Dara Harrow, daughter of a rocket physicist for the US department of defence, sends her parents into a tailspin of dual-loyalty anxiety when she plans to wed the brooding and mysterious Gideon Ben-Ari, an Israeli officer in an elite counter-terrorist unit.  Yet Dara’s budding perfect world is shattered when the terror that she thought she left behind in the States catches up to her in Israel with devastating results, and before long she realizes she must come to terms with the shocking lie about the one man she trusted.

The Gilboa Iris is a blazing tale of romance, deceit, and international intrigue.  It’s rich characters and explosive plot take readers from Israel’s Gilboa Mountains, to Germany’s Zehlendorf Forest, and back to Israel amid seminal events that rocked the world between 1982 and 2002.

*****

5 STAR REVIEW for  The Gilboa Iris

This is an excellent book!  I love it when I read a wonderful captivating book that has a great plot and moving, real characters.  The Gilboa Iris met all these qualifications for me.  Dara Harrow is a strong minded teenager, who against the wishes of her parents, chooses to leave her home and family to go work in a kibbutz located at Mount Gilboa in Israel.  She is following an idealistic interest fostered by her cherished elderly grandfather who is from Isreal, although he lives in the US with Dara and her family.

At the kibbutz, Dara makes many open and wonderful friends. She is also attracted to a brooding mysterious man, Ahron Ben-Ari,  called Roni by his friends. This is the beginning of a heart wrenching story filled with international intrigue, deceit perpetrated by several people that she loves,  betrayal, the unconditional love of two men who make sacrifices for their love of her, her own feeling of pain and loss and her own loyalty and love that breached all circumstances.

Although the author is an outspoken activist on behalf of Israel, this book is not a political statement.  It is a realistic fictional rendering of the lives of people who live in the world of the Israeli people, and the sacrifices that can be made by people who live there. Dara is wonderful rounded person.  As you learn to know Ahron Ben-Ari you discover a man who has been damaged by life circumstances, a man who is protective and passionate in love,a man who will sacrifice everything; his love, his happiness and even his life for his country.

I was so intrigued that I went on line to check out some of the places, terms and events that are mentioned in this book.  It has been a learning experience, as well as a wonderful read for me.

I highly recommend this book.

Gloria Antypowich

(Reviewers note:  I read this book on my Kindle.  I did find repetitive formatting errors that stopped me at first until I realized that it is probably due to the ebook conversion.  Other than that the book is well edited.)

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excert from The Gilboa Iris.

Some minutes later, drink in hand, Uri sauntered into my office. “How long will it take?” he asked, looking over my shoulder as I was typing. Or, at least I thoughthe was looking over my shoulder.“I’ll need another hour or so,” I turned to him. That was when I saw him staring at the pressed flower preserved beneath the glass of a silver frame hanging on the wall above my computer desk. I realized this was the first time he had ever stepped into my little home office.“Another hour,” he repeated, sounding distracted. “What kind of flower is that?” he asked, nodding at the frame.“It’s the…Gilboa Iris.” I hoped he wouldn’t put two and two together. There was a long moment of uneasy silence. He tore his eyes away from the frame, getting back to himself, and glanced at his watch. “It’s good that you have some work to finish, since I have a last-minute meeting to go to.”“Oh,” was all I could muster. I was afraid my Gilboa Iris had something to do with his “last-minute meeting.”“Hey,” Uri lifted my chin, seeing my disappointment, “I’m hoping it won’t take too long. I don’t intend on going a day without you.”“For a moment there…I thought…” I trailed off.“You thought what, Dara?” That smug look of his told me he knew what I was thinking.“Nothing.”“Mmm hmm. When are you going to realize that your silver eyes tell all, my dear?”

How could someone be so good at reading people? It was uncanny. “Well, maybe you should stop looking at my eyes.”

“Trust me, Dara, that’s not all I look at.”

