In late 1941, the Philippines is a haven for those intent on shedding their pasts and reinventing themselves. Lt. Riley Gilhouley—the Great Gilhouley—keeps the troops well stocked in contraband as he seeks the attention of Maj. Rosemary Dodd, a by-the-book officer who leads her nurses with expert care. Ex-priest John Macklin searches for absolution, but finds himself tangling with Glory Bee O’Halloran, a stripper hired to take off just enough clothing to throw the troops into a frenzy.
But when, mere hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attack the Philippines, the island haven explodes into the chaos of battle—and amid stolen moments and secret missions, all their lives will be forever changed. . . .
Set in a besieged country waiting in vain for help to arrive, this stunning novel from a “master storyteller” offers a blend of riveting history and heartfelt emotion (Affaire de Coeur).
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About the Author
Her life is busy—sometimes crazy—but she is also dedicated to the pursuit of power shopping (when funds permit) and finding the perfect piece of chocolate. She is eternally grateful to her critique group for their technical advice and support and those "retreats with the girls" that help to keep her sane.
Bingham is the youngest of three children and began writing in her teens. Her first book was published while she was in her mid-twenties and single. She credits her critique group with finding her husband—and consequently approving of their marriage.
Two years ago, she and her husband adopted their first child and she spends her days in pure bliss as a "mommy." Nevertheless, once naptime arrives, Bingham loves to while away the precious hours at the computer, writing about the love and laughter that every woman deserves in her life.
Read an Excerpt
December 6, 1941 Luzon, Philippines
Even at birth, Glory Bee O'Halloran had made a flamboyant entrance. At barely five pounds, five ounces, with more bright red hair than a two-year-old, she hadn't bothered to cry. Instead, she'd stretched her arms wide as if delighted to be free from the confines of the womb, opened her pansy blue eyes, and smiled. Startled, the doctor had blurted, "Glory be!" And the name had stuck — especially when her mother, mere hours after the birth, was back to drinking herself into a stupor.
Not much had changed since then. Glory Bee's mother was still a drunk, and Glory Bee had honed making an entrance to an art form. Which was why, the moment the military band on the dock struck up a rousing rendition of Stars and Stripes, she paused dramatically at the top of the gangplank, lifted her arms wide, posed to highlight her voluptuous figure, and called out, "Howdy, boys!"
The resulting cheers from the men on shore were gratifying, cutting through her nausea and giving her the strength to hold her "Happy!" face for a few more minutes, even though there was nothing she wanted more than to run down the gangplank, drop on the ground, and kiss the earth beneath her. Heaven's sake, she'd kiss the most loathsome creature the Filipino forests could offer if she could just get off this damned boat.
The rise and fall of the ship caused the gangplank to tilt and sway, and her stomach lurched again. She had to move, now, or risk embarrassing herself by doubling over the railing and losing what little food she'd managed to eat that morning. And wouldn't that be a sight for the welcoming committee gathered below?
Surreptitiously gripping the handrail, she made her way down the steep ramp until she touched dry land. But her relief was short-lived when she realized that while her mind may have acknowledged that her feet were on solid ground, her body felt as if she were still dipping and swaying.
An officer dressed in a stiffly pressed uniform marched forward, extending a huge bouquet of flowers. "Welcome to the Philippines."
"Thank you ..." she quickly checked the brass eagles pinned to his shoulder boards, "Colonel."
"Colonel Ross. It's wonderful to be here." After three weeks at sea and most of them spent lying sick on her bunk, she had never been so sincere.
"We're looking forward to your performance tomorrow night. Your ship arrived in the nick of time, I'd say."
Glory Bee opened her mouth to make a pithy remark, but checked herself just in time. Be on your best behavior, Michael had warned her when she'd boarded the damn boat. And there'd been just enough doubt tingeing his tone to imply he didn't think she could do it.
So she altered her initial response to drawl, "Truer words have never been spoken, Colonel." No one else needed to know that if she'd been forced to endure another day or two on the high seas, the crew would have been forced to scrape her off the deck.
"My aide, Sergeant Wilcox, has been assigned to see to your every need."
Wilcox snapped to attention, a blush spreading over his cheeks. He was little more than a kid, really. He reminded Glory Bee of the pest-next-door type with hair so blond it was nearly white, and blunt features that would give him a boyish air even in his dotage.
"Ma'am!" he said a little too loudly, offering her a slight bow.
One of Glory Bee's brows rose at his effusive gallantry, but she awarded him with a slow smile. "I'm sure Sergeant Wilcox and I will get along famously, Colonel."
