Publisher: Blue Feather Books, LTD
My Soldier Too deals with a topic that isn't covered nearly enough in the press or mainstream publishing. What impact is serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan having on female soldiers? Military women have often been ignored, but, until recently, they were fairly safe from most of the dangers of war. Now though the policy of the US military to not put women in combat has no relevance when there is no defined battle zone and women are coming home with the same problems as the male soldiers. This situation is even more complicated when the soldier is gay.
Captain Madison Brown has seen enough of the ugliest side of war in her position as an Army nurse. One young soldier particularly haunts her with his dying words, "I wish I'd known love in this life." Under Don't Ask, Don't Tell Madison has had to hide her sexuality and that has taught her to shut permanent relationships out of her life. The military has decided to end that policy, but Madison sees no reason to change her life. It's her coping mechanism, but the soldier's dying words have her wondering. Then she meets Isabella Parisi.
Isabella is a social worker from a close and very Catholic family and has an uncomfortably possessive boyfriend. She dedicates her life to working with traumatized men at a veterans center and that's where she meets Madison. The relationship that develops between them puts both of their worlds out of balance and before they can settle serious issues, Madison is deployed to Afghanistan. The war could have devastating consequences for both women.
On the surface My Soldier Too is simply a romance, another of the love at first sight and how do we deal with it stories. It goes beyond the obvious though to deal with more serious matters. Early in the story there is a very realistic assessment of what the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell really means. The issue of the neglect suffered by many veterans is also raised. In the middle, the issues of duty, honor and family relationships are pertinent. Isabella can't understand Madison's sense of duty to the country and Madison fails to understand the power of family ties. The book ends dealing with the impact of war in a very personal way for Madison. The story could have been lengthened to explore each of these and taken the book beyond the realm of romance to explore some important issues. Instead, it leaves the issues hanging, which should cause the reader to contemplate the answers, though that's not necessary in order to enjoy the book.
My Soldier Too is a strong debut novel for Bev Prescott. It has a compelling story taken from the headlines of the newspaper. It will be interesting to see how Prescott develops her style in the future.