When Lance Corporal Brecken Connolly gets taken as a POW, Camryn hopes for the best but steels herself for the worst. In the end, steel was what she needed to survive when he didn’t. She moves on the only way she knows how—gilding herself in more steel.
Years go by.
She builds a new life.
She leaves the old one behind.
Until one day, she sees the face of a ghost on the news. Brecken seems to have risen from the dead, but she knows she can’t perform the same miracle for herself. While Brecken was held in a torture camp for the past five years, she’s been trapped in her own kind of prison. One she can’t be freed from.
The man she mourned comes back to join the living, but the girl he wanted to spend his life with isn’t the same woman he comes back for. Brecken isn’t the same person either. The past five years have changed them both. While he’s determined to put the pieces back together, she’s resolved to let hers rot where they shattered.
“You don’t owe me one.” His head barely shook. “And it doesn’t change the outcome.”
Brecken did half a turn, motioning at the house behind me before indicating at me. “You belong to someone else now.”
I couldn’t deny it.
Yet I couldn’t confirm it either.
“It’s okay,” he continued, his throat moving. “I’m happy to have you in my life. In whatever capacity I can. Even if it’s saving my ass every once in a while when I flambé my scrambled eggs.”
I stood from my seat and moved beside him. Regardless of everything else, he was alive. “I’m happy to have you in my life in whatever way too. Even if it’s saving my ass from something else.”
His shoulder touched mine. “I’ll save your ass from whatever you need saving from.”
“Hero complex?” My eyebrow lifted at him.
“Far less noble,” he replied, his eyes dropping behind me. His mouth stretched into a grin. “You’ve got a nice ass. Totally worth saving.”
Elbowing him, I feigned appall, but he saw through the act.
“I better get going. I don’t want to overstay my welcome.” He moved down the steps, holding the handrail as he took them backward. “Let me know what you decide to tell Crew. If you decide to tell him anything.”
My arms folded as I moved to the edge of the porch, watching him lower himself one step at a time. “Things between Crew and I are—”
“Complicated. Yeah. I was listening. I know that.” Brecken stopped when he stepped onto the pathway. “I don’t want to make things more complicated for you, so just let me know how I can do that. Unless you want me to complicate things for you, then by all means, let me know how I can do that as well.” He was joking, the glint in his eyes told that, but he wasn’t entirely. His face told me that.
When I went to reply, all that came out was a sigh.
“Listen, you’re with him. I know you’re his wife.” He was staring at me, still holding onto the handrail. Not able to let go. “If he wants to hear me say that to his face to make him feel better, I will.”
“You know what question Crew will follow up with.”
He nodded once. “If I’ll respect the fact that you’re his wife.”
My silence was a confirmation.
“Well, that’s simple,” he said, his voice sounding like the one I remembered. It didn’t waver. It didn’t rasp. Brecken’s eyes didn’t leave mine as he backed away. “I’d tell him that I have every intention of showing him the same amount of respect he showed me when he moved in on my girl weeks after my fake execution.”
Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse
I’m on an emotional high, speechless and lost for words! My quandary was how to put pen to paper and give this heart-wrenching story in all its glory, a worthy review. Regardless of my sleep deficit, I was adamant to string my thoughts together as soon as I’d turned the last page. It seemed to be a meagre set back seeing as the option of clicking the bookmark tab was never there. I have to admit my impatience to find out how the story would pan out got the better of me and resulted in speed reading. To wholly absorb certain angst-ridden scenes, I took my time to reread. Some left me flabbergasted, some shocked, others caused already shed tears to flow once again. Suffering alongside two of the most beautiful people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a long, long time certainly paid off. My pleasure was as such that even though the author pushed me out of my comfort zone; and believe you me, she did . . . she cannily drew me back in making me sigh with relief. Yet it was a false alarm. What I believed to be clear cut from the beginning, was far from the truth.
The excellent meta-plot made a huge impact on me and as the story evolved, my anticipation grew more and more. Finding themselves in dire circumstances require the two-leading protagonists to take desperate measures and was nothing less than heart-breaking. Their tragedy seemed to be unresolvable; in fact, what occurs could possibly trigger off some very emotional feelings in the reader. I went in blind and have no regrets whatsoever; nonetheless, if you have issues with brutally selfish behaviour, sexual misconduct or morality, I would recommend reading the synopsis before one-clicking.
Chapter 3 gave me a teensy-weensy hint about a man who’s a seemingly respected member of his community. Although he gave me bad vibes, I truly tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. Chapter 4 and I was on full alert. From there on in, the story escalates in such a way that made me realise why history was repeating itself. This helped me put everything into perspective, but never could I excuse this person for his unacceptable traits or why he acted as he did following an event which served as a catalyst for even more horrendous actions. His insecurities vibrated off the pages; his dishonesty riled me so much I wanted to jump into the book and give him a good eBook bashing where it hurt most! How he debased a family member and had them living in fear made me; figuratively speaking, pull my hair out.
Camryn Gardner had savoured true love as a young adult; it was reciprocated, promises were made but when she lost her one and only, her broken heart would never heal — never forget. Why then, did she do what she did in the light of her loss! I questioned her past decision many times and couldn’t for the life of me come up with the right answer. Her meek and mild manner was like a protective smoke screen which in effect, confused me. And her conforming to what was dished out to her upset me to the point of desperation! That being said, watching her determination grow from strength to strength as the clock starts ticking gave me hope. Her unwavering protectiveness towards a loved one merits mentioning and exactly the reaction I would expect from any woman in a traumatic relationship as is hers.
Brecken Connelly’s been honoured with the title of hero and quite rightly so. He’s been to hell and back yet his heart is still where he left it. His homecoming was like watching a bomb drop in slow motion and twisted my heart and had me on tenterhooks for what could possibly come. I loved how he gradually opens up his innermost feelings to the woman who had always been the one constant in his life. I loved how he questioned without pressurising, how steadfast he was to make things right. I couldn’t help fall for this guy’s generosity.
I was convinced I was on the right path when actually, Ms Nicole’s shrewd storytelling led me down another. Ooh my, was I in for a surprise or three! She’s one of those authors who takes you on a bumpy ride, keeps you guessing throughout the book and then smooths everything over but not without putting you through the ringer.
When Nicole is about to publish a new book, I jump for joy as I’m never sure what’s she’s got in store for me. She’s one of those authors who takes you on a ride and a half, keeps you guessing and has you hanging on a precipice for the whole length of the book. Nicole, you have outdone yourself, Bravo!