If possible, the sergeant's skin took on an even redder tone. So much so, she feared his hair might burst into flames.
The colonel discreetly cleared his throat, "Sergeant Wilcox has already notified the rest of the cast of your arrival as well as the band that will accompany you during your ... er ... act."
Glory Bee remained serene, even as she inwardly laughed at the man. Colonel or no, Ross's eyes were rife with a combination of puritanical dismay and prurient curiosity.
"I promise to make all your hard work worthwhile, Colonel Ross. I'll entertain your men as grandly as if it were my final performance."
This time, it was the colonel's skin that grew ruddy.
But the joke was on him. Tomorrow's show would be her last. Then she would slip into obscurity for a while. In the meantime, it was fitting that her last strip tease would be for the troops since the biggest share of her audience while in Washington, D.C. had been the military.
Glory Bee felt only a twinge of regret for the forced hiatus. The past few months had worn her out, body and soul. She craved the seclusion she'd come to the Philippines to find. She only wished she could begin it sooner.
But she couldn't tell the colonel that. So she smiled instead — a smile artfully reflecting pleasure mixed with a touch of come-hither.
"I'm sure that you could do no wrong in the men's eyes, Miss ..."
"Call me Glory Bee."
"Yes, well ... er ..."
The man had to be thirty years her senior, but he stammered and shifted in front of her as if he were a teenager — an effect that was not unfamiliar to Glory Bee. So she took pity on him, interrupting with, "I'm honored I can be of service to you and the men stationed at Fort Stotsenberg."
See, Michael. I can be as sweet as sugar if I have to be.
Colonel Ross turned, sweeping an arm toward the official military car waiting behind him.
"If you'll come this way, Sergeant Wilcox will escort you to the camp. It's a bit of a drive, but he'll show you to your quarters where you'll be able to rest and get your land legs. Then he'll return with the car around three in the afternoon to take you to the dress rehearsal."
And wasn't that just the slice of heaven she was longing for? Several hours alone on dry land.
"You're too kind, Colonel." She looped her arm through his, attempting to look blissfully enchanted while inwardly, she counted the steps she would have to take before she could sink onto the padded seat. Moving with the same exaggerated sway to her hips that had become her trademark, she paused only once — just in front of the open door. Bracing herself against the hot metal of the hood, she lifted her arm in a broad wave, and called out to the other military personnel on the quay.
"I'll see you all at the show!"
The resultant roar punctuated by wolf whistles bolstered her flagging spirits, and briefly, she forgot about the lurching of her stomach and the pounding ache at her temples. Laughing, she gazed out at the boys who surrounded her — lanky sailors in their whites, infantry in their tans, dockside workers and curious Filipinos. She waved to them all, absorbing their energy and their youthful exuberance like an addict might inhale opium smoke. Then she blew them a kiss and settled into the car amid the resulting cheers.
* * *
Riley Patrick Gilhouley slid a pair of sunglasses over his eyes to cut the glare of the hot tropical sun. Like the other men present, he'd been held momentarily transfixed by the arrival of the statuesque redhead. Sweet baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, he didn't think there was a male alive who could have looked away. Women here were scarce, and women like that ...
Well, there were no women like that, thank God, or nothing would ever get done.
Weaving his way through the crowd, he passed the commotion near the ship and headed further down to the docks where a battered civilian seaplane was pulling into position. He waited patiently as it was tied to the pier, then drew closer as the pilot emerged and jumped onto the weathered boards.
The moment the grizzled older man lifted his head and caught sight of Gilhouley, he grinned.
"Well, I'll be goddamned! As I live and breathe, if it ain't the Great Gilhouley in the flesh!" His weather-beaten face split into a grin. "How the hell have you been?"
Gilhouley held his hand out, but Napoli ignored it and pulled him into a crushing hug. "I couldn't believe my ears when I got your message. What brings you to purgatory, my friend?"
"I was reassigned here about six months ago."
"The hell, you say. And who'd you fuck with to end up here — or should I say whose wife did you fuck to end up here?"
Gilhouley laughed, a betraying heat seeping up into his cheeks. Napoli knew him well. In his first few years in the army, Gilhouley had been in trouble on more occasions than he could count. He'd had a hard time keeping his mouth shut — and an even harder time keeping his fly zipped. But after being caught in the bedroom of a brigadier general's wife, and enduring a stint in the Aleutians, he'd vowed that if the Almighty could arrange to transfer Gilhouley someplace warm, Gilhouley would do his best to mend his ways.
So far, he hadn't completely kept his bargain with God, but at least he wasn't freezing his balls off in Alaska.
