Friday, May 24, 2013

RELEASE DAY: What Part of Marine Don't You Understand? (Always a Marine #12)

What Part of Marine Don’t You Understand

HL_What Part of Marine_SMWhat Part of Marine Don’t You Understand
Always a Marine #12
Challenge Series
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What Part of Marine Don’t You Understand?
Matt McCall’s struggles to reintegrate into civilian life have been an ongoing battle for the better part of two years. Daily group sessions and weekly one-on-ones have only allowed him to grow so far. Twice he’s returned to his home state of Ohio and twice, he retreated to Mike’s Place. Uncertain of where he belongs in the world, he battles depression silently. The unexpected gift of a black Labrador retriever perks his spirit…and a chance meeting in the park gives him a precious gift…

Aspiring country singer Naomi Sparks comes from a long line of Marines, she knows all about sacrifice and struggle. When her brother asks her to visit to Mike’s Place on his behalf, she discovers a real opportunity to make a difference. Matt McCall inspires her with the real challenge of discovering love and daring heroes who takes risks.  Writing music has never been so sweet…

Can one woman who believes in him really heal the wounds in this Marine’s heart?

HL_What Part of Marine_Banner
“We have to talk about what happened. You have to remember and not relive it.”

“I’m not reliving it.” Am I? The bitter taste in his mouth burned his tongue. Shouts echoed in the hallway. Feet thundered past. He jerked to his feet and started forward three steps. Jethro butted against him and he stopped. Disoriented, he felt the leash rub against the cuts on his knuckles—and he looked at James.

No feet echoed in the hallway. He wasn’t in Iraq. He was in Allen, Texas.

“Holy hell on a biscuit.” He sat down before he fell down and Jethro shoved his head under Matt’s hand.  He couldn’t make it stop.  “How do I make it stop?”

“Breathe, Matt. Look at Jethro. He knows you’re upset. Breathe.” If only James’ calmness could flow from the psychologist to him. It was like Matt could hear the words, but he couldn’t quite process them. “You haven’t hurt anyone and you haven’t hurt yourself.”

“Why does my mouth taste like ass?” Sweat trickled down the back of his neck. Oxygen burned in his chest with every breath he took.

“That’s the adrenaline. You got upset. You remembered and you were there. The bitter taste is adrenaline.”

“I’m getting short-changed here.” Amusement and disbelief warred against the craziness swirling inside him.

“No, it’s normal. With a lot of veterans, you start cooking and after a while, you can’t stop it anymore—that’s when you snap. You keep bringing yourself up to the boil and then backing off in full retreat.”

“What gets me cooking?” And why hadn’t they talked like this before? The blood pounding in his skull eased and his heart stopped trying to pound its way out of his chest.

“With veterans it can be a car backfiring, a twig snapping, or a box dropping off a shelf. The sudden, explosive noise reminds them of…”

“Gunshots.” That made sense. He could actually wrap his mind around that.

“But that’s not what sets you off.”

“So what is it?”

“I know this will sound like I’m telling you that five plus five equals a pile of hay, but it’s people yelling or laughing or running. Large movements of people. It’s what set you off in the bar. It’s why you didn’t stick it out at Damon’s restaurant. It’s why going home…”

 Sarah's Review:
I am completely biased with this review and wanted to disclose that immediately.  I have wanted Matt's story for a while.  Many times I told Heather that Matt had many different stories playing out in my head and I wanted to see how she did it.  She didn't disappoint either.  As a matter of fact, the morning that I finish this story, I sent Heather these messages on Facebook (condensed to one message):  
So I tried really hard to finish last night, but I made it 62 percent through and finished this morning.  You know my love for Matt and I think this story was absolutely PERFECT!! I was sobbing reading the first chapter though.   I always told you that it would take the right woman to knock Matt on his ass and Naomi was perfect! I am biased of course because Matt has been in my head for so long, but I think it was down right amazing. Jethro though.............way too perfect.
Those messages are still how I feel.  I truly believe that this story was PERFECT for Matt.  We were introduced to Matt in Tell It to the Marine (Always a Marine 3) and Matt has appeared in a few other books, so Matt stayed with me.  I believe that Matt stayed with me because of my career choice to become a Social Worker that truly wants to work with Veterans.   

Matt returns to Mike's Place after he returned home to his family and couldn't handle it.  He returned to get the help and James realized that Matt was finally ready to begin dealing with his trauma and begin to heal.  The opening chapter had me sobbing huge tears and I almost put it down because I didn't want to read what could have happened.  I didn't because I knew that Heather could have done that a while ago and wouldn't torture us like that.     

Naomi comes to Mike's Place on her brother's behalf.  She is a musician that is preparing to record an album and finds herself on the path that Matt takes when he is running/walking.  When Matt and Naomi cross paths, she is writing songs for her album and captures Matt's attention.  Naomi comes from a family of Marines and she begins to pick up on things that Matt is experiencing.  

We meet a very special character in this story that we haven't met before.  Jethro is our newest character and probably the cutest and quietest.  You see, Jethro is Matt's service dog.  Matt doesn't realize for a bit that Jethro is really his and not watching over him for someone else.  James told Matt when he finally asked him about Jethro that he wasn't ready to hear it and accept it.  

We see Matt make so much progress in this story and while Naomi was part of it, Matt was able to recognize things that he needed to work on himself and did it.  I love a few things that Matt did on his own and stood by his decision.  

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