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REVIEW: The Only One Who Matters by Cat Grant and...

OnlyOneWhoMatters-The72sm

No man—and no heart—left behind.

The Only One, Book 2

Months after a bullet ended his SEAL career, Senior Chief David Flint doesn’t know which is worse: struggling to adjust to life as a civilian, or watching his lover, Lieutenant Commander Josh Walker, leave for one deployment after another.

Missing the career he loved—and knowing all too well the danger Josh faces—doesn’t help. And as Josh walks out the door for another assignment, David can feel their relationship cracking under the strain.
With so little time between assignments, Josh has no idea how to fix things with David. One thing he’s sure of, though…if they don’t find a way to resolve the rising tension between them, there’s a storm coming they might not be able to weather. But he plans to give it his best shot—when he gets home.
Assuming he makes it home alive…

Warning: Contains plenty of smoking-hot sex between two dudes who just wanted to be SEALs, not deal with all this romance crap. They went and fell in love anyway, and now have to figure out how to make it work while saving the world and teaching their puppy not to beg.

WARNING FROM SIRIUS – THERE IS MENTION OF TORTURE. NO GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF TORTURE ITSELF, WE ONLY SEE THE CONSEQUENCES, BUT IF ANY MENTION OF TORTURE IS TOO MUCH FOR YOU, BEWARE.

Review:

Dear Cat Grant and L.A.Witt,

I reviewed the first book in this series (hopefully this is the last one) and I liked it pretty well overall, but I think I enjoyed this book even more.

As the blurb tells you, we meet David and Josh several months after a difficult injury ended David’s career as a SEAL. He is still recovering and even though he still needs care, David has made vast improvements. David and Josh moved in together at the end of the first book and now they are attempting to build a life together. The main issue these guys face, besides David trying to adjust to civilian life, is that Josh is still being an active SEAL and , a team leader, and David having to worry about Josh coming back in one piece from his the deployment missions.

My heart went out to both of them – I am obviously only speaking as a civilian, but I would think it is hard for any military spouse/partner to wait and worry, knowing every time your loved one leaves that they may not come back alive. I would imagine it is ten times harder for somebody who used to be doing those same missions because he knows exactly what *can* happen and knows many more details than the average civilian spouse, with whom those in the military may share as few details as possible. I also felt for Josh, who was going on so many missions that it felt strange for him to come home.

“Closing his eyes, Josh kissed the back of David’s shoulder. This felt so weird. The dog was new, of course, but even sleeping in his own bed with his arm around David was…strange. Warm skin against warm skin made him feel vulnerable. Much like the seat belt against his thin shirt, David’s body against his reminded him he no longer wore that protective shell of Kevlar and trauma plates. The blackout curtains over the window behind his back didn’t make him feel any less like a pair of eyes or a sniper scope might peer through it. The air tasted strange without the coppery tinge of the blood or the sour bite or sweat.

Sleep was a very real possibility here. No dreamless catnaps whenever he could get them. He could fall asleep. He could dream. Pressed against David, he shuddered.
He was home, damn it. Home and safe.
Why the fuck did he feel like he’d landed on another planet?”

But of course people deal with it because they have to – some people deal better, some people deal worse, and I totally understood Josh’s comment about his new understanding of why so many guys on his team stayed single. Again, maybe somebody who knows more about the military than I do will find problematic portrayals, but I could not feel any false notes in this book. Both Josh and David try so very hard to deal with the strain of Josh’s work, and of David trying to find work in a world that is pretty much new to him after being military for years, because they do love each other. But sometimes love is just not enough, and when they questioned themselves about whether they could deal with all of it, it just rang so very true to me. I loved that work was so important to Josh – there are few things that annoy me in m/m romances as much as a grown man being defined only by what kind of lover he is looking for. I also loved, however, that while Josh was hoping never to have to make such a choice, it was made clear in the text that his lover was more important to him than even his beloved work.

I really appreciated how this book dealt with PTSD. I mean, I usually detest magic cures of mental illnesses including PTSD, and there is no magical cure or any other type of cure here, really. In previous a romances I’ve read, where I liked how the stories dealt with the similar issues, the characters were getting treated – with therapy, and hopefully with some medications if needed. This book, while acknowledging the need for therapy if PTSD gets so severe that the ability to do the job is impaired also tells us that PTSD eventually becomes a part of their job for many SEALS. Josh at some point thinks about several guys from his team having triggers of different kinds. One man could not handle fireworks, another something else. Obviously those symptoms do not impair them in a significant way, but I kind of liked the idea that the men who have some kind of small or not so small issues do not necessarily have to be portrayed as broken, if that makes sense.

I thought that this book made the men deal with their issues in a grown- up way even when they argued – and when they would have a quarrel which lingered a little longer because the stress just got to them and some stuff just needed to be out in the open, it still made sense to me. Of course, even their last quarrel (last in the book, I doubt they won’t find stuff to argue about after the book ends and their relationship will continue in my imagination) did not last for longer than a few days, and that helped me to not be annoyed either.

