Hello, my lovelies!
This book truly captured my heart, and I am so thrilled that today is the day I get to show you my review.
Ryan Kendall is broken. He understands pain. He knows the hand of violence and the ache of loss. He knows what it means to fail those who need you. Being broken doesn’t stop him wanting the one thing he can’t have; Finlay Tanner. Her smile is sweet and her future bright. She’s the girl he grew up with, the girl he loves, the girl he protects from the world, and from himself.
At nineteen, Ryan leaves to join the Australian Army. After years of training he becomes an elite SAS soldier and deploys to the Afghanistan war. His patrol undertakes the most dangerous missions a soldier can face. But no matter how far he runs, or how hard he fights, his need for Finlay won’t let go.
Returning home after six years, one look is all it takes to know he can’t live without her. But sometimes love isn’t enough to heal what hurts. Sometimes people like him can’t be fixed, and sometimes people like Finlay deserve more than what’s left.
This is a story about war and the cost of sacrifice. Where bonds are formed, and friendships found. Where those who are strong, fall hard. Where love is let go, heartache is born, and heroes are made. Where one man learns that the hardest fight of all, is the fight to save himself.
The story centres around Ryan, Finlay and Finlay’s brother, Jake. These three form a friendship as children and because of Ryan’s less than happy home, Jake and Finlay’s parents – Julie and Mike – kind of adopts him and he becomes like a second son to them.
Ryan has demons to conquer even as a child and spends most of his time with his friends instead of at home. He decides at an early age (just 10 years old) that he wants to become a soldier when he grows up. It becomes his sole focus throughout his youth and he will not let anything stand in his way of reaching his goal. Not even love.
And yes, how strongly this man feels: even as a young teen, he knows that he loves Finlay with all of his being, but he does not want to stand in her way of reaching her own dreams. So he never tells her his true feelings towards her – love – until he is an adult and gets home from one of his deployments.
Throughout the book, Ryan deals with issues aplenty: guilt, a past he cannot let go, and his warring emotions about letting himself love the woman who has always held his heart, and overcoming his fears of not being the right man for her.
“Being a soldier had been his escape, his flight from the demons that bound him, and Fin had been the only one who could stop him from running forever. As long as she was here, he could run as far and as fast as he wanted, but for her he would return.” (Ryan)
Finlay has loved Ryan since she was a teenager but ever since he left to become a soldier, she has not heard one word from him. 6 years have passed, in fact, and she is in a relationship with her high school sweetheart, Ian, when Ryan and Jake come home. I do not blame her one bit for being downright furious with Ryan for having taken himself completely out of her life.
I really loved Ryan: although physically strong, he is very vulnerable on the inside – a very tormented hero indeed. He is a loyal, protective alpha male and he always puts other people’s needs before his own. Too much so, which Finlay is quick to point out to him. I could truly feel his anguish, and his heartbreak when Jake is killed in action made me ugly-cry. Truly.
And Finlay? Well, she is spunky, sassy and smart – exactly what I look for in a heroine. You have to admire her for the way she keeps fighting for Ryan, for never letting him doubt that he is her whole heart. True, she may not have made the wisest choices in the past but as soon as this couple starts sorting through their issues together, she steps up and never falters.
“I miss you. Each day hurts a little more than the last. When I close my eyes at night I feel your hands running over my bare skin as though you’re still here. I feel your hand resting on my chest at night like you used to do and I know it’s because you like to feel the beat of my heart beneath your fingers. Do you know you always sleep deeper that way? Some nights you cry out in your sleep and it hurts just hearing it, but then your hand eventually settles over my heart and your breathing evens out.” (Finlay)
The tension between Ryan and Finlay is so palpable and I had to fan myself many times while reading the very steamy scenes. They are very vivid, but tastefully written, and I never felt that it became too much. Ultimately, it was the love story between them that captivated me and even though I wanted to shout at Ryan many times – trust me, he IS a very frustrating man – I would not change a single thing about him. He has to overcome his fears on his own and being in Afghanistan actually helps him to do that: he realizes that he cannot live without Finlay and that he has to stop being scared.
The way Miss McCarthy describes the scenes that take place in Afghanistan made my stomach clench, my adrenaline spike and my heart was pounding so loud while I was reading. I even got goosebumps many times throughout the story and you will all have to agree with me on this: THAT is a sign of a great story-teller.
