REVIEW: From the Start: An American Valor Novel by Cheryl Etchison
The Rangers of the 1st/75th fight hard, train hard and play hard. They are physically strong and mentally tough, disciplined and courageous. But all their military training hasn’t prepared them for falling in love.
For many women, Ranger Battalion Surgeon Michael MacGregor is the ideal man. He’s far better than average looking, a generous tipper, not to mention an officer and a doctor. So when he encounters a woman resistant to his charms, he finds himself… intrigued.
Kacie Morgan has had her fill of arrogant military men since the last one left her with a shattered heart and one heck of a career rut. Now, with her prestigious fellowship starting in the fall, all she has to do is survive the summer–and her little sister’s wedding.
When an ill-fitting bridesmaid dress has Kacie wanting to temporarily shake things up in her carefully planned life, she knows just the man to call. They agree to a no-strings, summer fling, although it isn’t long before Michael wants Kacie for forever.
But to win her heart, he’ll have to confront the nightmares from his past if they’re to have any chance at a future.
Dear Ms. Etchison,
Even though this story isn’t a direct sequel to “Here and Now,” it is in the same world and is a follow-up to the first book in the series about this hero’s younger brother. Though the blurb is heavy on references to the military, all of this story takes place in Savannah and mainly deals with the feelings and issues raised by the brothers deciding whether or not to reenlist rather than any direct combat.
Kacie and Mike have their meet-cute in a bar as Kacie’s tipsy sister and Kacie’s fellow bridesmaids celebrate the bachelorette party. Kacie would rather be anywhere else but the handsome guy her sister sent her way is a good dancer and willing to buy rounds when his party and hers merge. The tequila kicks in after they reach her place and the next morning she remembers nothing which Mike says wounds him before he assures Kacie that he wouldn’t take advantage of a drunk woman. Instead, as a doctor, he spent the night making sure she was still breathing.
Still Kacie only has the summer left before she heads off to another state to continue her physical therapy education and training so she’s really not looking for anything long term. Especially since her most recent boyfriend never put her first, was in the military and was also named Mike. Yeah, the name has bad juju for Kacie. This Mike is okay with “just friends and hopefully more” as he’s not sure where the Army might send him next or if he’s even going to re-up. For an either brilliant or slightly weird reason, Kacie decides to call Mike anyway who happily gives her what she needs – sexual calisthenics so she can get into her bridesmaid dress.
But they find themselves enjoying the company outside of just sex – though that is spectacular as well. With the “sell by” date quickly approaching will they take the risk and go for more?
“From the Start” might start as a fairly typical contemporary, sexy romance but there’s more here. Kacie spent seven years waiting on a man to make her the most important thing in his life only to be disappointed. With her younger sister getting married, Kacie uses chocolate as a temporary crutch for her pity party before pulling herself out of her dive and facing the fact that she can’t expect her happiness to come only from someone else and she isn’t about to keep arranging her whole future for any hypothetical him. It’s time to put her career first for a change.
Mike takes his responsibilities seriously. Perhaps a little too seriously but a vow made to a dying mother to watch out for a younger brother has charted the course of his career choices. Nearly watching Danny die and being the battlefield surgeon who had to operate emergently laid that much more stress on Mike. Now he’s wrestling with his future in the Army and for once beginning to wish that the woman in his life wanted more from their relationship.
The answers to their issues aren’t reached quickly or easily. There’s no magic wand waving. Instead they have to face some long standing conflicts and work through things to reach the other side. By the time Mike makes his decision and his move, I bought that there is a future for these two. Kudos for the mention that Mike has sought and will keep getting professional therapy to keep him on the path he wishes to tread. Usually a short epilogue works best for me but I felt this ending dragged on just a bit. Still I liked seeing real issues face the main characters and actually be dealt with rather than true love solving everything. B
I love when authors take the time to create a conflict that seems like a real, true conflict and the characters have to struggle to find solutions. It’s so much more interesting than the magic wand-waving. Great review, thanks for sharing!