“Like I don’t already know that. You don’t even try to hide it when you give me the onceover.”

“I take offense to that. I’m sure I do it more than just once.”

“Uri, sometimes you make me feel totally naked!”

His eyes widened in surprise, and he grinned as if I said something comical. “And that bothers you?” There was a sly lilt to his tone.

Shrugging my shoulder, I confessed in a small voice, “Not anymore.”

“Shocking.”

I frowned, but was inwardly relieved that Uri seemed to forget about the framed flower. “So, where is your meeting?”

“In the city center, on King George. It may run for a couple hours.”

“Well, coincidentally, Jenny called me just before you arrived. She wanted to pop over before she drives home. Why don’t I just ride back with her to Sde Dovid and wait for you there.”

“Sounds like a plan.” He bent down to give me a light kiss on the lips, but I grabbed onto him, kissing him harder. His restraint was driving me crazy. “Mmm, Dara,” he pulled away, “you’re a very bad influence on me.”

“Oh? Am I compromising your virtue?”

“You’re trying to.”

“Still playing the gentleman role?”

“Yes, and you’re not making it easy on me.”

“Hmm, well I think you’re just not that attracted to me.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Why not?”

“Dara, I could be in the Guinness Book of World Records for taking the most cold showers in the span of three weeks.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“My little temptress, it’s almost cute how you play the chaste one. Almost.

“I’ve been on my best behavior.”

“Right. And I suppose it’s mere coincidence that you’re wearing those shorts. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice?”

“Oh, these?” I stood up from my desk, posing a tad too provocatively. “I just find them comfortable to lounge around in when working at home,” I said innocently.

Uri stood in silence and I watched his eyes travel over me bit by bit. He took a deep breath and raked his hand through his hair in frustration. A sense of guilt crept over me and I gave up the pose. But, before I could do any backtracking he grabbed me by my arms. “Come here,” he said in a gritty whisper, pulling me into him. His lips met mine with an intensity that took me by surprise. The strength of his ardor had thrust me backward, pinning me against a wall, his body grinding against mine. He pulled at my blouse, its delicate fabric no match for his frenzied advance as he found his way to my skin. He slid his lips down my neck, his tongue caressing me in his steady descent, my blouse no longer a hindrance – and then back up again, finding my lips once more, kissing me hard, and kissing me madly. I was on fire.

This was the first time Uri was so forceful. He had made it a point to take things slow with me, behaving with maddening self-discipline, always kissing me in a gentle…tender way, never allowing himself to lose control. Not that that wasn’t nice…it was. But, I craved the heat – like the way he was kissing me now – I desired his eager touch, his sensual hunger, and I didn’t want him to stop.

Much too soon, he pulled his lips from mine and wrenched himself free from me. He stretched his arms out above my shoulders, leaning his hands against the wall behind me for support while gazing down at me. “I have to go,” he breathed heavily.

“I know.” I looked up at him, out of breath myself.

His eyes trailed over me, looking as if he was in agony in his effort to regain control. “Dara…”

“Yes?”

“Change out of those shorts before I see you again tonight. If not, I’ll go mad.”

I glanced up at him demurely, trying to hide a smile.

“One more thing, Dara…,” his eyes burned into mine.

“Yes, Uri?”

“The Gilboa Iris – get rid of it. Or at least, put the damn thing away where I can’t see it.” He shook his head and walked out of the room and out the front door.

YOU CAN PURCHASE THIS BOOK on Amazon at  Gilboa Iris

A native of New York, Zahava Englard lived in Teaneck, NJ, before moving with her family to Israel in 2006. An outspoken activist in the United States on behalf of Israel, she served as trustee on the executive board of One Israel Fund, and as its executive director. Presently Zahava lives in Israel. Her writing includes Settling for More: From Jersey to Judea, and she lectures in the United States and Israel about her books, Jewish activism, and her passion for Israel’s well-being. Gilboa Iris is her first novel.