Author ~ Garrett Leigh
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 14th March 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary Military M/M Romance
In 2003, journalist Connor Regan marched through London to add his voice to a million others, decrying the imminent invasion of Iraq. Eight months later, his brother, James, was killed in action in Mosul.
Three years on, Connor finds himself bound for Iraq to embed with an elite SAS team. He sets his boots on the ground looking for closure and solace—anything to ease the pain of his brother’s death. Instead he finds Sergeant Nathan Thompson.
Nat Thompson is a veteran commander, hardened by years of combat and haunted by the loss of his best friend. Being lumbered with a civilian is a hassle Nat doesn’t need, and he vows to do nothing more than keep the hapless hack from harm’s way.
But Connor proves far from hapless, and too compelling to ignore for long. He walks straight through the steel wall Nat’s built around his heart, and when their mission puts him in mortal danger, Nat must lay old ghosts to rest and fight to the death for the only man he’s ever truly loved.
Having demonstrated against the Iraq conflict earlier in life; a few years later, Connor Regan – a journalist for the Guardian, was bound for Iraq, where his brother James was killed. Sergeant Nathan Thompson is the war hardened SAS soldier assigned to babysit the British civilian.
The opening sequences in this story immediately grabbed my attention and got me vested in this story. Connor wants to prove to his dead brother that there is more to him than pop-culture and find out why everything was happening out there. He wants to make him proud.
While in Iraq, Connor is taken out on various manoeuvres. The ones he’s allowed on mainly have humanitarian missions or recon elements . Anything more involved that could endanger his safety (even more than simply being in a war zone), Nat leaves him on base. Connor is no slouch; he knows the local language and can help in ways his soldier friends didn’t expect. Events become very real when his convoy is blown up by IED’s. There are losses, but his immediate unit survive and make it back to base. Other incidents befall the group, too, but I’m not going to give out spoilers – other than to say, your heart rate will increase, base isn’t as safe as it sounds, and any convoy going out of the gates runs the risk of not returning.
In the middle of the war-torn zone, it’s not long before lust takes hold between Connor and Nat. Their intimate moments become a ray of sunshine in the dust clad, grimy, sweaty, bomb-ridden place, where rockets are launched at the base on a daily basis. The war against terrorism is a brutal one.
Connor was given clearance to venture to Iraq to put a better spin on the situation. What he finds are poorly clad soldiers, desperate for arms and supplies, doing the best they can against mounting odds. Survival is the order of the day.
Wow, what can I say about this story? I started reading in the early evening, intending to put the book down and pick it up the next day. I couldn’t do it. Once I started, I couldn’t stop, eventually finishing in the early hours of the morning. It was so engaging that I almost forgot to make notes for this review, too.
If you don’t like harsh language, steer clear. This book deals with soldiers, and they ain’t at no Sunday tea party. Nat isn’t a flowers and roses soldier, either. What he and Connor share is raw, needy and absolutely wonderful.
The soldiers in this story are British, and the banter between them is something else – to the point where some countries may need a terminology translator. There is no stiff upper lip here. At least not in the traditional sense. What we have are Lions following orders, doing what they have to do, to get the job done. Orders are orders.
Between Ghosts is told in the third person, with a good portion told from the viewpoint of the reporter. As such we get to see various aspects of being in a war zone. There is the horror of body parts, and the bloody trauma of people getting killed. There’s the issue of, lack of equipment forcing the boys to be creative in their acquiring abilities. Then there’s the confrontation itself - adrenaline fires some and others compartmentalise what they do. The mental state of the soldiers and the humour they use to survive is all part of the foundation of this story. All the members of Charlie-3 are incredible men -as are all of our armed forces. They have to be strong in body and soul.
BG is an exceptionally well-written book, too. There are some excellent lines that are, thought-provoking, humorous, and some are just...well... here’s a few.
“Our kid.” (Oh so totally British)
“Feels like I’m stuck down a well with my head up my arse.”
“Please tell me you’re not walking around Iraq with your Tesco club card.”
“They want us dead, but they’ll kill each other to get to our graves first.”
I think you’ve guessed by now that I rate this book. In the immortal words of Simon Cowell, I didn’t like it – I loved it. It got my heart pumping and was enlightening, too. It shows the brutality of a war zone, and the mental strength needed to be a soldier while producing times of levity and love.
Oh and just to keep you hanging by a thread and eager to buy it. Wow – what a finish.