UNTIL THERE WAS YOU – (Coming Home #3)
A by-the-book captain with a West Point background, Captain Evan Loehr refuses to mix business with pleasure—except for an unguarded instance years ago when he succumbed to the deep sensuality of redheaded beauty Claire Montoya.
From that moment on, though, Evan has been at odds with her, through two deployments to Iraq and back again. But when he is asked to train a team prepping for combat alongside Claire, battle-worn Evan is in for the fight of his life.
Strong, gutsy, and loyal, Captain Claire Montoya has worked hard to earn the rank on her chest. In Evan, Claire sees a rigid officer who puts the rules before everything else—including his people. When the mission forces them together, Claire soon discovers that there is more to Evan than meets the eye. He’s more than the rank on his chest; he’s a man with dark secrets and deep longings.
For all their differences, Evan and Claire share two crucial passions: their country and each other.
Jessica Scott is an Iraq war veteran, an active duty army officer and the USA Today bestselling author of novels set in the heart of America’s Army. She is the mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, and wife to a retired NCO.
She’s also written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA.
She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/New Dawn and has had the honor of serving as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas twice.
She’s holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University and she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine’s Americans of the Year for 2012. Jessica is also an active member of the Military Writers Guild.
Keep up with all the latest news at Jessica’s website
Follow Jessica on Twitter
Fort Hood, Texas … July 2005
Captain Evan Loehr was having a bad day. Granted, it could have been worse.
It could always be worse. But as he pulled his Stetson out of its carrying case and dusted it off, he contemplated the consequences for blowing off the mandatory fun of tonight’s hail and farewell. He was not in the mood. Not in the least. Not when he was eight weeks out from leaving on his third deployment and was up to his neck in maintenance issues and, well, other issues that he’d never in a million years thought he’d have to deal with as a company commander.
There was nothing she could say that would erase the thirteen years of guilt he’d carried with him. She traced her fingers across his forehead, brushing a strand of hair from his eyes. But tonight he was shaken, his grief so real and raw, he might have been standing at the scene of the accident after it just happened instead of in a field of snow-covered memories.
“Sometimes the only battle worth fighting is the one that lets you keep your integrity”
“Bad leaders did stupid things that got people killed”
“Evan and Claire share two crucial passions: their country and each other”
A small warning, this book does contain scenes of a mild sexually explicit nature.
Although this book was a competition win and not a direct request for review, after researching Jessica’s background a little more, I was curious and intrigued enough to want to know just how this whirlwind manages to reconcile two such diverse and demanding careers, as well as raising a family
This is so much more than a sizzling, sexy and sensual love story, although the raw passion, eroticism, naked lust and sexual longing, is abundant in spades.
Until There Was You, is a multi-faceted story, which touches on so many issues, treating each with just enough depth and detail to raise important questions and observations in the readers’ mind, although perhaps not dwelling on any for too long, or exploring them too deeply. The characters however, are well defined and complex, evoking strong emotions within me as their individual personal stories unfolded.
I found it difficult at first to reconcile the on / off nature of any relationship between Claire and Evan, although as the story progresses, it becomes clear that each, in their own way, are damaged goods, both stubborn, unforgiving, unwilling and unable to confide in the other. The added complication in the equation is that Claire is an officer who has risen up the hard way, through the ranks, who when she looks at Evan sees only the echoes of people who have failed her in the past. She has therefore set up an invisible, yet tangible barrier around herself, with the ‘Keep Out’ signs loud and clear and hiding the real person behind the distant facade. Claire Montoya was afraid to face the world without the rank on her chest.
Evan however, is a career West Point officer graduate. A real life “Captain America”. A scarred and damaged man not used to admitting his vulnerabilities and the ever deepening void inside him, where his family once lived.
Each, it transpires, are using the uniform as a shield to hide their personal demons and secrets, which must be confronted, before there can ever hope to be a future for them as a couple.
Claire tends to wear her heart on her sleeve, which doesn’t always do her any favours with her commanding officers and she can be a little too forthright when voicing her thoughts and opinions, with scant regard for who hears her. Evan on the other hand, is a little more circumspect and although not always agreeing with decisions made by those in command, is a career soldier, doing everything by the book and seldom challenging a decision. Claire, despite Evan’s best intentions, gets right under his skin and he finds himself putting his own position very much on the line, as he struggles with his conscience and the emotions Claire has stirred up within him, as she battles to hold on to her integrity and do the best by her troops.
The sparks and palpable tension are ever present, but I found myself wondering just where this relationship was going and how it was to be reconciled with two such obviously career minded individuals. The ending, when it came, seemed a little flat, but perhaps I had just been expecting too much from Claire and Evan, although all the fun was certainly in the getting there!
Sometimes though, the personal saga between the two of them almost paled into insignificance, as I wondered just how much of what is portrayed in the story, of the battle with the powers that be, over the hurried and inadequately organised training schedules for the troops about to deploy to the battleground, is more a case of reality than fiction.
Jessica’s detailed writing about the military references and the well drawn character of Reza, illustrates so well a typical case of PTSD. A career soldier, with too many deployments behind him and only the promise of more to come, sustaining the terrible pain, which he can now only assuage with drunken binges, wanton depravity and casual sexual encounters. In Claire he has a true friend and ‘sister’, who has come up through the ranks, yet never lost her humanity and is worried and angry for both him and her fellow inexperienced colleagues, who are about to be deployed, with little or no training.
Then there is Claire’s best friend and fellow officer, Sarah. Trained for back office command, totally inexperienced and unprepared to lead a troop into a combat situation, her motives for taking on the mission, despite its last minute timing and total lack of preparation, are purely personal. They do however affect the lives and futures of the many soldiers under her command and Claire worries that the mission is doomed to end in failure and devastation, unless Sarah’s mindset can be re-focused.
I guess that to see if all the terrible things I surmised, were and still are, anything akin to reality, then I should really read the two instalments of Jessica’s autobiography, To Iraq And Back and The Long Way Home, written in blog form and detailing her life and feelings during her own 2009 deployment to Iraq.
“The quiet of coming home from deployment”
This is a sizzling contemporary romance novel and was a win, in a competition organised by the lovely Naida, over at ‘The Bookworm‘. The author Jessica Scott, kindly sent me the gift of a Kindle download, in exchange for which, I offered a review.
This will in no way influence any comments I may express about the book, in any blog articles I may post. Any thoughts or comments will be my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!