Tag Archives: military romance

His Road Home by Anna Richland

There are a lot of wounded heroes in romance novels, but His Road Home must be the first one I’ve read in which we meet the hero straight from the battlefield. Often, the men are well away from their traumatizing experience, left with a dramatic facial scar or bad dreams that can be eased by the love of the right woman and heal them. This contemporary romance novella is not that book.

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While serving in Afghanistan, Rey Cruz invented a fiancee to simplify a negotiation. To bolster his story, he used a photo of a real woman from his home town that he he knew only vaguely. When he was wounded helping a child, his story gained traction in social media and suddenly his photoshopped engagement picture went viral. No one will listen to Grace Kim when she says she doesn’t even know Rey and she finds herself with a free plane ticket from Seattle to his bedside at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Rey has lost both his legs, one below and one above the knee, and his ability to speak. His cognitive functions are fine, but he has great difficulty communicating both in writing and with his voice. He manages single words mostly. Grace is overwhelmed, but decides to take the week she has been given to stay with Rey and help him at the hospital. It’s an absolutely lovely use of a marriage of convenience.

As this is a great book, sensibly Rey and Grace do not fall in love during that week. They establish a bond that continues to grow after she returns home. Discovering he can type his thoughts without trouble, they build a sufficiently close and intimate relationship through daily texts that when Rey is ready to go home to Washington state months later, Grace agrees to drive his car cross-country with him. This is when they truly come together in a partnership.

Over the course of the road trip, Grace finds that being outside her comfort zone with Rey is exactly what she needs and he confirms that she is a strong and wonderful woman. His Road Home neither shies away from nor wallows in the details and ramifications of Rey’s injuries.  He is not magically cured, he manages his physical challenges. His speaking, while it improves, remains limited. Heartfelt and down-to-earth, I loved the story. Rey is a whole man who has found a woman who can see past any supposed limitations to the great guy who is still there.

His Road Home won Romance Writers of America’s 2015 RITA® Award for Best Romance Novella and I can certainly see why. In fact, I am going to keep this list of finalists in all categories handy as a resource for finding new authors.

Later Review Addition: Because it is part of why I picked up the book and diversity is something I and my fellow readers have sought out in the genre, I want to mention that both Grace and Rey are children of immigrants and first generation Americans.

Other Novels with Wounded Men Done Well:

Let me know if I’ve missed any.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.



Dog Tags by Darryl Banner & Two Week Seduction by Kathy Lyons

Dog Tags and Two Week Seduction each have the word Brazen in their publishing series name, so the reader should know what is about to happen. These romances feature young couples who knew each other as schoolchildren finding out there is more to their relationship when one of them returns home on leave from the military. The forced brevity of their time together, four and two weeks respectively, means they get busy quickly and commitment soon follows.

Dog Tags by Darryl Banner

Jesse is a music major plodding through his summer vacation when his neighbour Brandon arrives home for a month’s leave. Always leery of the taciturn and intense boy-next-door, Jesse is nonetheless immediately drawn to Brandon’s beautiful physique. When trading help with yard work for piano lessons, the men hook up and then spend their four weeks together getting it on and getting to know each other. The novella portrays mostly the former and essentially skips the latter.

Dog Tags is the first romance with two men I have read that was actually written by a man which was something I was looking for specifically. I have an impression that a lot of the M/M romances are written by and for women just as the M/F ones are. The writing here was nothing especially bad or good, it got the job done and had some nice moments, though there was very little by way of conversation between the leads. Brandon’s main purpose seemed to be to grunt and be intense while Jesse enjoyed it. Their four weeks end with Brandon returning to his work while the two of them await his next leave.

Two Week Seduction by Kathy Lyons

John O’Donnell has come home to his family for two weeks of reminders of why he left. He needs to help out his mother with her finances and living situation, and maybe have a little fun. When his well-to-do best friend’s little sister shows up looking even more tantalizing than ever, they hook up and things proceed from there. As with Dog Tags, they get busy early and often, building their desire for something more.

Two Week Seduction did its job adequately. John and Alea fall madly in love and rearrange their lives to be together. Alea comes from wealth and is wrestling with her family’s goals for her. John has no plans to leave the military, but reconsiders for her. The sexy elements felt a little forced and I never really cared about the characters as the plot and its elements felt clichéd in their execution.

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Sisters Trilogy: Marrying the Captain, The Surgeon’s Lady, & Marrying the Royal Marine by Carla Kelly

Title Discrimination Aid:
Marrying the Captain: He’s sick, she’s pretty.
Marrying the Royal Marine: He’s pretty, she’s sick.
The Surgeon’s Lady: Everyone’s sick, she’s pretty, his bedside manner is excellent.

I love a back catalogue to make my way through and Carla Kelly does not disappoint. The Sisters Trilogy focuses on the three born-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-blanket daughters of Earl Ratcliff. Each of the women – Nana, Laura, and Polly – finds herself involved with a member of the Royal Marines during the Napoleonic Wars. Not just a bonnet and corset layered over a contemporary story (not that there is anything wrong with that), Kelly’s books have strong historical elements and make the reader feel genuinely immersed in a specific time and place. I even looked up “Regency navy sailor’s quarters”, “Royal Marine“, and assorted similar terms in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the heroes’ lives. Never say romance novels don’t teach one anything.

Marrying the Captain:

Nana Brandon has no dowry and does not expect to marry. Years ago, her otherwise absent and disinterested father tried to sell her to the highest bidder to pay his debts. Literally walking away from everything she knew, she returned to her grandmother and has lived with her since. Content, although admittedly often hungry, helping to run a failing seaside inn, it’s about five years into the fight with Napoleon and Nana’s town has a constant turnover of sailors as their town is the one into which ships sail for dry dock repairs and revictualling; nonetheless, they are not doing well until Captain Oliver Worthy is sent their way. Suffering from a common sailor’s complaint (no, not an STD, a throat infection), Oliver needs a place to stay and recover while he drags himself back and forth to the repair yard.

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