Her Perfect Life

April 2006
ISBN:  0-373-83692-9
Silhouette Signature Select

Readers’ Group Guide  Book Club Discussion Questions

Much Ado About Books–Her Perfect Life Reading

Everyone thinks she’s dead.
While flying a routine border patrol mission over Iraq, Air Force Captain Katie Slater’s plane is blown from the sky and hurtles deep into enemy territory.  And Katie awakens to hell.  But six years later she comes home.  Helped by a compassionate guard, Katie is finally free.  But the perfect life she left behind has vanished.  Her husband is remarried, her two children–who barely remember her–have another mother.  And Katie’s former copilot, C.D. Quade, her rock and confidant, can’t let go of his guilt over leaving her behind.
And now nothing is the same.  Losing everything means not only coming to terms with an imperfect past, but putting the military behind her and taking a chance on a long-held dream of starting her own garden business.  Does Katie have the strength to grow a new life–on her own terms?
With a husband who’s a former Special Operations lieutenant colonel, Vicki Hinze has lived by the code, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

Endorsements
“Katie Slater’s whole life is a war story, literally and figuratively, and her only weapons have been ripped from her soul.  To fight her way to freedom, she dons an emotional armor that only love can pierce.”                                            –Joyce Holland, Northwest Florida Daily News
“Her Perfect Life is the perfect read.  From the very first sentence, I was hooked by this engaging and heartfelt story of a woman’s journey through danger, adventure and romance.”                                                                        –Susan Wiggs, best-selling author

Reviews:
“Her Perfect Life by Vicki Hinze absolutely tore my heart out.  I can’t imagine being in Katie’s shoes and the fact that story is so realistic made Her Perfect Life dearer to me.  I wanted to choke her husband Sam but then couldn’t fault him for decisions he made.  As much as I couldn’t stand Sam, I loved C.D.  Patient, kind, and extremely supportive, I thought him the perfect love for Katie.  As for Katie, if she were a real person, I would honor her bravery and service.  Her character was that well written.  Her Perfect Life was emotional, romantic, and just an all around poignant read.  It made me angry, laugh, cry, and then smile for a job well done.  I feel Ms. Hinze honors the bravest of the brave with Her Perfect Life and I am proud to have read it.                              –JoyfullyReviewed.com

“Occasionally a book is written which profoundly touches anyone who reads it, and the story penned by Vicki Hinze is constantly thought-provoking and engaging.  From the first page until the last compelling word is read, this story captures a reader’s thoughts and brings forth a myriad of feelings.  Her Perfect Life keeps one emotionally connected to each vividly portrayed moment in the life of one extraordinary woman.  Regardless of the subject which Vicki Hinze chooses to explore, she always creates a story with convincing realistic scenes and lifelike characters.  Her Perfect Life is an unforgettable story which will stay with readers long after the book is closed.”                                                              –Cataromance

“This is a well written book about a horrendous time in our country’s history.  There is a sensitivity conveyed that only a real writer can produce.  Congratulations, Ms. Hinze, you are an excellent author.”                                                                                      –Rendezvous

“An incredibly emotional read.  Have Kleenex handy–you’ll need it.  C.D. and Katie are wonderful protagonists and their story is the reason why one picks up a romance novel.”  TOP PICK AWARD                                                               –Kristi Ablers, RT Book Club

“Her Perfect Life is a tense character study that grips readers.”  FIVE STARS!
–Harriet Klausner

“During our recent ordeal of Hurricane Ike, when we had no electric power for eleven days and the temperatures were in the 90s most of the time, I read Vicki Hinze’s Her Perfect Life. I had bought it some time ago but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. I picked it up, hoping for some distraction from the heat, and I got it in spades.

This is a quite wonderful book … not sentimental, but genuinely moving. The premise is that the heroine, a military pilot shot down in the Mid-East six years previously and imprisoned in a “tribal” prison where she is tortured and humiliated, is rescued and returned home. She finds that her husband, who was told she was dead, has remarried, and her two children, who were very young when she was shot down, are older and don’t know if they want to know her. Everyone has mourned her and moved on with their lives.

Now I know that this sounds incredibly depressing. But it wasn’t, because of Hinze’s writing skills. What it is, is touching, satisfying because of the way the heroine keeps fighting for “her perfect life” as she imagined it long ago in her girlhood, and ultimately optimistic and moving because of the way she, and her hero, who is her co-pilot, not her husband, find their way to happiness and a new “perfect life.”

What is outstanding is that there are no black and white characters. Her husband, who is pretty much of a superficial control freak, has his actions modified and moderated by his fine, kind second wife. Her children are far more flexible and optimistic than some I have known, and they want to give her a chance to know them. And the HEA is a believable one, achieved by her own courage and determination. And the compassion of her co-pilot hero.

