The Soldier And The Baby by Anne Stuart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a comfort reread that I completed on my Kindle Text-to-Speech between May 21 and June 8th, 2014.
Anne Stuart is my all time favorite author. Her skill with writing romance is evident in her category Harlequin books as much as her mainstream books that she writes now. She has a way of combining romance with edgy danger and suspense to make the kind of book that a romance fan who loves action, thrillers or suspense can enjoy for equal components. She shows the knowledge of key elements to a scintillating romance story: A compelling hero, a likable and identifiable heroine, a scenario that allows tension to grow and culminate into a lifetime love, and plenty of moments of enjoyable, sigh-worthy scenes between said hero and heroine along the way.
Reilly is the kind of guy you'd want to be stranded in the jungle alongside (if you want that at all). He's the strong silent type, and beneath the rough edges, he is a decent person with a firm moral compass. He's also sexy and strong and appealing in that luscious romance novel hero way. He's got more than enough bad boy appeal (or otherwise this wouldn't be an Anne Stuart book). I pretty much hate being hot and sweaty and dirty, so a jungle doesn't sound fun to me, but I love reading books where the hero and heroine slog together through a jungle because they are so much fun.
Carlie is one of my favorite Stuart heroines. She's actually rather innocent (courtesy of spending nine years in a convent), but also has plenty of emotional scars from the tragedy of her past. She's soft but also strong, and not a pushover that makes a dominant hero like Reilly seem like a bully when he acts all gruff and grumpy. She's taken a lot of licks in her life, but she keeps on ticking.
The chemistry between Reilly and Carlie is electric as it can only be in an Anne Stuart book. Even though the love scenes aren't that descriptive, they feel steamy to me. Because Stuart is so good at building tension. You can feel their attraction (reluctant at first) and the slow slide into love that makes it clear that neither will be able to walk away when they get back to safety.
I had a happy, sappy smile of satisfied romance lover when I finished the book, even though I've read this at least twice before now (probably more).
Timothy, the baby is an integral character. He reveals the vulnerabilities of both characters, and personalizes Reilly as a man who is tough as nails but also can be gentle and caring with an orphaned child.
The scenario is exciting and fun, although more energy is focused on the romance since this is a shorter-length category romance. There is more than enough atmosphere present to buy the sense of risk of being in a war-torn country south of the border.
Although this is from the 90s, it doesn't feel dated, but moreso classic. One of those tried and true romances from that period that I consider a sure thing when I need an escapist romantic pick-me-up.
I am biased in the sense that I am a diehard Anne Stuart fan, but this is definitely one of my all-time favorites by her. Recommended!
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