Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Michael Pauley
Length: 7 hours, 19 minutes
At the age of seventeen, Weston “Major” Marian thought he had no choice but to run away from home. He immediately enlisted in the Army and soon found himself through several tours of the Vietnam War. Major was a leader in the Army, rising through the ranks and securing the support of other soldiers. But Major has a secret and being a gay soldier in Vietnam would surely get him killed if anyone were to find out. The moment Major lays eyes on Liam “Doc” Wilde, he falls a little in love with him, but Doc has a wife and family back home and the two men become close friends as they fight their way through the jungle.
Doc knows one of the only reasons he made it back from Vietnam is because of Major. When their tours ended, Doc thought he would rarely, if ever, see Major again, but life had other plans and soon Major is a permanent fixture on Doc’s family farm. Major fit right into farm life and becomes close to Doc’s wife, Betsy, as well as their children. Throughout it all, Major loves Doc from afar, and when an illness changes all of their lives, their relationship changes as well.
Doc thinks the men are the best of friends, but he also always knew there was a little more there and when Doc is able, his heart reaches out for Major. Being in a relationship with a man is not easy during that time, but the men know that life without each other is simply not possible.
If you have followed along with the Forever Wilde series, you will be familiar with Doc and Major as the center of the large Wilde clan. I thought I was okay with seeing Major and Doc settled into their relationship as older men, but I really enjoyed learning their early history. At first, I was sad to see them once young, because it was then sad to see them grow older, and that has a lot to do with the way that Lennox crafted their story.
The book starts with the men meeting in Vietnam, and then moves to them going home and seeing Doc with his wife Betsy and kids, to Betsy’s untimely death, to the men securing their future together. They developed a special bond in the war and even though Doc’s wife knew their relationship was special, she welcomed Major into the family. While Major was intimate with other men throughout the years, there was no one he wanted to share his life with because his heart truly belonged to Doc.
Once Doc is able to recognize his feelings for Major, it was really satisfying to see how the two men move forward in their relationship and the strong bond and love they have for each other. As older men when we first meet them in the series, we know how they love each other and it was worth it to see where it all started. We also get early glimpses of Doc’s children that we have met as adults in the other novels and it all worked to show how this family became who they are.
My only hesitation was how fast everything moved and how pivotal circumstances were glossed over. Major’s sister is Tilly, from the Made Marian books, and their reunion is quick. Also, the reason that Major left home in the first place is discussed throughout the book, but then it’s barely mentioned at the end. In addition, in an earlier book, a visitor shows up at Doc and Major’s home, which sets off Major thinking of trying to find Tilly, but the reason for that visitor was completely glossed over toward the end of this book. There was a lot that had been in the works here, some being major plot points, and it wasn’t all satisfied by the end of the book.
The epilogue mixes the Marians with the Wildes and it’s referenced almost as a lark that Lennox wanted to see how many of her characters could be in one scene together. It too moves fast and while it’s always fun to reunite with characters, I’m not convinced that it added much to the close of Doc and Major’s story.
This was sort of the book I didn’t know I needed and it was heartfelt to see the early stages, as well as the enduring love between these two men for so many years. I feel this book works best if you are caught up with the Wilde clan to see where it all began.
Michael Pauley is a narrator I always look for. My ears like his tone of voice and I find his performances effortless to listen to. The emotions for scenes are always well placed and he can move from humor to sultry with ease. While he does have a range of voices for the characters, his female characters often sound similar and Doc and Major sounded similar as well, but it is always clear which character is speaking. I have listened to this entire series on audio and his performances truly add something special in making these already great characters become even more alive.