A Low Country Novel
by D. A. Welch
(iUniverse / 0-595-41271-6 / April 2007 / 224 pages / $15.95)
Flashback takes the reader on a modern adventure through the beachfront island communities of South Carolina and neighboring areas. The title derives from the nightmarish flashbacks experienced by one of the four lead characters in the story. Ex-Navy SEAL Nate Dunlevy has been unable to rid his mind of an experience he lived through in his recent military past, affecting his lifestyle even to the point of temporary impotence. The plot of Flashback rapidly takes on the nature of a feminist romantic fantasy, as two brothers meet two sisters and they flit from one exotic locale to another, bagging up the bad guys for the FBI and entertaining themselves in the sack. Imagine a Lifetime Channel movie with R-rated sex scenes and you'll get the picture.
D. A. Welch has produced an especially professional-looking product for a first POD book. The gorgeously appropriate cover shows off the photographic talent of the author's significant other, and the editing and low error count are admirable, too, although the proofreading still leaves this professional product just a little scarred. The consistent use of the third person in past tense makes for a competent, but unimaginative compositional style. I shudder to think of the magnitude of the proportion of other POD authors who could take lessons in professionalism and maturity of product from Ms. Welch.
Flashback is most certainly a book modern women will love. I'm not so sure about the opinions of male readers. The lead characters in the story are just such perfectly disgusting Yuppies. The men have impeccable tastes, chiseled muscles, and heroic military experience. The women have glamorous, high-paying jobs in exquisitely artistic fields they love. Both sexes may have had a few bad experiences in their past mating rituals, but when the panting turns to touching, nothing seems to get in the way of good old American lust. The ubiquitous predictability of a Lifetime movie is the one thing that weakens the punch of Flashback's plotline. I would have preferred somewhat less perfect lead characters to add a bit of morality play to the story. This is the only factor that knocks the whoopee out of Flashback. How many perfect romances have already been written by and for women readers?
The conclusion is that Ms. Welch has missed catching the brass ring only by a whisker, and many of you, of whom I suspect are mostly female, will accept the book just fine the way it has been written, no warts and all. The clever inclusion of the opening paragraphs in each chapter describing the climate and landscape of South Carolina's laid-back Low Country certainly adds to the novel's charisma. In defense of the Yuppiefication of the characters, I know that Hilton Head Island is not famous for po' folks. I just hope that when Deb Welch reads Flashback to herself, she pronounces the name of the car as it matches the name of its creator. The name is Por-shuh. Most Yuppies think it's the back porch.