Summary: rent returns from Iraq intent on claiming the man he kissed five years ago, only to find the war left a powerful obstacle in his way.
Cameron was sixteen when the hunky Trent Anderson kissed him and spoiled him for all other men. The next day, Trent left for a tour of duty in the Middle East without so much as a wave goodbye. When Trent returns five years later, he’s a changed man. Can Cameron put aside his long-held fantasies and accept the flawed solider he’s always wanted for Christmas?
Trent Anderson served for four years in the U.S. Army and then signed up for one more as a security contractor. He bears no physical scars from Iraq, but he secretly fights an invisible enemy. A sound, a look, a situation can trigger a flashback and send him right back into combat mode. When Cameron’s attacked, his PTSD escalates, and Trent must get help or else forfeit the man he left behind forever.
Five years ago, Trent kissed Cameron, then shipped off to Afghanistan where he has been the whole time, then he walks in to a holiday party completely unannounced, but not entirely the same man he was when he left. Cameron is not sure if he should be happy, hopeful they can pick up from that kiss or angry!
The story is told from the alternating point of view of Cameron and Trent.
I really liked the idea of this book, I thought it was a great concept and I was really looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, the beginning of the book was a bit melodramatic for my tastes in reading. Trent has been away with the armed forces for five years and he is dealing with PTSD, the challenge for me at the start of the book was that Cameron was completely clueless to what Trent may have experienced. He’s quite young, only 21, but perhaps if there had been more to connect the dots of where he was at between his father leaving, Trent’s kiss and his leaving to why he chose to live where he did, that may have helped. For me, in the first part of the book, he came across to me as a very immature young man for the experiences he has dealt with.
Trent’s disconnect made sense to me, although I’m not an expert in PTSD, that he would feel a mental condition is not on the same level as a physical injury and would have a hard time admitting it, let alone dealing with it. The episode with his trigger, that finally leads to the two of them talking about the past as well as the present, I’m not sure if that is based on an actual event – for how it played out or how it was dealt with by both Trent and Cameron, as it was quite extreme, but I liked how Cameron’s character chose to deal with the situation. After that experience, although Cameron was scared by it, he is not scared of Trent, more scared for him. They do discuss things and on both sides, realize that withholding does not actually protect anyone, in only hurts the people you care about.
I think my favorite character, though, was Mike, Trent’s bestfriend who was also in the service, who was sent home after 18 months with a leg injury, so although he did not see as much as Trent, you get the impression he knows what is going on with him even though Trent does not admit what is wrong at first. I think he could have a very interesting story – like how he knew police had been called to Cameron’s place!
If you like your holiday stories with a bit more drama rather than warm and fuzzy, and especially with a former soldier or two, you will likely enjoy this story.