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REVIEW: Because of You by Jessica Scott

Dear Ms. Scott:

This is the first original Loveswept title from the new and revived Loveswept line. I’ve been hearing good things about this book from it’s original purchase by Sue Grimshaw earlier this year. Knowing that you are an Iraq war vet, I knew that the authenticity of this book would not be an issue and that’s a good thing because there were a lot of eyebrow raising events in the story.

Because of You Jessica ScottShane Garrison is a Sergeant First Class in the Army.  At thirteen years of service, Shane is getting ready for action in the Iraq Surge and dealing with the failure of his marriage.  As a Sergeant First Class, Shane is in charge of his group of men.  He feels responsible for their well being, ensuring that every one is properly trained and equipped.  The weight of his responsibility is well conveyed and the future conflict involving his sense of responsibility is signalled clearly.  However, I wondered at the point of the Prologue.  The prologue actually just introduces Shane and given that chapter one doesn’t begin a uninterrupted timeline, I felt a bit confused.

Jen St. James, a recent breast cancer survivor, and Shane enjoy a smoldering kiss after a night out with mutual friends before Shane is deployed.  I was surprised at how emotional Shane was over their interaction.  He went from a divorce five months ago to thinking that Jen would be the reason for him to come home:

He’d hold the memory of that kiss with him even as he walked-willing and able-into a war. He’d volunteered to serve, but tonight, for the first time, he was walking away from something precious. Because of Jen, he had a reason for coming home.

The strong and devastating emotions of those in the military was well conveyed. I really felt for the women at home who missed their husbands and the soldiers abroad who weren’t provided adequate equipment to fight.  Jen’s poignant post cancer attempts to reconnect with her friends was touching as well.  I liked that Jen and Shane’s romance developed over time.  The book is very dramatic and angsty and for some it might be overly so.

Shane is beset, not just by the horrors of battle, but by incompetent officers, lack of equipment, emotional breakdowns of the soldiers around him, and his own personal pain. There was a scene with a newbie officer that reminded me a bit of Battle Los Angeles. In fact, Shane reminded me a little of the Aaron Eckhart character in that movie in that they both were Sergeants looking out for a number of soldiers whose well being and safety weighed heavily on their hearts and minds. I wished that the pacing had been more even. The book started out slowly and then had non stop drama until nearly the end.

The opposite side we have Jen who suffered breast cancer at a young age and who had a left sided mascectomy. The decision not to have reconstructive surgery was never addressed in the text of the book, although there is a lot of attention paid to the emotional trauma that Jen endures from being physically imperfect.

On top of Shane’s emotional problems suffering injuries in the war and seeing his men injured or killed, is his own lack of self esteem. His self worth was wrapped up in his soldiering and when his men came back in pieces, he was devastated. He felt guilty he was alive.  He didn’t think that he was a nice man (because as Sargeant he wasn’t supposed to be, problematically, he never see Shane being a jerk so the “he doth protest too much” entered here) and that he wasn’t good enough for Jen.  Jen spent much of her time telling Shane that he wasn’t god and that he has to let go and open up.

I was also surprised at how little attention was paid to the issue of Jen, the nurse, having a relationship with Shane, one of her patients.  In some ways, this conflict was used to humorous and touching effect such as when Jen has to remove Shane’s catheter but I did wonder at the ethics of the situation.  I understood that the point of the four chapter lead up was to make the readers believe that Shane’s feelings for Jen developed far before she nursed him back to health, but those four chapters involved so little real interaction between the two that I found it to be a shaky foundation.

There are two developing storylines in this book, both of which remain unresolved at the end.  The dual cliffhangers are meant to keep us coming back for me, but it also made the book feel a bit unfinished for me.  Given how much of the book was spent on Jen and Shane’s emotional agnst, their emotional healing seemed too quick.  The ending felt abrupt, as if I had looked away and missed something important.

The two wounded souls seeking comfort and peace will be appealing to many readers and the fast paced non stop drama adds a different flavor to this military romance.  The war scenes were highly charged and I appreciate the unflinching look at how awful it must be over in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wouldn’t have minded a few emotional respites and a less truncated ending.  B-

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. Kim in Hawaii
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 04:06:17

    I applaud Jennifer on capturing the chaos of military life, home and away. I enjoyed BECAUSE OF YOU for this reason.

  2. Mary Anne Graham
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 07:00:23

    Thanks to Ms. Scott for her service. Because of it, I’ll bet she knows how important it must be for soldiers in combat to have something or someone positive to come home to and to come home for.

