Publication Date: October 8, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Military Romance
He plays by the rules, she’s not afraid to break them. Now these two strong-willed army captains will prove that opposites attract . . .
A by-the-book captain with a West Point background, Captain Evan Loehr refuses to mix business with pleasure—except for an unguarded instance years ago when he succumbed to the deep sensuality of redheaded beauty Claire Montoya. From that moment on, though, Evan has been at odds with her, through two deployments to Iraq and back again. But when he is asked to train a team prepping for combat alongside Claire, battle-worn Evan is in for the fight of his life.
Strong, gutsy, and loyal, Captain Claire Montoya has worked hard to earn the rank on her chest. In Evan, Claire sees a rigid officer who puts the rules before everything else—including his people. When the mission forces them together, Claire soon discovers that there is more to Evan than meets the eye.
He’s more than the rank on his chest; he’s a man with dark secrets and deep longings. For all their differences, Evan and Claire share two crucial passions: their country and each other.
I don’t pick up a lot of military romances, not after a group of them that I read ended up leaving me spent in a puddle of tears and Kleenex. I’ve been enjoying the re-release of all of the Loveswept titles and have been gobbling them up though, and between the synopsis and Jessica’s assurance that this wasn’t a “war” book, I couldn’t help myself. It was very different from what I expected – not necessarily better or worse, but something unique.
On a sweltering Texas night, by-the-books Captain Evan Loehr reluctantly walked into a rowdy bar where his company was having a customary hail and farewell before they were scheduled for deployment. His company was quite happy mingling with civilians, giving Evan a pounding headache. His own eye strays to a gorgeous redhead, having a drink with an enlisted guy. Enlisted means hands off, so he’s delighted (or is he?) to find out she’s a Captain too. They share a smoldering kiss before going their separate ways.
Three years later, Evan and Claire meet up again in Colorado, where soldiers need to be trained for an upcoming mission. Claire is horrified by the plans – with such a small window between then and deployment, there’s no way they’ll be ready if they follow the guide. Evan wants to follow the rules, saying they were written that way for a reason. This is obviously the fundamental difference between the two of them. Claire is a rule-breaker, constantly going against orders and following her gut instinct while Evan is always hardline.
Evan and Claire don’t have a typical romance novel relationship. They’re both carrying baggage, especially Claire, and it takes a long time to work through it. Claire has a close relationship with Sergeant Reza Iaconelli, an enlisted guy she’s known for years, and while she’ll lie to protect his career, she won’t trust him with her problems. It felt like a lot of the dangerous things she did were because she thought she was more expendable than whoever she was saving. It was sad because she was such an honorable, funny and caring person underneath the hellion.
Before you think there was no romance at all, let me assure you that there was some. Evan did a lot of yearning for Claire when he wasn’t ticked off at her. She was pretty easy to be mad at, truly. But he wanted her a lot and constantly tried to break down her walls. Even if he was Mr. Stick in the Mud, he did some things to save her bacon.
I really expected that all the time spent with the troops and with Iaconelli would lessen the love story and make me lose interest. Instead, I was fascinated by the storyline, by the way Evan and Claire interacted with each other both on and off the training field when they were and weren’t making out. I felt everyone’s fear that they wouldn’t be ready and Claire frustration at being yoked.
My Summary: This didn’t really turn out to be a classic romance for me, but I loved the authenticity of the storyline, the complexity of the characters and the way they were able to sort through their problems before they took any big steps towards a true relationship. The side story with Iaconelli was interesting, timely and most likely all too common and I thought it was an excellent touch. This may not have been the conventional book I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless.
My Rating: A-