Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Patricia D. Eddy came into my reading life accidentally. I periodically sign up to read ARCs through a service as a way to find new authors. I receive an ARC copy of a book, and I offer “an honest review” in return. I came to her with her Away from Keyboard series with Ryker and Wren’s book. The way that she created romantic suspense that left me on the edge of my seat whether in the bedroom or in action grabbed me. Even more, her ability to craft a hero who seems so broken that no one can connect with him pulled at my heartstrings. When Wren finally connects with Ryker, I was done. Finito. Eddy had me “hook, line, and sinker.”
Then, she did it again with Dax and Evianna’s story. And again with Ford and Joey’s book. It doesn’t matter if she offers new characters and situations; I gobble her words, usually in one sitting. She has this skill of characterization and storytelling that engages you from the beginning to the end. She crafts moments where your heart is pumping, worried that the hero or heroine won’t make it through the tense, dangerous situation and back into the arms of their soul mate. It’s that fear, that tension, that drives her stories. Underneath it all, you hear the moral: brokenness does not exclude love. While her characters find this bit of truth in extreme situations, this message resonates with her readers: you can be a lot or a little broken and love can still find you, if you’re open to it.
With Fighting for Valor, Eddy’s newest offering, that message is central; it’s explicit. In Ryker, Dax, and Ford’s book, her readers are familiar with Ripper, the com specialist. In the first two books, we believe him dead. Until he isn’t, as we realize in Ford’s book. For six years, Ripper has been held captive and brainwashed into a different identity. He’s been tortured, abused, manipulated, and broken. His memories of himself as Ripper or Jackson Richards are so faint that they come to him quietly in his dreams. One day, he is rescued, and he must find himself again except the years of abuse threaten to derail any future. He meets Cara on the street one night, a woman who holds her own secrets and “brokenness.” Their souls call to each other, and they find comfort together when they cannot find it anywhere else. Unfortunately, Cara’s secret threatens to undermine their burgeoning love. Can Ripper push through his broken pieces to save Cara? That’s the storyline, and it’s a big one.
What sets Fighting for Valor apart from the other books in the series is Ripper’s background. Eddy warns you in her author’s note at the beginning of the book that she has to take the first 12 chapters to provide us Ripper’s story. It’s so well told that you cannot help but fly through it. If you are someone who isn’t a fan of backstory, be forewarned; it’s a big part of Ripper’s book. Personally, I loved it. If you haven’t read any of the other books in the series, you might consider it tedious, but I doubt it. Eddy crafts all of the major feelings through Ripper’s story: horror, anguish, frustration, and worry. Ripper’s story isn’t a pretty one, and it might trigger folks with abuse in their background. But providing us with his story is necessary to see his growth through the story progression.
When he finally meets Cara, he has struggled to make connections even with his “brothers,” Ryker and Dax. He has isolated himself, but Cara’s ability to bring him comfort when no one else can makes her the treasure of this book. I loved that she could “see” Ripper. That she could empathize with him out of her own personal struggles and provide him with ways to begin healing. As a character, Cara is equal parts vulnerable and strong. One minute, she’s cowering and the next she’s ordering Ripper into comfort. I love that her brokenness matched to his makes them complete, and I think it’s the reason that Fighting for Valor is my favorite of the Away from Keyboard series to date. Easily, my favorite. Oh yeah, and there’s a dog in this story. An amazing one. Dogs always make the story a little better.
Eddy’s style is fluid; it’s visceral; it’s real. As I stated earlier, you will finish this book in one sitting if you allow yourself because her storytelling draws you into a world of danger and love. The men of her series love deeply once they allow themselves to, and I think it’s a lesson to all of us that making one’s self vulnerable to be loved brings greater joy than the pain of trauma. Even if you haven’t read the other books in the Away from Keyboard series, you can pick up Fighting for Valor today, and you won’t miss anything. But you would miss out on reading the beauty of Ripper and Cara’s love and the start to their healing as they love each other through their broken pieces. Read Patricia D. Eddy’s newest book, Fighting for Valor.
In love and romance,