Welcome Home, Soldier by Deanna Wadsworth

Welcome Home, Soldier by Deanna Wadsworth
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday (Christmas)
Length: Short story (76 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.

Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride.

The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas.

Clay had survived active duty as a soldier and cancer, he sure as hell wasn’t going to let being stuck in a snow-storm end his life, particularly not before he could reconnect with Daniel. When his car breaks down Clay is grateful to be rescued and taken the last few miles to Daniel’s cabin – even if it does mean they’re stuck and snowed in together over the Christmas holiday. It’s been a long time since the two men broke up, can they reconnect and have the Christmas miracle they both secretly yearn for?

I found this to be a heartwarming story. Even though the storyline isn’t particularly unique (two men snowed in and repairing their long-damaged relationship) I still found it to be emotional and well written. I liked both Clay and Daniel’s characters and a few chapters in was solidly invested in them patching their relationship up and getting back together after a very long (twenty plus years) time apart.

The emotional connection between Clay and Daniel read to me as deep, intense and quite realistic. And considering the bulk of the storyline is based around this connection – both in the past and how it still abides in the present – I was pleased that it felt strong and real to me.

I felt the pacing of the story was a little tricky. Clay and Daniel’s past relationship still cast quite a long shadow, with plenty of unresolved feelings, hurt and conversations that need to be completed. This baggage could have weighted down the entire story, and while I didn’t feel it was a negative aspect of the story, a part of me really wishes that Clay and Daniel had resolved their past quicker than what occurred. I understood why the author took their time with all this past conflict, and I would have hated had Clay and Daniel simply taken one look at each other and instantly forgiven one another. But I was ready for the two men to move forward and try to rebuild their life and look to the future together quite a bit before it actually happened. When they did start looking forward it was lovely, like everything finally clicked into place and I found it a true pleasure to read.

A deeply emotional and character-driven story there was lots to enjoy about this book. Clay and Daniel are both complicated, multi-layered characters with a sizzling attraction and plenty of history and conflict. This is a good book to dive into and I enjoyed it, finally finishing the book with a warm, fuzzy feeling and a happy smile.

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