Title: The Soldier’s Tale (Fitzwarren Inheritance #2)
Author: R.J. Scott
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Cover Art: Reese Dante
Buy Link: Amazon Genre: paranormal/contemporary gay romance
Length: Novel (132 pdf pages, 26 k words)
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: This second book in the Fitzwarren Inheritance Series benefited from focusing on the romance between its two main protagonists.
***As the three books of the Fitzwarren Inheritance Series are closely linked, this review might contain spoilers for the other two books***
The Blurb: Corporal Daniel Francis has returned to his childhood home in England to heal; the only one of his unit that survived a roadside bomb. His reasons for skipping medication are based on a stubborn refusal to become an addict, and he is overwhelmed with survivor’s guilt.
Doctor Sean Lester has joined his father’s surgery and when he is held at knife point by a patient high on drugs it is Daniel that leaps to his rescue-much to his horror.
When Sean nearly runs Daniel down in the dark he finds a man who needs help, and resolves to be the person to show Daniel that it is possible to live through guilt and find happiness.
Set against the backdrop of the Fitzwarren family curse, The Soldiers Tale is a story of one man’s fight to find his place in a new world outside of the Army.
The Review: Daniel Francis used to disarm explosives of all kinds during missions all over the world; he used to be a confident, strong man, the one young soldiers turned to for advice, the one his bomb squad members looked up to as their leader. That’s all in the past now; after a roadside bomb killed his entire squad and left him with a crippling leg injury and a barely less crippling load of survivor’s guilt, he returned on medical leave to his hometown of Steeple Westford.
After a consultation with his local surgery Daniel happens to witness a drug addicted patient’s attack on one of the GP’s, Doctor Sean Lester Jr. Using his training, Daniel jumps to the doctor’s rescue; however, much to his indignation, he receives a piece of the doctor’s mind rather than thanks for his pains.
Sean Lester is horrified when one of his father’s patients, a battle-wounded soldier, jumps and manhandles the distraught youth he’d just been about to talk into cooperation. Regardless of the fact that the boy pointed a weapon at him, Sean is confident he’d had the situation under control. After sending the brute packing, Sean thinks he’s seen the last of Daniel. But not much later, a series of events works together to make Daniel an overnight guest on Sean’s sofa.
Getting to know Daniel, seeing his physical and emotional pain awakes both Sean’s professional and personal interest. It doesn’t take long, and Sean is a fixture in Daniel’s life. Despite their somewhat rocky start, both men soon find themselves drawn to each other. The growing affection between them is helped along by the fact that they have mutual friends; Daniel’s childhood friend Will is about to marry Diane, the sister of Sean’s best friend, Phil Fitzwarren. It is per this connection that Sean and Daniel meet Mark Renfrew, a psychic who seems hell-bent on breaking the infamous Fitzwarren family curse, and Mark’s boyfriend Jack, an archaeologist.
The strange reaction Mark shows to an antique dagger which Daniel carries around as a family heirloom and personal talisman indicates that Daniel–and in extension, Sean–might be more closely connected to the Fitzwarren curse than anybody thought, and a centuries-old prophecy points toward the same direction. Three gay couples are required to lift the curse. And everything points to Sean and Daniel being “the warrior and the healer” who need to “stand to swear a sacred bond”. If only Daniel weren’t so reluctant to stand as his friend Will’s best man…
As the groundwork about the curse and the prophecy of how it can be broken was laid in the first book, The Psychic’s Tale, this story was able to focus on Daniel’s and Sean’s relationship. Which was also this book’s big forte in my opinion.
The main characters were fully developed and they were given time to grow. I really liked them, particularly the dichotomy in personality that was immanent in both of them. Sean was as confident and non-nonsense as just any grumpy village GP, but sweet and a little insecure as a person. Whereas Daniel, as a soldier broken by injury and PTSD, was a protector and leader at heart. As a couple, they complimented each other beautifully.
The “fated lovers” element was there, but pushed far to the background, and the Fitzwarren curse was more of a backdrop than the determining matter that brought them together as lovers. Sean and Daniel’s romance would’ve made just as much sense outside the context of the Fitzwarren mystery. In fact, my only issue with this book was that, toward the end, Daniel’s objections to being best man at his friend’s wedding seemed contrived, an artificial obstacle to Mark’s curse-lifting scheme.
So while the romance found its satisfying solution in this book, the developments in regard to the mystery lagged a bit in comparison. Mark and Jack made a reappearance; with the help of Daniel and Sean, Mark took another step further toward lifting the curse, and there was a first hint as to how Phil Fitzwarren might fit into the picture. Yet, the puzzle remains to be solved. It will be continued in book three, The Lord’s Tale by Sue Brown.