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What the Carpenter Saw by Vicki Reese

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Thank you for having me here today. I’m looking forward to getting to know your readers and introducing them to my characters and story.

“What the Carpenter Saw” is a romantic suspense story centered around wounded hero, Jake Cramer. Though Jake is completely a figment of my imagination, he is also a conglomeration of several veterans I know. His story is their story. Heroes come in many forms. Boston Marathon, Orlando, and other horrific events have shown us that. This story is for all the wounded heroes out there who are searching for that one person who will accept them, scars and all. And to the unsung heroes who do.

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Wounded warrior Jake Cramer returned from the Middle East missing part of one leg and with a partially paralyzed left arm. He feels useless in his family’s construction business, but carpentry is all he knows. He needs to relearn how to work and how to live. He can’t even consider finding a man to love. Who would want him this way?

Alex Ford is a top-of-the-line architect who’s tired of big cities and wants to settle down, maybe run a small inn. The mansion he inherited from his grandparents might be the ticket to his dream, but it needs a lot of work. When he meets the handsome builder, he knows he’s made the right decision. He just needs to convince Jake that his scars don’t matter. Unfortunately, Alex’s greedy family has other ideas, and they’re determined to ruin Alex’s plans and take the inheritance for themselves—even if they have to kill to do it.

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Release Date Aug 3, 2016

Type Novellas

Words 53,927

Pages 143

File Formats epub, mobi, pdf

$5.99 (on sale now for preorder for $4.49)



Chapter One

JAKE CRAMER stared out the kitchen window at the thick woods behind his dad’s house. A mixture of brilliantly colored hardwoods and evergreens edged with a gurgling stream—so different from the harsh rock and sand of the Middle East. Though he wasn’t cold, he shivered a little as wisps of steam rose from the water, forming tendrils of icy fog along the bank. Frost had coated the lawn and garden overnight and was still visible in the areas the sun hadn’t yet touched. South Central Pennsylvania was so much better than the Middle East, and he loved the small town of Robinwood. It was the kind of place where you knew your neighbors and the shopkeepers by their first names. The kind of place that was great to grow up in, raise a family in. The kind of place it was good to come back to.

“Jake? You okay?” his dad, Micah, aka Big Mike, asked.

Mike came to stand next to him as Jake nodded. “Yeah. Just looking at the trees. I missed this when I was over there.”

“I know what you mean. Though where I was stationed wasn’t as bad as Afghanistan, I can’t say I was fond of the desert when I was there.” His dad clapped him on the shoulder, and Jake fought back a wince. The scars there still bothered him, but he refused to let it show.

His dad handed him a coffee thermos. “You ready to get to work? Your brother’s already on his way.”

Jake nodded and turned from the view. His dad had served in the Gulf War. Different area, same scenery. The Pennsylvania landscape held Jake’s heart. And work with the family construction company was exactly what he needed. Hammers and saws and wood. Building things, not blowing them up or shooting them full of holes. Though coming home hadn’t been easy. His family, especially his mom, had coddled him to the point of smothering him. He loved them all dearly, but he also needed to find his own way. It was slow, but he was getting there. “I’m coming. We working on the Johnson place today? I’ve got the cabinets ready to go in.”

“No. There’s a delay on the flooring for the kitchen. We’re working the McKenzie lot today. I want to get it under roof before the cold sets in. Sam will handle the crew there. I need you to go to the old Wilson place and make a list of what we’ll need to do there and in what order. The new owner wants to do a complete overhaul. He’s turning the old mansion into a B and B. I’ll meet you there after I do a supply run for your brother.”

“Works for me.” Jake shivered and grabbed his heavy jacket from the peg next to the back door as Mike opened it. Though he’d been back for a month, the cold October air still chilled him after the heat of the Middle East. Even with the cold, he’d rather be working a site than doing paperwork, but Mike was the boss, and Jake didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter.

The chill also made his left arm and leg ache more. At least, what was left of his leg. Because of his injuries, he could no longer do ladder work, definitely not roofing. He was still too unsteady to work a sloping roof. But honestly, he didn’t mind too much. The awkwardness and pain meant he had most of his leg, unlike a lot of other servicemen and women he knew. Sure, metal held parts of it together and it ended below the knee, but that was enough for him to get around with a prosthetic. He rarely needed to use the hated wheelchair anymore. As for his arm, it still worked, sort of. Just not nearly as well as before. Heavy scar tissue and tendon damage made it more of something to fill his sleeve than an actual working arm, though the therapists said he would get some use back the more he worked it. But he’d lived, unlike two other members of his team. And it was also the reason he was stuck doing estimates instead of site work.

