Just released from the military, wounded warrior Eric Tremaine is trying to put his life back together like the doctors reassembled his shattered leg. He’s a man with no home, since his Louisiana family rejected him, so Eric winds up in Texas with his old Army buddy, Adam Winchester, and his lover, Sage.
When Eric decides to stop sitting on his ass feeling sorry for himself, he is introduced to trainer Troy Daniels, who lost both his legs in a teenage accident. Troy knows what it’s like to feel as if your body is your enemy. While Eric and Troy have a bumpy start, they soon find enough common ground to make a friendship, if not more. But taking it to the next level means finding out what they have to offer each other, and the world, before they can trust that the love they find together won’t cause more pain than pleasure.
Despite the fact that scenes within this book nearly gave me a heart attack more than once, Tortuga has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Her writing is smooth, her characters are authentic, and the love between them is beautiful. The Articles of Release was no exception and I found myself falling in love with Eric and Troy – even as I wanted to throttle Troy on several occasions. His siblings were lucky he was the baby because had he been the firstborn, at least half that brood wouldn’t have been born.
Tortuga wastes no time in getting to the meat of the story with Eric’s introduction. In a matter of pages we learn that this career-military man suffered a life-changing injury, his family turned their back on him when they learned he was gay, and he has only one person he THINKS he can call on for help as he transitions from the military to civilian life. Fortunately that person is Adam Winchester and Adam doesn’t even hesitate to offer his and Sage’s help and home to Eric. This not only gives fans of the series a chance to catch up with the pocket cowboy and his husband, but Sage’s own physical condition puts Eric at ease because Sage and Adam understand him in ways most people cannot. It’s also beneficial because Sage is able to introduce Eric to his personal trainer, Troy, who is helping him recover from the knee surgeries. And while Eric makes a complete and utter arse of himself during their first meeting, Troy gives Eric a second chance while he himself is recuperating from an injury. As the two men take down their walls and get to know one another, their initial antagonism fades rather quickly and the sparks begin to fly. But when Troy’s tendency for reckless behaviors puts him in harm’s way more than once, Eric has to decide whether or not he can live with the risk of loving an adrenaline junkie.
I loved this book. Thanks to some socially influential people of this decade, the injuries that service men and women suffer while protecting our country have been celebrated (for lack of a better term on my part). While this doesn’t make it any easier physically for the person who suffered the injury, I believe that at least some of the social stigma that was once attached to prosthetics and burns has been lessened. In The Articles of Release, Tortuga takes it one step further by not only addressing the injuries sustained by veterans, but also those of the civilian population as it is Troy who uses prosthetics due to an accident that occurred in his teens. With both of our main characters in this novel living with injuries that changed their lives, we get to see how their day-to-day activities are affected, how their relationships are affected, and how their sense of self is affected. For me, this proved to be quite an emotional read and I found myself holding back the tears more than once. But Tortuga doesn’t allow her characters to wallow for long and uses humor to break the tension within a scene several times. The chemistry between Troy and Eric was palpable and I adored that the men could be both affectionate and raw – depending upon what their partner needed. The airport scene broke my freaking heart because I was at a total loss of how that was going to play out and I thought it was a perfect ending for the couple. I look forward to more books in the series and am hopeful that we’ll get to catch up with Sage and Adam, and Troy and Eric in the next installment because I’d love to see how they’re all faring.