His Soldier by Anna Lee

His Soldier by Anna Lee
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (169 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Sometimes you find love where you least expect it, for Sergeant Ryder Brooks that’s writing letters home to Dean Anders, his army pen pal…

After a tragedy, in a way to honor his brother and try to cope, Dean becomes a army pen pal to Sergeant Ryder Brooks. The two connect through letters and phone calls for a year, falling in love and making plans to meet when Ryder finishes his tour. However, in an effort to save one of his men who steps on a mine, Ryder loses his leg. Broken and depressed, he doesn’t think Dean will want him. But once Dean learns what happens, he immediately goes to Ryder, determined to help him heal and show him that he loves him no matter what. Ryder has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but with Dean’s support, he realizes his life isn’t over, it’s just beginning if he’ll only give them a chance.

Dax had been the brother Dean always wanted. Dax, and his family, took Dean in when his parents threw him out after admitting he was gay. All grown up now, Dean is a teacher. When he receives a call from Dax’s mum, it’s the worst news in the world. Dax – on his second deployment – has been killed by an IED. Dean is determined to honour Dax’s memory, and one of the first steps toward that Dean decides to start writing to other servicemen over in Afghanistan. Ryder had only joined the penpal program as an example to other lonely men in his unit, hoping the ones who needed outside contact would follow his lead. He never expected to really connect with a random stranger. But something about Dean made him feel at ease and like he really had found a friend – someone to talk to not associated with all the sand and blood he was surrounded by. Can these two men really form a lasting bond over such a great distance?

I really loved this story. Well written and paced, it was a glorious slow build to the climax of Dean and Ryder meeting finally. Thoroughly modern, this nevertheless in many ways reminded me of the old-school style of letter-writing stories I read back in my younger years. This is not a wham-bam-thankyou-ma’am kind of story, but one where our two hero’s interact over a long distance and the intimacy is formed long before either sets eyes on the other. While fraught with potential disaster, I loved how Dean and Ryder formed such a strong emotional attachment before anything physical became a possibility between them. Indeed neither man knew for quite some time into the penpal-ship that the other was gay. I found that delightful – albeit a very strong – coincidence.

The author did an amazing job to my mind of showing how two men could form such a strong connection over a long distance and very different circumstances. I could feel the growing love and strong emotion tying each man to the other, thread by thread. I found this incredibly romantic and a real pleasure to read. While steamy and sexy in many places, their erotic chemistry was almost an afterthought. Yes, the sex was deliciously hot – but I actually valued their emotional connection more in this particular story. Dean and Ryder needed each other on a level not many romance novels can show. Dean offered unconditional support and a sense of safety and normalcy that Ryder desperately needed – both while out fighting in the war and the consequences that resulted when he came home. And Ryder helped Dean not feel so lonely and isolated in his own world of pain after losing his brother and his family being shattered. Dean’s feelings for Ryder help anchor him in the world of the living, and remind him he needs to keep on going, one foot in front of the other. This need they have for each other underpins their relationship, but helps their romantic relationship flourish beautifully to my mind.

A heartwarming, strongly emotional and steamily erotic novel, this is a wonderful story I plan to enjoy many times more in the future. The characters are strong and very well drawn, their circumstances natural and relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and plan to look for more by this author. Recommended.

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