Note: The full-length ebook was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for an honest review. The short story is a personally owned copy.
“You can do anything you want now, Jed, whenever you want. Your life is your own.”Jed grinned in answer and rubbed his chin on Max’s head. Max was right. Of course he was, but it wasn’t about want. After all, Jed was awake and alive. What more could he possibly need?
After finishing Circle, the third and final full-length novel in Garrett Leigh's Roads series, I knew I simply had to read Jed Cooper and Max O'Dair's story. In Only Love, we're introduced to Jed as a thirty-two-year-old sergeant who has just bid his Army career goodbye due to an ongoing medical condition as well as a shattered leg. The memory of what happened when his team was ambushed, leading to lifelong injuries for some of his men and lives lost, especially that of his best friend's, is what lingers most. He wants nothing more than solace, but can he really find it in the very hometown that makes him remember of this father's rejection and that of his younger brother's, the same younger brother whose home he now temporarily stays in? Maybe renting a room at the cabin belonging to his sister-in-law's brother is exactly what he needs. The more time they spend together, though, Jed wonders if it's the twenty-five-year-old Max's easy smile and sunny disposition that he finds himself longing for. But both Jed and Max have secrets--ones that could drag them from peaceful seclusion to the harsh realities of their respective lives.
Only Love was a slow burn romance, and it worked as one. Having Jed and Max fall instantly in love with one another wouldn't have felt realistic to me, especially since Jed was dealing with quite a bit from his fourteen-year stint in the Army, especially the aftermath of what happened in Kirkuk, Iraq. There's a lot that goes on in this novel, beginning with Jed's unresolved feelings regarding his late best friend and then what caused the ambush in Kirkuk (which, when revealed, shocked me and not because I had never heard of such a thing happening but that it was what happened to Jed and his guys). There was also his issues with his father and younger brother. On Max's end, we've got his mysterious past. Together, these two have health concerns--Jed with his gastroparesis and Max with his epilepsy. Yet, with everything that was going with Jed and Max as individuals and then later on as a couple, the story never felt overly tedious. This is the kind of book that you need to sink your teeth into if you want to become invested--and I was from the get-go. Awake and Alive takes place between the final chapter and the epilogue of Only Love. Though not essential, it does give us more insight on the growth of Jed and Max's relationship and what led the two to certain life-changing decisions. I'm highly recommending this series and easily give it five-plus stars. ♥
Date Read: 10 September 2017
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