Thursday, December 22, 2011

Because Of You, I Promise


DAY ELEVEN - HAPPY HUNKY DAYS!

Happiest of Holidays from the Guilty Indulgence Book Club. We are pleased to be with you every day and hope you will all join us for our annual Happy Hunky-days - Twelve fun filled days of Christmas where we treat you with gifts of joy and happiness (aka free books and very yummy eye candy!). Please join us daily and all registered commenters will get a chance to win some really great books from our Stash of Goodness as we know you have all tried so very hard to be good this year!!! (Seriously, you can even be quite naughty and still get free books and swag - just register and comment!)

I've got two military romances to share with you today. Yesterday marked 17 years since my brother passed away after serving in Desert Storm. And I suppose in an attempt to understand him - that dark military side that always seemed so elusive - I've been searching out particularly realistic military suspense/ romance. Both of the reviews I share with you today met that criteria. I enjoyed them both. If you have any interest in this type of story, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Because of You by Jessica Scott

Grab a box of tissues. Because of You is an incredibly emotional story inclusive of the struggles military men and women undergo. Portrayed in such a realistic way by an author who truly understands the military, I found myself tearing up a few times (and those who know me know I am not the crying type).  Because of You squeezed my heart, held me trapped with its angst-filled and compelling characters so full of life. The portrayal of life in the military – their families, the risks, and dedication – was overwhelming, so much so that the story resonated with me for days.

Shane Garrison is an infantry platoon sergeant (it’s a crazy dangerous job!) with all the attributes any alpha hero needs *sigh* - tall, dark and handsome, strong, honorable, and big-hearted, all wrapped up with a sense of responsibility. Undergoing a difficult loss in the beginning of the book, Shane is eager to deploy with his unit again despite knowing this assignment will be more difficult. We meet up with Shane months later when he’s sent home after being critically wounded in Iraq. When he regains consciousness, he learns his nurse is Jen St. James. Jen and Shane had shared a single (but memorable) kiss the night before his deployment four months ago and he’s not been able to stop thinking of her anymore than she can stop thinking about him.

Jen commits herself to helping Shane which is no easy feat. But having fought her own personal battle with breast cancer, she understands the fears – she herself still carrying her own scars. Shane struggles with accepting himself as anything other than a soldier. It’s gut-wrenching to see such a strong man so lost. His whole life revolves around his military career. His sense of responsibility to his men had me both frustrated and awed. I wanted him to care more for himself but saw so much of my own brother (who was a soldier) in this type of unfettered commitment.

The love between Shane and Jen develops in a realistic manner - their connection forged through his recovery. Despite the heaviness of their circumstance, Scott infused humor into a few scenes so that I found myself laughing aloud at times. But mostly I was bolstered by the strength of how two scarred, albeit strong, people conquer their vulnerabilities and open their hearts to love.

Scott used vivid imagery, original characterization and engaging narrative to allow readers a peak into military life. Through the use of well-developed secondary characters, readers see the not-so-glamorous side of a military wife - the constant worry and struggles, loneliness and selflessness. I am looking forward to the other books in this series that will explore the lives of these secondary characters.

Because of You is an exceptionally emotional read told in an authentic voice that left me exhausted but relieved – changed by what I read. I recommend this book to everyone.

RATING: 5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries.


The Promise by Tory Richards



The trouble with a promise is all in the follow-through. And this is exactly what the main characters in The Promise learn in this sweet love story. Shannon is facing her first holiday season after her husband was killed in Iraq. With no other living relatives, she travels to Vermont where his family will gather. She’s received with open arms by every member of this large family. Not usually the crying type, I’ll admit to a few tearful moments in the beginning of this book. The characters are realistic and the family dynamic is so genuine that it’s near impossible not to love them – even her brother-in-law Ryan who is not so easy to like at first.

Returning home for the first time in years, Ryan is injured and all too aware of the promise he’d made his brother - to care for Shannon and their daughter, Alivia - as he held him during his final moments, a secret he’s kept from Shannon. Ryan is reluctant to keep the promise because he’s always been in love with Shannon which only serves to stir his guilt. He can't accept the fact that his brother's death gave him everything he wanted so he keeps her at arms’ length with his sharp tongue. A realistic dilemma adds credibility to the story and secures the storyline.

Despite Ryan’s abrasiveness – and due in part to a few moments of tenderness (especially with Alivia) - their attraction to each other is undeniable. Though Shannon knew she must move on since she’d promised this to her husband, she isn't completely comfortable with the attraction to her deceased husband's brother. Yet she’s brave enough to take a leap of faith, persuaded by the least likely person – her mother-in-law. It was a sweet moment when they had this conversation. Scenes flipped from sad to steamy as this emotionally gripping story played out.

There were a few editing errors that threw me – timing issues that were off and the use of wrong character names – but not enough to deter the flow of the story. It was highly emotional – a truly beautiful love story in a not-so-likely match. A good read.


RATING: 5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries.
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