I'm not sure of the circumstances of this book's release, but it was about a hundred pages shorter than the one previous. It definitely had a 'novella' feel to it, and there weren't really any side stories going on, so I'm thinking it might have appeared first in an anthology.
No matter, it's very good and might even be my favorite of the first four.
A young widow is searching for her late husband's former best friend who has dropped off the map entirely after leaving the Marine Corps.
Ian Buchanan has become your basic mountain man. He saved his best friend, Bobby's, life in Falluja only to find that Bobby had ended up a quadriplegic in what amounted to a persistent vegetative state. Just the boot to kick Ian into emotional and mental chaos.
Marcie is a little firebrand who needs closure after three years of nursing Bobby until his final, peaceful breath. I was really impressed with this character. She was funny, loving, compassionate, incredibly strong and more stubborn than anything. Definitely my favorite character of the series so far, and probably in the top five female characters I've read this year. It was fascinating to see this person who basically made the world turn for so many being thought of as the one who needed to be handled with fragile care. She, naturally, chafes at it as much as the reader does for her, and it makes for some pretty good moments.
I cried more reading this than any of the others. This was a really excellently written story, I thought, and the joy of the romance against the backdrop of grief and isolation was very satisfying.
It loses half a star for no epilogue (I rounded up). It ends right before something I feel we either needed to see or hear about after the fact. Perhaps these two show up again in the rest of the series -- I certainly hope so, but don't tell me! -- but I want to know what happened next. It felt like the story was unfinished.
But if you make it this far in the series, there's no way you're NOT going to read on, so just enjoy.