Ryan Kendall is broken. He understands pain. He knows the hand of violence and the ache of loss. He knows what it means to fail those who need you. Being broken doesn’t stop him wanting the one thing he can’t have; Finlay Tanner. Her smile is sweet and her future bright. She’s the girl he grew up with, the girl he loves, the girl he protects from the world, and from himself.
At nineteen, Ryan leaves to join the Australian Army. After years of training he becomes an elite SAS soldier and deploys to the Afghanistan war. His patrol undertakes the most dangerous missions a soldier can face. But no matter how far he runs, or how hard he fights, his need for Finlay won’t let go.
Returning home after six years, one look is all it takes to know he can’t live without her. But sometimes love isn’t enough to heal what hurts. Sometimes people like him can’t be fixed, and sometimes people like Finlay deserve more than what’s left.
This is a story about war and the cost of sacrifice. Where bonds are formed, and friendships found. Where those who are strong, fall hard. Where love is let go, heartache is born, and heroes are made. Where one man learns that the hardest fight of all, is the fight to save himself.
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ARC provided by author.
Ryan Kendall met Jake and Finlay Tanner when he and Jake were ten years old. As soon as he saw little Fin, just eight, falling down in front of their school, he felt a sudden urge to protect her. Seeking relief from his own troubled home life, and after becoming best friends with Jake, he is quickly welcomed in like a member of the Tanner family. He practically lives there, making it a lot easier to watch out for Fin. Easier to watch out for her, but harder to avoid his developing feelings over the years.
“He was sixteen when he realized the tightening in his chest when he looked at Fin was not how you would feel towards a sister. One simple word echoed in his head when he thought of her. Mine.”
The only problem with that is Ryan’s sole intention in life is to join the military and get out of town, once he’s able. He doesn’t want to ruin Fin’s life by sticking around, and he doesn’t want her wasting it waiting for him either.
“Ever since we were little I’ve always protected her. I wanted the best for her. I made sure that nothing, namely me, stood in the way of that….”
While Fin has always crushed on her brother’s best friend, she knew nothing would ever come of it. She waited as long as she could, and finally gave in at 17 and started dating another guy, Ian. And when her brother ran off to join the Army with Ryan, she felt abandoned, but carried on with her life.
But then six years later, Jake is home from the war to visit, and after having no contact with Fin since he left, Ryan is too. Staying in her house, in her guest bedroom, and all up in her personal space. She wants him, but she still has Ian, and knows all Ryan wants is the army.
“Your touch is warm and your palms are rough, and it hurts to have you so close when you don’t want me.”
I do not want to give away too many details of this amazing story, so no more summarizing. Read this book. Ryan is sexy as hell and the way that he regards Fin, even at the tender age of ten years old, is so precious and endearing. And as an adult, it’s heated and intense.
“When I’m near you I’m consumed by you—your smile, your eyes, your heart. Even though we’ve never been together, you’ve always been mine, and even if I never get to keep you, you’ll still be mine.”
He loves her pretty much his whole life, but thinks he is doing what’s best for them both by staying away. Tragedy strikes, of course, putting them together again and maybe, finally, they will let some of that love flow. Maybe. But it doesn’t matter cause the war isn’t over, and no matter what, he’s a soldier first. His self-sacrificing ways are heartbreaking, and so, so frustrating, though completely understandable.
“Stop trying to be a hero all the time. You’re so busy saving everyone else you forget to save yourself.”
This book has a little bit of everything: heat, intensity, angst, and sorrow, leaving me choked up not once, but numerous times. It’s a beautiful and heartfelt story bout love, loss, growth, and eventually, redemption, making this one of my favorites that I have read in the last few months, and in my opinion, worthy of five stars.