Romero and his love interest, Ramona De Fiesta, are fully fleshed characters who share the point of view in the story telling, with equal weight. It did take over a hundred pages to find out Ramona’s last name, and I was despairing of her ever getting one, but McEvilla came through with a great, strong female voice.
I’m very glad I chose to read this. I do enjoy soldier stories, and this is definitely among the top of those I’ve read. I have no compunctions about recommending this one.
4.5 out of 5 stars for me.
Whenever John Romero was asked if he was wounded in Vietnam, he always got a confused look when he replied that his eye was lost in Santo Domingo.
A former baseball player with just six weeks left to serve in the army, John’s plans for making a comeback are interrupted when his unit is deployed to the Dominican Republic, and he finds himself in a combat situation. While dodging bullets, he meets a beautiful Dominican woman, the aloof, Ramona. She inflames the private passions of the paratroopers that view her from their command post. Romero plots a course to win her affections, but the political intrigue and the carnage in the streets of Santo Domingo conspire to thwart his every move, forcing him to make a drastic decision.
A coil of concertina wire stretched down the middle of the street between the sandbags Romero stood behind and her turquoise house. Behind him was a schoolhouse that his unit had occupied since their arrival. The old structure reminded Romero of the Alamo.
“Keep your eye on that house,” Rosen had said to him. “You’ll see her if you get posted at the sandbags; she comes out every morning around nine and reads a book for half an hour—a real beauty queen.” Romero had heard the other men in his squad talking about her. They referred to her as Miss Santo Domingo, the Princess, or the Dominican Damsel.
The door opened on the brightly painted stucco house. She wore a short white skirt, the hem well above the knee. The lawn chair she held was unfolded with a nobility of motion, the way a virtuoso opens his violin case. She sat down, crossed her shapely legs, and opened a book before setting it daintily on her lap. For a confused moment, Romero was convinced she was Carla. He stepped out from behind the sandbags and was a few strides off the curb before the coiled barbs stopped him. The closer view made him see that it wasn’t Carla after all. She was somebody else—a stranger—both mysterious and recognizable. She was perhaps Miss Swanson, his fourth grade teacher to whom he had written his first love letter and hid it in his school bag. There was a bit of Anna about her, too, the little girl who’d lived across the street from him when he was twelve. She was someone who had once held him tight, but not close enough—someone who had left and gone away.
A real Spanish Contessa, he thought.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Robert McEvilla is a retired stationary engineer who lives in a log cabin in the backwoods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His short stories have been published in various literary magazines. This is his first novel which is based on his experiences in the Dominican Republic.