The Gardener and the Marine (Ellery Mountain, 9)
Triggers for PTSD and past suicide ideation
Harrison is alone and hurting with his memories gone, but Toby shows him that love can heal even the most broken of hearts.
After losing his entire team in a roadside bomb, Harrison is left with a traumatic brain injury, a broken body, and scars on his heart that might never heal. Staying at the Ellery Mountain Veterans Center is the first step in healing, but short-term memories evade him, and the only thing he trusts is the love of Barney, his support dog.
Until he meets Toby.
Toby lands the chance of a lifetime, using his horticultural skills to aid in working with veterans during their physical and mental recovery. Meeting Harrison on his first day goes badly, but there is something between them that could be more than just friendship.
With time, it could even become love.
#HurtComfort #MMHockeyRomance *Can be read as a standalone* *some mention of previous characters, but not enough to cause an issue*
This story was previously available in weekly installments in RJ’s newsletter. The file has been edited and a few scenes added.
The Fireman and the Cop
The Teacher and the Soldier
The Carpenter and the Actor
The Doctor and the Bad Boy
The Paramedic and the Writer
The Barman and the SEAL
The Agent and the Model
The Sinner and the Saint
The Gardener and the Marine
The Soldier and the Bodyguard – currently a free weekly series in my newsletter **
I didn’t look at them, let alone talk to them, and even though I sensed Daniel wanted to ask me if I was okay, I ignored him and was quickly halfway up the stairs, my hand on Barney’s collar, hoping like hell for my leg not to buckle. He didn’t call up after me. No one shouted in this place, because it was an oasis of peace and a secure shelter for all those damaged vets who’d been chewed up and spit out by war.
When my recollection of why I was here hit me front and center, I counted myself as one of the lucky ones to find a place to hide. I wasn’t a danger to anyone else, but I was a danger to myself. The night terrors, the panic attacks, the stupid fucking inability to be a goddamned man—that was why I was there. The hospital staff healed my body to the best of their ability, the shrinks attempted to fix my head, but I didn’t have peace, and Barney was the only thing I cared about.
Caring got you hurt, and I was too raw to extend any affection or understanding to anyone but Barney.
I slumped onto my bed, then flopped backward, hands extended to each edge, Barney jumping up and curling himself right into my side. My heart raced, my head hurt, but once I matched my breathing to Barney’s and allowed his presence to soothe me, I began to calm.
“Danno, Brat, Diaz, Spook, and me,” I whispered into the room. “Danno, Brat, Diaz, Spook, and me.” The names of the fallen were a reminder of what I’d seen and lost and were a way to connect with the world around me. Other people grieved Danno and Brat’s loss—they’d only been kids both of them with big families. Diaz had a girlfriend who blamed me for her beloved dying on my watch. Spook had been married no more than a month and had left a pregnant wife behind.
I had my mom, but I’d pushed her away when I was in hospital. I know that because it’s written in my book.
Why didn’t the explosion take me?
~ * ~ Jo‘s Review ~ * ~
This is a beautiful, slow-burn romance that shows that there is love for everyone. Originally, an episodic series through the author’s newsletters, this is a dual POV story about Toby and Harrison. While set in a world of previous stories, it does however work as a stand-alone.
Harrison is a marine with long-term health issues from serving, he struggles to retain events and faces. Into his life comes Toby, who starts running a garden at Harrison’s rehabilitation centre. For both there is a spark, but how can they move forward when the only real memories Harrison has are in the book he writes things down in.
What follows is an emotional, believable story about how if there is patience, faith, and hope, then love will bloom. I loved the gentle feel of this story; the connection between the characters leaps off the page. The portrayal of Harrison is absolutely believable and very touching. I wanted to just hug him and shed tears over his pain and how wonderful their HEA is. Toby sees the man behind the pain and injuries.
An absolutely hauntingly beautiful love story and a total recommendation from me.
***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement.***
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RJ Scott, author of M/M romance.
Writing love stories with a happy ever after – cowboys, heroes, family, hockey, single dads, bodyguards
USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott has written over one hundred romance books. Emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, single dads, hockey players, millionaires, princes, bodyguards, Navy SEALs, soldiers, doctors, paramedics, firefighters, cops, and the men who get mixed up in their lives, always with a happy ever after.
She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing. The last time she had a week’s break from writing, she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a box of chocolates she couldn’t defeat.
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