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A Journey Home by Angela Scavone
Cover blurb (taken from Amazon): “Air Force Captain Stephanie Tyler’s sole duty is to fly overseas to war torn areas of the world to retrieve and escort the bodies of fallen soldiers back home to the United States. It is a tough and emotional job but she is honored for the privilege. Her duty also helps her to escape her past and her failed marriage. But those flights have become increasingly more dangerous and she is forced to have a partner accompany her. Much to Stephanie’s surprise and dismay, she is partnered up with her ex-husband, Captain Douglas ‘DA’ Aston.
From the moment DA enters the scene, he irritates her. It could have something to do with the fact he slept with her best friend while she and DA were married. As they go on several missions together, Stephanie is forced to be courteous and professional with DA even though the very sight of him irritates her beyond comprehension. Then, Stephanie’s cheating, husband stealing, ex-best friend is killed in Afghanistan and Stephanie and DA must escort her body home. While executing this difficult duty, a myriad of conflicting emotions makes Stephanie ponder how short life really is . . . and to question her own ability to forgive.”
I received a free copy of ‘A Journey Home’ in exchange for an honest review. For more information, please see my review policy page.
What I liked:
What I liked most about this book was the way I felt after reading it. ‘A Journey Home’ made me tear up, but I walked away with a deep sense of sweetness and contentment. Captain Tyler’s job is heart-wrenching, but Scavone manages to write about the topic in a sensitive, enjoyable way. I actually read the entire novel in one sitting- the writing is simple, and that simplicity adds to it’s emotional impact.
‘A Journey Home’ is not a typical “romance novel”. “Romance novel” makes me think of bodice-rippers and torrid affairs. ‘A Journey Home’ is much more of an emotional romance story. This book is very character-driven, and it’s cute, rather than steamy. That’s the word I want to keep going back to: cute. The love story is gentle and very reminiscent of a romantic comedy.
When I first read the book description, I was a little nervous. Escorting fallen military personnel doesn’t seem like an ideal backdrop for a romance story. It would be all too easy to smack readers in the face with the life/love/death interactions. Scavone treads carefully, and swings you from heartbreak to hopefulness without it feeling too heavy-handed.
What I didn’t like:
As a personal preference, I don’t love characters with a jealous streak. Stephanie is a well-written character, and her behavior makes sense with her history, but I found her a little frustrating. Despite DA’s many attempts to discuss their past, Stephanie outright refuses to listen and I find that somewhat hard to sympathize with. It’s not an issue of bad writing, just a personal preference in the characters I relate to.
I’m not sure I’d call this a “dislike” but it’s worth pointing out that it’s hard to find your emotional footing with this book. The characters are frequently called to escort a fallen soldier in the middle of a light-hearted, romantic moment. Just as you relax into the relationship aspect, you’re reminded of the reality going on around them. It was difficult for me to switch gears as often as was necessary.
Would I recommend this book?
Yes, I definitely would.
**Sensitive content warning** This book obviously talks a lot about military procedure, soldiers who are killed in action, and the emotional impact on the families. Scavone’s descriptions are not gory or gruesome at all, but they are emotionally difficult**
**Minor spoilers** There are no explicit sex scenes in this book. As mentioned above, this story is more about the relationship, and the emotions, and less about lust or sex**
I don’t have any experience with the military, so I can’t speak to it’s accuracy in that regard. ‘A Journey Home’ portrays the personal side of the armed forces, and each of Scavone’s characters are shown being thoughtful and caring. My deepest respect goes out to those who have to do Captain Tyler’s job in real life. I cannot imagine how difficult that is.
Let’s talk diversity. ‘A Journey Home’ doesn’t specifically draw attention to anyone’s race or ethnicity. There aren’t a lot of physical character descriptions, so you’re free to imagine them looking however you want. There is some limited discussion about injuries sustained in the line of duty, but we don’t see any of those characters in the story.
From a gender perspective, Scavone does an excellent job of making sure that women are represented at every level. The book includes female captains, co-pilots and secretaries. In the context of the book, these women are treated with equal dignity and respect.
‘A Journey Home’ tugs at your heartstrings, but makes sure that you walk away feeling warm and fuzzy.