Monday, October 13, 2014

His Road Home by Anna Richland

Title: His Road Home
Author: Anna Richland
My Rating: A

Genre: Military Romance 
Series: -
Main Characters: Rey and Grace
Release Date: October 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:

To avoid an Afghan warlord’s matchmaking, Staff Sergeant Rey Cruz invents a fiancée he’ll never meet—until he’s flat on his back in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and marine biologist Grace Kim shows up with one question: why did you lie?

Cruz can’t explain his fabrication to her, the news media, their families, or their hometown, because his traumatic brain injury has manifested as aphasia, leaving him with few words to navigate his new world.

Grace offers friendship, a big step for a woman who prefers Orcinus orca to most company. Texting throughout his recovery, they connect in ways neither anticipates. She agrees to help drive his classic muscle car home across-country at Thanksgiving. His hands-on method of teaching her to operate a manual transmission is the beginning of his challenges to her comfort zone. She responds by introducing him to the steamy world of South Dakota ice-fishing shacks, and they both learn to look beyond labels into each other’s hearts.

My Review:
What an incredibly moving, beautiful story with an incredibly creative set-up. Rey needs a girl's picture to show a warlord in Afghanistan to prove that he has a fiancee and doesn't need the warlord's daughter to fill the position. He's simply trying to avoid a conflict with the tribe. So he goes to facebook and finds a picture that will work...a modest and respectable looking girl from his hometown, but one that he's never actually met. After a little bit of doctoring he has the engagement photo, but before he can use it, he gets blown up and the burned, tattered photo makes the international news. 

Although Grace knows who his mother is in their small town, she has no idea how or why Rey would be saying she's his fiancee when she doesn't even know him. But he's a desperately wounded soldier and everyone around her knows that she should be with her fiance during this time. She's basically railroaded into visiting him and not given time to say two words about the fact that she doesn't know him before she's shepherded onto a plane headed for Walter-Reed Army Medical Center. 

Rey lost both his legs and his brain doesn't connect quite right anymore which affects his speech. Although his brain works, he can't unscramble the right words to explain what happened with Grace to her or anyone else. 

Grace is one of those people...she's empathetic and although she knows she doesn't belong here, she can't abandon Rey who's basically hurt and alone and a bit confused and more than a bit traumatized. This bizarre set of circumstances set up one of the most beautiful romantic stories I think I've read this year. The timeline of the novel takes place over around 8-9 months and these two are only together that first week he's home when he got hurt. The rest of the time they are connecting long-distance via text and creating an incredibly strong bond and friendship. Everything about that worked for me. 

And I loved these two characters. Anna Richland does an incredible job with Rey showing his doubts, fears, and hopes along the way. He hates what has happened to him and hates it even more that Grace sees him helpless like this. I can't imagine how hard it would be to deal with this kind of communication issue on top of everything else. It made my heart ache so much for Rey and I know that there are so many real Vets who are dealing with these kinds of losses every single day. 

There are many times throughout the book where the ideal of "hero" is examined. Rey lost a lot, others lost more and the book is a great reminder of that. There are heroes every where in our lives, but we owe our soldiers so much. They are just doing their jobs, but those jobs can come at such an incredibly high price. It's a good reminder.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

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