What Part of Marine Don’t You Understand? The catchy title caught my eye, but not as much as the black Labrador Retriever on the cover. What a sweet face! Looking over the cover, I noticed this is part of “The Challenge Series: Always a Marine Book 12.” OK, so the series has been around long enough to get to book 12, (there are apparently 22 in the series so far? At least, according to the author’s website.)
When I read that the book is about returning warriors from Afghanistan and Iraq who are fighting PTSD and other issues, it immediately caught my attention. Especially when I saw that the book revolves around “Mike’s Place” a private veteran’s services facility where veterans come for physical and psychological therapy to learn to deal with the devastation of their lives due to their service to this country.
Heather Long’s “Mike’s Place” should be real, and there should be several in every state! Run on mostly donations and grants, this is a place where warriors can renew and relearn without condemnation or cruelty. With the state of government facilities which are in such terrible shape, funneling monies into places like this may be just what this country needs to help those we owe so much.
The story itself is a romance, between Matt McCall’s, a wounded Marine, and Naomi Sparks, the sister of a wounded veteran who is now a spanking-new Congressman. Naomi has come to Mike’s to do a report on the good accomplished by the facility for her brother in order to garner funds for expansion and continued success. Naomi is also using the visit as a quiet place to write songs for her first album which is due out soon. The romance is sweet, but it also has an edge as Matt works to overcome his PTSD. There is no magical answer and no magical recovery. Instead, we learn about how hard it is to deal with PTSD in soldiers – how even tiny steps are to be cherished.
There are, of course, story lines that I am not “in on” as this is book 12, but nothing that made it impossible to enjoy the book as a stand-alone. I am curious, however, about something called the “1Night Stand service” run by a Madame Eve, where, apparently, injured Marines get hooked up with “some random woman” – for a fee? The first intro to the term is awkward, to say the least, as Naomi suddenly looks up the site on the internet with no sort of link to the story line at all. This must be something that runs through the series, but in this case there was no ‘hooking up’ as Matt and Naomi meet in the park where Naomi is working on her songwriting and Matt is walking Jethro, his PTSD dog. It feels like Long wanted to write another edition of the series, but didn’t want to use the Madame Eve or 1Night Stand story itself, so simply threw in a couple of lines in various spots to hold it into the series without exploring it further. This didn’t create an issue for me other than being a bit confusing. I will have to look up her other books and see if I can figure it out. Is prostitution legal in Texas or something? Hummm.
Be that as it may, other than this tiny glitch I was well pleased with my introduction to Mike’s Place and the characters who populate it, and the focus on veterans with PTSD and the magnificent job that the PTSD Dog program is doing to help veterans.
I received this book in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.
None of us are who we were. Do you think I’m the same person I was before seeing my best friend killed? Before stepping over Marishka’s body and the bodies of her murdered children? Before seeing you face down in the dirt? Do you think I don’t see corpses in my sleep? Do you think that hasn’t changed me?” – Hope Shane, Reckless Endangerment by Amber Lee Easton
Hello All. As is easy to tell from my last blog post and others, I am deeply interested in finding ways to help injured war veterans and their families. As such, I try to nudge my readers to pay attention, to learn about things like PTSD and the horrors and devastation of war. It isn’t just the bodies of those who fight for us that are injured. Minds and souls are often damaged beyond repair. Families break apart, soldiers return from war only to realize that they are no longer able to function in society, tortured by their memories. Suicide is common, as is winding up on the streets, living in alleyways and suffering even more pain as the very country they served turns their back on them.
I haven’t read this book, but as I was checking my messages on Twitter, I came across Amber Lea Easton and her book, Reckless Endangerment. Reading what the book was about, I knew it had to join my To Be Read shelf. Here is the blurb and an excerpt. If you get a chance to read it, or if you already have, please shoot me an email and let me know what you thought about it, and I will do the same when I get a chance to read it myself.
Reckless Endangerment Blurb:
Heroes come in many forms–soldiers who fall and rise and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Sometimes heroes fall and take the ones they love down with them. Colonel Michael Cedars and reporter Hope Shane fell in love in a war zone, but then the world blew up, and splintered their lives in two.
Michael Cedars returns home from Afghanistan wounded and unsure where he fits in this ‘new normal’ of civilian life. Unsure if he’ll walk again, he questions his abilities as a man, husband, and father. Accustomed to giving orders, he’s thrown into a world where he doesn’t know the rules anymore and no one is respecting the officer in the room.
Hope isn’t one who gives up easily—not on her marriage and not on the innocent victims of a human trafficking ring she’s investigating. As the danger of her story intensifies, she struggles with her own post-traumatic stress disorder and a husband who resists her love.
Danger intensifies as Hope searches for truth and justice. Everyone she loves is at risk. Will her reckless pursuit of the human trafficking ring jeopardize their lives?
Michael knows she needs him, but doubts his ability to be the hero she still believes him to be. Is he still the man she married or has he become a liability that could get her killed?
