By Sierra Riley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
“I feel safe with you.”
“It’s not safe for anyone to be around me.”
Shane Carter couldn’t wait to see his daughter after returning home from Afghanistan. Even though the scars he collected overseas ran deep, her light always brought him through the darkness. But when his ex-wife denies him the chance, those scars bleed into every part of his life and Shane is forced to admit he needs help.
“You can’t fool me. I know who you really are.”
Aaron Hayes thought he’d found the perfect career as a service dog trainer. Until he realized speaking to crowds was part of the job description. He’s never felt safe in a crowd, but one-on-one? That’s a different story. And when a handsome and troubled veteran needs his help training a service dog, Aaron doesn’t hesitate.
“You’re the only one who sees me.”
Shane tries his best to keep Aaron at a distance, even though his attraction to the man is undeniable. Convinced a quick fling will get it out of his system, he seduces Aaron. But he soon realizes he’s the one falling under Aaron’s spell. As Aaron starts to become his light in the darkness, Shane fears their future together–or lack thereof. If he can’t even win back his own daughter, how is he ever going to fend off his demons long enough to find solace with Aaron?
Solace may not be the most fast-paced and action-filled story you’ll run across, but it’s also not meant to be. This story is about two people forced to face fears crippling them and their current and future lives. Individually their fears – Shane’s anger and rage surfacing in crowds, a symptom of his PTSD after being dishonorably discharged after serving in Afghanistan, and Aaron’s fear of failing in public, whether speaking up in crowds or to groups, brought about by his dad’s demeaning behavior – bring these two together. And together, they complement one another and help one another face their fears. The plot was both heartwarming and heart-wrenching. The characters were well developed and easy to relate to. The unease Aaron felt in public was almost palpable.
This story shared a lot of important information about PTSD and also about the roles therapy dogs can play in a veteran’s life.
As usual, Sierra Riley delivers a well-written and thoroughly researched and delivered story.
“You talk about him like he’s broken,” he said quietly. “Like he needs to be put back together before he can be a good father again.” Shane’s heart stopped when Aaron turned to look at him. “Nothing about Mr. Carter needs to be fixed. He’s already a good father and an amazing person.”
Shane barely heard the judge’s next question, or Aaron’s answer to it. He sat back in his seat, his mouth still open, parted in anticipation of all the words he knew he couldn’t say.
He felt the sting of tears in his eyes, the lump of emotion in his throat, and in that moment he knew what had been missing. He knew why he’d felt so empty inside, even with the prospect of seeing Becca.
It was Aaron.
He needed Aaron. He loved Aaron.
And he hoped to God he still had a chance.
The “huh?” part?
It felt forced when Shane decided he needed to distance himself from/break up with Aaron after his nightmare. It almost felt as if it was incorporated into the plot to create the antagonism for splitting them apart to bring them back together at the end.
The scenes with Buttercup, or BC, were very well done. The author could easily have made BC a less than visible character, but instead chose the dog to play a major role.
Yes, even though it’s not an intense M/M story like those written by Riley Hart or Jay Northcote. All in all a very solid and satisfying read, especially for those not wanting extensive sex scenes.
Review originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on June 26, 2016.