"Were you able to get what I needed?"
Napoli motioned for Gilhouley to walk toward the plane where cases of tinned food and alcohol were being unloaded by a pair of bare-chested Filipinos.
Gilhouley quickly scanned the labels and nodded in approval. "I've got a Jeep parked at the end of the pier. Have your boys load it into the back."
Napoli motioned to the men, shouting to them in a broken mixture of Spanish and Tagalog, waving his arms as added punctuation. Then he reached into the plane and withdrew a small cardboard box.
"Here's the other item you asked me to get."
Gilhouley sobered, taking the box and tucking it under his arm. After a quick glance around the pier, he removed a roll of bills from his pocket and handed it to Napoli.
"For your troubles."
Napoli offered him a half salute. "Tell your poker buddies in the press corps that I appreciate their business."
"I'll be sure to do that."
Gilhouley was striding away, when Napoli called to him.
Turning, Gilhouley squinted against the sparkle of sunlight off the waves. It was barely nine in the morning, yet he could already feel the sweat pooling between his shoulder blades and beneath his arms.
"If I don't see you for a while, take care of yourself, y'hear?"
Gilhouley frowned. "Are you planning a trip, Napoli?"
The grizzled pilot took a stubby cigar from his shirt pocket and clamped onto it with his teeth. Removing a lighter from a baggy pair of pants, he shielded the flame from the wind and drew deep until the tip flared. Then, he stood staring up at the brilliant blue sky as if the clouds were tea leaves that held his fortune.
"I don't like what's happening with the Nips in Indo-China." He chewed on the end of his cigar, then grabbed it in two stained fingers and blew a cloud of smoke into the air. "I gotta a bad feeling, buddy."
"You think trouble is headed this way?"
Napoli made a sound of disgust. "Hell, trouble follows me more closely than my own shadow. You're safe enough with American might at your back, but me? Let's just say I don't want a Jap Zero tailing me anytime too soon. I'm thinking I'll make a few more runs, then head south, probably by the end of the month. I doubt it'll be much longer before the Japs show up. Maybe I'll bide my time in Australia until I know which way the wind is blowing. So if you need something, let me know as soon as you can. I still owe you big for backing me in that bar fight in Dago."
"Take care of yourself Napoli."
"Same to you, buddy!"
Gilhouley nodded, walking backwards so that he could study Napoli for as long as he could before the older man unhooked from the pier, climbed back into his plane and latched his door. With a sputtering rumble, the engine caught and the propellers spun. Minutes later, Napoli was edging back into the bay, picking up speed, seawater spraying behind him until, with a bounce, two, three, the plane lifted into the sky like an ungainly pelican.
Gilhouley couldn't prevent the involuntary chill that skittered up his spine. Word had it that MacArthur was sure the Japs wouldn't attack before spring. But if Napoli figured the Philippines would become a prime target within a few weeks ...
How long would it be before the Japanese came to the same conclusion?
* * *
"I thought you'd be in Manila meeting the new nurses this morning. Did you decide not to go?"
Major Rosemary Dodd looked up from her reports to find Alice Strickland peering at her from the doorway to her office. Alice was a tall, slender woman with who normally wore a stoic mask, but today there was no disguising her amusement.
"Can you blame me?" Rosemary asked, leaning back.
Alice laughed and took a seat on the chair opposite Rosemary's desk. "What's not to love — brass bands, a stirring dockside speech ... ?"
"You obviously haven't heard."
"Our nurses aren't the only passengers on this particular transport. The boat also brings the guest performer for the troops' annual Holiday Revue."
Alice's brows rose. "The Andrews Sisters?" she asked hopefully.
"Even better. A stripper."
Alice's carefully plucked brows nearly disappeared into her hairline. "You're kidding, right?"
Rosemary shook her head. "I have it from a pretty good source. She's coming all the way from Washington, D.C. to entertain our boys."
"Good lord, that means the men who invariably gather as an impromptu welcoming committee will be especially out of control."
"Now you see why I skipped the adventure. I've arranged to introduce myself to the new women at orientation tomorrow morning, then I'll invite them for drinks at the officers' club before the party later in the evening."
"So who's meeting the new staff at the docks?"
Rosemary grinned. "Lieutenant Wakely."
Rosemary saw the moment that Alice absorbed the fact that straight-laced, old-fashioned Lt. Wakely had been thrown into the middle of what would probably become a testosterone-laden melee. Laughing, Alice gathered her things. "I hope you gave her hazard pay."
"No, but I should."