Although this book is marketed as romantic suspense it also covers some serious issues, such as people trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding further depth to a book that is rich in plot and personal conflict already. Nothing prepared me for the literary quality of this novel. Regular romance and suspense fans get more than enough here to be satisfied by the great chemistry between the main characters and the intriguing story lines. However, if you – like myself – want a little bit more out of a book than you will find it in the well-handled and insightful passages about trafficking and PSD, issues that are handled with care rather than in an exploitative or decorative manner.
Easton clearly cares about what she writes and it pays dividends, her book is surprisingly impressive and certainly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Gritty At Times, Realistic, With An Immensely Satisfying Romance and Mystery
By J. Faltys “Joder”
By the end of Reckless Endangerment I can sum it up by saying it’s Triple-H……heartbreaking, heartwarming, and heart-pounding. It’s full of likable and fully fleshed-out characters, realistically depicted issues related to the aftermath of war, and it presented a fast-paced mystery surrounding human trafficking that kept me on the edge of my seat. It shows that atrocities not only occur in faraway lands but outside our front door as well. As two people deal both mentally and physically with the hand war dealt them it’s only through love and acceptance that true healing can begin and a HEA can be fully achieved
5.0 out of 5 stars
I love this book! The author did a great job of writing a contemporary novel with all the twists and turns that make it impossible for you to put the book down!! I am really impressed with the author’s use of hard hitting problems facing today’s society and integrating them into the story line. This is not just another cookie cutter, predictable romance!! I highly recommend this book for all who looking for a novel with a little something extra!
Excerpt From Reckless Endangerment:
“I’m sick of not having a say in what I do or don’t do. You can’t do this. Just because I’m trapped in this chair doesn’t mean I don’t have a say about my life and I want you out of it. Get the hell out and leave me alone. I don’t want to be married to you and, unless something’s changed in the good ol’ USA, you can’t stop me from divorcing you. Listen closely, babe. I. Don’t. Want. You.”
Rage consumed him. Rage for what could have been, what should have been, for a life lost. Rage for everyone acting like he had no rights anymore, like he couldn’t make his own decisions. He tossed the wedding ring and pictures across the room.
Looking horrified, she covered her mouth with her hands and walked to where the frames smashed against the floor. As she bent, her bag spilled, contents ranging from liquid soap to a flashlight scattered across the tile. She fell to her knees, hands shaking as she scooped up the items. Broken glass crunched beneath her. Hair shielded her face from view, but he knew she cried.
He remembered another time with her on her knees when that bag had saved his sanity. Bombs had rocked the walls. Blood had dripped into his eyes. Dizziness weakened his legs. From that bag, she’d retrieved bandages, protein bars, and bottles of water. He had thanked God for her and that oversized bag.
“I’ll make sure I call next time,” she said in rushed, quiet voice, “wouldn’t want to inconvenience you.”
“I’m sorry.” He dropped his hands to the arms of the chair and stared at her bent head. “I don’t know how to handle any of this anymore, Hope, especially you.”
She froze at his words. “Especially me, huh? I’m the one constant in your life, if you haven’t figured that out yet. Despite all the bullshit, here I am. Me, stupid me, still needing you as much today as I did a year ago.”
His chest caved in at the sight of her eyes glistening with tears. He wanted to take it back, every word.
“I don’t know how to do this, how to be married, how to be back in the States, how to be a civilian again, how not to walk,” he admitted.
“You break my heart,” she whispered.
“How could I possibly break your heart?”
“By not seeing how strong you are, how much you mean to everyone in your life, how worthy you are to be alive, how heroic you’ve been, how much I love you.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Maybe I need to stop trying to hold on. Maybe you’re right.” Sighing, her shoulders slumped. “We were this close,” she held her fingers an inch apart, “to having a life together when everything blew up in our faces. Literally. What else do I have to lose, right? I already lost my dignity when I begged those damn bureaucrats to let me see you in Germany. And when I say begged, I mean I begged, pleaded, bartered, whatever I could possibly say or do to get in and they told me that you,” she pointed at him, “said no, you told them I lied about being married to you. McGee backed you up. I looked like a fool and a liar.”
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“Now you’re doing it again, denying me. You’d rather sit in this place alone than admit to the world that I’m your wife. It’s true.” She nodded, gaze gluing him in place. “I gave up my everything for you. My life. My pride. My dignity. I gave it all up for you.”
“Why?” he choked out the question. “I did everything to get you to let me go. I don’t want you to give up anything for me; can’t you see that? You were born to be in the spotlight, dodging bullets, charming your way into and out of trouble. I’m an anchor to you now; you know it but refuse to admit it. I want you to forget me. Why won’t you let me go?”
She closed her eyes, face tilted toward the ceiling. “Because maybe I went crazy over there. Maybe we weren’t this close,” again with the fingers, “to having a life together. Maybe we were already there. Maybe it wasn’t conventional, but it was real, it was us. Maybe I misunderstood sex for more. Maybe I thought that our wedding meant as much to you as it did to me. Maybe I’m the biggest fool to walk planet earth.”
