Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
Synopsis: Pre-law student, Alex Thompson wants to make something of her life; she studies hard and needs to forget the boy who broke her heart before. Dylan Paris returns from his stint in Afghanistan, hurt and injured and intends to never tell Alex he has even come home. This doesn’t work however, when he and Alex end up on the same work study program, and have to work together, and cope with each other’s foibles.
Review: Professor Allen going on a leave of absence from the work study program is only one problem Alex has to face, for the rest she is on her own – with the past coming back to haunt her. How she treated her former boyfriend back then doesn’t make her proud of what she did, and even though she was drunk at the time, she still remembers the words she said to Dylan. Dylan on the other hand remembers that drink led him to dropping out of school early, and having to get further education later as a disabled war veteran. He also wishes he hadn’t come back home, as there are so many bad memories there. Alex is shocked at seeing him for the first time, but once this initial shock is gone, she has to accept she said a few things she shouldn't, and Dylan has to accept he did things a little wrong when he ran out of her life so easily. No one is going to admit their failings so easily though, and that is half the fun of reading this story.
Charles writes the book well, as each chapter has a separate title plus a name, so you know who’s thinking what, and who it’s about. He puts the emotions of both characters into the novel: Alex's regrets over her words before, and her second chance at making a go of their relationship now that he is back in her life. Dylan has seen a lot of pain, death and anguish in the war, and has to learn to enjoy life again away from it, and only one person can help her - the one woman who he never wanted to see again.
I liked the character development in the story, and the fact that Alex has to understand what horrible experiences Dylan had in the war before she can truly help him recover from it.
Extra thoughts: Charles isn't new to writing books that are gripping and insightful on people who have worked in the military. From Republic, Insurgent, Prayer at Rumayla, two non-fiction books and several short stories, he is quite the authority on this subject when dealing with the harsh reality of war, and the sensuality of love. He uses his knowledge and understanding of the military and disabled veterans and puts it into his writing. He also works doing outreach and public affairs for a law firm which represents disabled veterans.