Saturday, February 2, 2019

ARC Review: The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

The Military Wife
Author: Laura Trentham
Series: A Heart of a Hero Novel
Publication: St. Martin's Griffin (February 5, 2019)

Description: A young widow embraces a second chance at life when she reconnects with those who understand the sacrifices made by American soldiers and their families in award-winning author Laura Trentham’s The Military Wife.
Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.

Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children underfoot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.
In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.

In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts?

My Thoughts: This was a wonderful second-chance-at-love romance. Harper Wilcox has been widowed for five years. The man she loved since she scooped ice cream for him one summer in Nags Head was a Navy SEAL. They conducted a long-distance romance while he was in training and she was in college and married when she graduated. Though she resented being unable to use her double degrees in Business and Marketing and worried every time he was deployed, they had a good marriage. He was killed in the line of duty when she was pregnant with their son.

Now Ben is five. She has been sort of skating the surface of her life, working small accounting jobs, and living with her mother who's recently retired as a librarian and begun a second life as an eccentric. Her current craze is nude painting.

After receiving some troubling emails from her friend Allison, Harper decides to go visit her. She finds a woman just holding on by the skin of her teeth and dealing with a husband who has PTSD. Allison was the first to welcome Harper when she married Noah and has always been a tower of strength. Now she needs Harper to be the strong one. Allison introduces Harper to a number of Navy wives who are are dealing with the sorts of issues Harper had when her husband was alive.

Harper wants to come up with some sort of business that can give those women something real to do. She offers to use the money that she received after Noah's death as some sort of bravery award. Allison knows that such an award and cash payment doesn't exist which leads Harper to Bennett Caldwell who served with Noah and was his best friend.

The viewpoint in this book changes from Harper to Bennett and from the past to the present. It tells the story of a man who had no one until he became friends with Noah. He was a neglected foster child until taken in at age sixteen by a former military man named Sarge who adopted him. Unfortunately he died shortly after Bennett joined the Navy. Now Bennett is out of the service and has started a company teaching survival training. He fell in love with Harper from the parts of the emails and letters Noah shared but kept away from her because he felt guilty about it. But Noah made him promise to take care of Harper and the baby before he died. He feels guilty that Noah died saving his life when Bennett was supposed to give his life for Noah's.

This was an excellent romance but not a light, fluffy one. PTSD, Service wives' fear for their husbands and tensions in marriages, grief and guilt are all part of this story. But so is finding a new love and making new starts.

Favorite Quote:
As she held their son, Noah loomed large in her memories. She had been happy with Noah. Did moving on with someone else overwrite that happiness or was it cumulative? She wasn't sure.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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