PTSD has become prevalent in a lot of the romance novels I’ve read, and it’s usually well done. This book spends quite a bit of time talking about it, which I appreciated because I think it’s a good way to highlight and teach readers more about it. It’s not a side thing..it’s almost the main theme of the story.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A man who lost his leg serving as a SEAL goes to a small town to deal with his PTSD where he meets a pretty woman dealing with secrets and trauma of her own. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
Dealing With the Scars
Dustin lost his leg and gained a good deal of facial scarring from his last tour of duty, but the physical issues are nothing compared to the PTSD he’s had since getting back. When his SEAL buddy, ZQ, invites him to his quiet ranch for some rest and relaxation, he takes him up on the offer, only to find that the man has offered his architectural services to the local bookstore owner. This pisses Dustin off at first, especially when he finds himself attracted to the woman, knowing there’s no way a woman is going to want him with all of his issues.
Kelcee loves the little bookstore she inherited and her small town, but there’s also an underlying fear that she’s going to be found by someone in her past who she knows wants her dead. Still, she’s feisty and doesn’t take crap from people, and so when her first interaction with Dustin involves a heavy dose of rudeness on his part, she lets him know it. But when Dustin calls to apologize and they start to get to know each other, he becomes the one person she feels safe with.
Love and Trauma
Their new relationship is a little rocky. Dustin has a lot of hang ups, but he also gets violent when he has nightmares, and it terrifies him to know he could hurt Kelcee. He’s also afraid to go out in public and it takes him awhile to realize that Kelcee doesn’t care about any of that. She just wants to be with him and help him through his PTSD as much as she can. He pushes her away, but when her life becomes endangered, he realizes how much he needs her in his life.
An Issue with Multiple Faces
The PTSD was shown in different forms to highlight how different people deal with it. Several of the side characters have it, including characters I believe we’re going to see in future stories. Dustin and Kelcee both have it, and it’s definitely a contrast to see how each one handles it.
I enjoyed this story even though there were a few things that annoyed me. On the positive side, I really liked the small town feel of the story and most of the banter between Kelcee and Dustin. She was compassionate and caring towards him, but when he got out of line, she didn’t hesitate to tell him where to go. I also enjoyed the side characters, but they seemed to add a lot of sub-plots to the story, and at times I felt they took away from the romance between Dustin and Kelcee, which was the part I really wanted.
Curves For the Win
I liked that Kelcee was a plus-sized heroine, and some of her feelings about that and how people treated her were handled realistically and thoughtfully. Some people were mean, others didn’t care. Kelcee handled it well, as she’d learn to accept herself and wasn’t self conscious when things go intimate. I did get a little tired of people, including her, referring to her “teacup ass.” While endearing at first, and though I understand it was kind of one of those cute running gag things, it felt a bit overused.
The Romance Factor
Dustin lets Kelcee in and hopes to be able to have a real relationship with her. The fact that he tried to hide his PTSD was kind of sweet (if maybe not the right thing to do). When he pulls away because he’s afraid he’ll hurt her in one of his violent moments, the pain and conflict between the two gave me such feels. 5/5
The Steam Factor
Though not super spicy, there are a few sensual moments between the sheets. 3/5
One thing that stood out to me was that I got a feel for the characters mostly through their action and dialogue, and though I usually like to get the inner thoughts and emotions to a higher degree, the way this book was written really worked for me. Even with minor annoyances, there were some great quirks (the older woman who reads BDSM novels was awesome) and I enjoyed the story overall. I’m looking forward to see how the other characters are handled in future novels.