A batch of special Christmas cookies helps a wounded ex-Ranger remember the love of his life. A surprise phone call reunites a woman with the soldier who once broke her heart. There's no place like home for the holidays, and there's no better way to spend them than with the one you love.
Gifts of Honor is a two story anthology featuring Starting by Scratch by Stacy Gail and Hero’s Homecoming by Rebecca Crowley. Both are set at Christmas time and both are about military men.
The problem with anthologies, especially when there are only two stories involved is that they both have to be the same standard or half the book is just not as good as the other. That was the big problem with this book. One of the stories was great, the other annoyed and frustrated me.
Starting by Scratch by Stacy Gail was a lovely, sweet little story that I really enjoyed. It had a lot of depth and I found it really emotional in parts. Luce and Sully’s story was not an easy one. After an argument at Christmas Sully deploys for another tour abroad despite promising Luce that he would not be going again. Luce feels betrayed because he didn’t even talk to her about it and he just left. Whilst abroad he is injured and despite remembering everything from his life before he cannot remember he wife and divorces her quickly, leaving her even more heartbroken.
Their story back to each other was a hard one and I found it difficult not to blame Sully for everything even though it wasn’t his fault that he lost his memory. The characters were great and the story built slowly towards a satisfying and sweet ending.
I did not enjoy Hero’s Homecoming as much. The writing was good and there was nothing wrong with the structure of the story but the main character annoyed me. Chris and Beth get caught up in a whirl wind romance before he deploys for his next tour of duty. They stay in contact and one day Beth gets an email saying that Chris wants to end their relationship leaving her heartbroken. A few months later she gets a phone call from him asking for help as he is stranded at the airport. When she gets there she finds him scarred and blind but still cannot let go of the fact he dumped her.
My issue with this book was Beth. I get that he hurt her feelings, nobody likes to be dumped, but her actions towards him really got under my skin and irritated me. She came across as heartless and selfish. Chris has lost his job, sight, independence and all she goes on about is her hurt feelings, she even slaps him after she realizes what has happened to him which in my opinion was really low. She cannot understand why he dumped her and assumes it can only be because she isn’t interesting/pretty/sexy enough not because his life had blown up in his face and he is suffering from bad post-traumatic stress (which she instantly assumes makes him a psycho and dangerous.) she is so self-involved that at one point she hears him stumbling around at night and instead of assuming that he is blind and in a place he doesn’t know and might be trying to get to the bathroom or kitchen, she assumes that he is faking being blind and is trying to rob her. I just didn’t like her at all and she ruined what was a great premise for a story.
Starting from Scratch is worth getting this anthology and I am sure many will enjoy Hero’s Homecoming but it wasn’t for me.
Published November 21st 2013 by Carina Press. A free copy was provided for review. Images courtesy of Goodreads.
Review by Kate Phillips