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REVIEW:  Starting from Scratch by Stacy Gail

REVIEW: Starting from Scratch by Stacy Gail


Christmas is the perfect time to start from scratch

Lieutenant Sully Jax saved his unit during an IED attack, but he couldn’t save his marriage. He can’t even remember it. Recovered from his injuries, he’s come home to the family and friends he knows—and an ex-wife who’s a stranger to him.

Lucy Crabtree was heartbroken last Christmas when Sully announced his plan to go on one last tour of duty, and devastated when he asked for a divorce after he awoke in the hospital with no memory of her. She’s finally moving on from her hurt and from losing the man she loved more than anything, and her cookie-baking business is taking off just in time for the holidays. But now Sully’s back, and she can’t deny she still loves him. But how can she trust her heart to someone who breaks it every time she sees him?

Sully might not remember Lucy, but something inside won’t let her go. With every bite of her cookies, he finds a new love for Lucy, and he soon realizes he wants to rebuild his life…with her by his side.

Dear Ms. Gail,

I’ve mentioned in other reviews that amnesia books usually give me hives because they’d done so poorly. KONK – memory lost. 2nd KONK – whew, I’ve got it back now! just when the plot demands it. So my skeptical self picked out this book just to see if I’d be able to get through it. And to see if you could pack all this book into a category sized book. When I realized it’s actually a novella, I thought, “No way in hell can she do all this and make me believe it in 36,000 words.” Well, I stand corrected. The hell you certainly did.

Starting from Scratch by Stacey GailThe book is packed with well drawn characters. True, some of them don’t take up as much story space as others but I get a clear picture of them all and would love to meet some of them including the owners of the bakery where Lucy creates tempting sugar yummies to her best friend growing up with whom she has grin inducing dialog.

When Lucy gripes about not wanting to celebrate Christmas this year – understandable given the story – Coe shoots back that every time she says that, one of Santa’s elves explodes. Coe also has an awesome Christmas wish list. How can you not like someone who asks Lucy to get him a ukulele, sidewalk chalk and a light saber pen just because he knows it will take his friend’s mind off the horrible memories of her last Christmas? I hope you have further plans for Coe. .

And speaking of horrible memories, Lucy certainly has more than her fair share. But at least she has them while Sully seems to have none of her. Their separation before his last deployment – where he suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and now has Retrograde Amnesia – was horrible for both but when Sully came home in a coma and then not only didn’t remember anything about Lucy but actively screamed at the sight of her, then wanted a divorce – that would about kill me too.

Poor Lucy’s heart has been breaking for a year now and just when she thinks she might be coming to terms with the ashes of her life, Sully arrives back in their hometown from his rehab. Talk about awkward meetings. Right about when I’m about to throw things because I hate how much she’s sacrificed as a military wife only to not lose her husband to death but still lose him due to the amnesia anyway, you toss in casual reminders of how much Sully has lost – not only mentally but physically as well. He truly is a wounded warrior. Life has not been kind to either of them though only Lucy remembers the awful secret he dropped on her without warning before he left on his deployment and how terribly she reacted.

There is a lot to process here including background information on the people, the town, the circumstances, military life and a bit about the type of therapy the doctors recommended for Sully. Yet I never felt info overload or that I had missed something important. Wow, seriously well done.

Yet could these two find some common ground or better still was there a chance for Sully to regain what he’d lost? I had my doubts at times as to how you’d pull it off or if it could be done in a way to satisfy me. And hot sex – would there be any physical stuff? You managed it all even if the denouement came down to the wire. Is there a happy amnesia ending? I think as well as could be with hope for more. Is the sex smoking? I thought so. Does Sully manage to make up for all the hurt he – even inadvertently – caused Lucy? Gawd, that letter had me crying as I read it, never mind fictional Lucy. Do I wish I’d read this in time for it to be a November rec? Sure do! But it will be a recommended read anyway and might just make my end of the year Top Reads as well. A-



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If You Like Men in Uniform by Guest Melissa Van Dover

If You Like Men in Uniform by Guest Melissa Van Dover

Melissa contacted me out of the blue a few weeks ago asking if I would like to post an “If You Like” entry for our series. Of course I responded with a yes. (that’s a hint to all of you readers out there).  Melissa’s entry is about Military Heroes and given the popularity of these titles on the bestseller lists, I’m guessing a lot of DA readers enjoy this type of story. So help another reader out and drop a recommendation in the comments.

Melissa Van Dover is an avid reader of romance novels. When she’s not reading, you can find her hard at work writing her own stories and authoring posts for her blog You can reach Melissa on twitter @mvandover.

There is something about a man in uniform. With the influx of military inspired romance novels available, there are more than enough to keep your ereader full. The best thing about this genre is that there are a lot of series, this means you’ll be able to follow your characters as they develop and you’ll be able to keep reading if you find an author or story you like.

The following is a list of novels, which have military leading men and stories that will keep you hooked. Each novel has its own twist on the classic military story, which means that you’re guaranteed to find something you like.

Wild Card Lora Leigh
If you like action packed stories with a level of mystery you’ll probably like Wild Cardwritten by Lora Leigh. Wild Card is the first book in the Elite Ops series. This book has a hunky Navy Seal and a strong leading lady. A level of mystery mixed with the danger of being with an elite ops agent makes this book a fast and engrossing read. There is also a very large twist but I won’t ruin it for you. If you’re looking for a romance mixed with special agent this book and series is for you.
A SEAL's Surrender (Harlequin Blaze Series #739) by Tawny Weber
If you like the classic damsel in distress story, A Seal’s Surrender by Tawny Weber is for you. This book is the classic damsel in distress story, except the damsel is a young women trying to make it on her own and the knight in shining amour is a Navy Seal on leave. This story is not full of jam-packed action like most books in this genre but the characters are highly relatable which makes it easy to place yourself in the story line.
If you like romances where both characters have issues, Unspoken by Jen Frederick, a USA Today Bestseller is a great choice. This novel is slightly different in that both characters have their fair share of issues. However, they might just be the best thing that has ever happened to each other and they might be exactly what the other needs. The military theme is brought into this story through the leading man who is an ex-Marine.
Thrill Ride (Black Knights Inc. Series #4) by Julie Ann Walker
If you like series with strong male characters the Black Nights Inc series written by Julie Ann Walker will be a perfect fit. This series is based on an elite special ops team who is under cover as the staff of a motorcycle shop. The stories in this series are entertaining and packed full of action. If you’re looking for strong males, action and multiple books to keep you busy this series is for you. As of right now there are six books in the Black Night Inc series.
fraternizing c. c. brown
For a forbidden romance, Fraternizing by C.C. Brown is a perfect choice. Fraternizing is based on the story of a man and woman in the military who are attracted to each other. The issue is that the military has some pretty strict rules around fraternization, so the characters are left with a choice. What is more important to them? Each other or their careers. This book is entertaining and will keep you obsessing till the end.

These are just a few titles out there in the realm of military romance. Please share with us any recommendations you have for military romances, after all we can never have enough books to read. Happy Reading!