REVIEW: Crossing the Line by Caitlyn Armistead
Spoiler (Possible Triggers): Show
Sergeant Nathan Thompson is a combat medic who took an early retirement from the military after losing his leg in Afghanistan. Megan Henderson is a dedicated paramedic who has saved countless lives. When they’re forced to work together, tensions flare—Nathan thinks Megan is a condescending know it all, and Megan resents a partner who might not be able to offer 100%.
But as they work together, responding to calls at car wrecks, nursing homes, and for drug addicts, their mutual respect grows. Though Megan is a married woman, she can’t help but feel drawn to Nathan’s confidence and compassion. Maybe it’s her imagination, but he seems to feel the same way about her.
Then Nathan starts noticing the mysterious bruises appearing on Megan’s arms, and her excuses just don’t add up. The next life Nathan has to save may be that of his own partner—if only she’ll let him.
Dear Ms. Armistead,
When you submitted this book to DA for review, it was the excerpt that made me interested in trying it. Namely the bit where Nathan and Megan first meet and don’t immediately hit it off. I know that’s probably weird but I’m never sure just what will grab my attention in a blurb.
Nathan comes off as a centered, normal guy. You don’t portray him as a mentally and physically wounded vet dragging a ton of angst behind him but rather as just another guy, living his life. He also calls Megan on her negative comments about his disability. It’s refreshing that they get their animosity out in the open from the start. Initially she sounds almost saintly and the men around her all too human in their comments about her – but at least they acknowledge that she’s damn good at her job.
Megan’s hubby is a piece of work but we know this from the start. Oh dear – the “but I lurve him” in the face of asshattery syndrome? Thankfully not but I still find Megan’s insistence on staying in the marriage puzzling. She’s not presented as a deeply religious person nor as a woman who needs the financial support. Yes, she’s trying to save for more education (yeah!) but she wouldn’t be out on the street without Dipshit. But on the other hand, I’ve known someone who put up with crap from her boyfriend/husband. Yeah, she loved him enough to marry him in the face of his asshat actions.
The EMT calls are fast paced and interesting. There’s enough action and description at each response to get an idea of what they know and go through in order to keep John and Jane Q Public alive in the face of trauma, injuries and stupid decisions but as per their jobs, once the patient is transported, Megan and Nathan are on to the next call. Little things signal their competence and experience. Slowly they start to gel as a unit on the scene and each acknowledges the abilities of the other. I also like their interactions with other first responders.
Nathan is determined to be treated as able unless he says otherwise. No special treatment and no hesitation that he can do the job. Eventually his military past history does catch up with him but this doesn’t take over the story. It merely adds a layer of believability to his character. We see some of his journey in the meds by his bedside and his reaction to the scene of another vet who couldn’t overcome what he’d been through.
Megan is focused on improving her skills in a way that’s awesome. She gets excited to read “A Complete Reference for Cave Rescue” for crying out loud. The woman is dedicated. But she also faces some issues brought on by calls she’s attended as well as trying even harder than the men to overcome this so as not to be seen as weak. The descriptions of the calls she and Nathan respond to aren’t overly detailed but from what is said, I can see how PTSD can be a result for EMTs.
It takes a while before we see more signs of Megan’s bruises and injuries. She does snap back with plausible causes to cover these as legitimate events but how long will friends believe? Finally Nathan puts it all together and admits the truth to himself and then confronts Megan. Her belief in the marital promises she made is touching but in the face of what is being done to her, insane. Then comes the deal breaker for her. The after effects of her rape are sensitively handled and her responses seems realistic. She doesn’t want to talk about it nor press charges because of how it will reflect on her and suffers from inadvertent, continuing fears and triggers. Also many thanks for not having one great round of sex “heal” her.
There’s lots of stuff happening in this book. Good, bad, funny and sad. I like that there is no magic healing or quick resolution of the serious issues brought into the story. I appreciate that these are not made neat or easy. The romance is a gradual one that progresses in stops and starts but given the main characters and their backgrounds, this makes sense. By the end, I believe that both Nathan and Megan have begun healing of the past and are looking forward to a future life together. B