At nineteen, Ryan leaves to join the Australian Army. After years of training he becomes an elite SAS soldier and deploys to the Afghanistan war. His patrol undertakes the most dangerous missions a soldier can face. But no matter how far he runs, or how hard he fights, his need for Finlay won’t let go.
Returning home after six years, one look is all it takes to know he can’t live without her. But sometimes love isn’t enough to heal what hurts. Sometimes people like him can’t be fixed, and sometimes people like Finlay deserve more than what’s left.
This is a story about war and the cost of sacrifice. Where bonds are formed, and friendships found. Where those who are strong, fall hard. Where love is let go, heartache is born, and heroes are made. Where one man learns that the hardest fight of all, is the fight to save himself.
(can I give a book 10 stars? is that allowed? Hell. It's my blog. I'm giving it 10 damn stars.)
I'm going to try to get through this review without sobbing (not that you could see if I was, but I'm sure I will be at some point).
"Fighting Redemption" was, hands down, my book of the year. I asked on my blog Facebook page for an ugly cry book that will make my heart hurt, and this one was recommended to me about 10 times in 20 minutes. I had to read it. Military? Afghanistan? I just had to read it. Books involving this war, hit me hard, really hard. My father is retired-Marine. I have numerous friends who joined the Military after high school (I graduated less than a year after 9/11), and some that are still in the Military, now. Okay, right, moving on to the actual book..
Fighting Redemption, is a second-third-fourth-chance romance, involving the boy-next-door-slash-brothers-best-friend who has lived in his own personal hell for years. Ryan has been in Fin's life since they were in elementary school. Ryan, best friends with Fin's older brother, Jake, has taken on a protective role towards Fin since they were little. But that protective role, moved over into romantic feelings, as they both grew older. They lost touch when he left for the Military with Jake, and it's been 6 years since they have spoken to, or seen each other. So when Jake is coming home on semi-leave to his shared house with Fin, and asks Ryan to come? Well.. you can see where things may go.
But this book isn't just about the romance between Fin and Ryan. No. It's about family, blood and otherwise. It's about Brothers. It's about how the Military can effect your every day life. How you feel not exactly tied down to anywhere, because you can be called out on a dime. How you're scared to love, and put someone through a deployment. How sometimes, friends and family, just won't come home.
It really is, about Heroes.
(ooh.. dammit.. here come the tears)
"and then you come home and everyone is going about their everyday lives - shopping and working, being impatient or unkind, and I want to shout at them all to wake up and see how lucky they are."
But it is, also, about a love that just won't go away, even if it isn't the best thing for them. In some cases, love CAN conquer all, and in others.. it's just not enough.
"I have a thick skin baby… but you're under it. You're buried in there so deep it's like I was born with you in my soul."
But in the end, love is love, and you can't fight love. You can only fight what you do with it.
"I won't ever stop. I'll love you longer than the stars that live in the sky."
I'm not sure I can actually explain how much I adored this book, as well as Kate McCarthy's writing. In the back of the book, she notes how many Australian SAS soldiers she cross checked the reality of Military members and family with. That, my friends, is dedication, and it makes this story hit home that much harder, because everything in this book, is someone else's reality.
"Fighting Redemption" had me crying from 4% into the book, and takes quite a few unexpected turns that had me downright sobbing. But the ease of Fin and Jake's bond, and Fin and Ryan's friendship and relationship, make it a bit easier to handle, and had me smiling ear to ear. There is humor to break the heaviness of this book, and it works perfectly. There are side characters that add so much to the story. There is a huge sense of family, and brotherhood, and love, that is carried through from the first page, to the last. My heart broke and then healed, just to break again. And when I felt my heart in pieces, Kate McCarthy found ways to mend it right back together through her words.
This will now be one of the first books I recommend to anyone asking, "Hey, what should I read next?".
"Ask me, Fin, what I see when I look up at all those stars."
"What do you see?"