The first three thoughts that spring to mind having finished Battle Scars: Triumph over adversity. Unconditional love. Adorable Furbabies.
Ray McKenna is a Iraq war veteran struggling to adjust to civilian life and her PTSD diagnosis, which forces her to live a reclusive lifestyle with only her therapist, and service dog Jagger for company. Carly Warner on the other hand is a busy veterinarian with hopes of owning her own business one day. But despite her outward success, inside she’s heartbroken after the tragic death of her wife and unborn child. The prospect of ever giving her heart to another seems remote, and she certainly didn’t plan on falling in love with a straight, wounded soldier…no matter how damn hot they are.
I liked that Battle Scars focuses less on the ‘action’ aspect of Ray’s time in the military and more on the mental and emotional toil it has taken on her. The telling of her hostage experience and the unwanted attention it attracted is heartbreaking, and her struggle to transition back into society is depicted in what I can only imagine is a very realistic manner.
I loved that the author chose to utilise the power of an animals unconditional love to help those who face daily challenges. The bond between Ray and Jagger is beautiful, and the understanding that Jagger has of Ray’s needs is intelligent and caring. This bond continues to expand out to Jagger’s interactions with Carly and her dog Jake, and between them they become quite a foursome.
I also enjoyed that for Ray’s character this is very much an awakening of her sexuality, and given the context of the rest of the story it has been well portrayed – adding to the overall plot rather than detracting from it. The same goes for the supporting characters such as Ray’s therapist, and Carly’s best friend Leeann. The circle surrounding Ray and Carly is kept small and the story benefits because of this – focusing solely on their growth as individuals and their coming together as a romantic couple.
Whilst the main plot is very much about overcoming past trauma and finding the courage to trust and share deep vulnerabilities, there’s also a sense of hope and encouragement for those who do face challenges in life. A loving reminder that we all can and will find love, care, and understanding from fellow humans and furbabies alike!
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