Friday, August 16, 2013

A Hero to Come Home To - Marilyn Pappano (Forever - June 2013)

Series: Tallgrass (Book 1)

First he fought for his country. Now he'll fight for her.

Two years after losing her husband in Afghanistan, Carly Lowry has rebuilt her life in Tallgrass, Oklahoma. She has a job she loves teaching third grade and the best friends in the world: fellow military wives who understand what it means to love a man in uniform. She's comfortable and content...until she meets a ruggedly handsome stranger who rekindles desires Carly isn't quite sure she's ready to feel.

Staff Sergeant Dane Clark wanted to have a loving family, a twenty-year Army stint, and then a low-key civilian career. But the paratrooper's plans were derailed by a mission gone wrong. Struggling to adjust to his new life, he finds comfort in the wide open spaces of Tallgrass--and in the unexpected attention of sweet, lovely Carly. She is the one person who makes him believe life is worth living. But when Carly discovers he's been hiding the real reason he's come to Tallgrass, will Dane be able to convince her he is the hero she needs?

Fantastic book.  Carly is slowly rebuilding her life after the death of her husband in Afghanistan.  Some days are harder than others, but she has her friends in the Tuesday Night Margarita Club to help her.  They have all lost husbands in the war so they understand.  When she meets Dane there is a connection but she's not sure if she wants it to go anywhere.  Dane is in Tallgrass recovering from his injuries.  He's not coping well with his changed circumstances, but meeting Carly has brightened his life.  Now he needs to find a way to tell her why he's in Tallgrass.

I loved Carly.  The loss of her husband hit her really hard, but with the help of her friends she is starting to live her life again.  When she meets Dane she notices him but doesn't think anything about it until she starts running into him in various places around town.  I loved the way that they started talking to each other and became friends first.  It didn't take too long before she started noticing him as a man as well as a friend, but she was torn over those feelings.  She felt somewhat disloyal to her late husband but she also knew that she deserved to have a life of her own.  I loved seeing the changes she started making in her life, from painting her house to giving herself permission to feel things for Dane.  One of the things I loved most about her was her sensitivity. She takes her class to visit the soldiers every week and has a great way of making everyone comfortable with the visits.  As she gets to know Dane she has a great way of being there for him without pushing for more than he's comfortable with.  She also has a wonderful sense of humor and uses it on Dane constantly, something he really needs.  When she finds out his secret she is furious that he hadn't told her, but also hurt that he hadn't trusted her with it.  She has to decide if she wants to fight for him through those feelings or back away.

Dane was great. There is a lot about him that I really like.  He has a fun sense of humor that meshes well with Carly's.  I also like the way that he starts his relationship with Carly as friends.  I loved the scene where he helps her pick out the paint.  He is in Tallgrass trying to decide what direction he's going to take now that his previous plans are no longer possible.  He is pretty bitter about his injury and the loss of his career.  Carly makes an impression on him when he meets her but a relationship is not in his plans.  He divorced his wife when he discovered she was sleeping around, sometimes even with men in his unit.  After his injury even his mother is treating him like he isn't a whole man and it's really doing a number on his self image.  He spends a lot of time pretending that there is nothing wrong with him.  When he starts hanging out with Carly he doesn't tell her about his injury because he doesn't want to risk possible rejection.  By the time he realizes that it wouldn't matter to her he can't figure out how to bring it up.  When she finds out about it he has to figure out how to show her that he knows what an idiot he had been and how to get her back in his life.  I completely loved the ending.  It was obvious how hard it was for him but that he was doing it for her.

Besides the wonderful romance between Carly and Dane, I loved the whole theme of the book.  The realism of the lives of Carly and her friends and the soldiers in the WTU was occasionally hard to read because it was so emotional.  As the first book in the series there was also a fair amount of time devoted to the supporting cast.  Therese and her issues with her stepchildren were a secondary story that got a lot of attention.  I wanted to shake her a few times and tell her she was going overboard on being understanding of their issues.  Jacob was semi-obnoxious but somewhat typical of his age.  Abby, on the other hand, was a first class brat and bitch-in-training.  I'm looking forward to the next book, which is Therese's story.  I'm hoping to see her grow a backbone when it comes to those kids.

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