Dean and Dax were thick as thieves, from breaking their arms at age 8, to building a tree fort in the park at age 11. Two better friends you could not find, even if they were opposites in every way possible, from personalities to looks, but nothing could tear these two “brothers” apart, other than Dax’s death in Afghanistan.
Dean is persuaded to join the pen pal program by Dax’s mama and the first letter goes to Sergeant Ryder Brooks. As the men correspond, they find out that they have much in common and each letter brings them emotionally closer, both men feeling committed to each other and waiting for Ryder’s tour to be over so that they can finally be together. A land mine changes everything in the blink of an eye.
Saved from bleeding to death by Bentley, a fellow soldier and former lover, Ryder returns home expecting Dean to abandon him like every one else has. Little does Ryder know that Dean is determined to make a life with the man he fell for on paper. Things are progressing well when a jealous Bentley, intent on reclaiming Ryder, threatens Dean. Things are quiet until one day, Bentley follows through with his threat and all Dean can hope for is that Dax’s training will be enough to save him.
This is the second story I have read by Lee, and both times now I have felt the same way: that the potential of a good premise was not fully realized. What I found interesting about His Soldier is that the first three quarters was really good. I was happy, and then things just stared to fall apart. For example, there were some issues with continuity – in one scene, Dean says it will be one month until… and then later in the chapter, Ryder thinks to himself that the same event will take place in two months. Another blatant example of a lack of continuity – Ryder arrives home, they have “just enough time” to get ready to go to a club and then we discover it isn’t even 5:00pm.
I also found the plot to be a bit saccharine sweet at times and and the middle of the book kind of meanders along. Then there were what I call “Surprises!” (I am not a fan of surprises.)
Surprise! Dean is writing a fricking book! 82% and we find that out?
Surprise! Friends Jules and Michael are now dating!? When did this happen?
Okay, that covers off the last 25% of the story, let’s talk about the rest. I was taken by both Dean and Ryder, finding their correspondence as pen pals to be believable and felt that their disclosures about being gay made sense I can also get behind the fact that they fell for each other over the course of the months they were apart. Dean was a super good guy, I could totally empathize with him when it came to dealing with Ryder and his many insecurities and issues. Now don’t let that last sentence make you think that Ryder was all “boo hoo” because he wasn’t. His character was written well enough to bridge the gap between engaging and annoying and since the story took place over the course of a year, the relationship was able to become established and grow at what felt to be an organic pace.
My final verdict, you ask? I say yes to His Soldier simply because watching Dean and Ryder “meet” as pen pals, meet for real, forge a relationship, and hope for a future together was enough for me to, not forgive, but rather overlook the issues with the plot and continuity.