Formats available: ebook
Genre: military romance, contemporary romance
Series: Coming Home #2
Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Loveswept (Random House)
Date Released: October 8, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance
Though he plays by the rules, she’s not afraid to break them. Now these two strong-willed military leaders will prove that opposites attract . . . even under fire.
A by-the-book captain with a West Point background, Evan Loehr refuses to mix business with pleasure—except for an unguarded instance years ago when he succumbed to the deep sensuality of redheaded beauty Claire Montoya. Since that brief lapse in judgment, Evan has been at odds with her. But when he is asked to train a combat team alongside Claire, battle-hardened Evan is in for the fight of his life.
Strong, gutsy, and loyal, Captain Claire Montoya has worked hard to achieve her high military rank. In Evan Loehr, Claire sees a spoiled commander who puts the rules before everything else—including his people. Army orders force them together and Claire soon discovers that there is more to Evan than meets the eye. He too has dark secrets and deep longings. For all their differences, Evan and Claire share two crucial passions: their country and each other.
Not all scars are visible. And no one can be changed unless they want to change. Jessica Scott’s Coming Home series isn’t so much military romance per se as it is romance featuring men and women in the military or attached to the military and the struggles they face at re-integrating into civilian life.
The absolutely fantastic Because of You (see my review for full scope of fantastic) looked at the difficulties an ultra-responsible First Sergeant faced when he was forced away from his men due to a severe, and probably career-ending, physical injury. It highlighted the struggles that soldiers face when they return home with shattered or missing limbs.
The story of Until There Was You turns to a different aspect of coming home. The couple in this story, Captains Claire Montoya and Evan Loehr, are both still in the fight, but currently are not deployed. Hence the problem. They’d both rather be downrange instead of training others to go. Even worse, the commander who drew up the training plan is more interested in making sure his lieutenants know how to conduct a flawless power-point briefing than escort a supply convoy with a minimum number of casualties.
Also, Claire and Evan has been verbally sniping at each other for three years, ever since one ill-advised but oh-so-delicious kiss at the end of a “hail and farewell” that Evan almost didn’t attend.
Evan’s approach is totally by the book, and Claire’s is completely by the seat of her pants. She came up through the ranks and OCS, in other words, a mustang. Evan graduated from West Point. He’s never been anything but an officer. Their approaches never match.
But they do. They’re even the same rank. The non-frat rules don’t apply. It’s just a horribly bad idea. Evan doesn’t date within the military. And Claire tries to pretend she’s just one of the guys.
But when they are thrown back together as part of an insane training operation at a ski lodge, in the snow, training unprepared troops for Iraq, in the desert, it makes both of them re-think a whole lot of things.
Both Evan and Claire have dark demons in their pasts that make them push each other’s buttons, and push each other away. They’ve both learned that losing control, not having control, causes nothing but pain.
But they need each other a lot more than they need to hang onto the old scars. The question is whether they will realize it in time to save anything; their soldiers, their careers, or each other.
Escape Rating A-: The commander who creates the cluster-snafu training exercise that forms the backdrop to this terrific romance doesn’t ever make much sense. He may be all too real, but he doesn’t become enough of a real character to be more than just a paper tiger.
The romance between Claire and Evan is hot, sweet and threaded with pain. Once you see into Claire’s background, you also get an understanding of what brought her to this point in her life, and where the third character in this story fits in. Claire has an enlisted friend, Reza, who she is protecting from rehab. Protecting him not just because he’s her friend and he’s a terrific soldier, but because she’s repeating a childhood pattern that she can’t break, but must break out of to heal. Claire’s father was an alcoholic, and not all of Claire’s scars are physical. The Army gives her control because she had none growing up.
Evan lost control once in his life, and he’s paid for it ever since. That’s why he needs the control the Army gives him. But to make a relationship together, both of them have to give up some control. Watching them battle their demons is the hard part of the story.
Going in, you think the issue is going to be PTSD. It’s not. That might have been less painful. Ms. Scott does an excellent job at making the readers feel her characters’ pain and grief, so this one almost hurts to read. But it is so worth it.