Gifts of Honor Published by Carina Press on November 21, 2013
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I'll be home for Christmas…
A batch of special Christmas cookies helps a wounded ex-Ranger remember the love of his life. A surprise phone call reunites a woman with the soldier who once broke her heart. There's no place like home for the holidays, and there's no better way to spend them than with the one you love.
Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:
Starting from Scratch by Stacy Gail
Hero's Homecoming by Rebecca Crowley
Stories are also available for purchase separately.
A wonderful duo of stories with the ability to make you bawl-
I’m going to start with the second story of the collection first:
Hero’s Homecoming – Rebecca Crowley – 4 stars
In my opinion I would read this story first because the other story in this collection wore me out emotionally and this one just couldn’t quite get me in the same way. I liked the story but for some reason it didn’t resonate as deeply to me.
Beth met Chris and knew that he was it for her until he breaks things off abruptly with no true reason why. She’s shocked when she gets a phone call from him asking for her to pick him up from the airport but she decides that this can be when she’ll find out why and maybe get some closure. What she gets is a man who has lost his sight in Afghanistan and is dealing with his recovery by shutting out those he doesn’t want to burden with what he knows will be a long, hard road to travel. She’s still hurt by his shutting her out of his life but is also shook to the core by how much he still means to her even though his wounds, mental and physical, scare her. She isn’t sure she’s strong enough or can believe in him enough to let him in again. I liked her and liked that she did own up to her fears but still did everything she could to help a man who has been brought to his knees by the trauma in Afghanistan while serving his country. She gave him hell for his treatment of her but I liked that she didn’t completely hold that over him for long.
Chris is a very proud man and really did have what he thought were her best interests at heart when he broke things off. He’s not going to be able to be the man he thought she deserved but what he didn’t count on is the fact that loving someone means you take on the good and the bad. You don’t just get to have all good and that things that are hard are at times the best things you will ever find. I liked how he was honest with his struggles and faults once the cards were on the table but struggled with how he felt about his actions and what others thought of him. He doesn’t feel like a hero but with love and time I think he’ll come around. It did make me sad to see his struggles and know that many people have the same struggles day in and day out because of injuries they’ve suffered.
This was a sweet story with a bit of an emotional punch that is definitely timely and in most respects realistically done.
Starting From Scratch – Stacy Gail – 5 stars (Infinity stars truly)
I’m going to try to provide some needed items for you before you read this story:
- Don’t read this at work, on the bus/train, out in public or in a house/room with people who will panic when you ugly cry. Trust me on this you will cry cry cry.
- There will be a point in the story where you will either want to throw your ereader or reach thru it to hurt someone… DON’T.
- Kleenex… trust me on this one… boatloads of Kleenex
- Comfort food – ie chocolate, cookies, ice cream.. or whatever you consider comfort food.
- Decompressing time – this story will wipe you out emotionally so a time to rest/recharge is a good idea
- Fluids.. did I not mention you will cry? You’ll need stuff to replenish your liquids….
- Comedies to watch or zone out to. I personally used Monty Python and other mindless TV in the background to come down from this story.
- Someone to go OMG with after you read this
- Blankie to cuddle with
- Kleenex.. oh sorry I already mentioned this but dude trust me… YOU WILL NEED THEM!
Ok now for the story although I am going to keep this really short because trust me you don’t want anyone to spoil it for you…
Lucy just wants to lick her wounds and try to live again. You see her former husband (you know the love of her life) is back in town with no real memory of her which is why he ripped her heart out and asked for a divorce. She’s not happy but when war took him away from her to return him with massive head injuries and a gap in his memory that just happens to be of them, she’s doing what she can to try to live again. As she and Sully keep running in to one another there is a pull between them that can’t be denied but at what cost? I adored Lucy and found that her struggles with moving on were spot on and heart-wrenching to read. She’s such a strong woman who has an amazing support system that knows parts of what happened but not everything. Her best friend in this is Coe who guards her as much as he can from Sully but is the brother she never really had… Coe knows everything and feels that Sully didn’t deserve her at the time and especially doesn’t deserve her now.
Sullivan just wants to build a life but knows there is something missing that he just can’t put his finger on. He’s amazed at the pull he feels for his former wife but doesn’t know why exactly he feels this pull and writes it up to lust. He starts to spend more time with her but still doesn’t remember their past even though almost everything else in his life is there in his head. As he starts to pursue her we get to see him struggle with his own issues along with struggling to do the right thing by her. I liked Sully most of the story and felt for him as he struggled but dammit the man almost made we want to kill him!!! Seriously I had to restrain myself and I know I was cursing at one point… He is just an amazing man that had something horrible happen to him but I think the man he ends up becoming is someone that anyone would be lucky as hell to have in their lives.
Ok.. I’m stopping there because otherwise I will give away too much and to be honest just thinking about their story makes me tear up… Once you finish the story head out to Stacy’s website to read some deleted stuff from the story… it’s worth it! And… maybe soon we will get Coe’s story… you won’t find a more loyal or amazing friend than him. 🙂
Special thanks to Carina Press and NetGalley.com for giving me the chance to read these stories in exchange for a review. Please note that this did not influence my opinions as these are entirely my own.