Author ~ Lee Rowan
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 22nd May 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary MM Romance
A Souls Reunited Story
A companion to the Royal Navy Series
John Hanson joined the military because he wanted to serve his country. Lacking a home and family of his own, the idealistic young man longed to be a part of something bigger than himself. He didn’t expect to find love in officer’s training—so when an assignment took him away from Kevin Kendrick, the love of his life, he sacrificed personal happiness and did his duty.
Kevin has made his own sacrifices. Career came first, and the impressionable Army brat, tired of living in his father’s shadow, pledged his loyalty to his country and followed his ambition.
Now, seven years later, when the Army Kevin so faithfully served has made him the scapegoat for their latest Middle East snafu, he can only think of one place to go, one man who can provide solace and heal his wounds—John.
Reunited, the two war-weary lovers once again discover their passion for life, love, and one another. But Kevin’s past isn’t through with him yet, and when an old enemy surfaces, the two men realize that they must face the nightmares of the past together if they are to have the future they dream of.
First Edition published by Linden Bay Romance, 2007.
Second Edition published by Cheyenne Publishing/Bristlecone Pine Press, 2009.
Lee Rowan was one of the first authors of gay romance I read and I’m a great fan of her Royal Navy series of books. But for some reason I never got round to reading this story when it first came out, published by Linden Bay, nor the reissue by Bristlecone Pine press and I’m delighted to have a chance to read and review this new edition from Dreamspinner.
There are certain things one expects when starting a new romance. Eyes meet, hearts pound, spirits, amongst other things, rise as the protagonists decide they like each other, want each other and determine to spend the rest of their lives together. Then comes the big source of emotional conflict that means they are torn apart and have to fight their way back together again. This is a standard trope, tried and tested, and none the worse for that, but oh how refreshing it was that in this book the author dispensed with all of that and picked up the story after that emotional storm when that particular impediment had been removed. In fact the main premise of the story is that the souls of the author’s protagonists in the Royal Navy series are reunited in the modern era and, as such, it is very much written for the fans of the other series characters, though I found it held up quite well as a standalone story.
Seven years before the start of the book John and Kevin met during army officers training and fell for each other hard and with an inexplicable feeling of returning to a safe haven. Devoted lovers for months, they gave no thought to the future and were both unprepared for the pain of parting as they went off to their separate units. Duty called and they did their best to forget by throwing themselves into their careers, John with the UN in Kosovo and Kevin with the covert and clandestine tasks required by the SAS.
The story begins with John living a lonely and sterile existence after being invalided out of the forces with almost crippling PTSD. One night he receives a phone call from Kevin who requests a meeting. Kevin too is out of the force, only he is cashiered as the scapegoat for a series of blunders leading to deaths in his unit and of a civilian they were supposed to protect. Hurting, Kevin longs for the solace of seeing his old lover and John, once he is over his shock, is eager to comply.
It doesn’t take long for their relationship to start again and their love forms a rock solid foundation for the rest of the book. I found that very refreshing. I’ve lost count of how many stories I’ve read where part way through both protagonists have started behaving as though they have been taking some kind of drug that makes them angry and unreasonable. I don’t find anything attractive about grown men behaving like they are in Junior High and so it was nice that John and Kevin had settled into a steady and supportive pair by half way through the book when it was time for the action plot to kick into high gear and the external conflict to begin.
I enjoyed this possibly more than the romance. That said, I rarely had much sense of peril. Both men were well cared for by some fantastic secondary characters – Kevin’s sergeant is a gem – and even the climax didn’t really make me bite my nails. Instead I enjoyed seeing how the author had woven in elements that would provide the happiest of endings.
I felt that this was a labour of love and it definitely provided a comfortable and satisfying ending where John and Kevin could enjoy the kind of respected life that Will Marshall and David Archer, the author’s 18th century lovers, would never have been able to experience.