After devoting eighteen years of his life to the US Navy, Petty Officer First Class Shane Parker is struggling with the very real possibility of becoming unnecessary. If he doesn’t make Chief Petty Officer before his twenty—and it doesn’t seem likely that he will—he’ll be retired from active service and placed on the Fleet Reserve list until his mooring lines are officially cut forever. While it would all be very honorable and ceremonial, he simply wasn’t civilian material.
Before even swearing-in, Julian Brand knew he wasn’t cut out to be a soldier, but refusing wasn’t an option. Generations of Brand man made careers in the military and the expectation of every Brand son was to follow in those prestigious footsteps. Though the prospect of being rolled back dodged his every step, somehow he made it through boot camp and did his time. Six years after not reenlisting, Julian still struggles to find familial acceptance as he fights to live life on his terms.
On the surface, they couldn’t be more different, but when Jared Ramos calls, neither are capable of refusing. If they can find a way to work together, they might be able to save a wounded warrior and each other in the process.
NOTE: The first story in this series is a 6K word short story originally written for an anthology. While it’s a different couple, I’m happy to provide that to reviewers as they have a brief appearance in the new book and are central characters to this benefit series.
I was counting down the days until this book was released and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Just like I thought, Jessie certainly didn’t disappoint!
Jared Ramos has started a charity, The Ramos Foundation, that helps soldiers in need. When he comes across Sean, a man involved in a two-seater plane crash causing him to be trapped between cargo containers on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The crash left him partially paralyzed. Jared brings together Shane, Sean’s best friend who was back home recovering from a torn rotator cuff and hadn’t heard of the accident and Julian, Sean’s cousin. Julian’s parents had been taking care of Sean but refused to call Julian, whom they haven’t spoken to in ages because of his sexual preference.
Once Shane and Julian are on board all the necessary steps are made to help Sean through recovery. Julian owns a B&B and renovates his living space to accommodate Sean. As the two navigate a plan for recovery with Sean they are also dancing around a growing attraction to each other, but Shane isn’t out at work and doesn’t really have any plans to be. Julian doesn’t want to be his dirty little secret, but can he walk away from the man?
This story blew me away. I loved that we got the POV of all three men. It made Sean’s struggle with recovery that much more realistic. To see that it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, it was days of depression and wanting to give up and pushing through that to find the new normal.
The relationship between Shane and Julian developed so organically, it never felt forced. It was so natural, I think it even snuck up on Shane. Julian never pressed for more, but at the same time he never lost sight of what he wanted and needed and Shane was able to give him that.
The secondary characters were an added bonus. Julian’s parents were written with just enough snark and religious undertone that I couldn’t hate them for their misguided opinions. I certainly didn’t like them, but Jessie didn’t make me hate them. Esme was another surprise, so colorful and full of life. I was so happy to see the part she played in Sean’s recovery.
The moral of the story is, if you haven’t read the book yet stop what you’re doing and read it. You won’t be disappointed.
5 pieces of eye candy
Happily Ever Chapter – “Well-written story, strong characters.”
Bookobsessed – “Wonderful read”
10% of royalties earned from this and future books in the Forgotten Soldier series will benefit the Gary Sinise Foundation, but I’m not content to stop there. I’ve set up a fundraising page directly on the Foundation’s website and I’m asking for your help in reaching (and maybe surpassing) my goal. Every donation of $10 equals 1 entry to win signed books. If you donate more than that, every multiple of 10 will be an additional entry (so $20 = 2 entries and so forth).
Seeing Sean fall apart was something Shane wasn’t likely to forget. Never could he have imagined a single scenario that included this big, strong, strapping sailor curled up in his blankets sobbing. As Julian climbed back onto the bed, absorbing that pain as if it were his own, Shane feared he was the wrong man to help them. He was barely treading water and the overwhelming emotions coming off both men were like a rip tide threatening to pull him away.
Over the years, he heard Sean worry over his cousin’s emotional stability enough that he thought he was doing the right thing by offering Julian a safe place to vent. It wasn’t like his own emotions were in danger of getting involved—he only had a couple and none of them were tied up in a man he didn’t know. The same couldn’t be said for Sean. They were more than friends, more than the honorary brothers, and this breakdown had his own eyes itching in an alarming way.
Were those tears? It had been decades. For sure, never in his adult life. Not since…no, it was best not to think about that now. Talk about being useless. If he went down that path, Sean and Julian would be taking care of him.
A warm hand slid along his and the ease in which their fingers twined gave him pause. Cautiously, he looked over and found brown eyes filled with understanding and invitation. He had promised Julian he wouldn’t be alone and the quiet reciprocation had been nice, but nothing he expected to count on. Without consciously thinking about it, Shane found himself sitting on the edge of the bed. Though it wasn’t built for three grown men, he was able to wrap his arm around his little unit and was surprised how right it felt.
“We’re going to get through this, Sean. Will you let us take care of you?” Julian was still speaking when Shane felt Sean nodding against them.
For better or worse, they were in it together now and Shane refused to let them down no matter how uncomfortable it might get for him.
Like many readers, the dream of being a writer has been with me a long time. After three decades of trying, I’d begun to doubt. Thanks to social media, I followed my favorite authors hoping to glean some words of wisdom as I pounded out half-formed ideas with alarming regularity. Two repetitive themes emerged: to be a great writer you must read a lot and your butt must be in the chair every day like it’s a job. The more you write, the easier it will be to write and the better you will be at writing. I took that advice to heart and write every day. With three series in the works and a full schedule of releases planned for the next two years, it’s been amazing to have made this dream my reality.I am a firm believer in marriage equality, love at first sight, power dynamics, and happily ever after. I’m a lover of strong secondary characters, and series filled with families—biological or chosen. All are themes you’ll find throughout my books.