WOUNDED HEALER by Donna Fleisher (Homeland Heroes, book 1)
From the back cover:
Flooded with panic, two words burst through Erin's mind: GET HELP. She ran for the door, but someone grabbed her, twisted her arm behind her. Erin's shriek was smothered by a cold, clammy hand.
"Shhh--" Breath tickled her ear--" Just take it easy . . ."
Surrounded by the oppressive sand, heat, and tension of Operation Desert Storm, soldiers Erin Grayson and Christina McIntyre shared a special bond. But when an ugly secret from Chris's past shattered without even a good-bye.
Four years have gone by since that day in the desert, but Chris has spent her entire life running from the past, hiding her deepest secrets from those who care for her most. And now tragedy has ripped apart her life. She sees no hope in tomorrow.
Overcoming her own anger and doubt, Erin rushes to Chris's Colorado cabin. When Chris's fear of God and Erin's faith in him collide, they are involved in a different kind of war that only one of them can win. As Chris wrestles with grief, fear, and ghosts from the past, Erin fights to pull her from the brink of self-destruction. She will not lose Chris again.
Chris's life is at stake…as well as her soul.
This amazing novel starts off with a suspenseful bang, but it's a deeply emotional book on friendship and trust. It's a more unusual women's fiction novel, involving more action than I've seen in other books, but I enjoy that aspect of this.
The writing grabbed me by the throat. Powerful, vibrant, gritty.
Characterization is deep like still waters. Everyone is unique, whether it's the protagonist or someone with only ten pages of screen time. Chris is vividly three-dimensional, strong and memorable. Erin is consistent and markedly different from her friend. I would have liked to see more grit in her, also, but it almost doesn't fit with her softer personality.
The faith element is a major story thread, and it's done with a skilled hand, one of the best I've seen in Christian fiction. Chris's struggles are honest and real.
My biggest objection was the overprotective, hostile nature of Erin's husband. I felt angry and disgusted at how he jumps to conclusions about Chris, which would naturally feed her rebellious nature. But I guess that also means the writer did her job, since I care about Chris and feel strongly about Scott. I also see how the author is setting the scene for the next book in the series, WARRIOR'S HEART, where Chris and Scott are the main protagonists.
It also bothered me how everyone around Erin sympathizes with her and feels sorry about how Chris hurts her. No one even thinks about the underlying issues Chris is dealing with--they all rally around Erin, treat her like the victim, bemoan her loyalty to someone who lashes out at her. Erin cries a LOT. However, my bias could also be because I relate more to Chris--wounded and angry--than Erin, who's had less trials in her life.
The author's experiences in Desert Storm lend authenticity to the flashback settings. I felt as if I were there, in the helicopter, in the barracks.
This is a great story with memorable characters.
WOUNDED HEALER excerpt