Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who Ever Waxed Eloquent About The Glory of War?? "Command & Control" by Shelli Stevens

Book 2 in the "Holding Out For A Hero" series.

He’s afraid of losing his grip. She’s about to untie his last knot… 

Megan Asher has a thriving career, looks, self-confidence to spare. It all means little without the love of her life. Trevor has returned from deployment in Afghanistan a haunted man, emotionally distant and unwilling to connect—except in bed. Then even that fragile thread snaps. Brokenhearted, she is forced to call off their wedding and, after a few months’ separation, try to move on. 

With every aspect of his life spinning out of his once-legendary control, Trevor Wyatt convinces himself that Megan is better off—and safer—as far away from his demons as possible. Until he comes back to town for his brother’s wedding, and discovers Megan is dating. 

Suddenly realizing what he’s thrown away, he vows to breach the fortress she’s built around her heart. They come together in a cataclysm of rekindled passion that unleashes the very demons he never wanted her to witness. 
Back to square one, Megan realizes she must take the ultimate risk to slip past Trevor’s defenses. Give him control in the one place she can. The bedroom. The seductive move is one she prays will be the first step in helping heal him and their love. 

Stories about the returning vets from the Middle East conflicts are becoming more plentiful as the United States remains embroiled in the Afghanistan fight.  Yet is seems that we as a society continue to have this insane perception that war is glory and that our vets must have the strength to "suck it all up" and return to their normal lives if they are these heroes we have made of them, covered in the glory of war.  But that's not the way it plays out in numerous situations and the divorce rate, the sense of loss over relationships that have bit the dust is phenomenal.

This story captures those truths as it brings two people together who truly and dearly loved each other and still do, but the distance caused by the turmoil and wounds of the spirit ultimately drove them apart. The wedding coming up the following week should have been theirs.  Megan is a delightful woman--an accomplished business woman and attorney, who knows how to take care of herself.  Trevor is an Army officer and one who has taken his leadership responsibilities seriously.  In their two year courtship they had easily and lovingly shared power between them, appreciating one another's abilities and empowering one another to live fully in their shared love.  That is, until Afghanistan.  Trevor had returned a year ago and the quiet, the secrets, the refusal to share anything except sex drove them apart, and cancelling the wedding, breaking the engagement was merely the official ending of a relationship that had ended months earlier.

How do you convince someone whose life feels like it is completely out of control?  This is the dilemma Megan faces when she finally faces the fact that she can't go forward with her life without making one last attempt to re-claim what she and Trevor shared.  This story is gritty and edgy, with family and friends in abundance, but with a hero who is an isolated island of misery and inner wounds, overwhelmed with his inability to move past the pain, the nightmares, the sense of survivor's guilt, the knowledge that Megan is the one person he needs in his life and he can't face what he might do to her if he claims her.  It is not a long novel but is one that will get to the heart of the problem so many people have faced in the face of war and injury, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  Now that our troops are coming home from Iraq, our society needs to face up to our wounded warriors and their deeper needs.  This story is one that reminds us of their humanity, their need for understanding and not pity, their strengths that have been compromised by grief over the loss of comrades, often in circumstances that cause them to feel that they have failed.

This story was published December 2010, but it is one that bears reading and carries an important message to families and friends left here at home.   It cost Megan a great deal to find her possible solution, but for her the payoff was the important issue.  This story does indeed embrace some light BDSM but it is not really about these practices.  Rather, it is about finding a way to heal someone whose healing is more important than anything else.  It is about giving and serving and being available however the one who is loved really needs.  It is about the empowering quality of authentic love and about the fact that we all may, at some time in the future, have to help ourselves or someone we love accept the inevitable evils of war and its damage, and then find a way to walk forward together.  I give this story a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

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