Happy release day to you, Jessica Scott!
All for You is all that I expected for Reza and Emily, and so much more. Ever since I read the very first of Jessica Scott’s Coming Home series, there has been something wholly compelling about the character of Reza Iaconelli. Deep, dark pain hinted at under the surface of this troubled soldier said to me his was a story that just had to be heard. Wow, and what a story it was!
As part of the release day celebrations, I’ve also got an excerpt from All for You, courtesy of the lovely people at Grand Central Publishing. They are also sponsoring not one but two giveaways, and you will find the links at the foot of the review.
So, why don’t you tell us what All for You is about?
Stay sober. Get deployed. Lead his platoon. Those are the only things that matter to Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli. What he wants is for everyone to stay out of his way; what he gets is Captain Emily Lindberg telling him how to deal with his men. Fort Hood’s newest shrink is smart as a whip and sexy as hell. She’s also full of questions-about the army, its soldiers, and the agony etched on Reza’s body and soul.
. . . open his heart to love?
Emily has devoted her life to giving soldiers the care they need-and deserve. Little does she know that means facing down the fierce wall of muscle that is Sergeant Iaconelli like it’s just another day at the office. When Reza agrees to help her understand what makes a soldier tick, she’s thrilled. Too bad it doesn’t help her unravel the sexy warrior in front of her who stokes her desire and touches a part of her she thought long dead. He’s the man who thinks combat is the only escape from the demons that haunt him. The man who needs her most of all . . .
My thoughts on All for You:
As I said in a tweet shortly after I finished All for You, this was not an easy read. There were moments where I shed tears, where my breath was stolen, where it felt like my heart ached. By no means is it all darkness and shadows and endless sorrow either – Jessica Scott has a wonderful knack of balancing the stark realities of military life with well-timed moments of humour.
Reza could have become one of the statistics. Struggling with the memories of his past and the ever-present spectre of his alcoholism, he’s barely keeping his shit together. The Army has been both the creator of his warrior identity and the source of his greatest pain. I think it was his imperfections and actions in previous books that made me so keen to read his story. Beneath all that, I could see a real humanity and a tremendous sense of loyalty to those close to him.
Thank you, Jessica for giving Reza a heroine like Emily. Smart, curious, giving, not willing to let him destroy himself or her. I love that even in dark moments, she wanted to simply be there and get through it with him, no matter how long it took. The attraction between Reza and Emily is evident from the moment they first cross paths, and their physical and emotional chemistry is incredibly intense.
All for You is a beautifully written contemporary military romance, however that is only one of its strengths. It shows the other side of war – the human cost, downrange and back home. Even if you weren’t aware of Jessica’s own experiences with deployment and the military, it is patently obvious that she writes from a place that is very real.
Sometimes when I am anticipating a story for a character like I was with Reza’s, it can be a little anti-climactic when I get there. Not this time. All for You is all that I expected for Reza and Emily, and so much more.
I could give All for You nothing other than 5 out of 5.
Here’s a little peek into the story:
Emily watched her friend weave through the crowd of broad-shouldered Cavalrymen and toward the captain. Alone at the bar, Emily twirled her wine in the glass, staring into the swirling pale golden liquid.
She sipped her wine and glanced around the wide open space, feeling the warmth. She was comfortable in this place. A drink after work. A good friend. This was a good life. It was simple. It had purpose. So much better than the complicated mess she’d left behind.
She lifted her glass, savoring the freedom of her rebellion. She might not fit into her uniform just right but she fit here among these soldiers better than she’d ever fit back home.
She saw Olivia gyrating slowly with the captain across the dance floor. Her friend’s movements were slow and sensual, a sultry undulation that spoke of power and of sex. She smiled at her friend’s pleasure. It was enough that Emily could enjoy another’s happiness. She’d come here tonight to relax, to help Olivia celebrate.
“You don’t come here often, do you?”
Emily glanced at the man who’d appeared at her shoulder. He’d been standing with the group of captains that Olivia had just infiltrated.
“Not really,” she said, sipping her drink. She thought about easing away, putting space between where their upper arms touched.
Personal space much? she thought.
“Are you here with friends?” he asked. She caught a heavy scent of beer from his direction, beer mixed with cigar smoke. It was not unpleasant.
She glanced over at Olivia. “Yeah.”
“Not up for company?”
She smiled and finally glanced back at him. “Not really. Thank you though.”
He brushed the tip of his hat with two fingers. “My pleasure, ma’am.”
He swaggered off, leaving her alone at the bar. That had been nice. Too bad she wasn’t interested. Once upon a time, she might have danced but there was something missing from the way he’d carried himself.
He was missing that power that Sergeant Iaconelli wore like it was second nature.
She shook her head and took a long sip of her wine. She’d done nothing but argue with the man but now she was thinking about him in a way that was purely unprofessional.
The heavy iron door swung open at that moment and Emily’s breath caught in her throat.
“Speak of the devil,” she muttered.
Reza Iaconelli stood in the doorway, his gaze scanning the room as though he was taking a headcount. What was it about the man that he was always walking through doors at the wrong time? And this time, his gaze swept the bar and landed directly on her.
His eyes lit up, his mouth flattened. Just a faint flicker, but it was enough to tell her he’d recognized her.
And the familiar hostility was gone.
Her mouth went dry and she took another sip. He wasn’t going to come over. It was going to be fine.
They would keep the rampant hostility and no lines would be blurred.
It would be fine, right?
Except that he was now coming over. Weaving through the crowd, his Stetson adding to his height.
What the hell was she supposed to do about that? The closer he got, the more her stomach flipped beneath her ribs.
She was too tired to fight. And the alcohol would probably allow her to say something that she’d regret come Monday.
His clean white shirt accented his shoulders and made his skin look darker, more appealing. His face was shadowed by the brim of the Stetson.
He was there. A short space separated them. He radiated something—a power.
She was doomed.
So let me tell you about Jessica Scott:
USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs; wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well-adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.
She’s written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas. She’s pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine‘s Americans of the Year for 2012.
Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book by Forever Yours, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.