Published by Self-Published on May 18th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mental Health, Romance
Buy on Amazon US • Buy on Amazon UK
Jake Tucker is broken. At twenty-two, he went in to the Marine Corps a naïve, troubled youth. Nine years and four tours later, Jake finds himself back on US soil, though his mind remains firmly planted in the sands of Afghanistan with the men he left behind.
Wounded, chewed up and spat out by war, Jake has only his dog, Nuke, PTSD, and survivor’s guilt to keep him company. He’s lived every day for nine years wondering when it will be his last, but there’s little comfort in the fact that he’s still standing when his platoon isn’t.
Ellie Mason doesn’t have time for broken. She’s too busy trying to put food on the table. And keeping up with the demands of her autistic son, Spencer, is sometimes like fighting behind enemy lines. As if navigating the minefields of single parenthood isn’t enough, Ellie finds herself drawn to the quiet Marine who’s just as lonely as she is. But she’s loved damaged men before, and it left her wounded.
Set against the picturesque backdrop of Fairhope, Alabama, Ellie and Jake find themselves running toward the sound of chaos.
Love is war.
Only the strong survive, and surrender is inevitable.
Reviewed by Joanne
*I received an E-ARC in exchange for review*
I don’t know where to start! There are so many things I want to mention, so many things that I loved about this book.
First of all, the characters. You have Jake Tucker – a man struggling with his demons after returning from Afghanistan, where he served with the marines and was held as a POW. He was tortured beyond breaking point and saw untold horrors that he will never forget. The flashback scenes were truly awful, and I knew it would take a lot for Jake to overcome his nightmares. His emotional scars run far deeper than the physical ones. He needs help, but he doesn’t want to let anyone in. The closest relationship he has, is the one with Nuke, his service dog.
Ellie Mason is a single mother struggling to bring up her son in her own. For any single parent it would be a hard life, but when you also add to the mix that her 8 year old son Spencer is disabled, then things just got a whole lot harder. Spencer is on the Autistic spectrum, and also has Sensory Processing Disorder. Her life is all about making sure Spencer is happy, and keeping to the routine he needs. Ellie has enough going on in her life, and the warning signs should be enough to scare her away from Jake, but she just can’t help herself.
Spencer, well I just adored him. The things he came out with made me laugh at times and at other times they broke my heart. As a mother of a child on the spectrum, I related to Ellie and how she tried to keep things as calm as possible for her son. From the strict routine, to the obsession with the military, and the aversion to being touched, it all rang so true for me. There was one passage that brought tears to my eyes, which just about summed up how most mothers of an ASD child feel.
My son is not diseased, it’s not catching, and we’re not looking for a miracle cure or a way to change him. We just need to find a way to work with him. We need to find a way to make all those beautiful pieces inside his brain fit together.
This was my first Carmen Jenner book, and I loved her writing style, as well as her vivid descriptions. I loved the way the characters spoke in their southern accents, and the scene in the salon with Miss Maggie and Miss Chelle made me think of Truvy’s Salon from Steel Magnolias (one of my all time favourite films!).
This story really got to me. Ellie’s life with her son, Jake’s battle with PTSD, and the pair of them desperately needing each other but being too stubborn to see it. I could understand why they were hesitant, Ellie was worried how Spencer would cope if Jake didn’t stick around, and Jake was worried he would hurt Ellie or Spencer during one of his many episodes. I just prayed they would be able to find a way to overcome those worries.
There’s no bravery in running away, but there can be in surrender. Sometimes to surrender to someone else’s chaos is the bravest thing you can do.