NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Erin Knox has never dealt with a dog as difficult as Wicked, an injured Military War dog, but then, she’s never had a dog with the kind of experience that he’s had. Since being blown up in an IED, the dog has traveled around the world and been separated from his long-time handler, who was also wounded in the blast. It’s going to take a lot of work to foster him. The dog is broken in more ways than one.
Luca Carmichael was told his best friend had died in the explosion in Afghanistan, so it’s a shock when he receives a letter from the woman fostering Wicked back to health. A desolate future suddenly takes on fresh hope and he waits impatiently for every email. As they both heal, he and Erica share more and more of themselves. Before long he’s waiting to hear from her, but not just for a report on Wicked. Would she be willing to take two wounded soldiers into her heart?
Erin won my heart from the first page of this book, and Wicked shortly thereafter. She didn’t have to find Wicked’s handler but she did and the results, well, tears.
Luca wasn’t doing well, mentally anyway. His guilt over losing his canine partner was overwhelming. When he read the first email from Erin, his world tipped and he found a new balance.
Erin and Luca maintain a correspondence with pictures and updates. They even planned a visit once Wicked was fitted with prosthetic.
This is a favorite scene as Erin Facetimes Luca as they leave the vet’s office.
Wicked was not wild about having people mess with his leg again, and he definitely didn’t like the thing mounted to his foot and Velcro-ed, but once he realized he could move around like he used to he forgot about it. Within two minutes he was walking like he’d always worn a prosthetic. Erin went up and down the hallway of the vet’s office, watching his mobility. One of the vet techs took a walking video and they looked at it on loop several times.
“I’m very happy with this,” Dr. Lang told her. “It’s a small prosthetic and I think he’ll be completely fine with it. If it was further up the hock the process would be a little more difficult, but I think he’s going to adapt like he should. You saw how easy it was to add the piece.”
Erin nodded. Literally it had taken two straps of Velcro and five seconds to put on. It was only two shaped bars of plastic, with a cushion pad on the bottom and a strip of rubber on the sole. If anything he might need heavier Velcro to attach to the leg if he was going to be doing a lot of jumping. But that was an issue for later down the road.
They walked out of the vet’s office side by side, and Wicked only had the most minor of bobbles. He jogged beside her as they went through the parking lot and even seemed excited to jump up into the back without using the old man ramp. Laughing, Erin drew her phone from her pocket and dialed Luca, then hit the FaceTime button. It rang and rang, and that was when she realized that maybe he didn’t want to see her, or for her to see him. She was just about to hang up when he answered.
Her first view of him was a shock. Damn. Luca Carmichael looked to be a handsome dark devil, with dark hair and eyes. His curly hair was a little mussed, like he’d been running his hands through it, but there was an alertness in his expression that so reminded her of Wicked. She grinned into the camera. “I thought you would like to see your dog in action.”
Turning the camera she scanned the view over his body and down to the prosthetic.
Wicked jerked to alertness, focusing in on the phone, and she realized he hadn’t even heard his handler’s voice for weeks. “Luca,” she said, turning the phone back to herself, “I think he just recognized your voice.”
She turned the phone back to the dog. “Hey, Boss, look at you, buddy!” Luca called.
Wicked went nuts, whining and shoving his nose toward the phone, as if he was sniffing for Luca, and it actually brought tears to her eyes. It was obvious the dog recognized and missed his partner. He danced in the back of the car as Luca talked to him.
“Erin,” he said.
She turned the phone around, wiping her eyes. He seemed to be a little emotional too. “It seems like I’m always telling you thank you. He looks amazing.”
Wicked bumped her hand, as if telling her he wasn’t done. Turning, she sat on the back end of the SUV, with the dog directly behind her so that Luca could see them both. “It was too big of a deal not to celebrate. I’m sorry if I caught you at a bad time.”
Luca laughed, shaking his head. “Don’t worry about it. There is no bad time for you to call. It was so worth it.”
Erin related the conversation with the vet, along with her own observations. She wasn’t sure if Wicked could actually see Luca on the other end of the line, but he definitely recognized his voice. At one point the dog rested his head on her shoulder, as if in thanks for everything, and she teared up again. For a dog as reserved as Wicked, this was like a parade with confetti to Erin.
J.M. Madden. Wicked Healing (Kindle Locations 572-574). Kindle Edition.
This book triggers so many emotions, I was sniffling almost all the way through. Not in a bad way though.
Luca’s mother left much to be desired, she really had no right to do the things she did. The only thing she got right was hiring Healing Hands, Healing Hearts to care for Wicked. At least his father was supportive.
The journey for both the man and the dog was priceless and Erin’s role inspiring and romantic.
This is a wonderful, feel good book, with a simmer to sizzle romance but you’ll definitely need lots of tissues.
5 Contented Purrs for J.M.!
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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.