Formats available: ebook
Genre: Contemporary romance, Military romance
Series: Coming Home #1
Length: 262 pages
Publisher: Loveswept (Random House)
Date Released: November 14, 2011
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance
Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again—until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.
Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels—for the first time in a long time—like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty—it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected—her deepest desire.
Strictly speaking, this isn’t a military romance. It’s a contemporary romance where a significant number of the characters, including the hero, are career military and their families who are dealing with the issues resulting from repeated deployments or from what happens when they stop.
For many soldiers, coming home is more difficult than going downrange. The military has rules and regulations. Families and civilian life, that’s something else again. And for some, the military is home, and there’s no place for them when they come home too physically broken by war to go back to the sandbox.
We know this happens in civilian life too, to people who take their identities from their jobs, and have nothing left when they retire. How much more so for someone trained to be a soldier? Trained to fight for his (or her) country. Who can’t go back to take care of the people they are trained to help keep out of harm’s way.
Shane Garrison is a Sergeant First Class. It’s his job to keep his men in line, train them, and get as many of them as possible home in one piece. His responsibility is all he has, all he knows. To the point that he sacrificed his marriage to it. (She probably wasn’t worth keeping, anyway.)
He comes home with his legs nearly shattered. And Jen, she’s the nurse who will be taking care of him.
But more than Shane’s legs are crushed. He’ll never go back downrange, and he knows it. The Army may find another job for him, but he’ll never go back to be with his men. He doesn’t have an identity beyond being Sarn’t G. If he’s not taking care of them, who is he?
He wanted to come back after deployment and see if Jen might want to take a chance on him, but not like this. He feels useless. He has men in the hospital that he can’t help, because he thinks he can’t help himself.
Shane believes that Jen couldn’t possibly understand what it feels like to lose control, to not be whole. He has no idea of the scars that she is hiding beneath her uniform. But first they have to trust each other. Something that is just as difficult for her as it is for him.
And Shane has to get his head out of his keister and figure out that his men still need him. Even more important, that the part of him that he needs to help them isn’t his legs, it’s his brain. Or maybe his heart. And both of those are still working just fine. More or less. Or at least they don’t need PT.
Escape Rating A: I read this one twice, once back in the Spring, after I saw all the recommendations, and again this week. I still remembered most of it, but it was more than good enough to stand up to a second read. Was it ever!
Not all battles are fought on the battlefield. Jen fought her own fight against cancer, and won, but she still fights every day. To feel whole, to feel normal, to feel worthy of being loved and wanted. It takes her a long time to let her guard down with Shane. Almost too long.
The most difficult struggles are the ones that the families fight at home. Waiting, hoping and not knowing. This one is embodied in Jen’s best friend Laura, the wife of Shane’s company commander Trent. Laura and Trent’s story is heart-breaking, because Laura gives up. I want to see their unfinished business get finished–Laura is a fantastic character in her own right and an awesome friend to Jen.
Because of You is a terrific story at showing the slow burn of love. Shane and Jen don’t jump into the sack when they first meet, and then, it’s simply not possible as Shane heals. What does happen is their initial attraction develops depth and trust, bit by slow bit. They earn their HEA. They fight for it.