REVIEW: Jessica Scott's military romance Back to You is an engrossing and compelling rediscovery of love
From the moment I began reading the first book in Jessica Scott's Coming Home series, I knew that this was an author whose voice I would like to listen to forever. The sensitivity and compassion with which she depicts the soldiers in this series, wounded physically and psychologically by the immense toll of war, reverberates within your heart as you read these novels.
Back to You by Jessica Scott is the third book in the series and one that I eagerly awaited receiving. When the publisher shared it with me in preparation for Jessica's pre-launch visit to the blog (http://www.fabfantasyfiction.com) on Monday, January 6, 2014, I knew Christmas had arrived! This Tuesday, 7 January, you too will be able to take Back to You home too. But, if you haven't already, may I suggest that you read the rest of the series first. This is one that I highly recommend you add to your permanent library: Because of You (Book 1), Until There Was You (Book 2), Anything For You (Book 2.5), I'll Be Home For Christmas (Book 2.6).
Back to You tells the story of Army Captain Trent Davila and his wife Laura, both of whom we've met in each of the preceding stories (see links above). Scott has portrayed both of them with great care and I found myself liking them immediately. When it became apparent that their marriage was in serious distress, I cried. Really, I cried. With each new story I read, a little more was revealed about what each of them was enduring - Trent in the front lines of war with Laura on the home front as she counseled soldiers' families, but found little solace herself.
When Trent returns to Fort Hood this time, after being removed from his command a year earlier and sent stateside to train troops in California, divorce papers are prepared and ready to sign. But in light of a possible court martial, his lawyer asks that he and Laura show solidarity and act as though their marriage is fine to counteract some of the charges.
Has war and the loss of so many under his command cost Trent the ability to come home and the family he loves? Will Laura ever be able to trust her gentle warrior again since she discovered that he requested, and was not ordered, to each of the deployments through the years of their marriage? Will they be able to re-discover the love that was so evident in the first book and be a home for one another?
Each of these questions has ramifications that until you read Back to You, you can't imagine. I hadn't realized myself what an onus it was for an officer to seek counseling, until Scott showed Trent walking through the waiting room of enlisted men to meet his counselor, the new shrink on base and newly appointed Captain, Dr. Emily Lindberg. As Laura tries to repair her dishwasher, deal with her two young children, and in general cope with life as a single mom, although still legally married, her bitten back expletive - with it's charge of a quarter for being said in the kid's hearing - is a perfect snapshot of her life alone. It also shows just a few of the many stresses she has endured deployment after deployment as Trent left for the front lines while she remained "safe," yet in effect abandoned, at home.
One thing that I little thing love is that Scott has Trent, this apparently hardened warrior, wear spectacles. Granted they are probably more fashion-forward than military issue specs as Laura chose them, but somehow his wearing them adds a vulnerability and humanity to Trent. I imagine him pushing them up the bridge of his nose - or indeed removing them - at emotional highly moments.
Scott doesn't glamorize her heroes and heroines, they're people I feel I could encounter down the street, at the Wal-Mart, Target, or Home Depot, and perhaps already have. But they're heroes and heroines in the truest sense - as they give of themselves time and again. Her novels convey the deep gratitude we all owe these warriors of ours, who are now coming home with scars seen and unseen. This is a war that no matter how many drones are in the air has taken a toll on a generation who're on the ground and the front lines, as history will show and as Scott already depicts.
The secondary characters in Back to You, many who have already been featured in their own stories, feel like long-time friends. As Jen and Shane prepare for their wedding, with Nicole and Laura trying on dresses and Vic, Trent, and Shane tuxes - their enduring friendship and love is evident. It's clear that these ties are the underpinnings of support that they each need to endure their daily lives. I'm also totally intrigued to learn more about Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli and can't wait till next month when his and Captain Emily Lindberg's (Trent's counselor) story will be told in All for You (book 4, to be released 4 Feb 2014).
In conclusion, I'll reiterate my recommendation that you add Jessica Scott's Coming Home series to your eReader today. This is a five star series that will resonate with you long after the last page is turned.
Five stars for Back to You, a compelling, engrossing, and moving love story!
Fab Fantasy Fiction
I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley for use in this review.