Cheryl Wyatt's latest novel, A Soldier's Devotion, starts off with a van-motorcycle wreck, promising action and tension from the very first sentence. In the sixth story of the Wings of Refuge series published by Love Inspired Books, the most cynical and crusty member of the Pararescue Jumpers is featured. Vince Reardon has already shown himself to be antagonistic to God, church, and Christians. He's a hard-drinking, sarcastic, biker dude who likes easy women and parties hard. Ironically, though, Vince is totally dedicated to his special ops team and their rescue work, belying a tender heart underneath all that grump and gruffness. He bemoans the fact that more and more of his team members are going "over to the enemy" by becoming Christian, yet he has a high level of respect for all these guys. His team members understand him better than he supposes: they know he has some deep hurts that have turned him bitter and hard.
Enter Valerie Russo, the van-wielding attorney who makes a bad--and painful--first impression on Vince. She believes God has brought her across his path for a purpose, in spite of the bad beginning, and she is determined to get through to him. So begins a battle of wills and stubbornness, with occasional misunderstandings alons the way.
Vince is the toughest of the team addressed so far, but as the story unfolds we learn what made him the way he is; the hardships of his life have served to both toughen him for his job and to insulate him from human contact. He cares for others, as he shows with the teens, but he is afraid to open up with peers.
In a secondary story, a group of at-risk teenagers are introduced. They serve to bring Val and Vince together, but through them a serious social issue is addressed. This time it's abuse. Each one of Cheryl's books has included some issue like this, real issues that teens and adults deal with every day.
Cheryl Wyatt has a strong grasp on scripture and what it means to live as a follower of Jesus, and once again it shines through her writing. Her Christian characters live their faith in their daily lives; this is what makes a difference in each of her stories. Two of the guys have been praying for Vince for five years; patiently being real in front of him and not pouncing. There is an understanding here about things happening in God's time and in God's way.
While A Soldier's Devotion is a part of a series, it definitely can stand alone. The characters from other books walk in and out of the story, but each novel is independent. It is a romance novel, so certain developments are fairly obvious from the beginning, but it still has nuances, turns, and humor that make it lively. Teens (at least 14 or so, anyway) will enjoy it as well as adults.
The way Love Inspired Books work, this will only be on shelves until the end of January in many stores. I found it at a large Kroger Store; I found Cheryl's other books at Target, Meijer's and Walmart. But since I got this review up so late, you can get it online after January ends at such sites as amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and christianbook.com.
- Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Steeple Hill (June 1, 2009)
- ISBN-10: 0373875320
- ISBN-13: 978-0373875320