Meeting for the first time, medical student Shane Sanford and RAF pilot Greg Becker are instantly and insanely attracted to each. They have one night to spend together and they make the most of it. Knowing their lives are moving in different directions, Greg and Shane do not share contact information and then they both regret it. One year later, the men meet again by chance and this time they do not want to let go.
Shane and Greg try to make a relationship work as their passion burns bright, but the men have responsibilities and Greg gets deployed. Greg has no idea when he will be back and while he is in love with Shane, he doesn’t want Shane to wait for him. Life does move on, but the men are always drawn back to each other. Through war, tragedy, and overwhelming anxiety, Greg and Shane know they should be together, but there are many obstacles in their way.
Grounded is a follow-up to Kostova’s Cookies, and takes place prior to those events. Greg, the main character here, is best friends with Amir from Cookies, and Amir, as well as Jay, are seen here too. It has been close to three years since Cookies was released and while I did read it, it wasn’t fresh in my mind, and this book would work fine as a standalone.
Kostova excels at writing instant attraction. When Greg and Shane meet, the chemistry between them is off the charts and it really comes across well. The night they spend together changes them both, but with their lives moving in different directions, they part ways. When they meet again, they know they need to try to be together, but Greg’s military career certainly stands in their way when he is deployed.
The book is told in a flashback style and opens five years in the past when the men meet and then counts down the years to present day. This didn’t work as well for me since the events happen so fast that at the end of the five years, it didn’t seem like the men had known each other for that long when they reference their relationship. I think the book would have worked just as well, if not better, from a forward motion standpoint. When Greg gets deployed, he and Shane decide to end their relationship and where the author took Shane’s story and the circumstances surrounding a new relationship didn’t fully work for me. Greg and Shane spend considerable time apart, although they are a constant presence in each other’s thoughts, but the great attraction they had at the beginning got lost for me as the story got pulled into too many different directions.
There is a lot going on with Shane running a rehabilitation center for veterans and he is consumed with trying to find donors to keep it open. The author shows how life does move on even during times of war, but there was just something missing for me that didn’t hold that great initial attraction between the men, and that comes down to personal reading preference. Greg and Amir have been best friends for 20 years and the amount of information they kept from each didn’t work for me either, and then there was no impact when truths are revealed.
Both of their families are touched upon; however, we never get the full story of Greg’s relationship with his parents and Shane’s family story felt rushed to me. Greg is then in the heart of enemy territory in the military, and while there was tragedy around him, it didn’t have that emotional impact I was looking for. The men then need to make room for each other in their lives and deal with Greg’s PTSD, but it somehow all stayed on the page for me and stayed flat and even all the way through.
Grounded had a great start for me, but then didn’t all come together. I have read other books by Kostova that I have enjoyed, but this series has not impacted me the same way. If you enjoy this author’s work, it may certainly work better for you as two men try to make one night last forever.