By Toni Linenberger / Blonde Betty The Illustrious Leader of the Intrepid BBs Official Reviewer 10/29/2013
There is an old adage that says write what you know. This makes me worried about some of the paranormal / thriller / fantasy writers out there. I’m going to go with the idea that they just have really, really good imaginations. The alternative is a little much to contemplate. When it comes to Jessica Scott and her military romance there is no question at all: she is writing what she knows. I’ll Be Home For Christmas is the latest novella in her Coming Home series.
There’s nothing in the world Army Sergeant Vic Carponti loves more than his wife and his country. Smart-mouthed and easy tempered, he takes everything as a joke . . . except his promise to come home to his wife, Nicole, for Christmas. As he prepares to leave for his latest deployment into Iraq, Vic will do everything he can to shield his beautiful, supportive wife from the realities of war . . . and from his own darkest fears.
As a career army wife, Nicole Carponti knows just what to expect from her husband’s tour of duty: loneliness, relentless worry, and a seemingly endless countdown until the moment Vic walks through the door again. But when the unthinkable happens, Nicole and Vic’s bond is tested like never before and changes everything they believe to be true about the power of love and the simple beauty of being home for the holidays.
Set in 2007 during the initial Surge of forces in Iraq, this powerful novella tells the story of one of her beloved characters, Vic Carponti. Carponti makes an appearance in the earlier novel Because of You. The smart-mouthed, ginger, soldier made an impression on readers and the author. It is gratifying to see him get his own story, even if it is a bit short.
This novella is gritty, real, and does not sugar-coat life in the military. With vivid imagery, Scott tells the story of the boots on the ground. The ongoing war in the Middle East is not pretty. Soldiers are wounded or killed. Everyone misses their loved ones. Stress is constant. Through this reality she tells the story of Vic and Nicole, a couple trying to maintain a relationship across distance, both physical and emotional. Nicole doesn’t have the first-hand experience of war that Vic does. Those experiences of war threaten to drive a riff between them as there are many things that Vic doesn’t share about what he’s going through. Nicole understands his reluctance, but wants to do everything she can to support him and their relationship.
The emotional distance between these characters is beautifully detailed. This is not an HEA story. It is more of a snapshot into real-life; specifically the real-life experienced by our soldiers every day. Yes, Vic and Nicole make it out to the other side, in this installment. Their story continues chronologically in Because of You.
This novella mirrors the initial events of Because of You. We see the events leading up to the Surge deployment and the initial months overseas. It provides an alternative POV on the IED explosion that injures Shane Garrison in Because. It also gives us more details on the IED that injures Carponti. We know from the events in that novel that there is considerable recovery left before the wounds of war are healed.
If I have one complaint it is the cover. Don’t get me wrong. It is beautiful. However, the hero is a ginger. The cover model is clearly not. I had to keep reminding myself that Carponti was not as depicted on the cover. In a couple instances, it almost threw me off as I was reading.
Scott has written another powerful installment in her ongoing series. I can’t wait to read the upcoming books. I’m still waiting for Trent and Laura to figure things out.