Brian O’Neill returns from Afghanistan ready to take up his surgical practice, but PTSD interferes. Frustrated at not being able to help people, he leaps at the opportunity to work at Project Homecoming with a group of ex-service people who assist returning veterans with disabilities to get on with their civilian lives.
Nat Rodriguez walks tall with her prosthetic legs, well, as tall as she ever was at five foot four. She wants a job, not pity, thank you very much, and she challenges Brian to include women vets in the project.
For two people who want the same thing, they have a hard time working together until Nat’s soft yet stubborn way turns Brian’s surgical cool hot.
On the first Monday of January, Natalia Rodriguez put on black pants and a bright red jacket, the armor that hid her super-duper fake legs and her faint heart.
She combed out her dark brown hair she'd let grow almost to her chin, put on eyeliner and mascara to showcase her brown eyes and prepared to do a different kind of battle from the one she'd fought in Afghanistan.
One way or another, Brian O'Neill was going to admit women to Project Homecoming.
She took her brand new briefcase with her brand new resume that highlighted her brand new expertise in I.T. out to her car. Getting the hand-controlled car had been a big step in her recovery. She wanted to help other service women get the things coming to them for the price they'd paid to protect their country.
At the strip mall on Kearny Mesa in San Diego, she parked next to a Porsche Boxster. Brian's car no doubt. She took a moment to eye the sleek black lines then resolutely marched into Project Homecoming. A young man with almost white blond hair and a distracted look sat on a chair by the window. He leaped up as the door closed behind her with a sharp click.
"It's okay," she said softly, fearing he might have a PTSD episode. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was rampant in the vets from 'Stan and Iraq. "I'm a vet, too. I understand."
He frowned. "How could you? You probably had some cushy job at headquarters."
She lifted her pant leg to show her prosthesis. "Afghanistan."
"Damn. I'm sorry, ma'am. I know there were women over there. Forgive me?"
"This time." She grinned at him. "Where did you serve?"
A tall man came into the room. His cropped hair gave away his military background. His blue eyes lasered into her, causing a little quiver in a heart that had been nearly dead for the last few years. A blue and white striped dress shirt stretched across his broad shoulders. With the shirt rolled up on his forearms, the neck open and jeans covering his bottom half -- she'd have to see if his butt was prime when he turned around -- he almost had a casual appearance. His ramrod straight posture and air of command screamed officer, totally nullifying his attempt at being one of the guys.
He glared at her. "I think you must have gone into the wrong office. The beauty supply store is next door."
Before Nat could say anything the young man said, "Oh, she's a vet, too, sir."
The tall man eyed her up and down her five-foot-four. "Which service?"
"You're kind of scrawny for a leatherneck."
"The gasoline truck I drove didn't seem to mind."
Posted by Desert Breeze Publishing for The Romance Studio on 1st Dec 2013
"The plot of this book is incredible in showing that many veterans need help when they come home from war in adjusting back into their civilian lives. The dialogue was great, even when Nate and Brian were butting heads in the beginning because Brian wasn’t thrilled about a woman working for Project Homecoming...
Overall, Ms. Allen has done a wonderful job penning this novel that tugs at the heartstrings, not just for back stories of Nate and Brian but the veterans in which they’ve dedicated their time to help."
The Romance Studio