Now that I am thinking about it, I reacted to this book in a really strange way – most of the time the tension between the guys does not go away, so even in their happy moments they always have those unresolved issues between them that they have to deal with. At the same time I personally was not annoyed because all their issues just made so much sense and they still mostly acted like adults to me.
There are some exciting action scenes in this book as well, but it does not last as long as it lasted in the first book (or it seemed that way to me). I thought it made sense because the story came back to David and Josh faster. I was very pleased and satisfied with their happy ending; I thought the guys completely earned it.

Grade: B/B+

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Sirius

Sirius started reading books when she was four and reading and discussing books is still her favorite hobby. One of her very favorite gay romances is Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark. In fact, she loves every book written by Tamara Allen. Amongst her other favorite romance writers are Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Josephine Myles, Taylor V. Donovan and many others. Sirius’ other favorite genres are scifi, mystery and Russian classics. Sirius also loves travelling, watching movies and long slow walks.

12 Comments

  1. Kim W
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 08:33:28

    I thought this was really refreshingly realistic after a series of dumb military/superspy/superhero/alph-hole books I have read lately (and completely sworn off of!).

  2. P. J. Dean
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 10:19:33

    Having read the first one, this sequel was on my list. Loved the action scenes, the edginess of a team’s assignments versus the tenderness of the concern the men express for each other. Just a well-rounded portrait of tough guys in love, in a tough, homophobic landscape.

  3. CD
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 12:56:27

    “But sometimes love is just not enough, and when they questioned themselves about whether they could deal with all of it, it just rang so very true to me. I loved that work was so important to Josh – there are few things that annoy me in m/m romances as much as a grown man being defined only by what kind of lover he is looking for.”

    THIS definitely. Now only if we can get this in m/f romances…

    I really like the idea of heroes who get a HEA but with issues that still remain unresolved. Because that’s sort of what happens in life – sometimes there is no magic solution and you just have to decide if you love each other enough to deal with it on a daily basis. I tend to dislike military romances because they often tend to be rather ridiculous and a bit too “ra ra”, but this actually sounds interesting.

  4. Sirius
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 15:14:06

    @Kim W: I do agree, although I have not read any of those lately (I have read some annoying military m/m books but annoying in a sense that I did not like how the books dealt with PTSD – alp/hole books I was lucky to avoid I guess).

  5. Sirius
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 16:21:25

    @P. J. Dean: Did you like sequel more or less than the first book? I like them both, but I think I liked sequel better, although you cannot read them as stand alones of course. I mean you can read the first book and not continue, but second book will be much more meaningful IMO after reading the first one.

  6. P. J. Dean
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 16:39:57

    @Sirius: I liked the second one the most. Yes, the guys argue a lot but at least it’s over damn serious matters (the PTSD, their issues with their relationship). I liked that LOVE does not magically solve an apparent, deep mental problem of PTSD, yet love coupled with therapy will see the couple through. And lastly, unlike another very popular mm romance book where the main characters really do not discuss important stuff and keep jumping to conclusions, Josh and David sort it out, maybe a little too long but at least they are on the same page.

    An aside: Have you read the mm romance BONDS OF DENIAL by Linda Aicher? One part of the duo is retired military and as far as I was concerned the poor man had suffered PTSD from having to stay closeted in such a tense, nasty atmosphere. I liked it even though I felt the ending was a bit rushed.

  7. Sirius
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 20:57:13

    @P. J. Dean: Oh absolutely we totally agree about love not being a cure and liking sequel more. Now you arose my curiosity – I have read quite a few of m/m books where guy do not talk and jump to the conclusions, but I want to know which one you are referring to here? Pretty please :)

    I have not read “Bonds of denial”, will definitely check it out, thank you.

  8. Kim W
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 10:39:22

    @Sirius: There is one in particular I am trying to finish right now but just can’t drag myself through. I’m just glad I got it on the 90% off Kobo sale.
    One of the things I really like about m/m is the equality between the MCs. If I wanted to read about some macho jerk growling “Mine” at his partner and making all the decisions for him, I would go back to Regency m/f.
    BTW, I really hate the word “growling”. I have a husband and three sons and I’m pretty sure they have never growled. Grunted, burped, farted…Yes. But not growled.

  9. P. J. Dean
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 13:59:38

    @Sirius: Okay, you dragged it out of me. “With or Without Him” I think B. Elsborg is the author. It was “Pretty Woman” in book form. But I suppose the misunderstandings were in the plot to boost the tension. It did rather well ‘cuz every time they zigged instead of zagged, I gritted my teeth. I am sure a reader has said the same about my niche (interracial m/f stuff).

  10. Sirius
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 14:14:13

    @CD: We do not always get it in m/m romances either unfortunately. Agreed about the endings.

  11. Sirius
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 14:17:49

    @Kim W: Heh, there is that happening in m/m stories as well. Maybe ‘growling” comes from shifter stories? If not I hate it too.

  12. Sirius
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 22:30:07

    @P. J. Dean: Thank you :). Yes, I dragged it out of you and take full responsibility :).

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