REVIEW: Homecoming (Southern Honor, book 1) by Meredith Daniels
Home is where his heart is…once he recognizes what’s in his heart.
Southern Honor, Book 1
Broken in body, mind and spirit after a botched mission in Kuwait, elite Special Forces operative Jack Dresden returns to Devotion, Georgia, both dreading and longing to face his past. He left town on the receiving end of a wicked right hook thrown by the only person who ever made him feel he was right where he belonged.
Dillon Bluff was never good at pretending. Coming out right after high school, it hasn’t been easy dealing with the stigma of being gay in a small, Southern town. When he stumbles across Jack in the throes of a panic attack, one touch reignites the smoldering, hidden torch he’s always carried for his former best friend.
Jack knows he’s messed up, and the last thing he wants to do is hurt Dillon again. But Dillon is determined to take control and show Jack’s heart the way back home.
Contains a sexy, scarred Delta Force hero with the hots for his tattooed photojournalist prone-to-skinny-dipping ex-best friend. Threats of creative rope use and plenty of manly loving may leave the reader craving a cigarette—and a man in uniform.
Dear Ms. Daniels.
REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS.
I think I can imagine what story you wanted to write in this book. I think it was supposed to be a touching story about a badly wounded warrior coming back to his home town and reconnecting with his first love. If written convincingly I can eat up the stories about wounded soldiers coming back, trying to adjust to peaceful life and of course finding love, with a spoon. I want to see as many of them as possible coming back alive – both in fiction and reality and I am always seeking to read a story which deals with it. Unfortunately I cannot say that your story was written convincingly for me. I can see of course that the blurb indicates that this is book 1, and it is possible that the second book will address at least some of the issues that bothered me so much. However I can only review the book which is in front of me now and I cannot even be sure that the second book will have the same characters, because this one ends in the way a stand- alone story could end. Although since Jack’s relationship with his father is not quite resolved at the end of the story, I can at least see that there is some potential for a second book.
Jack left his home town ten years ago and never looked back. He know that he is gay and he broke up with the girl he was dating (who was also a sister of his best friend and that best friend was apparently his real love – as Jack eventually recognized). Jack was also afraid that his parents, especially his father, would not accept him if he came out. So he went and became part of the Delta team (not sure whether he made all these life changes too fast, but that question bothered me the least in light of some other things).
One of his assignments ended very badly (he was tortured for months till he was freed), and he now has a severe case of PTSD. And his father is very ill, so he finally comes home on leave to see his parents and probably patch things up with his best friend. They had had a fight before Jack left town because Dillon was not happy that Jack broke up with Stacie.
I want to talk about Jack’s PTSD before anything else. He was hurt *badly*, and he has plenty of physical scars to show for it as well as a lot of emotional ones. He has nightmares, panic attacks, at some point he tells himself that he should be grateful that he does not have flashbacks. However I am not sure whether I believe Jack when he says it. I mean maybe he does not have the flashbacks in the technical sense (meaning that he does not relieve the specific moments of his torture), but at the same time he sure thinks about it, so I wonder if he is an unreliable narrator in that sense, or he just thinking about his torture in a bit more detached sense. And here comes the best part – apparently after spending some time in the hospital healing his physical damage, Jack has his psych evaluation cleared. I guess that means that after he is back from his leave he can just go back to his regular duties in team Delta whatever those duties would mean – back to the missions, etc? And how did Jack manage to have his psych evaluation cleared with his nightmares and panic attacks going on? Apparently he just “did not tell them everything” – I assume that by them he meant psychologists and/or psychiatrists whom he had to talk to.
I am sorry, what? Now I know nothing about the military, and I am willing to assume that maybe a regular soldier who has go through psych evaluation for whatever reason can fake some things. Because in my mind during the regular evaluation it might be possible that the doctor fails to catch anything out of the ordinary that the soldier is experiencing, since the doctor may have no specific reason to worry and may just let it go if the soldier’s answers are not in depth (or maybe not). But Jack is in the hospital recovering after *months* of horrific torture and I am supposed to believe that a military shrink worth their while would not take extra care to go through things with him in depth? Like maybe a psychiatrist would assume that Jack has a severe case of PTSD and just see whether evaluation would prove him wrong? There are several specific psychological tests which are specifically designed to evaluate people who may have PTSD. Such tests have many questions – often you have to write the answers and while Jack may be able to fake some answers, surely he would slip somewhere? In any event, no matter what takes place I did not buy the scenario of Jack faking psych evaluation at all and it was already a huge problem for me, but unfortunately my problems have not ended with that.
Back to the plot. Jake meets with Dillon and Stacie when he comes home, and eventually he and Dillon acknowledge their feelings and have a passionate reunion. Although maybe passionate reunion is the wrong word since they never acknowledged to each other how they felt ten years ago – so I am not sure what to call it? Jack coming out to Dillon I suppose. And this was my next issue, although this one was more of my issues rather than the book’s issue. Of course it is a common theme in romances to have lovers (or potential lovers) reunited after many years apart, I get that. However for me as a reader it is always a problem, when they spend that many years apart, that they have only had each other on their minds. I guess it is just a matter of degree – I can see how you can remember your high school crush for years, but I do not see how the boy with whom you never even slept would be on your mind when you are having sex with other people. Of course it is on a case by case basis, but I know in this story I could not buy them being ten years apart and not being able to ever move on to other people for real – like being able to fall in love with somebody else. I would say that two – three years is the maximum amount of time I can tolerate before I can start rolling my eyes. I can see how other readers can find it romantic, but I just could not.
After a scene where Jack and Dillon have passionate sex, Jack decides that Dillon is better off without him and sneaks out in the middle of the night. I wanted to ask whether he thought about whether Dillon was better off without him before he decided to have sex with him, because I just do not see a real person acting that way. I do suspect that the writer wanted me to see that this was Jack’s PTSD that made him behave in such erratic, bizarre manner, but then can somebody please tell me why it is never mentioned *not once* mind you that Jack needs a lot of therapy and fast before he is ready to start any relationship? Why does Dillon never suggest it since he is the one who saw the most of Jack’s pain? He needs therapy, maybe years of it and the word is absent from the book?
There is a happy reunion.
I cannot recommend it.