“But now I’m broken so…”
“Yeah, that’s right.” Nodding, she looked away and brushed the back of her hand over her eyes. “And I’m too shallow to be the person you need, right? Too superficial? I know the truth. I know that you should be capable of limited mobility, that you are not trapped in that chair, that you have sensations in your right leg and have even managed to stand for a brief period of time here and there. Didn’t you think I’d do some research on your injuries? I may have kept my distance, but I have a knack for getting people to talk to me, remember? Yes, you’re in a wheelchair, but your situation isn’t hopeless. You’re the one who gave up, but for the life of me I don’t know why. It’s not like you. You’re a goddamn colonel in the Marine Corps. You don’t surrender, so what’s going on with you?”
Her words stung. He had heard them for months now and he didn’t know the answer. He couldn’t explain anything to anyone, not even himself.
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere. She currently has six contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels out in the world: Kiss Me Slowly, Riptide, Reckless Endangerment, Anonymity, In Between, and Dancing Barefoot. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to suicide prevention, awareness, and helping others navigate the dark journey of grief.
In addition, Easton works as an editor, freelance journalist, and professional speaker. She speaks on subjects ranging from writing to widowhood. Some of her videos on romance writing have appeared on the international Writers & Authors television network. Current radio appearances are linked via her author website, http://www.amberleaeaston.com.
Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she’s writing, she considers herself simply to be “a lucky lady liv’n the dream.”
There is in every true woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. Washington Irving
Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes. They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.” Clare Boothe Luce
As we do at such times I turned on my automatic pilot and went through the motions of normalcy on the outside, so that I could concentrate all my powers on surviving the near-mortal wound inside.” Sonia Johnson
Chief Warrant Officer Sarah Benson is a U.S. Army Medevac Black Hawk Pilot. She flies the skies of Afghanistan, rescuing wounded men and women, sometimes under heavy fire, ferrying them to safety. Fierce in her commitment to these brave soldiers, she risks everything, including her own life, to save them. She is a true hero.
And yet, as a woman in a “man’s world” of the Army, she is disrespected and harassed at every turn, with no support from the other pilots of her squadron, and dismissive disrespect from her commander. You see and know all of this about Sarah from the start. And yet, there is no bemoaning her treatment. She is simply quiet, determined, and honorable, going about the business of saving the wounded, sometimes under the ‘lead curtain’ of gunfire and RPGs.
It isn’t easy being a female in Afghanistan, where not only the Afghans are dismissive, cruel, and murderously violent against women. Even the military personnel Sarah works with, whose lives she saves, can be cruel and violent, seeing her and the other women in the squads as ‘less.’ It is a vicious truth that the military mentality can be incredibly stupid about women and their place in the world, a sad and idiotic truth to be sure. Sarah’s dignity, and the dignity of the other women pilots, both Black Hawk pilots and the Apache pilots, is written brilliantly. It was more than mildly interesting to learn the inner workings of medevac pilots in a war zone. Mckenna has done her homework, making the scenes as realistic as possible, both within the Army, Air Force, and within the SEALS. And she has served herself in the U.S. Navy.
This is, of course, not simply a book about a woman surviving within the boundaries of an FOB (Forward Operating Base). While that part of the book truly is fascinating to me, this is also a romance. Well, it is Harlequin, it has to be, right? And the actual ‘romance’ portion of the book is much more interesting than others of its ilk. Sarah has been devastated all her life by the cruelties of men. She trusts no man, holding herself separate while giving all of herself to saving those who need her. Ethan Quinn, the Navy Seal love interest is himself a very different man from the common warrior. A warrior in truth, but also a poet, Ethan sees the pain in the woman they call “Blue Eyes” the valiant pilot who holds herself aloof from those around her.
A violent attack by an Army soldier against Sarah on the grounds of the base draws Ethan to her assistance, and begins a friendship with the shy Sarah. What is both interesting and touching about their relationship is the poetry that Ethan writes for her, beautiful stanzas, on beautiful blue papyrus, slipped under her tent flap in the darkness, there for her when she awakes. Though Sarah is terrified of men, for good reason, Ethan’s gentleness touches her, and his poetry (the actual poetry of Darius Gottlieb, Love Poems and Other Elixirs) helps to pull her out of her fear, allowing a relationship to slowly develop between them. Sarah appreciates both his strength and his gentleness, while Ethan is astounded not only by Sarah’s internal and external beauty, but by her bravery as he twice witnesses her flying in under the ‘iron curtain’ to rescue wounded soldiers. She holds her position while under heavy fire in both instances, taking life threatening wounds of her own and yet still saving those under her care. She is, in a word, a kick-ass heroine with a gentle, broken soul. One of my favorite heroines in a long time.
Sarah and Ethan’s next exciting adventure in Afghanistan, Degree of Risk, will be out in March and I have already preordered it. As I rarely ever do that, you can be ascertained that I highly recommend this book to readers of military suspense/romance.
This is another book which I received from Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way influences my review. All thoughts and comments are my own. I must say, though – it is definitely NOT one of the better covers out there. Instead of a woman and a Black Hawk, which would be appropriate, you get a picture of a guy in a T-shirt. Pffft. Sexist. That’s why you are seeing pictures of a Black Hawk and a WOMAN Black Hawk Pilot instead of the stupid looking cover of the book!