I really enjoy Jessica Scott’s military romance series, Coming Home, for its unflinching emotional stories about romance in the aftermath of combat. When I found out she was writing a New Adult series, I was hoping for that same emotional impact. I wanted to love it, but it was a bit of a mixed bag for me.
Beth Lamont isn’t like the other college kids in her class. She can’t afford to let go and be young and carefree. Beth has a single minded focus: Get a degree to get a good job so she can afford to take care of her ailing father. She loathes the Army that required her father to sacrifice, the war that injured him and the VA for failing to provide even adequate care of her father afterwards. Beth is a bitter girl because of this and initially balks when her professor asks her to help tutor a former soldier in statistics. However, Beth knows that beggars can’t be choosers when broke and reluctantly accepts the job.
Noah Warren feels like a fish out of water on campus. He might only be a couple of years older than his classmates, but it might as well have been 10 as war has a way of instantly maturing a person. Noah is not at all comfortable about being in school or his ability to succeed because of his lingering PTSD, but he is determined to fulfill the promise he made to his former lieutenant. Yet, when Noah first meets Beth, the clouds scatter and he feels peace for the first time in a long long time.
Even though Beth and Noah have an instant spark, they both have a TON of heavy things going on in each of their lives. Beth doesn’t have time to even have a fling with someone because between her many jobs, she’s busy making sure her dad doesn’t overdose on his pain meds and fighting with the VA for treatment. Noah believes that after all the horrible things he survived through combat, Beth is his reward. He sees that she’s struggling and, while he doesn’t know the true extent her situation, he goes out of his way to try to make life easier for her.
This is another case of where I loved the individual characters but the actual romance fell short. Noah hung all his hopes of recovery on Beth being the key to making his way out of his dark hole. Beth, naturally, was way more gun-shy about getting into a relationship with a former soldier but he lightened her heavy load for the first time in many years. I felt that the secrets they kept from each other were powerful enough to consider the ending more of a HFN than HEA.
I always appreciate that Scott tackles the hard stuff. The hell of Beth’s father’s precarious dance of alcohol and pain meds and Noah’s PTSD anxiety and nightmares are handled with great empathy. At the same time, the heart goes out to Beth who just keeps putting one foot in front of the other in order to make sure all she loves come out on the other end. Though the romance didn’t work for me, it won’t stop Scott from being an auto-buy author for me.
*ARC provided by author
Click to purchase: Amazon
Before I Fall
by Jessica Scott
Release Date: March 3, 2015