Title: Welcome Home, Soldier
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 1, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary, Christmass
Page Count: 84
Reviewed by: Maya
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.
Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride.
The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas.
Clay almost ends up snowed in on the road to tiny town where his friend and old lover Daniel lives. Years ago they parted on bad terms but Clay is now in the better place in his life and hopes for another chance with the man he still loves. They have both changed during the years they spent apart. Once, their relationship didn’t survive pressure they were under. Since then, Clay has struggled in life but ultimately succeed in forging a better life for himself. He is determined not to let the best thinkg that ever happened to him slip from his hands again not when there is smallest chance to win Daniel back.
His determination is obvious from the first chapter: I honestly expected a slower beginning. Clay completely won me over. Even in almost hopeless situation, in totaled car and in the middle of deserted road under threat of blizzard he makes plans. Luckily for Clay, a man called Nick drives by and picks him up. Now the only challenge he faces is meeting Daniel again.
The story unfolds smoothly, drawing readers in. Clay’s emotions are all over the place and it is a clear and convincing portrayal. He is very easy to like.
His and Daniels’ interactions are curious mix of their old closeness and wary acceptance. They have a tentative truce. Daniel is calmer and his reactions are more measured. After Clay’s emotionally charged view Daniel’s outlook is smoother, flatter, but no less intense.
As they try to reconnect, they do the same thing people do on Christmas: make cookies and listen to Christmas songs. The choice is so in tune with dialogue I could practically hear music in the background.
While there is no denying sexual tension between them, it’s not overwhelming the story.
In a way, this is story of redemption.
“We weren’t supposed to be together back then.”
Clay said to Danny with brutal honesty.
It’s like they needed to come apart so they could grow back together. There is enough sorrow and hope in this story to melt your heart.