Friday, 25 November 2011

Book Review: Because of You by Jessica Scott

Title: Because of You
Author: Jessica Scott
Series: Book #1 in the Coming Home series
Release Date: 14 November 2011
Number of pages: 224 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Source: eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon
Goodreads appetizer:

From the war-torn streets of Baghdad to the bittersweet comforts of the home front, two wounded hearts navigate the battlefield of coming home from war in this explosive eBook original from newcomer Jessica Scott.

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again—until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.

Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels—for the first time in a long time—like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty—it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected—her deepest desire.

Originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

My Thoughts: First of all I would like to state so that there is no misunderstanding: Because of You is not a military romance, but a contemporary romance having military heroes/heroines. I warn you so you don’t expect to read about thrilling and suspenseful war scenes, the novel mostly takes place in the US and is not about some suspenseful military action but the emotional healing of wounded soldiers and how they find their way to love.

That said, I can now tell you what an amazing read Because of You was. Jessica Scott wrote such a deeply emotional and overwhelming story, that reading about the internal struggles of these wounded men and women, portrayed in such a realistic way teared me up quite a few times, and I’m not really the tearing up kind.

Meet the heroine: Jen St. James, who is a nurse and breast cancer survivor. I found it incredibly brave and laudable of Jessica Scott that she chose to feature a cancer survivor who lost her breast as the heroine of her romance novel. Despite being grateful for still being alive, Jen still hasn’t come to terms of having lost such a primordial part of her feminity and herself and she considers herself a “freak” and damaged goods.

The hero of Because of You is Shane Garrison an infantry platoon sergeant and a dreamy hero: besides the swoonworthy physical attributes (tall, strong and handsome), he is extremely responsible, honourable and generous. Following a vicious attack Shane is sent back home to heal and Jen is one of the nurses taking care of him.

The love developed gradually and in a very realistic way between Shane and Jen, Jessica Scott didn't gloss over Shane's injuries and make them "alibi wounds" just to land him near a nurse. No, Shane's suffering because of him losing his identity was real and heart-wrenching.
"I don’t want help. I don’t need your help. I want to get fixed and get back to Iraq."
Shane had difficulty defining himself as anything else than the infantry platoon sergeant he was/is. His whole life revolves around the army and his boys. His sense of responsibility and commitment for his men was both troubling and astonishing. Troubling because it added heavy weights to his shoulders and conscience and astonishing that he felt so deeply responsible for other grown up people.
"I am. That’s what I do. I fix my soldier’s problems. I let them lean on me when things in their lives are broken. I take care of them."
His devotion to his men moved me to tears. It was heartbreaking reading about his terror, revulsion and despair at having lost the main part of his identity, the part which he feels defines him, how he feels completely lost and confused not being a soldier anymore.

(and I have to note here that Shane's inner thoughts and memories were written in such a distinctly male voice that I find it extraordinary a woman managed to channel such a masculine character and train of thought, so kudos to Jessica Scott!)

In Because of You Jessica Scott showed us how two strong but scarred and lost people surmount their vulnerabilities to open themselves to love and each other. An exceptionally emotional, moving and overwhelming read I can only recommend to everyone!

What I loved more than anything about Because of You was the authentic voice of Jessica Scott, how believable the story was because she wrote most of it from personal experience. Being a European civilian I don’t have any connection to the army besides the occasional military fiction novel I read, but through her vivid and emotional narrative I got a glimpse at what it must feel like to have someone in the army or be in the army. Reading Shane's thoughts, reading the wives' and girlfriends thoughts on their men's deployment was both eye-opening and moving. Jessica Scott showed the not so glossy side of being an army wife, the constant worrying, struggles, heartache and fear of drifting away emotionally from your husband.
"I’m not a single parent by choice, I’m a single parent by my husband’s choice. He’s literally been home for long enough to get me pregnant and that’s it.” She bit her lips and stared into space. 
The truth behind Jessica Scott's words resonated through the pages.
"It doesn’t get any easier no matter how many times you say good-bye."
Deployments were filled with long bouts of boredom and loneliness, punctuated by bursts of pure terror and an overdose of adrenaline.

But I have to mention that besides being such a heavily emotional story, Jessica Scott managed to pepper the novel with laugh out loud humour (Thundercock, hospital erection scene just to mention two of my favourites *wink*).

Verdict: Prepare several boxes of tissues because you will need them. Because of You is an incredibly raw read, it held my heart in a painful squeeze and made me try to swallow my tears so many times I lost count. It is not a light roses and sunshine romance, it is full of angst, pain and emotional suffering because the story is so very real. I teared up, my heart aching for these poor men and women and their torment. Because of You is an extremely powerful and emotional debut novel, one that will squeeze your heart and resonate with you for several days.

I can't wait to read the next novels in the series, I am completely wrung but happy, Jessica Scott took me on an incredibly emotionally exhausting journey but the ending couldn't have been more perfect, so I await the next book with a happy sigh. :-)

Plot: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 6/10

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