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Embattled Hearts (Military Romantic Suspense) (Lost and Found Book 1) Kindle Edition
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After 6 years the men we met in The Embattled Road, Duncan, Chad and John, still struggle each and every day, but their determination to leave a mark on the world, and live as normal as possible is awe-inspiring.
John Palmer is a bitter, angry man, but a little sprite of a woman has come into his life, and for the first time in years, he is stirring back to life. I adored Shannon, what a charming, delightful character! She doesn’t allow John to rebuke or diminish what she feels for him; allow him to tell her what she can feel.
”He had every characteristic she had always wanted in a man. Humor, strength, level-headedness. The physical characteristics came in a distant second to his quiet personality and sardonic humor. They were what had drawn her most at the beginning. As well as his unrelenting loneliness.”
John’s embarrassment during their first intimate time together was written very well. It does not not happen the way he planned it in his mind, nor should it have. The man has not had sex in over 6 years, it’s not supposed to be perfect…again the author handled this quite well. John is humiliated, but Shannon won’t allow him to back off. It was really quite lovely how it all played out and one of the most beautiful moments in the book.
J.M. Madden did an amazing job illustrating the hardships of having a disability in life and in love! It was the perfect blend of sex, suspense and self-exploration! John was not a super-hero in this book, but he did what he could do and he did it well. At times he was frustrated, understandably so, but once he realizes that his amazing woman appreciates him for all he is, he cuts himself some slack and realizes in order for this relationship to work, there are times he going to need Shannon’s help. He will never fully accept it, but he’s willing to work around it. Let’s face it…Once a Marine, Always a Marine…and sometimes pride gets in the way.
We were also introduced to some other note-worthy characters, one adorable guy by the name of Zeke and I have it on good word that we are going to be seeing more of him. Woohoo!! We get the set-up for some storylines going forward, especially a mysterious homeless man that has Duncan on the case. I see so many men who deserve to have their stories told, and to find love! I will wait anxiously for each and every book! My only disappointment was the ending. I understand that John and Shannon will be a part of the upcoming books, but this ended rather abruptly and after investing my heart in this couple, I felt they deserved a better ending. Please J.M., give us more in the end!
This author is not getting the notability that she warrants, so I’ve made it my mission to spread the word about J.M. Madden and the Lost and Found series. Watch out readers, I’ll be plugging these books every chance I get!
More important and unique, however, is the fact that its romantic lead, John, is a combat veteran with injuries resulting in significant functional impairment rather than mainly cosmetic damage. I've looked for romances with heroes like this--veterans who've suffered and survived great physical and emotional damage, whose injuries have left both inner and outer scars, but have managed to preserve the strength and tenderness that makes them ideal romantic leads. Till this book, I'd never found such a romantic hero.
Romance isn't my first or even third-favorite genre, but I love happy endings--especially for characters who've earned one several times over before we ever meet them. Both come together in "Embattled Hearts." This story is a winning mix of tenderness and romantic tension, smoldering physical attraction finally combusting into hot sex, and well-presented mystery--all, most remarkably the sex scenes, without glossing over the realities of spinal injury and functional impairment. Whether it's the reality of John needing backup in action when a traditional romantic lead wouldn't, his anger at having to watch while Shannon shovels snow, his struggles with getting into an unfamiliar bed, or the adaptations necessary for his F-150 truck, Madden shows us a leading man who's permanently physically impaired and yet remains a deeply appealing romantic hero.
It's a testament to Madden's skill as a writer that she manages all of this without concealing John's flaws, scars, and damage, both emotional and physical--and while maintaining our emotional connection and identification with Shannon, an exceptionally compassionate and giving woman who's still intelligent, resourceful, and strong in her own right.
I can only hope that other readers find this book--this series--as appealing, and its premises as enthralling, as I did. I'll certainly be copying this review elsewhere, and trying to spread the word; I desperately want this series to continue. Because it's engrossing reading, yes...but also because it's *important*.
Ms. Madden, your author's note said you were hesitant to take on this challenge because of your fears that you couldn't do it justice, and that's a fear I know well. But let me reassure you: You've done the men and women who suffer and survive these kinds of injuries while serving more than justice. You've done them proud in a way that shares and spotlights how extraordinary they are without compromising one inch of writer's craft, and for that I thank you.
(On a personal note, this is the first review I've left on Amazon in more than a decade of use. This series and its premise are exceptional.)
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Would re-read this any time.