As she straightened, Alice eyed Rosemary in concern. "Don't stay too much longer. You've got the evening shift again tonight, and you haven't even been home yet from last night. You've been pulling sixteen-hour days for weeks now. If you keep this up, you'll be in a hospital bed yourself."
Rosemary grimaced, but didn't respond. Her head throbbed and her shoulders were taut with weariness. But there was still so much to do.
"I'll leave in the next few minutes."
"You'd better," Alice said as she turned into the hall. The sound of her footfalls had nearly disappeared when she called out, "Oh, and if I don't see you tomorrow ... happy birthday!"
The slam of the outside door added a note of punctuation to the resulting silence. Rosemary sat motionless. She didn't even want to think about it — certainly didn't want anyone else to know or make a fuss. But it didn't surprise her that Alice knew. The two of them had become good friends since Alice's arrival more than a year ago. But Rosemary had taken great pains to keep the knowledge away from everyone else.
She shoved her reports into a folder and the folder into the filing cabinet. After carefully locking everything away, she decided Alice was right. She'd been at the hospital since early the previous evening. She needed a cool bath and several hours of sleep before checking on the arrangements for the welcoming party being thrown in honor of the new nurses tomorrow night. It was a tradition here in the Philippines — a grand welcoming dockside with a brass band and speeches, a quick tour of the area, martinis at their new quarters and plenty of time to absorb their surroundings, then orientation and a party and dance at the officers' club the following night. After that, the new girls would be given a week off to acclimate themselves to the heat before beginning their duties at the hospital.
Not a bad assignment. In fact, it was considered one of the plum spots here in the Pacific. Duties were usually routine — appendectomies, a few tonsillectomies, broken bones, and sunburn.
So why did Rosemary suddenly feel restless? She'd loved her time in Luzon — proving herself so capable that she'd been given command of the nurses at Fort Stotsenberg.
Grabbing her purse, she locked her office door and made her way into the hot tropical sunshine. There was a cool breeze today and it rustled the palm leaves overhead so they left dancing fingers of shadow on the walkway under her feet.
Was it time for a transfer? Rosemary wondered as she traversed the few blocks to the private bungalow assigned to the head of the nursing staff. She'd been in the Pacific for more than a dozen years and in the Philippines for ten. Maybe she needed a change of scenery. Someplace with snow. It was one of the few things she missed about the farm in Nebraska — snow in December.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "After the Fall"
Copyright © 2015 Lisa Bingham.
Excerpted by permission of Diversion Publishing Corp..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book broke my heart but Lisa Bingham put it back together again. I've never read a book about WWII. I learned a lot and was sadly disturbed by what humans are capable of doing to one another. However, the basic human spirit of survival, love and kindness will always prevail.
After the Fall by Lisa Bingham is a historical novel that starts in early December of 1941 in the Philippines. Major Rosemary Dodd is in charge of the nurses at Fort Stotsenberg. She has been in the Pacific for twelve years and is celebrating another birthday. Her parents keep wanting to know when she will come home. At first they wanted her to marry and settle down, but now that she has hit 40 they want her to take care of them. Rosemary is attracted to Riley Patrick Gilhouley. He is assigned to the press corp and is known as the person who can get things. They two get together one evening and the next day their world will never be the same again. Glory Bee O’Halloran is a strip tease artist. She has come to do a performance for the troops at Fort Stotsenberg before taking a hiatus (she is pregnant). John Macklin picks her up after the performance to stay at the sugar cane plantation he manages. Glory Bee is awakened by John the next day. Time to pack and move up into the owner’s hunting lodge in the mountains. This book portrays the struggles of soldiers and civilians during the beginning of World War II in the Philippines. To me the best part of the book was the lovely ending. It was so sweet. I am glad that the author did not go into the horrors that the nurses suffered in Bataan and Corregidor. I give After the Fall 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it, but did not love it). I think this books main focus was romance. The instant attraction between two people. It is nicely written, great historical details, and lively characters. If you enjoy historical romance novels, then you will like reading After the Fall. I received a complimentary copy of After the Fall from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.
Excellent historical! 4.5 stars After the Fall is a sad and tragic story set in the Pacific during WWII. It tells the courageous story of many characters such as Lt. Riley Gilhouley, Maj. Rosemary Dodd, Ex-priest John Macklin and Glory Bee O’Halloran at Pearl Harbor. Mere hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attack the Philippines, the island haven explodes into the chaos of battle. Excellent novel of courage , bravery, redemption and passion. The author, Lisa Bingham, nicely blended her characters into this dramatic story! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!