Book review: The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

Book review: The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

Book review: The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

From the blurb:

Killed in Action – the most dreaded words imaginable for a soldier’s wife. Jess Albert has been living with them for four years, since the death of her husband in Afghanistan. Finding blessed numbness in routine, she doesn’t dare to look ahead, any more than she can bear to look back. Then Tyler Brown, a former special-ops warrior, shows up at her small general store in Minnesota North Woods, jarring her back to life. Jess knows better than to fall in love with another man who places duty to his country before love of his wife- but there’s no denying the longing and the hope for a future that Ty makes her feel.

A world away, a man ravaged by years of captivity and torture, a man with no memories, finally escapes- clinging to life and sanity in a hostile land. In his darkest hour, he awakes in a lantern-lit cave to find a woman at his side. Dark-haired and dark-eyes, her touch is caring, despite the resentment he hears in her voice and sees on her face. Rabia is bound by honor to save the lost American soldier in her keeping, this broken warrior from a war that has brought so much devastation to her land. But is it honor igniting her compassion for her enemy, or is it something more?

While a Black Ops team plans a daring rescue mission to bring the solider home, two women on opposite sides of the world walk a dangerous path between betrayal and honor, and must find for themselves where to draw the lines between duty and love.

This book is a real little gem – one to put on the shelf and re-read for the feelings its stirs in you as you read.

First, the story. It’s not entirely unpredictable, but it does make for very good reading. ‘Brave’, ‘intelligent’, ‘thought-provoking’, ‘mature’ and ‘well-executed’ are all terms I would use to describe it. This is no fluffy romance – this is real romance, grounded in our modern, and too often painful, reality. I felt somewhat humbled at times as I read, especially in the sequences set in Afghanistan, but I loved the central premise that love can flourish in all sorts of circumstances, and out of the most terrible, heart-wrenching tragedies. I also found I could not put the book down during the high-action sequences.

The writing style is superb. Easy to read without being simplistic; plenty of dialogue but also exploration of the inner world of characters, so we really get to know how they think and feel.

Each of the characters – Jess and Ty, and the US solider and Rabia – is well fleshed out and demands the reader’s empathy for his/her struggle to overcome the pain of the past. Soldiers with horrifying memories. People whose loved ones were torn away from them brutally. People who’ll risk their very lives to do what is right. Four individuals for whom falling in love is not at all the easiest thing in the world, but in fact the hardest – and, in a sense, the most dangerous. The word ‘warrior’ crops up several times in the book, and it jumped out at me because I think that is what this book really embodies: the warrior spirit in people fighting to be free, to be happy.

My favourite aspect of the book was its settings – and their juxtaposition. Kabby, Minnesota, is described beautifully and the author’s love for the area comes shining through (it’s a place close to her heart, she reveals, because she holidayed there as a child). As for Afghanistan – there are no words, other than to say these parts brought a lump to my throat.

The ending ties all the threads of the book together beautifully, and I love the resolution of each love story, and that the definition of ‘romance’ and ‘happy-ever-after’ is real and true, not the stuff of fairytales where you marry your knight in shining armour and never look back.

In all, a book I highly recommend – emotional, important, beautiful, heart-warming.

I was offered this book in exchange for a fair review via NetGalley.

The Way Home is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.

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