Children deserve the protection of both parents. What happens when one parent has only her best interest at heart and does everything to eliminate the other parent from her child’s life? What happens if that parent is a detriment to the child she has custody of? What about the father who has always been supportive and nurturing to his young son?
Meet Charlie Bergen whose problem is that his ex-wife has created a fantasy for the courts to believe regarding his relationship with their son. Every step of the way with the help of her rich parents and family Felicia foils any attempt on his part to be more than a superficial and part time parent. Charlie is anything but that and if asked his son would tell that to the court. Felicia wants to destroy Charlie and erase him from their son’s life using the same eraser to eliminate the words on a chalkboard. What will the solution be? How will he save his son and himself? Seven Bullets: You figure it out as I review this outstanding novel by James Ian Woode that gives the reader much pause for thought about our court system and the rights of fathers and a child’s safety.
One letter that would change his life and his perspective on living. One woman who wanted to take it all away from him regardless of the cost to her son or Charlie. Felicia has her own agenda in mind but before we learn more about the present we need to understand their past. Make the hands of time go backwards to the day Charlie met Felicia at the bus stop. Together they road the bus, talked and decided they might just want to get to know each other. Forceful in her own right she managed to manipulate the relationship from the start calling him the second she got off of the bus hoping for a date. After a few meetings, not really many she wanted to introduce him to her parents and family who seemed less than enthused with Charlie and editor for a small publishing company. Felicia came from wealth and when Charlie meets her parents anyone would feel uncomfortable and the lack of warmth the each member seem to exude. A man thrust into a situation that he should have backed away from becomes embroiled in one woman’s web of manipulation, lies and deceit.
As the wedding plans start to fall in place Charlie should have listened to his own instincts as the danger and warning signs as well as red flags went up but he chose to ignore them. Thinking that some of the problems with Felicia stemmed from her mother’s controlling attitude and not seeing signs of her mother in her, he chose to allow the wedding to take place even though he was not allowed to invite any one other than his family because he was not Catholic. Charlie should have walked away before the I do’s were said and the ink was dry on their marriage license as Felicia throw a temper tantrum when he wants to say goodbye to an aunt at the wedding and she refuses to understand and let him have the few minutes necessary. But, the end result was not what you would expect and her threats worked and what happens next was really out of character for Charlie. Next the author tells the reader about their honeymoon in Barbados. But, the positive attitude she had seemed to decline during the honeymoon and shades of her mother came through loud and clear. All that she seemed to want was her family and being with Charlie did not seem enough. How odd is that for a bride?
But, her personality and attitude became worse and she yelled, screamed and treated him like a child and constantly criticized him letting the reader know there is something seriously not right with her. Her behavior became worse, inflamed and even belligerent to anyone they met or he spoke with. Scary but true that he did not see it coming and chose to ignore her flip-flop behaviors. It was during his honeymoon that he went scuba diving and met his good friend Holly a great photographer who would prove to be his sounding board and good friend throughout his horrific time with Felicia. But, then reality set in and he knew he would pay the price when he returned to the hotel room after leaving her napping for the day. But, what happens on the beach you won’t believe and the end result would change things for both Charlie and Holly. When he could not take it anymore and he returned to the room he finally lashed out at her and told her his inner most honest thoughts about everything. This is one honeymoon you will have to read about for yourself and at the end you just might applaud Charlie.
As Charlie and Felicia broke into an uneven rhythm in their lives something happened that would cement their relationship even though it was apparent that marital bliss was never going to be on their horizon. Holly seemed to be a distraction for him and when she called he could not deny the fact that he was interested in her and their brief encounters, the time they shared precious to both.
Speaking to Felicia and airing his feelings allowed him to finally feel free in some ways yet confined in others. Her strange mood swings before and after their wedding day should have told him that she needed more than just a doctor to decide what was wrong with her but a closer look at her mother too. Shades of her mother were definitely shining through more and more and the abusive behavior she received seemed to be the only way she knew how to treat others. Finding solace in taking his assistant Heidi out to lunch each day was Charlie’s way to cope with his feelings and life with Felicia. But, was this the answer?
Deciding to stay away from his wife, going to the doctor with her and getting promotions at work in order to afford the additional expenses of becoming a father, was Charlie’s life. Then her parents came to visit more often and starting mixing into their lives and tried to manipulate things even more. Names for the baby, the child’s room and much more were decided by her parents and Felicia seemed to go along with it as she was afraid of her mother growing up and seemed to still be as an adult.
A son, Tyler was born and Felicia did not change, as Charlie became both mother and father to his son and her moods worsened and her manipulations increased. Sleeping all day, calling Charlie at work, abusing his mother for helping her and ranting and raving. Wanting to take the child to the daycare in his office the solution. Felicia only threatened to hurt him and his career with the help of her sick and twisted family. Abuse comes in many way shape and forms as we learn in this book. The author brings to light what happens when one man wears blinders and takes them off too late and the end result is one child’s life is in jeopardy and much more. Felicia lied and made false allegations against him and there was no one to defend him to take his side. Even his own mother did not know what to do and was helpless against Felicia and her family. Where would Charlie go for help and how would he combat the fact that she wanted to control him, every situation and their son’s life even though she really did nothing to care for him. So, why did she take him away from Charlie in the middle of the night? Why and how did she convince her mother to help her and why would her father support her lunacy?
Lawyers hired, papers drawn up and the divorce on the table. Lies told, falsehoods given, lawyers questioned him and doubts begin to surface as Charlie’s life is turned round and around as Felicia spreads lies about him that really should revert back to her.
Real life courtroom battles are fought everyday as Charlie encounters a hardnosed judge, a lawyer that seems to be helpless in his defense and father who loses the right to care for his son when the system seems to have failed not only him but Tyler too. How do you combat these things when you are not even allowed to appeal? How do you fight for your son’s life and future when the people caring for him are using him as a pawn to make your life miserable and think nothing of what is best for the child.
The ending will come hard and fast the solution to the problem comes to Charlie in remembering something he learned as a kid. What happens to Charlie and the end solution? Seven Bullets! You figure it out. Author Jaymes Ian Wood has brought to light many important issues fathers face today as one woman is given custody of her son and no one thinks to find investigate her background, help him substantiate what he knows about Felicia and care about one young innocent child’s future. When money is power and gets you what you want sometimes the end result will not always be what you would expect. In this story there are no winners. Just how far would Charlie go to protect Tyler. Find out when you read this outstanding debut novel that gives the reader much pause for thought and the courts a reason to take a long look on how they handle divorce and custody battles. Characters are that real, one that seemed to be mentally unbalanced and went unnoticed, others who were manipulative and one man, Charlie, genuine, caring yet totally blindsided. But, so will you be when you read the ending. This is one book that every judge and lawyer should read. You figure out why.