I probably say this every time I review one of Jessica Scott’s books, but bear with me as I say it again: If you haven’t read any of the books in the Coming Home series, you should. These glimpses into the lives and loves of returned soldiers pull no punches – showing both the lows and the highs they experience after they come home. This time around, in It’s Always Been You, we get to explore the relationship between Capt. Ben Teague, a reluctant leader of men and Major Olivia Hale, a lawyer determined to do things by the book.
As part of the book tour, I’ve also got an excerpt from It’s Always Been You, courtesy of the lovely people at Grand Central Publishing, and another fantastic giveaway.
So, why don’t you tell us what It’s Always Been You is about?
Captain Ben Teague is many things: a tough soldier, a loyal friend, and a bona fide smart-ass. He doesn’t have much tolerance for BS, which is why he’s mad as hell when a trusted colleague and mentor is brought up on charges that can’t possibly be true. He’s even more frustrated with by-the-book lawyer Major Olivia Hale. But there’s something simmering beneath her icy reserve-and Ben just can’t resist turning up the heat . . .. . . and he’s determined to break themThe only thing riskier than mixing business with pleasure is enjoying it . . . and Olivia can’t resist locking horns-and lips-with Ben. He’s got more compassion in his little finger than any commander she’s ever met, a fact that makes him a better leader than he realizes. But when the case that brought them together awakens demons from Olivia’s past, she will have to choose between following orders-or her heart . . .
My thoughts on It’s Always Been You:
On the surface of things, you wouldn’t really put Ben and Olivia together as a couple – Ben lives more on instinct and gut, and Olivia’s mindset is to do everything by the book. However, beneath that surface, both share soul deep scars – pasts that have helped shape their present. When you read about what their pasts have given them, it’s pretty clear to see why they are as they are.
The love story between Ben and Olivia was both sweet and bittersweet. Their attraction was unexpected, but no less intense. But you can easily see that their differences could make it very difficult for them to get to their happy ending.
I’m not going to give too much away, because I honestly think you need to read this and the others that come before and after it. It’s Always Been You has everything that I love about Jessica Scott’s work – strong yet fallible heroes and heroines, dialogue you can imagine actually happening, humour and, as always, wonderfully written secondary characters. I’m very much intrigued by Ben’s First Sergeant, Gale Sorren. His cool, calm exterior definitely masks something darker, a deeper hurt. There are hints given in this book as to his story and the struggles he is up against. It will be compelling reading indeed when Jessica gives us his story.
P.S. Boy, I hope that Capt. Marshall gets every thing that is coming to him and more – he’s a solid-gold bastard.
P.P.S. I’m still trying to picture a grown man wearing a NKOTB trucker hat. Had to have a giggle at that visual.
I give It’s Always Been You 4.5 out of 5.
Here’s a little peek into the story:
“You don’t like being in command, do you, Ben?” she whispered. The air was thick between them, heavy with unsaid things.
He shook his head. “It’s too much responsibility for other people’s problems. I’m not qualified to judge someone else’s screw ups,” he said.
He shifted so he could face her, his body angled toward hers. A shadow partially concealed his face, casting it in hard lines and a dozen shades of grey.
“You’re not supposed to be perfect to be a leader,” she whispered. Her voice cracked, hung on the tension in her neck from sitting a little too close.
Silence filled the space between them. Heavy and warm and crackling with latent energy.
He licked his bottom lip, his gaze locked with hers. “I don’t want to be either,” he said. His voice was a husky whisper filled with need.
Her breath caught in her throat. A hesitant movement. A breath closer. This was monumentally stupid. Infinitely so.
And yet she parted her lips, her entire body trembling in anticipation of the faintest touch of his. He was there, just there. A breath separated them. Nothing more.
It was a hesitant kiss. A light, teasing brush of his top lip against hers. Her breath mingled with his, threading between them and urging her closer. She met his eyes, waiting. Wanting. Needing more of this deeply sensual man who made her feel so many writhing, hungry things.
It was forever before either of them moved. Her breath was locked in her throat. Then she felt it. His palm slid over her cheek, his fingers rough on her skin. Warmth penetrated her, wound its way over the surface to slide beneath her skin and stroke something long dormant to life.
Need. It was need that made her lean toward him. Need that made her part her lips and trace his mouth with her tongue. Need that made her nip his bottom lip and thread her fingers in the short hair on the back of his neck.
Need that made her gasp in pleasure as his tongue slid against hers, twining in that sensuous dance that brought her blood to life. Heat pounded between her thighs, an aching, pulsing want that scorched her like nothing she’d ever felt.
She gave herself over to the sensation, to the pleasure of his touch. Knowing it was a mistake and far past caring as her breath finally released, mixing with the heated strokes of his tongue.
She eased back after a moment, before she did something monumentally stupid, like crawling into his lap in broad daylight.
“We really should talk about those legal packets,” she said against his mouth.
His smile was unexpected. “Wow, you are hell on a man’s ego,” he said.
The laugh caught her off guard and she rested her forehead against his as she struggled to regain her composure. Something opened against her heart, something unexpected and warm.
For a brief moment, it was tempting to throw caution to the curb, to nuzzle his mouth with hers, to absorb his taste andwarmth.
And then reality kicked in.
“We really should head back. We’ve got that meeting in two hours,” she said.
He smiled. “Always responsible and focused.”
He brushed his thumb over her lip as he said it. This was something nice.
It was going to be an interesting legal briefing, that was for damn sure.
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 in return for an honest review.