Monday, May 20, 2013

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Always a Marine #10)

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

The tenth installment in the Always a Marine series. It is part of The Challenge Series. A new series from Decadent Publishing.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Always A Marine #10
The Challenge Series
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Decadent Publishing
Have you ever woken up every day afraid of everything?
For single mom and widow Melody Carter, six months passed since an IED ripped her life apart. Everyone is sympathetic and offers platitudes of comfort and support. Everyone thinks they know why she’s grieving but Melody isn’t mourning her broken heart. She’s ashamed to be grateful her abusive husband won’t hurt her anymore and scared for her child. Born with a mild heart defect, her daughter needs lifesaving surgery and with her funds tight and her emotional scars tighter, she’s running out of options. When she receives an offer for assistance from Mike’s Place, can Melody put her faith in the men her husband called friend?

Have you ever woken up, day after day, to discover your body’s betrayal?

Marine Captain, Joe Anderson Cooper, received the Silver Star for Valor when he led his unit through heavy fire to rescue fellow Marines. Despite numerous injuries, the Captain refused medical aid, insisting that the medics attend others. A broken back and shattered bones put Captain Cooper in a wheelchair and every day is a battle to keep his recovery on track and his sanity intact. When a single mom moves in to the apartment next door to his and he recognizes a kindred—damaged—soul, can he overcome her fear and be the man she’s always needed?
Can these two lonely souls rise to the challenge or will their scars trap them forever?

Letting herself out of the apartment, she locked up and turned to find her neighbor locking his door. He caught sight of her and smiled. “Good morning.” His deep baritone hummed over her senses. She appreciated the low voiced greeting.

“Good morning.” She wanted to say something more, but her brain locked up around the words. He eased his wheelchair back until nearly off the sidewalk and motioned for her to precede him. Biting her lip, she found another smile for him. “Thank you.” Her heartbeat accelerated and sweat cooled her spine. She didn’t hug the wall, but she couldn’t help widening the distance between them.

The wheels made the faintest squeaking noise after she passed, and she glanced back to see him following her down the path toward the parking lot. Maybe she should have offered to push. He wore an olive green t-shirt and a matching pair of slacks, though they were cut up the side of the large cast encasing his right leg from mid-thigh to his toes.

He—Joe, he said his name was Joe—met her gaze and gave her another easy smile. His eyes crinkled at the corners and the dimple in his cheek deepened. The sidewalk widened and she slowed to let him catch up.

“I’m sorry. I’m not the best company this morning.”

“No worries, ma’am. Little ones take a lot out of a body.” The buttery softness of his voice washed over her like a soothing balm—like the night before when he knocked on her door and introduced himself. He scared the hell out of her, but not in the same breath.

I must be tired. I have no idea what I’m feeling from one moment to the next. As if summoned by her thought, fatigue wavered through her and she stumbled. The diaper bag swung down her arm. She couldn’t catch it and hold the baby at the same time. Joe stopped the bag’s arc, and gave her a chance to catch her balance.

“May I?” He offered, still holding the bag.

May he what…? He wanted to carry the bag for her and she winced. It was heavy and he…

“I have plenty of room and then you don’t have to worry about it taking you off balance again.”
The sound logic quashed her natural objections. She shifted Libby carefully and let the strap fall off her arm. Her internal alarms sounded. Giving him the bag didn’t give him some kind of power over her, but her gut tightened at the surrender of her possession.

He settled the bag against his lap and nodded encouragingly. “Just point me to your car…”

“Oh, I don’t drive. Well, I do but I’m not driving here. I’m actually just staying here for a few weeks and I’m waiting for the shuttle.” She tacked the last on with a grimace. “And apparently I’m as muddleheaded for real as I feel. Sorry. Thank you. The shuttle is scheduled to pick us up here in about…” She couldn’t look at her watch.

“Two minutes.” The captain supplied. “I’m waiting for the same shuttle.” His warm brown gaze turned studious. “Are you okay?”

Sarah's Review:
This story is slightly different in that Madame Eve and her 1NS service is not associated with it.  This story is still part of the Always a Marine series but it is also part of the Challenge series.  Heather Long tells a great story with this one but one that needs to be told.  She addresses a topic that is sensitive, but she does it with class.  Mike's Place is vital to the this story as well.  

I am struggling to write this review because there is so much I want to say.  This story brings a wounded soldier (Joe), a wounded widow (Melody) and a crying baby (Libby) together by the coincidence of being neighbors.  Below is part of my review on Goodreads from when I first read this story back in January.  
I love that Heather Long is not afraid to discuss topics that many people want to ignore. DV is a topic that people would rather not talk about or have such strong feelings about, it makes it one that people would rather avoid. As a survivor of a DV relationship, I will say whole heartedly, that this story is respectful about what the survivor (or victim as many would call it) goes through.
Melody is a strong woman that had to pick up the pieces after he abusive husband died during combat. She also has to raise Libby, her daughter, that was born with a heart defect alone.  She has no family with her a Mike's Place that can be there for her.  When she married Tuck, her now deceased Marine husband, she went against her parents.  She is cautious and skittish around guys that could be seen as intimidating. 

Joe is Melody's neighbor who was injured during combat and is at Mike's place recovering.  One evening he hears Libby crying and decides to see if he can offer assistance.  He had not seen much of Melody or Libby, but he had heard Libby crying for several nights.  When he knocks on the door and  Melody finally opens it, Joe is able to recognize some signs that she had been hurt but wasn't sure by who.  The next morning he crosses paths with Melody and Libby again on the way to the shuttle.  During their interactions that morning, Joe is able to pick up on more signs that something horrible had happened to her.  After his group session, he talks to James, the beloved psychologist of Mike's Place, and tries to find out if Melody was still on campus. 

We also meet Meredith, Joe's mother, who Melody describes as a velvet tank.  Meredith was able to help Melody realize that she needed to get better for herself and Libby, then worry about if she was good enough for Joe.  Melody said that Joe knew what he wanted and he wasn't going to push Melody for more than she could handle.  

At the end, we see 6 months in the future and see the changes that Joe and Melody both experienced.  Libby was with Meredith, so we didn't get to see her, but Joe had given us some of the updates that he had been given from Melody.    

I hope that Heather will give us a look into their future soon. I would love to see how Libby is doing ad how Joe and Melody are doing as well.

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