I wanted to indulge in a specific genre, the broken military hero. There’s just something about those war heroes that rocks my reading world. After browsing through my TBR pile and nothing leaping out at me, I turned to Goodreads and recommendations from reviewers that I follow.
I bought two books, Only Love by Garrett Leigh, and Ricochet by Skye Jordan (for my next review, in a couple of weeks.
5 glorious, shiny silken sheets 🙂
The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves thirty-two-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career. Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.
Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.
But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.
I wanted a wounded military hero, and Garrett Leigh delivered – in spades! Jed is in a bad place, mentally and physically. His old life, the only life he knows, is over and somehow he has to start again. First, he has to heal his broken body, and in a moment of weakness, he accepts his younger brother’s (Nick’s) offer to go home. He knew it was a mistake.
Jed swallowed the words. He’d traveled a long way to get to the last place on earth he wanted to be.
Since leaving home to join the army, Jed has avoided his family. His brother’s homophobia doesn’t help, and now living in close quarters with him quickly becomes unbearable. When Nick tells him about his brother-in-law living in a secluded cabin—and looking for a lodger—it seems to good to be true.
Nick clasped his outstretched hand, and for a moment it almost felt normal. “Like I said, it’s just until you get settled. Kim had some ideas. Her brother lives up by the lake. His place is all on one level, and he has a spare room. She’s going to talk to him this weekend.” Jed nodded, still bemused by the sight of his childhood possessions dotted around the room. He figured the conversation closed until Nick cleared his throat and dropped his artfully concealed bomb.
Jed cut his gaze to Nick. Something in his tone set his teeth on edge. “Like me? What? A veteran? A cripple?”
“No, he’s, um, gay.”
Only Love is more than just a wounded hero becoming whole. It’s multi-layered, multi-faceted, and side-swipes you when you least expect it. It’s family, the good and the bad. It’s friends. It even has a dog. It’s a hot, slow-burning relationship between Jed and Max, and all the love and pain that’s involved.
Paul said he was never the same after that. Maybe he was right. The shrapnel lodged in his helmet had taken a small chunk out of his head. Perhaps it had taken a piece of his soul too.
I loved the way the relationship built with Max, and every time Jed made another step towards healing, I felt like cheering him on.
There was something exhilarating about knowing the lingering ache in his muscles was there of his own volition. It was familiar, like an old friend, and he felt content.
It’s a story of grief too. Jed’s closest friend came back from Iraq in a box. Jed had dodged bullets and dodged death too, but his best friend couldn’t. When he receives a letter from Paul, written in case of his untimely death, I came close to tears.
Jed sighed and reached for the envelope in his pocket. He’d always known Paul would leave him something, a cryptic message, a vulgar photograph… anything to let him know their undefined relationship had been real. He hadn’t expected a letter, though, or a stack of photographs spanning all the years they’d worked in each other’s pockets.
Jed has a lot of issues to work through, not least of which is his failing health. And Garrett Leigh doesn’t skimp or gloss over that. You feel Jed’s pain, his tiredness and frustration, his sorrow and then his love. His character is so fully rounded, so fleshed out, that by the time I’d finished reading I was sure I knew the man. He was real to me, someone I might bump into at the market, or jogging around the lake.
It’s Max’s story too, and like Jed, he has an entire life that happened before the start of this book. He has his own secrets too, and while there was one tiny hiccup, one event that I thought a little too coincidental, such is the power of Garrett Leigh’s writing, that I accepted it without question.
I took a chance on this book, seduced by a cool cover and glowing reviews from people I trust, and I’m so glad I did. Garrett Leigh has a new fan, and I’m looking forward to reading more from her – much more 🙂
P.S. If you visit the publisher’s site (see below for link), you can pick up a free short story that continues with Jed & Max’s relationship 🙂
5 silken sheets
4 sexy lips
Plot – breathtaking
Characters – flawed and perfect!
Warnings – M/M
Genre: Contemporary M/M romance
Published: April 2014; $6.99
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press