A guest review by Jenre
Two delightful stories based around the theme of coming home and finding a settled place in your life.
As these two books are a pair and follow the same characters (more or less), I’m going to do them both in the same review.
After Evan Miller is severely wounded in combat he finds himself with a medical retirement from the Army and no idea as to what he’s going to do with his life. Fortunately, Evan’s grandparents offer him a temporary job at their horse farm and the chance to rehabilitate a rescued Thoroughbred seems like just what he needs.
Cam Jackson, their stable manager, takes exception to the grandson who hasn’t visited his folks in over eight years. Only once Evan arrives and Cam gets to know him better, the two find they have more in common than they thought and their friendship morphs into something deeper. Evan just needs to decide if the new direction his life is taking is what he really wants.
The thing that I liked most about this short story was not only that it was a realistic portrayal of a man coming home from combat, but also that it was a gentle paced story, following two men who meet and fall in love. There’s a slight barrier to their romance at first, caused by some things that have happened to Cam in the past, which means there’s an antagonism between Cam and Evan to begin with, but I liked the way that was dealt with through the patience of Evan as he tries to befriend Cam despite getting the cold shoulder. Once things have cleared up between them the story then focuses on Evan as he recovers from his injuries and the growing attraction between the pair. It was so nice to see men, who are still a bit reserved and not good at talking about their feelings, but can still behave in a mature fashion towards each other.
Both heroes are sympathetic, likeable men. They value hard work and the simple life of running a horse ranch. Evan’s frustration with his injuries was understandable and I particularly liked that, although he tried to push himself, he knew when to rest and when he’d done too much. It was great to read about such sensible characters. The secondary characters of Evan’s Oma and Opa, as well as ‘the hooligans’ added colour to the story.
Overall, if you’re looking for a well written character based short story, you can’t go wrong with Taction. I enjoyed it a great deal.
Evan Miller and Cam Jackson have run Glenhaven Farm together on behalf of Evan’s grandparents for the past couple years, giving the farm everything they have to make it a success. But when Evan’s old commanding officer asks for Evan’s help with the wild child of their squad, Evan and Cam don’t hesitate to find a place for Reo at Glenhaven. Reo is a city boy with a penchant for trouble, and he stirs up more dust than expected. Reo’s behavior — and Evan ignoring it — causes Cam to confront issues he hasn’t been able to verbalize until now.
Evan has been juggling a whole set of worries, though, and they take their toll on his health. When he ends up in the hospital, it’s up to Cam and the rest of Glenhaven to make sure he follows his doctor’s orders.
Army Green follows on a few months after Taction. Cam and Evan are well on the way with their new Riding Therapy Centre and are in the process of trying to convince some of the local sceptic doctors of the benefits of this types of therapy. When Evan injures himself, the others on the farm have to pull their weight even more, including newcomer Reo.
One of the differences between Taction and Army Green is that whereas Taction was from Evan’s point of View, Army Green takes the point of view of two of the characters as we follow two concurrent plots. Firstly we continue to follow Evan as he deals with the day to day running of the Therapy Centre as well as settling in Reo, one of the men from his old unit, now out of the army and looking for work. Reo’s a hot-head, and although he wants to work, and work hard, he has trouble controlling his temper. This, and the fact that Reo is gay, causes tension between Cam and Evan as Evan tries to balance his relationship with Cam and trying to integrate Reo into the farm and small town. The second point of view is that of one of ‘The hooligans’ from the previous book, Derrick, and follows him as he copes with an attraction to Reo. This second plot remains unresolved by the end, with Reo and Derrick’s relationship still in the early stages, which makes me think that Reo and Derrick are destined for their own story soon.
The two plots worked well, as they intertwined with each other. I liked seeing Evan and Cam work through their issues. There’s quite a bit of stubbornness on both parts, and they still have trouble putting their feelings into words, but there were a couple of lovely, tender scenes between them as they tried to resolve their issues in the sensible way that they have together. Derrick was easy to like as a character, and I felt for him as he tried to be a good son, as well as work hard and study. He’s quite sensitive and finds it hard to cope with some of Reo’s rough ways, and the constant teasing he gets from Jorge, one of the other ‘hooligans’. I also liked the friendship Derrick has with Krystal, the third ‘hooligan’, who managed to be a forceful personality even though she’s away at college and only speaks to Derrick on the phone.
Like Taction, the plot of this story was gentle. There’s a couple of tense scenes, but on the whole the plot drew me in slowly and kept me interested through the well drawn characterisation, rather than any fast paced or thrilling plot. I found this to be a good thing, and a nice change to read a story where I was happy just to see what was going to happen rather than being propelled through the book.
If you have read and enjoyed Taction, then you’ll find this book just as appealing. For the rest of you, if you’re interested in a strong character based romance then Army Green should be ideal for you too. I liked it a great deal and will be looking out for further books by this author.