The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Monday, October 28, 2013


The Melody of Secrets by Jeffrey Stepakoff
Author:  Jeffrey Stepakoff
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books
Date To Be Released:  October 29, 2013
Pages:  272

About the Book
Jeffrey Stepakoff's The Melody of Secrets is an epic love story set against the 1960s U.S. space program, when deeply-buried secrets could threaten not just a marriage, but a country.

Maria was barely eighteen as WWII was coming to its explosive end. A brilliant violinist, she tried to comfort herself with the Sibelius Concerto as American bombs rained down. James Cooper wasn't much older. A roguish fighter pilot stationed in London, he was shot down during a daring night raid and sought shelter in Maria’s cottage. Fifteen years later, in Huntsville, Alabama, Maria is married to a German rocket scientist who works for the burgeoning U.S. space program. Her life in the South is at peace, purposefully distanced from her past. Everything is as it should be—until James Cooper walks back into it.

Pulled from the desert airfield where he was testing planes no sane Air Force pilot would touch, and drinking a bit too much, Cooper is offered the chance to work for the government, and move himself to the front of the line for the astronaut program. He soon realizes that his job is to report not only on the rocket engines but also on the scientists developing them. Then Cooper learns secrets that could shatter Maria’s world...

Wanda's Review
This is a compelling story about Maria Reinhardt, a talented musician, who must decide between the love of two men, her husband, Hans, or Cooper, the forbidden love that goes back twelve years to WW ll.

1945 - Germany - Maria, is 18 years old and WW ll is coming to an end. James Cooper, a fighter pilot, enters her life suddenly and a strong love develops, but ends abruptly when they are separated.

1957 - Huntsville, Alabama - Maria, brilliant, gifted, and beautiful was fine boned, and feminine, with blonde hair and a creamy complexion - a Grace Kelly look-a-like. She was a fine violinist, playing first violin in the Huntsville Symphony. Life may be difficult and imperfect, but to Maria, music could be magical, and through it she could escape into its protective world and everything would be perfect. But suddenly James Cooper is back in her life in Alabama. For 12 years Maria lived her life thinking she would never again see this man, and now everything is about to change.

Hans, Maria's husband, had gotten her out of Germany when the world was collapsing. He was someone to build a solid foundation with and he seemed to be a good man. Hans was a scientist, working on guided-missile projects, who put science above everything. He believed space was mankind's destiny. Hans and Maria had a young son, Peter, who spent most of his time away from home at a boarding school.  Maria had a warm relationship with her son.  Hans liked having him away at boarding school because he didn't have the time to put into a father-son relationship.

James Cooper had a certain assuredness in his actions and displayed a hint of kindness. After his separation from Maria in Germany, Cooper was never able to feel whole again, never finding a love like Maria.

Sabine is a German friend of Maria, whose husband's involvement as an SS officer with the Nazis surfaces. This information causes Maria to question Han's past. Should Maria seek out the truth? There were no easy answers - the past was complex - the future seemed full of promise. And the story unfolds ---

I kept thinking there was no way this story could have a happy ending. But, I must say, the ending was perfect, although bittersweet, and perhaps allowing some revelations to come. The only quibble I had with the book is that it started out slowly, taking me a little time getting into it. But the tempo soon picked up and it was a great read! 4 stars.

I received an early reviewer's copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My reviews can also be read and on Twitter @ghmstudio.

The Author
Jeffrey Stepakoff