I have been very vague at some places in my review, I know – but I am so afraid that I will reveal too much of the story, because you NEED to experience this book yourself. In my opinion, it is a work of art, and I already love this author’s writing style – it is passionate, heartbreaking and simply beautiful. I did not want the book to end and I was sad, but also elated, when I read the epilogue. The supporting characters – Jake, Rachael (Finlay’s best friend), Kyle (one of Ryan’s close friends from the military) and especially Julie and Mike all play a pivotal part in the book, and I cannot help but wonder – hoping, really – if we will get to meet them again.
This book has now been put on my Favourite Books shelf, and I know that I will read it many times in the years to come. It has definitely made me think more about all our soldiers around the world fighting for us in Afghanistan, and it has made me very humble to the fact that we should never take freedom for granted. Miss McCarthy: Thank you for writing a book with such a difficult subject matter – the war in Afghanistan – and with such believable characters. Your words have most definitely captured my heart.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate McCarthy grew up in a small town outside of Port Macquarie, Australia. Raised in a house just a short walk to the beach, Kate enjoyed the peaceful, relaxed atmosphere and friendships that come from being raised in a friendly, small town area.
She now resides in Brisbane, Australia, a city in the state of Queensland where she works as an accountant, along with a sideline wedding cake business and her writing.
She is married with two children, has two dogs and house in the suburbs, and a pile of friends and family dotted all over the country that help keep her sane.
When she’s not busy running after naughty kids, filthy dogs, crunching numbers, piping buttercream and writing books, you can find her curled up in bed in the early hours of the morning reading new books and re-reading old favourites. Her favourite books are the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward in which she longs to eventually join the brotherhood and change her name to Phierce Mutha.
Want to read an excerpt of the book?
Later that morning after their workout and shower, Jake fell asleep on the couch. Feeling at a loss with nothing but time on his hands, Ryan wandered down the hall towards Fin’s room. She was sitting at a little study nook in the corner, laptop open with one foot resting on her chair. She was wearing a tank top and a little pair of shorts. Leaning up against the doorframe, he couldn’t tear his eyes away from those long, delectable legs.
As though sensing his presence, she turned in her chair. He forced his eyes upwards, catching a sexy flush fill her cheeks at his blatant perusal.
“Morning, Ryan.” She took off her black framed reading glasses and tossed them on the desk.
“Morning, Fin,” he replied.
Against his better judgment, Ryan pushed away from the door and walked farther into the room. Fin hadn’t changed at all and neither had his desire for her. His heart kicked over when she met his eyes. He knew everything he was feeling right now was written all over him, but he couldn’t seem to shut it off.
Her eyelids fluttered closed and she whispered, “Why now?”
Ryan took a deep breath. “I don’t know,” he replied honestly.
He shouldn’t still be feeling this way after so many years. Why was he doing this to her, and to himself? It was better for everyone if he stayed away like he was supposed to.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come. I’ll go stay at the barracks.” He turned to leave.
“Ryan!” she called out. Scrambling out of the chair, she grabbed his arm as he was halfway out the door.
“Fin,” he warned, looking down at her hand pointedly.
She took a step closer and he breathed her in, her scent like jasmine on a hot summer’s day. He was surprised when he looked into her eyes and saw anger burning hotly in their depths.
“Six years, Ryan. Do you know how hurt I was, each day passing by and getting nothing—not even a note or an email? I didn’t just lose you. I lost my brother too. Both of you left me, and I was okay with that. I understood that this was what you needed to do, so I moved on. I built a life that doesn’t include you. That was what I had to do.” She paused and raised a shaky hand to cup his cheek. “I’d have given you my entire heart if you’d only asked, but it’s not yours now. It’s not yours.”
Ryan closed his eyes, agony for losing what was never his rose in his chest until he felt strangled by it. He placed his hand over hers, holding it there until she tugged it away.
“You’re right,” Fin told him. “You should stay on the barracks … but I don’t want you to. Damn you, Ryan,” she whispered fiercely. “I don’t want you to.”
Ryan used his bulk to crowd her against the wall until there was no room for her to move. Leaning one hand against the wall, he grabbed her hip with the other. Her breathing rose rapidly and he leaned in, ducking his head until their mouths hovered a mere breath apart.
“Why can’t I force myself to leave?” He rested his forehead against hers and closed his eyes. “I hurt too. For six years I fought every day not to think of you, and I lost, because every day you were all I could see. You were the best thing in my life—so sweet and innocent, and so goddamn tempting.” His hand strayed from her hip and slid down to grip her ass. He swallowed the groan. “I stayed away so you could move on.”
And now it is time for you to enter the giveaway, girls.
These are the prizes:
Signed Copies + Ryan’s dog tags, ebooks, gift cards