Friday, December 23, 2022

Grace Risata - Her Invisible Soldier

After the death of his best friend in an ambush, Dixon Wade returns from the military a broken man. Bitter, angry at the world, and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he feels invisible and forgotten by everyone around him. Everything changes when he meets her.
Fiercely stubborn and independent, Alyce is accustomed to doing what she wants, when she wants. Forced to volunteer at a charity in order to keep her job, she burns through every opportunity in town until stumbling upon a place that serves veterans.
Once these two volatile personalities collide, a battle of wills ensues. Never one to back down when faced with a challenge, Alyce comes up with some very interesting ideas to get her soldier back on the road to recovery.
Just as things begin to heat up for this unlikely pair, mistakes are made that could derail their entire relationship. Will Alyce be able to put the past aside and find a future with her invisible soldier?

Comment: I can't remember anymore why I added this book to my TBR. Nevertheless, I finally decided to give it a go and it turned out to be an enjoyable read.

Dixon Wade returned from a mission with PTSD. He can't forget the guilt over the fact he survived and his best friend didn't so he was recommended therapy but he only goes through the motions at the vet center to avoid jail after some problems. That is where he meets Alyce, a young woman who is doing volunteer work as part of a deal her bosses at a dental clinic have, in order to promote civic duty or something alike. Alyce hasn't done well in any of the other institutions available so her last option is the vet center. At first, it seemed they wouldn't get along but it turned out Dixon and Alyce can get along quite well... but is that enough to help Dixon? What about the feelings they both start having for the other...?

I was surprised by how interesting this story actually was. I imagined it would be one of those stories where the main characters would go through the motions and we would have plenty of cliches as they got to know each other better but I think the author was successful in giving this her own style and in making the story feel as if there was something else about it.

Dixon is a classic case of how war affects people in ways no one could imagine. He feels biter and guilty and his only way to cope is to not be friendly, to not invite pity and thoughts of what happened. I think it's not that surprising how this situation was portrayed and we learn he doesn't even have the support of his family, although we only get to understand why closer to the end of the book.

Alyce has a chip on her shoulder too, her only family now is her grandfather, since both her father and mother didn't really want her. Added to this, her mother is Japanese and this mixed race status made life difficult to Alyce, making her develop this though persona, she is independent and likes to keep the distance but she is genuinely a good person. She isn't fond of her job but it pays the bills and she just goes along in life until she meets Dixon.

The initial meeting between them was quite awful and I think that Dixon, despite his issues and all the bad thoughts in his head, didn't have to be so despicable and have the disgusting attitude he showed towards Alyce. I thought this would be one of those novels where the guy is always an idiot and Alyce would be a sort of saint to want to change him or that would be able to "magically" make him act differently, but I think the evolution of their connection and then relationship was good enough and convincing enough that I liked seeing them together and doing things together.

I was a bit doubtful, since they become intimate very early on, so I started thinking if this would be just another excuse for a plot and they would only be a good couple in bed, but the author did surprise me and I liked how they started to slowly trust one another, to understand each other's issues bit by bit and, apart from some vocabulary choices, their conversations and interactions with others also became a bit more interesting.

Of course, there are some avoidable scenes close to the end, although I suppose the way to showcase conflict and how they would deal with annoyances or complications would have to be portrayed somehow. I still think these things could have had a better presentation but I was happy they were able to solve their issues and maintain trust in one another. I think the end is proper for the type of plot we had and for the characters' personalities.
I will check the author's other books some day....
Grade: 7/10

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