I always anxiously await every new Cindy Gerard release. I’ve always thought there was nobody who wrote romantic suspense better, able to seamlessly blend romance and action while creating strong heroines and macho, yet caring heroes. Having said that, the blurb for The Way Home had me a little tentative about going into this romance. Partly because it felt a little personal for me, my husband spent years on and off in Afghanistan and I worried about him every single day, and partly because this story involves our heroine finding love again and then discovering her husband was still alive. I in no way wanted to go into some kind of love triangle, but I was worried that might happen.
Blurb from Goodreads:
A heartwarming Christmas story from the New York Times bestselling “true master of romantic suspense” (Romantic Times). Four years ago Jess Albert got the news that her husband Jeff was killed in action in Afghanistan, and a painful void entered her life. The more time passed, the more acutely she felt that emptiness. But when Tyler Brown, former military hero and all-around alpha male, shows up a year after she’d last seen him, Jess gradually begins to realize there is one thing that can make her feel whole again—love.
As they’re planning their wedding and new life together, Jess receives shocking news: her husband is alive, under the care of a young Afghani woman hiding him from the Taliban. Even as he sees their happily-ever-after slip away, Ty arranges for the One Eyed Jacks and Black Ops, Inc. teams to make a daring and dangerous rescue mission to bring Jeff home. The hardest thing Ty or Jess has ever done is to let the other go.
When Jeff returns to Jess, broken physically and emotionally and with no memory of their history, they try to heal their marriage and each other. But as time brings them together more as friends than lovers, an unexpected development helps them see the true way home, to the people they love.
After finally sitting down last weekend to read I soon discovered I had nothing to worry over. Ms. Gerard handled every aspect of this story beautifully.
Jess is still grieving over the death of her husband and not in any way ready to enter into a new relationship with any man, much less another soldier. She’s content to work her family’s store and keep her emotions contained. When Ty shows up out of the blue, ready to explore the chemistry that he sensed between them the first time they met, she keeps him at arm’s length. Not wanting to get into any kind of emotional entanglement. Yet, he slowly and with a gentle hand awakens her interest and emotions, bringing to life all the womanly parts of her that have lain dormant since her husband’s death. Jess and Ty’s romance was very well done. Both hurting and getting over major losses in their lives, but trying to build something new and learning how to go on living.
Then there is the romance between Jeff and Rabia. It hurt me to read parts of their love story. Not because it wasn’t just as wonderfully written, but because there was this added sense of pain, and angst, and beneath it all was the worry that Rabia could be hurt because of her protection and love for her American soldier. Their feelings for each other build slowly, moving from protection on Rabia’s part to an emotional connection that transcended their background and cultural differences. There was no question in my mind that I wanted them to find happiness together.
Everything comes to a head when members of the BOI and One Eyed Jacks black ops teams, along with Ty, move to bring the injured warrior home. Jeff comes home suffering from not only many physical ailments from his imprisonment, but also amnesia that keeps him from remembering his life before. I think what made this book shine, and the love stories for both couples so believable to me, is how Jess and Jeff’s relationship is handled after he comes home. No one was portrayed to be the bad guy, or selfish, or hurting anyone else. All four of the main characters are put in an impossible situation and make the right decisions for each other’s well beings. It was simply beautiful.
So in the end, did this story work for me? Yes. Yes, it did. I felt emotionally connected with each couple and loved how they found their HEAs. I think this might be one of my favorite Cindy Gerard books. Final Grade- A
He’d lost as much as she had. Yet he had so much to give. So much life. So much joy. And although he hadn’t said the word, it was clear that if she have him the right signal, he’d give her all the love she could possible need.