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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
In Losing My Breath by J Rose Black, former Marine Callan Brand was the eyes and ears of his building. He knew what to keep watch for and who to interrogate. When Meridian Daly moves into the building right across the hall from him, Callan tries hard not to engage with the new tenant who had walked through the rain with no umbrella. Soaking wet, Meridian introduces herself to Callan but he rudely retreats into his own apartment. At the building's gym, he gives advice on everything she is doing wrong in her workouts, much to her chagrin. But when a stalker colleague follows Meridian home and tries to rape her, Callan leaps into action and leaves the assailant beaten and bloodied in the hall. Meridian and Callan become inseparable from that moment, but Meridian wants a future with Callan whereas he only sees a bleak emptiness in his own. It soon becomes apparent to Meridian that the man she has fallen for suffers from PTSD. He'd been a sniper, had seen his own friend die, and lost his family while he was in combat. Meridian tells him she loves him but he cannot bring himself to say the words, convinced they will get her killed. Upon finding out Meridian is pregnant, he panics and flees to the cemetery.
It is very rare to read a love story that does not have a rinse-and-repeat cycle, but Losing My Breath is far from the normal romantic tale. Putting a washed-up war vet into the same circle as a picture-perfect beauty queen and shoving them into any sort of a future seems far-fetched. With one used to assuming the role of helper and the other having been used up by all the wrong men in her life, the humor quickly comes alive and keeps the reader engrossed in what will come next. This is definitely a love-and-hate marathon between the two until the war vet actually sees the daily struggle for the woman with the so-called perfect life. The moment his PTSD is seen for what it is, however, instead of her running for the hills, she is by his side every step of the way through the good and the bad. The reality within the pages of J Rose Black's perfectly penned novel shows that there is a light at the end of the darkest of days if you are willing to put in the effort to overcome them. I wholeheartedly recommend Losing My Breath to all readers who like their finer romance novels to coincide with both drama and mystery.