BECAUSE OF YOU by Jessica Scott
By Anne Woodall, Romance At Random Reviewer
I know a little bit about learning to live again. I know about being so weak and helpless you want to die. I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and hear that little voice that whispers you’ll never be whole again. (Jen St. James, BECAUSE OF YOU)
The best part of discovering a new author whose talents grip your attention immediately is sharing the good news with other readers. In all my years of reading military romances, there has been only one other book that moved me as much as this one did. BECAUSE OF YOU is a beautifully written and poignant love story between two individuals, broken both in body and spirit. It also honorably portrays the lives of the everyday heroes and heroines who serve in the military and gives them the credit they so deserve.
When Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison regains consciousness after being critically wounded in an attack on his team in Iraq, he finds himself starring into the eyes of Jen St. James. On the night before his deployment four months ago, they shared one heated kiss and then parted ways.
Jen St. James is a nurse and a survivor. After fighting her own personal battles, she fears never again being accepted and loved for herself because of the scars she carries. Seeing Shane again reminds Jen of the feelings that his unforgettable kiss triggered months ago, but also reinforces the pain of knowing that he might reject the real her.
Shane, who has an almost desperate need for fixing the problems of others, particularly those of his soldiers, suddenly finds his independence taken away by his injuries and he feels completely useless. Asking for help is and always has been a totally foreign concept to him. His divorce left him with no home or money and now because of his injuries he’s unable to fend for himself. Jen understands some of what Shane is going through and steps forward offering him not only a place to live while he recovers but a much-needed lesson in self-worth. Shane really doesn’t know how to handle his feelings for Jen. She’s touched his heart with kindness the likes of which he’s never known before, and much to his surprise he realizes his future is bleak without her in it. They are flawed characters who have each suffered betrayal, loss and pain, but find in each other the kind of love that looks beyond the physical imperfections and deep into the soul. There is an exceptionally touching scene between Jen and Shane where he proves beyond a doubt that his feelings for her reach way beyond the physical. Even the most critical and demanding romance fans will find the chemistry between them powerful and satisfying.
Jessica Scott has paved the way nicely for upcoming books in the “Coming Home Series,” by introducing a remarkable cast of supporting characters who skyrocket the first book from being excellent to exceptional. Among them, you’ll meet Captain Trent Davila and his wife, Laura, who are facing changes in their once solid and loving relationship. When Trent suddenly goes silent and Laura hears rumors accusing her husband of improper behavior with a female soldier, along with other worrisome concerns related to his job, she begins to fear her marriage is in real trouble and that the father of her children isn’t being honest with her. In addition to Jen and Laura, there are a number of other strong female characters who exhibit an appealing combination of toughness and vulnerability. Sharing girls’ night out with the female cast offered up some delicious girl-talk, as well as giving us their take on the more serious matters of the heart.
In the category of supporting characters, first prize goes to the young man wrapped in a bright yellow tracksuit resembling Sesame Street’s Big Bird. Sergeant Vic Carponti bugs his platoon sergeant more often than not, but Shane admires Carponti’s special gift for sharing his wicked sense of humor and making the best of otherwise grim situations for everyone’s benefit. Severely wounded in the same attack as Shane, Vic faces his future a changed man. Yet he proclaims he’ll be fine and that he’s lucky that he made it home without “TC” being blown away; otherwise, “he probably would have to kill himself.” I think you’ll be amused and entertained by Carponti’s personal account as to why he places so much importance on this “TC” character. Sgt. Carponti provides many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the book but this one certainly made me hoot and holler the loudest.
Opening a window for us to look through into the realistic world of military life, the author details the daily concerns and problems facing soldiers and their families along with the toll it takes on them. Their stories are told with compassion and great skill. Whether she’s writing dialogue between the characters or using military terminology, the authenticity is front and center. The quick-witted banter between the soldiers seems very natural. I would bet that the bonafide soldier who authored this book has mixed in some actual conversations she’s participated in or overheard in her own experiences at one time or another in her military career.
From the beginning I was completely enthralled in this story. The hero will capture your heart and you can’t help but love and admire the heroine. At times, the story is heart wrenching and confrontational. All of the characters become real. You don’t just like them – you feel their hurt and share their pain. But most importantly, you’ll cheer for each and every one of them to achieve their happily ever after. Keeping your Kleenex nearby is probably a good idea.
The hallmark of a great book not only excites, thrills, and keeps you thinking about it for a long time to come, but it leaves the reader begging for more – and this one certainly fits that description. BECAUSE OF YOU, by debuting author Jessica Scott, is an impressive start to a new series and I am pleased to recommend it without hesitation.