Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thoughts: The Way Home

The Way Home

by Cindy Gerard
Book 2 of One-Eyed Jacks series

~ Goodreads ~

Rating: 4.0 Stars

This book was more contemporary than romantic suspense, as the first part of it involves the courtship between our lovely couple, Tyler Brown and Jess Albert--imagine that: an actual courtship in a romance novel! And while I’m more inclined to love a romantic suspense over a contemporary romance, it’s not like I didn’t know, going in, that there would be less action and more romance.

But this book is written by Cindy Gerard. And even in spite of its more contemporary romance feel, I was not disappointed that she still encompassed the romantic suspense and action of a military romance, as well as the intriguingly anxious urgency of a dangerous situation.

While I had a hard time getting into the start of this book--the contemporary courtship romance was a little mundane, even if sweet and cute and necessary--by the end of the book, I had the FEELS shivering through me like I haven’t had in quite some time. (Okay, I lie, because I had somewhat similar FEELS when I was reading Winter, but that’s a whole different genre and a whole different set of FEELS .)

There are rare occasions when a romance presents to us the obligatory separation of the main couple for conflict necessity, and it actually makes me feel for them rather than roll my eyes. This is The Way Home in a nutshell. Because even from the beginning of this book, knowing how the plot would play out, knowing that there would be an inevitable sadness nearing the end, I still got hit by a nice little tumult of emotions. The obligatory separation plot device is used properly in this piece, but it doesn't build a bad kind of angst.

It was a good kind of romantic angst. It hurt so much that it felt good.

The Story
Jess Albert had been living a peaceful, but lonely existence for over three years since she received word that her husband, J.R. was KIA during a Spec Ops mission. Then, one wintery night in a distant past, Tyler Brown stepped into her life with his friends and his brother, kicking ass and saving lives… and bringing to life in her an attraction and a spark she never thought she’d be able to feel again.

And now Ty has returned after all this time to act on that attraction, to see where, and if they would have a future together. And Jess is inclined to let him, to finally let go of the grief she’d been holding onto for J.R. for three years.

Across the world, a lost American soldier is fighting the pain of death, war, and loss of identity. He does not remember who he is or where he came from. He only knows that he is being hidden away from those who would do him harm by a woman who both resents him and sympathizes with him--a woman he grows to bond with over time as she becomes his only connection to sanity and a semblance of a life.

My Thoughts
To be totally honest, during the entire reading of the first half of the book, I was totally, and giddily looking forward to the appearance of our beloved BOIs as well as the One-Eyed Jacks. There was no secret that once Jess and Ty’s romance got going, things would spiral out of control upon them learning that J.R. was still very much alive. So I was expecting rescue mission galore with lots of loving banter and insults thrown around between our heroic boys.

Which is probably why I felt like I dragged myself through the first parts of the book with some trepidation and some yawning while Ty tried to woo Jess into going out with him and becoming his girlfriend/lover.

And Cindy definitely delivered. Goodness, I didn’t even realize I missed them so much until my beloved Johnny Duane threw his quips around and made me smile like a young schoolgirl with a huge crush. Competing for my affections was also Mike Brown from the first One-Eyed Jacks book. Between the two of these men and their goofy charm and wonderful, sexy cuteness, I’m mush.

(P.S. I still love Johnny more and I could definitely use more of him and Crystal being sweet and cute together…)

But let’s get back to THIS book now, shall we?

As I’d stated at the beginning, the book starts off on a contemporary note with two people, having found an attraction to each other before, interested in seeing where their attraction takes them, and then eventually falling in love. While the courtship between Ty and Jess felt a bit short and very sudden, they at least still went through the motions, so that when the inevitable happens, you can feel the emotions, the turmoil, the sadness, and the eventual warmth of their Happily Ever After™ when it finally rolls around.

I’m not going to say that I didn’t enjoy the sweet development of Ty and Jess, but in all honesty, it did feel a little draggy--which is a stupid way to describe it because this was a courtship that was necessary to make the book work.

I’m just all about the action and the excitement--so it’s not the book, it’s just me who’s contradictory.

In contrast, the interactions and the circumstances surrounding J.R.’s and Rabia’s growing bond from reluctant co-existence to admiration, respect, and love drew me in a bit more. And I’m not a hundred percent sure I understand why, though the only differing factor would be J.R.’s condition of fragility as well as this couple’s impending doom and danger looming on the side. These two don't get to enjoy the simple, straight-forward courtship, dating, bonding, getting to first base, etc... that Ty and Jess were allowed. But their relationship just felt more emotional and packed quite the punch.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for romances brought about through situational urgency and danger.

Maybe I am strangely twisted like that.

But in the end, everything just came right together wonderfully and I’m not complaining one bit.

For a romance, whether contemporary or suspense, The Way Home is a sweet story that is both heart wrenching and heart warming.

Another great one from Cindy. Definitely a great one and one I hadn't really expected would touch your heart in the all the right places.

Final Thoughts
At the risk of sounding ‘duh’, Tyler Brown is definitely NOT Mike Brown--I mean to say that, while Mike had drawn me in with his charming, sexy, joker personality and made me laugh a lot, his little brother is more on the sensitive, less jokey side of things. Ty’s a good man, don’t get me wrong, but he just doesn’t stand out much from any of the other good men in many other books or any other walks of life.

That’s fine and dandy. It just means that I like him even if I don’t love him.

And the same would go for the rest of the main characters. Jess is a good person. J.R. is a good person. Rabia is an amazing person. But aside from a few instances of Rabia’s bravery, The Way Home is really just a sweet contemporary romance about two couples, two sets of good people, finding their way to romance in time to celebrate Christmas.

And maybe that was the whole point. And now I’m almost wishing I’d have read this a few weeks ago to get myself into the heartwarming Christmas spirit. Because The Way Home definitely brings a smile to my face and makes me feel all warm and gooey inside.

And now I’m rambling, so I should probably bring this review to a close before I start waxing poetic about Johnny Duane, Crystal, Mike Brown, or the rest of the heroic Black Ops operators in Cindy Gerard’s world.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge
Also Read during Bout of Books 15 -- See Day 1 Update

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in January 2016.

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