Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ++
Make no mistake. Jolie Vines is my favorite new author (to me) this year. It’s been a pleasure to watch her grow as a writer as she unearths these amazing stories from her soul. With her Marry the Scots series and the standalone, Race for You, I’ve found myself gorging on her storytelling. I was surprised when she released Fight for Us. It seemed against “brand” so to speak. However, given my love for her storytelling, I had no qualms in reading it. Sadly, I had hoped to read it before her release date, so my review would hit the day of her release. However, I had been encased in a mountain of ARCs with earlier deadlines. So…I finally found a day to read this book, and, from its beginning, she had me. Heart, mind, and soul, this book grabbed me and threw my emotions around like the military throwing around grenades.
Fight for Us is a romantic suspense. She tells us in her acknowledgements that it’s her first one. If that’s the case, then she should write more of them. I will say that there are a few moments where the “suspense” part of the storytelling lost some steam, specifically towards it’s falling action. There were a few moments that found me a bit befuddled, and I had to re-read sections to understand the motivations of the actions of some of the characters. However, the moment I began reading this story, I couldn’t put it down. I began it late in the evening, and I had a commitment the next day that detained me from continuing my read of it until later in the day. Throughout my commitment, the story sat in my soul, as I wanted, no I needed, to find out the resolution of Nate and Kathryn’s “Kit” story. When I finished my errand, I ran home quickly and threw myself back into their story, never leaving it until its conclusion. That is the pull of Fight for Us.
Vines’s romance is an epic tale of second chances, resurrection, and eternal true love. It’s a sweeping tale of two people who meet as children, fall apart as college students, and find each other in the end. It’s ultimately a story that reminds us that when all seems lost forever, there is always a way back to each other if love sits at the core of it all.
Nate and Kit have loved each other since they were kids. Promised to each other in their teens, life seems wonderful for them. Until it’s not. Nate’s father, who acts as a father figure to Kit too, is killed. Nate enters the military with the sole purpose to exact revenge on the terrorist who killed his father. In doing so, he leaves Kit behind without explanation. After six long years, he’s close to fulfilling his goal, except he’s caught and brought back to the states by the military. The military uses Kit to bring him in, and he begins to remember his love for her, a love that he had pushed down because he knows his goal of revenge will keep them from each other forever. Kit decides to help Nate with his plan, given that he is being held on a military base. As they journey to his end, they find themselves embroiled once again in their immense feelings for each other. Will Nate walk away from Kit again? Will Kit fight for their relationship? Can these two find a future together as they had planned when they were younger?
As I’ve mentioned in other reviews of Jolie Vines’s work, one of my favorite attributes of her storytelling is her craftsmanship of her heroes. In every book, her hero holds an undying love for the heroine. Whether he is a Scotsman, an Englishman, an Italian, or a military hero, a Vines hero adores, admires, and lives his entire life for the heroine. Nate is no different in Fight for Us. His entire being is devoted to two things: Kit and his revenge for his father. With these two goals, he’s torn. To love Kit requires him to potentially forget his revenge, except that Kit would also lose respect for him. He’s flawed, he’s torn, and there doesn’t seem like there is a solution to their quandary for much of Vine’s story. Sitting in that tension feels glorious. I love big feelings while reading romance, and Vines’s characterization of Nate grants that. She crafts him as this uber-masculine hero with a soft heart. In fact, my favorite part of him is his emotionality. He feels more than her heroine, Kit.
Now, Kit is the type of heroine you want to be. She is strength personified. Nate relies upon her to be stalwart, as his emotions sway his judgment. When he wants to forgo his plan of revenge, it’s Kit’s sense of justice that leads him forward. As a reader, that can be a hard pill to swallow as you want the happy ending for these two. Yet, serving justice seems like a bigger priority in this story. Even more, through Kit’s characterization, Vines allows us to consider the double-standard that complicates male-female interactions in the military (and life). Kit becomes annoyed with Nate when it appears that he doesn’t take her credentials and skills seriously. Through her inner dialogue, we’re reminded of the ways that men underestimate the ability for women to solve problems. While Kit isn’t the ultimate resolution to the problem of this story, she plays an important part in it. I think Kit’s consideration of this problem underscores the trouble with women and agency in problem-solving.
As her first romantic suspense, this reader found herself glued to the story. Vines inscribes so many twists and turns that it takes a bit to figure out her endgame. She hides it well for much of the book, but she reveals it incrementally, guiding you through to the end. As I said earlier in this review, it’s some of those turns that confused me. For a first romantic suspense, I thought she did it well, although it felt like it dropped off quickly towards the end when Nate and Kit’s reconciliation and profession of forever became the first order of business for the story. Obviously, we are used to Vines’s romance, so this is forgivable. However, I’d love for Vines to write more of this. Maybe we might see a story with Cody and Sawyer in the future? This reader can only hope.
I will state this loud and proud: this reader is a HUGE Jolie Vines fan. As Vines ventures into other tropes, it’s exciting to see how she maintains her voice. I think we know that her heroes will revere her heroines, and I find peace in knowing that I don’t have to worry about a cheating hero or one who blurs the lines of fidelity in her stories. I love when a writer knows who he or she is. There is an attribute of this book that seemed against “brand” for Vines: this is, by my estimation, her steamiest romance read. It was titillating and exciting and not very Vines-like. And I appreciate her break from her usual. It shows an author in growth, someone willing to try on new tropes and twists. In the end, if you’re a romantic suspense fan, then Fight for Us should be a read on your Kindle. I think, in the end, you’ll thank me for it.
In love and romance,