If you want to read a book which will leave you happier about life when you finish it, try this one.”                                                                                              –MarianneM, All About Romance

Awards & Honors:

RITA® Award Finalist, Best Novel with a Romantic Element
RT Career Achievement Award Nomination for Series Romantic Adventure
Winner of the 2006 Single Title Reviewers’ Choice Award
Harlequin Readers’ Choice Award Finalist, Best Book of the Year
Holt Medallion Award Finalist, Best Mainstream Novel of the Year

Chapter Excerpt:
Prologue
© 2006 Vicki Hinze

Life should come with warning labels.
Warning!  At fifteen, you’re going to be tempted to give your virginity to Donald Simoneaux at Mel Ott Park behind the baseball bleachers.  Don’t.  He’s an arrogant idiot with a big mouth and, if you do it, you’ll never hear from him again.  You won’t anyway—it’ll be a one-date train wreck—but if you sleep with him, you’ll feel you wasted your first, be down on sex for the next decade, and be ticked off about it forever.  If you don’t, you’ll thank the gods for sparing you from a second date with the jerk, meet a great guy at eighteen who has finesse, and the first time you two twist the sheets, you’ll totally understand all the fuss about sex.
Warning!  At seventeen, avoid the Pink Daisy.  It’s a cute club with cool people, but you’ll get busted because Marianne Demsey will stuff her dope in your purse when the place is raided and she won’t admit that it’s hers.  You don’t smoke anything, including pot, but you’ll never convince your dad of it, or the police.  On the up side, you’ll test clean, get community service, and your mom will know the truth.  She’s psychic, remember?  She knows everything.  But she won’t be able to convince your dad she’s not covering for you, and he’ll choke you nearly to death trying to keep you on a tight leash until you’re twenty-one.  You will not be a happy leashee.
And oh, while we’re talking about twenty-one, skip the Mardi Gras frat party at the LSU campus in New Orleans.  You’ll save yourself an ex-husband.  That’s where you’ll meet Wonder Dick, who considers fidelity a rule just for women.
Warning!  At twenty-four, you’ll be a pilot, just as you’ve always dreamed.  Air Force all the way, baby.  And right after pilot training, you’ll meet a jock that makes you weak in the knees.  You’ll marry him three years later, have two great kids—a girl and a boy—and you’ll love your life.
Okay, so in a few years you’ll get a little wistful now and then because your relationship could be better.  Jock—a.k.a. Dr. Sam Slater, leading gynecologist in Willow Creek, Florida—isn’t perfect, but unlike Wonder Dick, he’s worth keeping.  He’s a faithful husband, a decent if uninspiring lover, a good dad so into having the perfect image he still hides flaws from his parents, and if he’s a bit selfish and seemingly unconscious about what’s important at times, well, you’re not perfect either.
Actually, his faults are relatively minor compared to those of the spouses of many of your friends.  If you looked at vaginas and dealt with hormonal women all day, you probably wouldn’t get overly enthused on nights at home, either.
As compensation, you’ll have the coolest co-pilot in the Air Force, C.D. Quade, who is a walking violation to the libidos of women everywhere.  He’s totally irresistible:  gorgeous, sharp, funny, sensitive and straight.  You two will be nuts about each other, and on occasion you’ll wonder what it would be like to be with him instead of the jock, but loyalty and vows keep your wedding band on your finger and your panties up around your hips.  C.D. Quade isn’t the kind to trespass on another man’s turf anyway, so it’s just as well you keep your blood cooled to a simmer around him.  Regardless, with the jock, the kids and your beloved garden at home and C.D. at work, you’ll be reasonably content.  That’s not bad for real life.
Now for the grand slam, “kick your ass and pad your knees because you’re going to be on them for the duration” Warning!
Love your family so fiercely that it almost hurts, and do all those things you keep saying you’ll get around to someday—like finding a way to make a living with your gardening, taking that Alaskan cruise you’ve dreamed about since your eighteenth birthday, and making that pilgrimage you promised your grandmother you’d make to Scotland to see where your dad’s ancestors lived.  Don’t wait.  Do it all now.  All of it.
Because if you don’t, when you’re thirty-four, on June 23rd, you’re going to be assigned to fly a mission in Iraq and your plane is going to get shot down.  You’ll be with your devoted sidekick co-pilot, C.D., who will still be incredibly sexy and single, but . . . well, the bottom line is he’s going to be rescued, and you’re going to be dead.
At least, that’s the way it’s going to seem for a long, long time.  And many times during this dark period of your life, you’ll remember the little list you made when you were eight:  the one that detailed all the things you wanted when you grew up.  Remember?  You wrote it shortly after you completed the magical leap from the fat pencils you conquered in first grade to the brand new Number 2 slim-and-sleek writing machine.
This list was the most important document of your life, and to mark the rite of passage in creating it, you pulled out your most prized possession:  the black ink, clear barrel, comfort-grip, Bic—medium point—pen you’d been saving to first use on something really, really special.  This was that life-defining moment.  That momentous occasion you would forever recall as the one moment in time when you knew exactly what you wanted to be content.
You felt it the moment the tip of the pen touched the page and you printed in bold, broad letters:
KATIE COLE
AND
HER PERFECT LIFE
I’m sorry to say that many times during these trials you’ll have to fight hard to not lose hope and heart and let your spirit be broken.  It won’t be easy.  It will be hell.  You’ll curse that list and your life, and you’ll wish you were dead.
Oh, yeah.  Life definitely should come with warning labels.
But it doesn’t.
And that, Captain Katie Cole Slater, is the most important Warning! of all.❖

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About Vicki Hinze
USA Today Bestselling and Award-Winning Author of 40+ books, short stories/novellas and hundreds of articles. Published in as many as 63 countries. Featured Columnist for Social-IN Worldwide Network and Book Fun Magazine. Sponsor/Founder of ChristiansRead.com & CleanReadBooks.com. FMI visit www.vickihinze.com.

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