Triggers: Deals with PTSD, death, and injury.
Two men with painful, complicated pasts who have shut themselves down from ever loving again. Complete opposites of one another, one raised in a strict military household, who grew up with the sole purpose of becoming a soldier and defending his country, only to have that cut short by an IED; and the other raised in the rodeo, small town and ranch life his safe haven; and their chance meeting.How the two of them end up in some small town diner can only be credited to divine intervention. But are both men too damaged? They say God works in mysterious ways. Well, he certainly had his hands full when he chose these two for saving.Is it too late?
I read Ms. Davidson’s call for reviews of her upcoming book and the first thing that grabbed my attention was the blurb. Oh, yeah! Come to papa! This read as if it had all the ingredients I go for in a book: A strong alpha type, a strong second MC, a contemporary, factual story line… and then when I saw the cover? Oh, wow! The cover. I absolutely fell in love with the cover. My hat off to Rue Volley for a cover that’s so well themed to the book – and absolutely gorgeous! Thank you, Ms. Volley.
OJ, OJ, OJ what have you gotten me into here? This one’s on you dude. Talk about a difficult book to review, whew! Solid storytelling and plot development here. It took me from deep depths of emotional despair, to soaring elation with second-chance relationships to incredible frustration with some of the writing aspects. I was adjusting my review score constantly. Bottom line – I’d say this was hit and miss, but with big hits and big misses.
He had on a baseball cap, wore sunglasses even though they were inside, and he had a face covered in a full beard. His hair was too long, but it was pretty clear by the stretch of his t-shirt across his chest that the guy was built like an armored truck. He was golden tan and his arms were covered in ink. He just sat there and stared toward the front door. … He slowly took off his sunglasses and for the first time, they could see his brilliant green eyes. …taking off his cap and running his hand through his dark brown locks.
It didn’t hurt that he was handsome in a cowboy way, strong facial structure, easy smile and charm that wouldn’t quit. He was also built like a professional athlete, long and lean, with just enough muscle that no one messed with him. … never met another man who could reach a climax more than once during a fuck and it was as if Chris was just getting started, each one building in intensity for both partners until all that was left behind was satiated flesh and two tired cowboys.
James (Jamie) Massey
Dyed in the wool Special Forces soldier, Jamie has been on tour four times. He’s seen too much, lost too much, but can he be resurrected?
Freakin’ sexy-ass cowboy bull rider, Chris is a dichotomy. He is a country boy drawn to the big city. He finds a lot there, including the love of his life.
The question: what happens to these men we train to protect and serve after they’ve given their all?
The answer: read on.
What an excellent, contemporary, up to date story this is. Ms. Davidson hit the nail right on the head with this one. We have two strong, muscular, masculine alpha types and the interplay of their different life stories coming together at a crucial point in their lives that makes for such a good, strong story arc.
Jamie, the strong alpha type, brought up by a strict, uncompromising father that always made Jamie strive for more and show no weakness, shutting down his emotional side.
It was apparent from what they had witnessed that the captain was extremely hard on his only son, always telling him he could be better, stronger, faster, even if he had been victorious.
Jamie’s life was shaped by the inevitability of his going into military service and his determination to be the best: Delta Force, and then his falling in love with his college roommate, Derrick, and their best friend, Shannon. These factors, and his multiple, gruesome deployments, all come into play to create the stoic, hardened man that’s yearning for love and understanding.
Chris is the sexy, muscular, lean, intelligent rodeo cowboy that grew up, and was shaped by, a totally accepting and supportive family. His story is that of a man that comes of age in the rough and tumble sport of bull riding, only to have that future dashed by an almost crippling injury. Going off to college and meeting his first love, Ben, and their story is what shapes him into Jamie’s perfect counterpart.
The life experiences, and tragedies (no spoilers!) these men undergo are part and parcel of what makes them the perfect fit and makes for such a good story. I found this book hard to put down and now I want more.
This book was a struggle. Jamie struggled. Chris struggled. I struggled.
Jamie never had a choice whether he would be a soldier or not. It’s in his family’s blood. He was groomed from a young age to do his best, be the best, and as he rises to each and every challenge. But he also loses bits of himself along the way.
