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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
When Bailey Barker returns home after twenty-two years as a Trauma Nurse in the U.S. Air Force, it is to try to sort out her late mother’s estate. Imagine her surprise when she finds a world-famous author, her late mother’s lover, living in the estate she has inherited. In The Soldier and The Author, Linda Heavner Gerald takes us inside the world of the wealthy and famous in a small community in rural Alabama. Bailey has been involved in some pretty torrid situations in Afghanistan and other places. After one particular harrowing episode, she discovers she is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS). Despite her mental health issues, Bailey is determined to settle into life as a woman of means on the beautiful estate owned by her mother. She soon discovers that her estranged mother was adored by the people of Fairhope, Alabama, as was her live-in lover, the successful novelist Oliver Greene. From the minute she meets the handsome and suave author, she is immediately attracted to him. Can Bailey settle down to civilian life despite her PTSS and can she possibly live up to the amazing life legacy she discovers that her mother has left to her?
The Soldier and The Author is a story that many can no doubt identify with – the travails of returning home from war and attempting to reintegrate into a world that has moved on without you. Author Linda Heavner Gerald has created two characters in Bailey and Oliver who move in circles well outside of those most of us inhabit. Wealthy and free, they still both harbor baggage from their previous lives that must be dealt with. Oliver’s daughter, Olivia, is obsessed with her father and has been in and out of psychiatric care her entire life. She is a danger that the couple must be wary of. For Bailey, the ever-present problems of living up to her mother’s memory and also coping with her PTSS are a constant battle. Despite their comfortable material conditions, the pair must deal with their demons on a regular basis. This is a comfortable romance that flows through the years seamlessly. The style is fluid and smooth without ever reaching too deeply into the demons that menace the pair. In particular, the love these two participants have for each other comes shining through the narrative. For a comfortable, satisfying read, this will definitely fit the bill.