Jordan’s Battle by E.A. West

Jordan’s Battle by E.A. West
Publisher: Astraea Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (49 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Computer programmer Alaina Howard has a new office mate, and she couldn’t be happier that he’s handsome and unattached. Although initially uncertain of his position in the company, she quickly realizes that he’s good at his job and a valuable asset. If only she knew why the seemingly non-disabled man needed a service dog, things would be perfect.

Army veteran Jordan Blake is thrilled to get a job that allows him to pursue his dream of learning web development. The position is even sweeter thanks to the beautiful woman he shares an office with. The only drawback is that she seems suspicious of his need for a service dog to assist with an invisible disability.

Will Alaina’s suspicion and Jordan’s reluctance to talk about his disability keep them from developing the relationship they both desire?

Alaina Howard enters her office one morning to find the other, previously unoccupied, desk now home to a rather good looking man. After exchanging a few pleasantries with Jordan Blake, Alaina goes to her uncle to try and find out why a man with little to no computer experience was now working in an IT department. Although her uncle explains his reasons Alaina leaves his office with more questions than answers. Surprised again when Jordan takes Abe—his service dog—for a walk, Alaina finds the more she sees of her new office mate, the deeper the mysteries around him grow. Caught somewhere between curiosity and suspicion, a volatile mix of emotions grow around Alaina and Jordan, creating a bond neither can deny.

Quite a number of times throughout the book I found Alaina came across as very judgmental– like her outwardly showing distaste for Jordan when she assumes (incorrectly) that he’s going outside for a smoke, or when she again leaps to conclusions that because Jordan isn’t blind he has “no need” for his service dog. Such instant reactions were in some respects understandable, but they left me with the impression that anything not crystal clear makes Alaina react with suspicion and distaste. This hit me particularly when she asked Jordan to leave his service dog behind when they go to the movies. Although Alaina didn’t know just how much Jordan relies on Abe for his physical and emotional health, the fact he had kept his dog with him every minute for the weeks of time they’d spent together should have tipped her off to what a monumental thing requesting he be left behind was. It felt unthinking of her, like she assumed she knew better than Jordan himself did.

I didn’t find Alaina to be anything like the common heroine, but this made me more intrigued as to where the plot and interactions would go. None of her reactions were aggressive enough for me to dislike her character, but it was a brave move on the author’s behalf writing her like this – and one that I feel strengthens the conflict within the story. Instead of being a wishy-washy, sunshine-and-roses style of book, it’s a lot sharper and more realistic. I really liked this and found these differences in plot excellent. Some readers, however, mightn’t feel the same and might find it difficult to relate to Alaina.

I also particularly liked how Jordan wasn’t your average hero who has made it back after time in the army. He’s not lost a limb or got disfiguring scars and needs the nurture and love of a good woman to make it all right. Instead he’s got a more difficult—and uncommon—problem to deal with, that of anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a mixed bag of other issues. Again I thought this was a brave and excellent side-step from what could have become a story like many others. It made the plot feel fresh and deeply interesting to see how Alaina and Jordan would deal with things. I found myself turning the pages and deeply sunk into the story, engrossed. For those looking for a sweet story that breaks out of the more traditional roles one expects; this could well be a refreshing and wonderful read.

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