    It sounds like Ms. Scott make emotional connections and really invites the reader inside her characters’ hearts and heads. I blogged today over at ADAN Writing Divas about how important it is to connect with readers. To do it, I think we have to throw out the PC Police and return to show AND tell. I invite Jane’s readers over, if only to insult me for also thinking we might need to return to the days when a bodice or two gets ripped. The ADAN post is at http://alldayallnightwritingdivas.blogspot.com/2011/11/so-what-if-bodice-rips_17.html

    AND AGAIN, THANKS TO MS. SCOTT FOR HER SERVICE. I’ll have to check out her work.

  3. Jane
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 07:32:11

    @Mary Anne Graham The PC Police? I don’t know from where you go the impression that this is an old school bodice ripper and showing v. telling isn’t a function of ripping bodices which is a reference to the prevalence of rape as romance.

  4. Becca
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 08:48:54

    just a minor nit – I think you misspelled “angst” in your tags.

  5. DianeN
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 10:30:38

    So did Ms Graham really think we wouldn’t notice her advertising her blog post (which obviously has nothing to do with Jessica Scott’s book) if she wrapped it in the flag? I’ll be reading the book without the slightest expectation that bodices will be ripped therein, and also thanking Jessica for her service without the slightest hope that anyone will check out my blog. (Oh, wait, I don’t HAVE a blog! Never mind.)

    Note to Becca: I’ve noticed Jane always spells angst a-g-n-s-t. I think it’s part of her charm!!

  6. Annette
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 11:11:51

    Just a few quick thoughts on this book and Jane’s review (which is as usual highly insightful):

    1) Extremely HAWT cover
    2) Red flag regarding the nurse/patient issue. I haven’t read the book, but this sounds like ethical boundaries could have been breached. As a physician, I get very uncomfortable with this.
    3) I agree that the decision to not have reconstructive surgery should have been explained in some way. It’s one thing if that is decided and there are few to no insecurities later about her being “physically imperfect” But if her physical imperfection is actually traumatizing, and if that trauma is used for effect in the story, then the decision should have been explored at least a little. My mother was 78 when she had her mastectomy, and her decision to not have reconstructive surgery had much to do with her age, her health at the time, and her security in her long and stable marital relationship with my father, yet it STILL has emotional consequences for her even now, three years later. Jen’s decision should not get short shrift here, IMO.
    4) It’s annoying when people try to get traffic to their own blogs by using other popular blogs, especially when their posts have little to do with the subject matter being discussed on the original blog.

  7. Mandi
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 13:34:55

    This one is so very full of angst…it drained me..but I liked it. I too was taken back a bit by the end – I would have liked to see their emotional healing drawn out a little bit longer. The cliffhanger didn’t bother me as much – I’m very interested in his story.

  8. Sarah W
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 14:24:01

    I’m reading it right now, and it is a very compelling book, in spite of various issues. In the book she does think about reconstructive surgery, and I remember her thinking that she decided against it because she felt like it would be untrue to herself, that she would be pretending to be something she wasn’t.

    As to the Nurse/Patient thing, I find few places in books are jobs of any sort ever really like real jobs. For instance, people in novels always seem to be able to set their own schedules, take breaks whenever they want to, and sort of leave and come and go as they wish. I just finished a book where the heroine worked in construction, but it seemed like every day she had long lunches, frequent breaks, and just showed up whenever. I’ve never had a job like that, and I sincerely doubt any nurses can just call in and show up whenever, leave on lunch breaks and not come back. I accept that.

    I’m not done with this book, and I am enjoying it, because even with these problems, it still seems like an honest book in its portrayal of complex emotions and situations.

  9. Jane
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 15:42:36

    @Becca and @DianeN I think I’ve been consistently misspelling it for a long long time!!

  10. Emily
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 20:02:36

    I just read Mary Anne’s blog and couldn’t resist going on a rant because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Probably shouldn’t have, but steam was coming out of my ears as I was reading.

  11. DianeN
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 08:46:34

    Aww, Jane, you fixed “agnst.” I’m afraid I have to deduct two charm points from your overall score for that. However, if you spell it wrong again at some point in the distant future when you’ve forgotten all about this I’ll give one of those points back. Fair is fair. Or is it fare?

  12. julie weathers
    Nov 19, 2011 @ 12:09:43

    First off, I am thrilled Jessica’s book is out. She is a wonderful person and writer and I have the utmost respect for her. I’m looking forward to reading this.

    Re the patient/nurse relationship. Meh. My two oldest sons are rough stock riders. The oldest had a sign on his van…”Cowboy logic, ride bulls, meet nurses.” Thankfully, he married a nurse. So did the middle son.

    Even if they had just barely met before he deployed, I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t develop a relationship later.

  13. Guest post and giveaway: Jessica Scott on It’s Just a Romance Novel | Read React Review
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 16:10:32

    […] Dear Author The two wounded souls seeking comfort and peace will be appealing to many readers and the fast […]

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