This is a 42,000 word novella. It contains strong language, violence and adult situations. Not for readers under 18.
Zeke Foster has little to no experience with women over the past couple of years, after being injured in Afghanistan. Brutally scarred, he has no expectation that he’ll ever find a woman capable of accepting him the way he is. But he can’t help but be enamored of Ember, the waitress of a local watering hole.
Ember Norton’s life has turned into one devastating catastrophe after another. When the scarred soldier with the kind eyes brings some security to her life, she’s afraid to trust her luck. She’s been self-sufficient for a long time. But his wounded soul calls to her and she finds herself falling for him.
In spite of the secrets he continues to keep.
I absolutely love this book! JM’s characters are portrayed in such a way that in no way do you feel sorry for them you actually cheer them on.
Zeke has had a hard road, with his face brutally scarred, it has also scarred his confidence. He feels unworthy of anything but disgust for his looks.
Ember sees beyond all the scars and sees the man beneath it all. On a personal level her problems are beyond the physical and she finds herself dealing with a lot of changes for both her and her son Drew.
This is a favorite scene after Zeke sees her bruised face.
Ember didn’t know why his halting words disarmed her when nobody else’s concern had, but they did. Another tear escaped. Then another. She swiped them away, but they just seemed to fall faster. The events of the past week weighed on her, and she had decisions to make that were going to change their lives even more. For just a heartbeat in time, she wanted to not be strong.
When the big Marine pressed a gentle kiss to the top of her head, she leaned into him and curled her hands beneath her chin, desperate for some kind of anchor in the catastrophe her life had become.
His massive arms wrapped around her and she broke into sobs, unable to tamp them down any longer. She heard rumbling beneath her good cheek, but couldn’t understand the words. When he swung her up into his arms, she didn’t even care, as long as he continued to hold her. She heard the squeak as her office door slammed shut, then the world tilted as he sank onto the old couch pushed against the wall.
Time stopped as she sobbed into his shirt and he gently rubbed her back. He was so solid and strong beneath her fists. It felt like the world could be falling down around them and he would still hold her safely above everything. A warrior battling back the nightmares.
She lost track of time as she cuddled into him, but her tears eventually began to dwindle away. Embarrassment rolled in as she realized how soaked his T-shirt was. She ran her hand over his broad chest. “I’m sorry, Zeke.”
His grip tightened around her as she tried to pull away. “It’s okay. J-just a shirt.”
Ember let him hold her for just a minute more before her pride forced her to sit up on his lap. She started to slide off, but he grabbed her hands in his. “What can I do to help?”
She blinked, unused to even being offered help. It had been her and her dad for so long, then Drew had been added to their little group, and they were pretty self-sufficient. That had all changed now, though. She shook her head as she realized she was going to have to ask for help. “I don’t know. I have to move, and find somebody to watch my son. But I have to be here, too, to make sure everything runs right.”
When she lifted her gaze, his bright blue eyes were solid and reassuring. She choked out a laugh. “I can’t believe how much I’m trusting you right now. I hardly know you.”
He grinned at her, and the scar that looped down from his bottom lip pulled his smile off-kilter. “I’m a Marine. I’m a…good guy. Even though I don’t look it.”
Against her better judgment, she grinned too, then flinched when it hurt her jaw. “Ouch.”
His eyes drifted down her face and he raised one hand as if to touch her, but stopped. “Who did this? Really?”
She looked down at her lap, debating what she could tell him. Everybody would probably know eventually anyway. “My dad. I walked into our house last Saturday and it was dark. I thought he was sleeping, so I just started to walk through the house like I always do, but he was having a flashback.”
Madden, J.M.. Embattled Minds (Military Romance) (Lost and Found Book 2) (pp. 23-26). J.M. Madden. Kindle Edition.
PTSD is very real and many older veterans, like Ember’s Dad, didn’t have the resources that are now available.
Zeke on the other hand has more surgeries to endure, but what he least expects is Ember’s anger simmering behind her love and support.
Drew is a piece of work, a typical four year old boy, I fell for him just like Zeke did.
This one will have you laughing and crying.
5 Contented Purrs for J.M.
Click the Cover for Buy Links
J.M. Madden writes compelling romances between ‘combat modified’ military men and the women who love them. J.M. Madden loves any and all good love stories, most particularly her own. She has two beautiful children and a husband who always keeps her on her toes.
J.M. was a Deputy Sheriff in Ohio for nine years, until hubby moved the clan to Kentucky. When not chasing the family around, she’s at the computer, reading and writing, perfecting her craft. She occasionally takes breaks to feed her animal horde and is trying to control her office-supply addiction, but both tasks are uphill battles. Happily, she is writing full-time and always has several projects in the works.
She also dearly loves to hear from readers! So, drop her a line. She’ll respond.