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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Storms From a Clear Sky: The Story of Spies, Love, & Loyalty in a War-Torn World by Denise Frisino is the second volume of a trilogy focused on the Japanese-American community of particularly the West Coast of the U.S. immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Billi is a new bride, having just married the mysterious and enigmatic F.B.I. agent, Jack Huntington. Billi has always had an intense fascination with Japan, its culture, and its people. In fact, her childhood and still best friend, Eileen Nakamura, is an American of Japanese extraction. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor throws all of their lives into disarray. Jack’s nemesis is a Japanese soldier, Akio Sumiyoshi, with whom Jack attended Harvard. Akio is now with the Japanese Navy. However, his plans for a super-weapon, a plane that can be launched from a submarine to terrorize the coastal areas of the U.S., are cunningly concealed inside a Japanese fan. The problem – the fan is currently in the possession of Billi Huntington and Akio is determined to not only retrieve it but to inflict the greatest pain possible on both Billi and her FBI husband. As Billi attempts to find her identity both within her new marriage to the elusive Jack and the role she can play in this conflict with the Japanese, she must balance her love of the Japanese culture and its people with the horrors being perpetrated in the name of Emperor Hirohito.
Storms From a Clear Sky is a breathtaking journey through the early days of American involvement in World War II. One of the first things I ask when reading a book in a series is whether it is necessary to have read the first book to enjoy the second. In this case, it really doesn’t matter, although I would add the caveat – why wouldn’t you? Author Denise Frisino does a superb job of outlining the basic facts of the background so that late-comers won't question where characters fit into the story. What I particularly liked was that the author did not just focus on the two principal characters in Jack and Billi but developed the narrative to include family members fighting in the foreign climes of the South Pacific and North Africa. Billi was a wonderful character; simultaneously a strong and independent woman of her times but still able to show extreme sensitivity and a deep need for love and understanding from her new husband. Equally, Jack was painted by the author as this tough, no-nonsense F.B.I. agent who got results and was feared by all, yet she was able to bring out the softer, loving, and needy side of the character, which really is a tribute to the author’s skills. Having now read the second installment of the Orchids trilogy, I am deeply invested in this tale and cannot wait for the third and final iteration. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can highly recommend it to all aficionados of war novels and those who love a romance with a high element of danger. This is a fantastic story.