(for the full excerpt, go to and click on the excerpt link)


Review by Elaine White

Book – What the Carpenter Saw

Author – Vicki Reese

Star rating – ★★★☆☆

No. of Pages – 143

Cover – Intriguing

POV – 3rd person, dual POV

Would I read it again – Maybe

Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Crime, Romance, MM, Military, Disability


This was a cute little who-dun-it, with a dash of romance splashed in.

For me, the story was lacking was in a few places –

  • the crime aspect was a little over the top
  • the dreaded “I’m useless, don’t belong and have no purpose in life” aspect of Jake’s injuries
  • the romance was too fast. Though not insta-love, it was definitely insta-lust, with not much of the deeper emotions (example: Jake finds a man unconscious, bloody and incapacitated. His first thought is “he was absolutely gorgeous”)

As a person who is disabled and in a wheelchair, for distances, I hate when a character is disabled suddenly, usually through war, and suddenly has this completely negative attitude. There are times where Jake grudgingly accepts that he’s better off than others, but he’s also pessimistic, thinks he’s useless because of his disabilities and gets mad at anyone who even remotely hints at not wanting him or thinking him incapable. He uses his disabilities as an excuse for a lot. Worse still, EVERYONE in this story – no matter how major or minor – is either in a rush to defend Jake when insults are thrown, as though he needs protected, or gives sly glances at his injuries in a silent “can you do this” and “are you capable” manner. Not to mention the repeated and horrid mentions of the word “gimp”. It’s something so rude and obnoxious that I wouldn’t mention it if the bad guys were the only ones using it, but Jake uses it against himself so often that it really grated on my last nerve.

Jake was a good character, but the fatal flaw that made this a 3 star for me, was the total lack of respect that he exhibited for himself and, honestly, it was so severe and so brutal that I began to wonder if the author felt that way or if they were just trying extra hard to show just *how* disabled he really was, by constantly throwing it in our faces.

There was also far too much emphasis, at the beginning of the story, of Jake being in the Middle East and being disabled. Everything had been specially adapted, everyone kept looking, he bristled if someone so much as looked at his arm or leg…it got a little repetitive for a while. As did the whole “you live in the stratosphere” excuses that he used to keep Alex at bay, while using his disabilities as an excuse for them to not be together.

Alex and Rachel were good characters, and they had far less of a problem with Jake’s disability and much more personality than some of the other characters.

Writing wise, there were quite a few places were people had long paragraphs of speech or actual monologues (looking at you bad guys) without mentioning who was talking. It got confusing in places, unless the person talking mentioned someone else by name.

Oh, and if you’re looking for something steamy, this isn’t that kind of story. Though there is mild swearing (mostly from Rachel and once from Elizabeth), the story tries almost too hard to keep it clean. I mean, the murder, the swearing and the sex are all off page and as neat as possible. There’s nothing messy in the plot that’s actually shown in detail. I’m including sex scenes in that. In fact, certain anatomical references (see what I did there) aren’t mentioned until 1 singular paragraph about 78% of the way in.

The villains were a little weak on the “believable motive” side of things and the murder bordered on incredulous, since it wasn’t really needed, except perhaps to provide some sort of validation for the other crimes and allow for a vindication at the end, with someone facing serious consequences for their actions.



Overall, this felt like a short story that had been eeked out far too long, to make it into novella/novel length. If there was less of an exaggeration about the criminal aspect, there would have been more room for emotional growth and chemistry between Alex and Jake. As it is, though this was a decent read – a who-dun-it with 80’s over-done flair and enough romance to keep me interested – it was all

Meet Vicki Reese

Vicki Reese has been married forever to the one person who accepts that she lives in a fantasy world most of the time. She’s even been seen at the beach building worlds for her stories out of sand. In addition to creating fun characters, fantasy worlds, and suspenseful situations, she also enjoys and is very good at things like writing policy and procedures manuals and setting up continuity and organizational spreadsheets, both of which she has actually earned money doing. She has a master’s degree in library science so likes things organized. Okay, so her family thinks having the spice rack alphabetized it a bit much, but she has no trouble finding what she needs when she needs it. And just because her extensive library is cataloged and organized, that doesn’t mean she’s obsessive. Honest. When not writing, Vicki works as an editor, helping other authors with their manuscripts. When not doing either one of those, she can be found in the kitchen whipping up gluten-free, lactose-free, other allergy-free meals for her family. Or watching the world go by from her front porch swing.


Where to find Vicki:




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