Connor Regan is a British journalist. While his columns are entertainment based, he did join a protest of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. His stance was personal in nature and, just eight months later, his brother was killed in action.
Three years have passed and Connor is no closer to finding out exactly what happened to his brother and his sense of loss won’t dissipate. Switching professional gears, he trains for a year and gets an assignment following an elite team in Iraq. He wants to find closure for his brother, but when he arrives on base, he finds Sergeant Nathan Thompson.
Nat has been in the military for years and the casualties have numbed him. With depleting supplies, it’s increasingly difficult just holding his unit together and the last thing he needs is a journalist in their way. Nat carries ghosts of friends lost in the war and he promises to protect the helpless civilian, but Connor is anything but helpless. The attraction between the men is instant and has the potential to be distracting. Connor has managed to get through all of Nat’s defenses and when Connor is put into the worst kind of danger, Nat is determined to fight for the man that holds his heart.
I chose this book solely for the name of the author that wrote it. Everything I have read by Garrett Leigh I have enjoyed and add in a military story line and it sounded like a total win. There was, however, too much here that ultimately didn’t work for me.
The beginning of the story was the one area that did work. We get briefly caught up with Connor, his professional life, and the loss of his brother. He is still haunted by what happened to his brother and, although they had a close relationship, he is still trying to prove himself to his brother and heads out on assignment seeking closure. The initial attraction between Connor and Nat was well done and they had an evident spark. After that, there wasn’t any other area of the book that held my attention.
To start, the men are British and speak appropriately. However I am less familiar with their casual, conversational slang and added to their British military slang and the language didn’t resonate with me. The story is told from alternating POVs, which is my preference, but the men sounded too similar without enough of a distinction for me.
The book is less about character development, as we only learn basic background on each man and more about the story in the moment. But, neither the military aspect nor the relationship aspects were grabbing me. When the men are sent out on a mission, we spend a lot of time with them discussing and strategizing and much of the action is off page until the end. There are secondary characters introduced more at face value and when these men are put into harm’s way, the author hadn’t laid the ground work for me to become attached to these characters.
The relationship between Connor and Nat was difficult to evolve in the setting they were in as well. They were attracted to each other, sure absolutely, but the falling in love wasn’t easy to see or feel. There were obvious connections that culminated in a supposed big reveal, only it wasn’t hidden as all of the components had been laid out on the pages many chapters ahead of time. The landscape of the terrain they were on as they made their way through secret passages and underground caves was also harder to visualize as it was written and further hindered being able to become lost in the story.
The finale offered more action and there were familiar ties to real world happenings, however, there were specifics that read as being implausible and while anything can certainly happen in a war, there were areas that simply read as too easy to be believed. Most of this book remained flat and no area stood out for me. Whether it was the military aspects, the relationship, the brother story line, or the ghosts referred to in the title, it all remained equally flat. This wasn’t my favorite book by this author and it wasn’t my favorite military book, but if you enjoy the author as well as military books, you may want to check it out or simply pass and wait for her next one.