Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Gallery Books on 5 November 2013
Reading Challenges: 2013 Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon
The Way Home is actually two romances wrapped up in one book. Military widow Jess Albert had shut herself off from life and put all her energy into running her general store. Former military man Tyler Brown manages to capture her heart and their future looks bright until word trickles through that Jess’ husband Jeff is actually alive and stuck in Afghanistan. Jeff who suffers from amnesia as a result of his torture, has built a connection with his Afghani protector and nurse Rabia without knowing he has a wife half a world away.
Jess and Ty have both lost people they were committed to so their steps towards romance are tentative. Jess is still conflicted about her feelings for Jeff as he although they were childhood sweethearts, they didn’t get to spend much time together as adults and he always put the military before her. With Ty, she has the chance to have her cake and eat it – a medical injury has pushed him out of the military so he isn’t going to toddle off to war and leave her behind. Ty acknowledges her emotional reticence but doesn’t give up on her. He slides quickly and neatly into her life leaving her wondering what she ever did without him. Not even Jess’ brother-in-law who feels Jess should remain a widow for the rest of her life out of respect for Jeff is able to push Ty away. Knowing there were issues in Jess’ marriage made me think she would abandon Jeff once he was back stateside but I didn’t count on Jess’ loyalty to her marriage. Gerard executed Jess’ dilemma well.
Jeff (or JR as Jess calls him) is lucky he was found by Rabia as she and her father considered Pashtunwali (request for refuge) to be greater than the Taliban’s threats. He suffers from retrograde amnesia which means he doesn’t remember a thing prior to his capture. This is quite unusual as apparently most people suffering from RA tend to lose the most recent memories rather than earlier ones (thank you Wikipedia). He had been badly tortured and day after day he begged Rabia to kill him so his pain was over. She refused and slowly nursed him back from the brink of death. They fall in love but both know it can only be transitory as he is determined to go home and she cannot leave her sick and elderly father.
Gerard set herself a difficult task in trying to manage two full romances in one book and I’m so greedy I have to confess I wanted a bit more. Rabia and Ty felt a little underdeveloped compared to Jess and Jeff. Both Ty and Rabia aren’t mentioned for quite some pages and I wanted to know what they were up to and how they were going. The denouement was a little fast and too pat for my liking but we were put through a satisfactory roller coaster of emotions. Gerard handled the hardships that spouses and partners of those in the military suffer quite sensitively.
This book is riddled with pathos and angst – I relished it. Highly recommended!