In this latest of the Always a Marine installments, the author tackles yet another way of celebrating for one of her marines and takes on the subject that some face of an internal conflict between religious belief and belief in duty and service to country. In this case, its a Wiccan winter retreat to celebrate Yule and a soldier coming home conflicted by his beliefs of doing no harm while feeling called to do his duty to service and protect in the Marines.
I really enjoyed following along with Caiden as he reluctantly came home after ten years of combat duty assignments, wound tight, and bruised by life. He meets Rowan right away at the Wiccan Retreat Center and the thaw begins. Caiden tries to remain standoffish because he doesn’t feel he belongs amongst his own people any more, but Rowan is safe. Rowan helps him decompress and have hope again even as she shows him that he is still part of their circle and should let their beliefs help him heal.
Caiden’s parents raised him in the Wiccan religion and they are wonderful people along with the others in circle. Rowan joined after Caiden signed up, but she has heard so many good things about the son who went away to the Marines and how loved he is by everyone including his proud parents. She has seen pictures of a smiling handsome guy, but the distant handsome male who returns just bristles with ‘stay back’. She embraces her religion and just knows that if Caiden will open himself back up to Wiccan that he can heal. With no judgment and a ton of attraction, she tries to help him and she succeeds better than she could ever imagine even while he coaxes her into opening up about herself and he sees her as special and someone wonderful.
This was a lovely, heartwarming read that it was just a pleasure to curl up under my throw blanket and enjoy. Caiden and Rowan were likeable from the start and I loved how they meandered toward something together without rushing headlong with their attraction. Caiden needed to heal and they both needed getting to know you time. I was and still am unfamiliar with the tenants of the Wiccan faith so I found that aspect fascinating too. Now I am totally jonesing for that Cracker Crack dessert that Rowan made in the book.
I just love this series of books and look forward to each new marine who is introduced along with his or her or their story. Those who enjoy a quick heartwarming holiday military romance should give these a try.
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