August 02, 2011


A striking widow intent on proving the military lied about her husband's death lures a Washington journalist into the investigation. Working together, they discover the power of temptation, the futility of revenge, and the consequences of yielding to either.

Paperback: 266 pages
Published: June 13th 2010 by CreateSpace

Bella is an action-packed, suspense novel with a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking storyline that keeps you glued to the pages.

The story focuses on Isabella Moss - a widow who was told that her husband had died in the war by enemy fire. But one day, she gets an anonymouse phone call telling her that her husband didn't die they were everyone had told her. That he actually died by friendly fire. That one phone call starts Bella off on a whirlwind chase for the truth - which leads her directly to reporter, Dan Patragno, and together they square off against the government, the army and themselves.

I think what I love most about this story are the two questions posed throughout: first, should you expose the cover-up? Telling the world that the army might be lying about soldiers' deaths would only cause people to lose more faith in their government. And it wouldn't actually bring any peace to those who lost someone in the war.

The second question you're forced to ask yourself is - if you were in Bella's shoes, if it were your husband, would you be able to just "let it go"? Would it really matter exactly how your husband died, when in the end, he's still dead, right? Nothing you could do will bring him back.

Bella's fight for the truth seems a way for her to remain close to her husband. A way to make sure that she didn't have to let him go quite yet.

The personal drama of Dan Patragno was a little too much at times and I wonder if it were really necessary. In contrast, I LOVED Bella's personal life - with her daughter who nearly brought tears to my eyes everytime she spoke.

Piacente's writing style is beautiful and very powerful. At times, the monologues were so well-written, I thought this book might be better suited as a play instead of a novel (that's a compliment!). All in all, I highly recommend this book. Read it and LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!!!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


First off, tell us about yourself?

I was raised in New York, educated in Washington, and kept moving south after college, eventually learning all they left out at journalism school from street-smart newspaper editors in Florida and South Carolina. In 1985, one of those editors found me presentable enough to send back to D.C., this time as correspondent for the Tampa Tribune. The job ended four years later, and I wound up as D.C. reporter for the Charleston, S.C. paper. It was great until Charleston ran out of cash and shuttered its one-man D.C. bureau. Out in the cold, I - by this time a father of three ravenous, athletic, college-bound children - found warmth in a little known Federal agency called the U.S. General Services Administration.  I began as a speechwriter and today head the agency’s web, new media, and graphics teams. I also teach journalism classes at American University, where I earned my BA in communications. (I also hold a Masters in Fiction from Johns Hopkins University.)  My wife is a special education administrator in the Montgomery County (MD) Public School System, and we have three adult children in the fields of public relations, art therapy, and engineering.

Where did the idea for Bella come from?

Over a long reporting career, I covered several tragic events, including the murder of Adam Walsh in Hollywood, FL. I have always been interested in how people respond to profound grief I have seen some survivors withdraw to the point of near-invisibility, and others channel their sorrow into furious action that in some cases impacted public policy. In the Walsh case, parents John and Reve turned their grief into action by lobbying the state legislature in Tallahassee to pass tougher child protection laws. I’m also interested in how people act when faced with tough ethical choices – essentially what people do when no one is watching. The action in Bella is driven largely by ethical decisions key characters make on the battlefield and in the bedroom.

3. What would you say was the most challenging part of writing Bella

Bella herself was the hardest character to create because she is so complex. She is striking on the outside, dreadful on the inside, at least sometimes. She is loving yet cold, mysterious and yet predictable. The tragedy that befalls her causes profound grief and reshapes her personality. That’s tough to pull off in a novel because readers are quick to draw conclusions about characters. In the end, I view her as complex but flawed, with many admirable traits.

4. Do you think your story will touch others or anger them?
All writers want to provoke a reaction. I think some will be touched and some will be angered. Mostly, I hope readers will find an entertaining escape from their daily lives in Bella, but also think about the power of temptation, the futility of revenge, and the consequences of yielding to either. These are lessons that reporter Patragno learns in painful fashion.

5. If you were in Dan's place, would you have revealed the truth? 
That's close to a trick question, because I don't think I ever would have gotten myself in Dan's position. Dan violates cardinal rules on the job and at home; there are consequences for such actions, and he knows his day of reckoning is coming. All that said, I think I would have - just as he did - found a way to reveal the truth. 

6. Did you ever think about alternate endings between Dan and Isabella?
I'll start by saying I did not know how the story would end when I began writing the book. I like to interview my characters. As I was writing Bella, I frequently interrupted myself to put together several written questions for the main characters. Then I tried to answer each question in the character's voice. This often took me in unexpected and hopefully interesting directions. I think the story could have ended differently, but I don't think Dan and Bella could have ever wound up living happily ever after. We know what happens with Dan, but Bella must still work through her grief and try to resume a normal life. She still has a long way to go.  

Get Your Own Copy of Bella!!

If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Bella, please fill out the form below. I will choose a winner on 8/9/2011. Good Luck!!

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