Knowing something was going to be a tough read, but still wanting desperately to read it is how I have felt about this story since I read the first book in the series. Because of You ended with a side story that was just begging to be told and finally we get that story here. So worth it, but no lie, it will twist you up inside before it gets better.
Captain Trent Davila has hit the very lowest his life can go and it is while he is down there looking around him at the shattered pieces of his life that he resolves to do something about it. Trent was injured to the point of nearly losing his life and never really recovered mentally from that before he was back to combat duty. From then on, he just kept stuffing feelings of any sort down deep to the point where he felt hollow and empty inside toward anything, but the call of war. He couldn’t understand what was happening and it terrified him, but he certainly didn’t want his wife to see him as the cold, broken man he was and he certainly didn’t feel deserving of still having his family when so many others lost their lives under his leadership so he kept volunteering for duty assignments and stayed away from home hoping she would still be there for him. After all those tours of duty, he is left with a wife who wants a divorce because he broke her, a pending court martial for things of which he wasn’t guilty and that continuing sick, empty feeling that consumes him. Now that he’s about to lose it all, he is finally able to see what he can’t live without and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get it back. He’s going home to his wife and family.
Laura Davila gave her all as an army wife in support of her husband until there was nothing left to give. She finally broke when she discovered that more than just withdrawing from her and acting like a stranger that he had lied to her about his duty assignments being mandatory and then he shut off all communication. Divorce was not what she wanted and it crushed her heart, but she couldn’t continue to live like that. Her love was not enough and that hurt worse because asking for divorce didn’t stop her heart from wanting. Now Trent is back and she senses something is different, but dare she hope? There will be no coming back if he fails this time and its not just her who will be injured if Trent can’t figure out how to become a part of their family again and give up his need to always stay apart and leave- his son and daughter would be crushed right along with her. Can she really take such a chance again?
Trent is terrified, but he is determined. In the midst of readying for his court case, helping Shane get ready for his wedding, and dealing with his combat fatigue and issues, he tentatively reaches out to his wife and kids. He goes back to his own home as a stranger even while the demons that drove him away roar loudly in his ears to flee. He knows what he has to do and hopes there is enough left to do it.
As I said, this book was one of my most anticipated reads. I was nervous to read it in case it was a let down because I knew I was aiming high. Gotta tell you though, it delivered. I was tense and felt every emotion for this poor tortured couple, but it was all good. It was like really appreciating the light because I’d been in darkness so long. I’m glad that both of them narrated this story so that their thoughts and motivations were evident to me. Every action, thought and word struck true so no matter how slow this broken relationship moved forward, I was content to let it all unfold at its own pace. Baby steps were the only thing that made sense in this situation. And the passion between these two? It is always smoldering, but whoosh it would kindle to a blaze and it was just really something. Their second chance affair is so beautiful and unique in that it is conducted within the realm of already being a married pair with two ordinary children and their pets. I absolutely melted when Trent and Laura engaged with their children especially Trent’s early efforts to connect with his home and his own children. And each time he turned to Laura instead of hiding from her just letting her see deep into his tired, hurting soul? I was as swoony as Laura over her brave husband.
There is more than just Trent and Laura’s relationship going on in this book, but that was the focal point. There is the court martial situation that was so tragic in and of itself. I hated that Lieutenant who set Trent up so much by the time all was said and done that a life sentence of hard labor at Leavenworth (doubt that is still a punishment nowadays) would probably not satisfy my need for vengeance. His selfishness, greed and hatred touched so many particularly Trent and Laura.
There was the ongoing story of Shane and Jen with their wedding plans and his pending return to full duty. He is such a romantic hero the way he tenderly cares for her and wants this wedding to be perfect because this time his wedding is to the woman he loves more than life. Shane and Jen are also still dealing with their differing views of starting a family together.
On a side note, I liked the follow-up with Carponti and Nicole to see how he continues to adjust to his amputation. Carponti is the one who does what he does best. His wisecracks and over the top remarks help lighten things up when it gets too thick with emotion. He totally grounds Trent and Shane so they can deal better.
Now that I have gotten the story that I most anticipated, I am more than satisfied. Glutton that I am, I am not ready to be done with this series or its characters so I was glad to see that Reza Iaconelli is to get his story next.
I can’t recommend this series enough to those who love strong, gritty and most of all authentic military romance, but most definitely read it in order when you pick it up.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to review this story in exchange for my honest review thoughts.