The Way Home (One-Eyed Jacks #2)
by Cindy Gerard
A heartwarming Christmas story from the New York Times bestselling “true master of romantic suspense” (Romantic Times).
Four years ago Jess Albert got the news that her husband Jeff was killed in action in Afghanistan, and a painful void entered her life. The more time passed, the more acutely she felt that emptiness. But when Tyler Brown, former military hero and all-around alpha male, shows up a year after she’d last seen him, Jess gradually begins to realize there is one thing that can make her feel whole again—love.
As they’re planning their wedding and new life together, Jess receives shocking news: her husband is alive, under the care of a young Afghani woman hiding him from the Taliban. Even as he sees their happily-ever-after slip away, Ty arranges for the One Eyed Jacks and Black Ops, Inc. teams to make a daring and dangerous rescue mission to bring Jeff home. The hardest thing Ty or Jess has ever done is to let the other go.
When Jeff returns to Jess, broken physically and emotionally and with no memory of their history, they try to heal their marriage and each other. But as time brings them together more as friends than lovers, an unexpected development helps them see the true way home, to the people they love.
Every once in a while an author that you know and love offers you something completely unanticipated and out of the normal realm of your expectations; this story was just such a story. I went into this story knowing it might be a bit different since the blurb gave a bit away, but this was even more surprising and enjoyable than I thought it would be. If you have read any of the Black Ops series or the first book in the One Eyed Jacks series you will enjoy seeing some familiar characters, but Gerard definitely took this book into an entirely new direction. There was intense emotional drama and psychological trauma, which leads four people into new territory and teaches them the true meaning of love and commitment. With ups, downs, laughs, tears, and the action inherent in any spec ops or military drama, The Way Home is a spectacular read that will leave you breathless.
The story actually takes place simultaneously in two different settings and about two different couples. First we have Jess and Ty. Ty exploded into Jess’s life a year or so earlier when he and his brother were on a small mission that required some firepower and they instantly had a connection. But when Ty never contacted Jess again, she’d given up hope of ever hearing from him or experiencing that zing again, though she’s never gotten him out of her mind. When he finally reappears, ready to explore their feelings and perhaps have a chance to be together. As they spend time together and work together to overcome the tragedies they’ve both been dealing with these last few years, Ty and Jess realize that they are meant to be together and their love develops into a deep and abiding bond that will allow them both to find all the happiness they’ve been seeking.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, Jess’s husband, presumed dead for over three years, has escaped his captivity and is receiving shelter from a young afghan woman and her father. He’s been tortured, broken physically and psychologically, but with the help of Rabia he is finally digging out of the hole he’s lived in. Starved emotionally and bodily, he needs Rabia's help to find himself again so that he can return to the man he once was, but things are never as simple as they should be. Rabia and Jeffery slowly begin to develop feelings for each other and when his memories return, reminding him what he has been through the last three years, she offers him the solace he needs more than anything else. But as their time comes to an end, they both realize their feelings are deeper than just captive and rescuer, something that seems remarkably close to love. But when Jeffery is returned to the US and learns he has a wife, his life and emotions are thrown into turmoil.
Ty is such a sweet guy, even though he is an alpha, sexy military guy. It was great to see him chasing after Jess and making sure that she understands just how far he is willing to go to convince her to give him a chance. Jess is a woman that has been living an empty life, coming to terms with herself now that she is a widow and running her family’s general store. Ty is sexy beyond belief and when Jess finally gives in to him and they take their relationship to the next level, the love between them is so deep and sexy that I find myself wanting to read a whole second book about this couple just so I can see more of their loving. Rabia and Jeffery’s love is different, forbidden and dangerous, but one that becomes just as deep and fulfilling. Jeffery has certainly had more than his share of misery and sorrow, as has Rabia, but the connection between them is one that comes to mean more to both of them than the dangers inherent to their relationship. Jeffery is a character that is definitely one that reminds you that no matter how bad your life is, there are some that have it so much worse. Rabia is a cool lady too, one that leads an underground rebellion for afghan women’s rights, rescues men in danger, and generally puts her life in danger repeatedly just to insure that no one is ever mistreated or taken advantage of, she is for sure true to her title of heroine.
When I began this story I had an idea that things would be different than normal, but I never expected just how heartwarming and heart-wrenching this story would be by turns. I cried often seeing all the trauma and fears that the two couples had to overcome. Circumstances and their own decisions led both couples to make unexpected decisions, but in the end everyone found their happiness and were able to embrace this new idea of their new family. Jess, Ty, Rabia, and Jeffery were all wonderful characters, full of depth, intensity, and all the emotional confusion that lead both couples to find their bliss in unexpected ways. It was great to get to see some of the characters from previous books and catch up with them, but the beauty of this story was definitely in the emotions between these couples. The best lesson we can take from this story is that love can come in many forms and at any time, if only we open ourselves to the emotions and embrace those that would offer the chance at love. I cannot wait to see where this series goes from here, but I honestly don’t know if this story can be topped. If you’ve never read a story by Cindy Gerard I suggest you go and buy this one now and read it immediately! You can’t find a better story to begin with, but just understand that this is different from most of her work. Thank you Ms. Gerard for one of the best stories of the year, but you owe me a few boxes of tissues now. :)