Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I’m tired of losing our brothers to an enemy we can’t see.”
Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli is back home and fighting his hardest battle to date; his alcoholism. All he wants is to take care of his platoon, ready them for the next deployment, and try and stay sober. When one of his men is sent to rehab, Reza is angry that resources needed elsewhere are being wasted on this soldier when the solution is obvious–discharge him. But a certain psychiatrist isn’t ready to give up on this man…or Reza himself.
Captain Emily Lindberg joined the military when she caught her fiance with another woman. Feeling used and overlooked by her powerful family, she decided to use her degree to help those who need it the most and are the most often overlooked. She may not have seen live combat, but she knows the minds of her patients and fights her own battles everyday for their sanity and well being. She goes toe to toe with Reza, wanting to see what makes a combat soldier tick and show him that everyone matters. When he agrees to show her, she’s thrilled. But Emily wants more than Reza’s expertise on the battlefield. She wants his body, mind, and soul. But for a man whose only at peace when in combat, this may be her hardest fight yet.
We all knew Reza’s story would be an emotional one. We have watched him fight his demons throughout the series, often helped by alcohol. Back in the states now, he finds himself trying to dry out and is overwhelmed by anger and guilt. Guilt for those who died while he lived. Guilt for those he couldn’t save those who have to go to rehab. Anger at those who need rehab. And a combination of anger and guilt because he can’t feel sympathetic towards those who need the services of someone like Captain Emily Lindberg.
“Ma’am, I just need to know if he’s here. Why is this such a big deal?”
“Because Sergeant Wisniak has told this clinic on multiple occasions that his chain of command is targeting him, looking for an excuse to take his rank.”
“Well, maybe if he was at work once in a while he wouldn’t feel so persecuted.”
The small captain lifted her chin. “Sergeant, do you have any idea what it feels like to be looked at like you’re suspect every time you walk into a room?”
Something cold slithered across Reza’s skin, sidling up to his heart and squeezing tightly. “Do you have any idea what it feels like to send soldiers back to combat knowing they lost training days chasing after a sissy-ass soldier who can’t get to work on time?”
A shadow flickered across her pretty face but then it was gone, replaced by steel. “My job is to keep soldiers from killing themselves.”
“And my job is to keep soldiers from dying in combat.”
“They’re not mutually exclusive.”
Silence hung between them, battle lines drawn.
In All For You, Scott expertly sifts through the layers to reveal the pain and dissociation that many multi-tour combat soldiers battle daily. Too often, we see a hero in a uniform but not the person beneath the uniform. We send these men and women into battle not thinking about what happens while they are there. What they see. What they experience. What they feel. Scott shows us that you can only compartmentalize for so long before the emotions can no longer be contained and the choices used to incapacitate the demons are often drug related and/or suicide. When these war weary, battle scarred vets come home, they are subjected to attitudes that are similar to Reza’s. Those who can’t “suck it up” don’t deserve to be in the military.
Well written with an engaging character base and a bittersweet storyline that appeals to your sense of justice and tugs at your heart. Scott’s clear, concise voice takes a serious and isolated (from a civilian’s POV) subject and makes what’s happening to our men and women in the military personal. She doesn’t manipulate the reader but uses the storyline to effectively humanize our soldiers by removing our rose colored glasses and letting us see they are not infallible. Love, loss, hope, and redemption are the bases in which this story is built upon.
Reza and Emily ignite sparks from their first meeting; the chemistry starting out as antagonism and morphing into something more combustible and dangerous as they find themselves in each others company more and more. Emily knows Reza doesn’t have a lot of respect for her or her job. He feels her non-combat status leaves her less than qualified to stand in judgement on him or any combat soldier. Like those who couldn’t cut it in combat and have need of her services, he judges her weak. A feeling that Emily secretly agrees with.
He doesn’t belong in the army.” He swept his gaze down her body deliberately. Trying to provoke her. Her face flushed as he met her eyes coldly. “Neither do you.”
Emily is determined to prove to Reza that she does belong in the military and so do her patients. Soon, she and Reze embark on an affair that flays them both open, exposing all their pain and insecurities to the open air like exposed nerves. Emily tries to help Reza understand that everyone should be able to ask for help without ridicule and Reza’s job is to be a leader to all his men…not just those he deems worthy.
The main conflict blends well with the romance. Sexy and bittersweet love scenes convince you that no matter the external issues, Emily and Reza deserve their chance at happiness. Secondary characters are introduced who help to facilitate the storylines. Scott shows us that not everyone is cut out to be in the military; from a traumatised Private to an over zealous LT. Some humor permeates the story, giving us a brief respite from the serious and sometimes heartbreaking scenes that make up this book.
“Can you say ‘blow job’?” His tongue traced over her ear. She gasped and arched her neck.
“I’m sweaty,” she said, dodging his request
“I think that’s okay.” He tugged her earlobe gently with his teeth. “If we do this right, we’ll be sweaty again.” He bit down. “Say ‘blow job.’”
“Why is that important to you?” Her words were a gasp.
“Because I want to hear you say something dirty.”
The ending is climatic series of events that addresses all the major conflicts but leaves us with some open ended questions. It also leaves us comfortable in the knowledge that Reza and Emily have a good shot at love and happiness if they both are willing to work for it.
“The docs said this wasn’t going to be easy.” Fear choked his words.
“It won’t be.” Her arms tightened around his waist. “But you won’t be alone.” She pressed her lips to his.
Scott’s skill and knowledge once again shines brightly in All For You. Reza and Emily’s story is an emotional read but the journey is well worth it. I look forward to reading It’s Always Been You which releases March 4, 2014 from Forever.