Chris is one of the good guys. He’s talented, intelligent and caring. Maybe too caring. I think the reader is supposed to fall for Jamie, but it was Chris for me all the way.
Settle in for a very complete story about two men who have lived a lot of life and then come together at a point in their lives that find them both ruined. Trying to survive the depths of despair and the horrors of war, there isn’t much left for these guys to give. And yet, they find a way.
The writing, timing, and delivery of the story is good for this POV. It has been a while since I read a book with a narrative style POV and while, I must admit, it’s not necessarily my favorite POV, it worked for me with this story even though it was hard to get used to at first. We are treated, almost in a movie script kind of way, to Jamie and Chris’ story.
Jamie’s hard, military brat upbringing. His coming of age in college and falling in love with Derrick and his struggling to let his emotions and feelings for Derrick come out, coupled with his enormous drive to attain his goal. The pace of the story during Jamie’s deployments is set just right, giving us the full background for what comes later.
Chris’ story follows a similar, well timed delivery. His bull riding youth, the tragic accident and then his falling in love with Ben are brought to us in a rich, full story-telling that works in this narrative POV. Chris’ love and devotion come to life in full, vibrant color. This is what hardens this man for his fated encounter with Jamie.
Annd this is where I struggled. I realize backstory is important, but it felt like it was worked out after the main story had been written and that rarely works. Honestly I would have trimmed the heck out of it. It wasn’t repetitive, but it was just too much. There was nearly no dialog for the first twenty percent and that really slowed down the read. At times I felt like I was reading a non-fiction, or even a mission report about Jamie’s deployments. Top that off with fade-to-black scenes (not just the sex scenes) that were just getting somewhere enjoyable and… I struggled.
And then the very weak editing affected tempo and overall readability, unfortunately.
However! There were some brilliant, shocking and emotional moments that made the book memorable. I’m still thinking about these guys; they’ve stuck with me. This author has solid storytelling abilities that a more ardent editor could resurrect. I won’t hesitate to give her work another try.
Here’s where I had some misgivings with this book, although not a deal breaker for me this time, even though I’m such a stickler for this, because the story itself and the heart and soul of the writing is pretty darn good. There are several typos, misspellings and incorrect sentence structures and tense usages that, quite frankly, shouldn’t be there in a story delivery such as this one. I had to go back and re-read a few passages, and that just shouldn’t be. I have to admit I couldn’t go to 4 stars because of this, but please, don’t let it deter you from enjoying this book. Deep in it’s a good story that had me in tears at some points, biting my nails at others, and grooving on some kinky sex scenes at others. Enjoy!
Ms. Davidson is a good, solid writer and I really look forward to her next endeavors.
THE THREE QUESTIONS
1) Standalone or sequel, and if so, what kind of sequel?
2) How did you feel about Chris’ steadfastness?
3) Did you think there were any unanswered questions/situations/occurrences?
1) How believable did you find Jamie’s battle scenes?
2) This really drove home what we ask of our service members. That’s all. Not a question, but penny for your thoughts.
3) Who resurrected whom?
Who is Shelly Davidson? Shelly is someone who has been writing literally her entire life (and that’s a LONG time) and has always written M/M. Her first story was back in high school and she hasn’t stopped since. Of course, Shelly never dreamed of getting published, so needless to say, she’s in heaven! Shelly loves her characters. Her writing focus is real people, flaws and all, who are hurting or damaged, but deserve a little joy in their lives. Shelly was born and raised in Arizona, but currently lives in California because that is where the money is! She is currently single, but has a grown daughter and an adorable grandson both of whom she loves dearly. While she usually stays pretty much to herself, she does have a Bachelor’s in Social Services and a diverse background that ranges from theater to health care and currently works in accounting, she swears it’s not as boring as it sounds. While this is her first publication, it is by far not the last! She plans on being around for quite some time! You’ve been warned!
I would like to thank Shelly Davidson and Encompass Ink Publishing for providing OJ He Say with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
I would like to thank the author, S. Davidson for providing Lisa Arbitrary with a review copy in exchange for my honest review.