Author submission in exchange for an honest review.
A Broken Christmas
October 26, 2011
The Wild Rose Press
The truest gifts are damaged ...
Fourteen months ago, Aimee Garland had the perfect marriage—until her husband blindsided her with a divorce. Now, he’s home and she intends to get her answers. Yet the crippled man she confronts bears scars her years of nursing cannot heal and the secret he’s hiding is tearing him apart.
Delta Force operative Kyle Garland divorced his wife to protect her. His top-secret missions expose him to constant danger, but the threat to Aimee doesn’t come in the form of insurgents or bombs. Rather, his soul-deep love and dreams he silently nurtures are her greatest hazard. When a career-ending injury brings him home for Christmas, he must bury his feelings and hide the monster he’s become.
As she forces him to confront his demons, will the holiday shred the fragile bonds they share, or will the spirit of Christmas heal their broken hearts?
All right. I fully admit it. I read this blurb and my first thought was, "Umm, not very merry." I thought it couldn't be very Christmasy at all.
But, as it usually goes when I have any thought whatsoever, I was wrong to have doubts. Now, if you're looking for sleigh bells ringing and grandiose lessons about the true meaning of Christmas, you won't find it here.
What you will find is an incredibly emotional story about a soldier returning home, carrying very large, very heavy baggage. The key is the realism in this story. The military back story isn't over the top. And the fallout isn't, either. But it does pack a heartstrings-tugging wallop.
There is a subtlety to the storytelling I found very appealing. Also a masculinity that doesn't always show through well in romances featuring a hero in fatigues. Let's face it, romances are largely written by women, and it's very difficult for us ladies to perfectly capture the voice of the opposite sex, considering we've never been a man. Ms. Ashgrove accomplishes that, and excels at it. That skill really sold the story for me. I was lost in the narrative, and I forgot I was reading a fictional story.
The "Christmasy" feel exists, not in a complicated plot to make everything all right by the holiday, but in the "coming home" theme. Our goal, as readers is to see our hero recognize that his home is with his heroine. That the story happens to take place around Christmas time is just a bonus.
This story has heart. I think I spent eighty percent of this read with satisfied tears in my eyes. I was desperate to see Aimee and Kyle get to that happily ever after, and that doesn't happen often with me. Well done, Ms. Ashgrove!