Review: It's Always Been You (Coming Home #5) by Jessica Scott

She plays by the rules . . .

Captain Ben Teague is many things: a tough soldier, a loyal friend, and a bona fide smart-ass. He doesn't have much tolerance for BS, which is why he's mad as hell when a trusted colleague and mentor is brought up on charges that can't possibly be true. He's even more frustrated with by-the-book lawyer Major Olivia Hale. But there's something simmering beneath her icy reserve--and Ben just can't resist turning up the heat . . .

. . . and he's determined to break them

The only thing riskier than mixing business with pleasure is enjoying it . . . and Olivia can't resist locking horns--and lips--with Ben. He's got more compassion in his little finger than any commander she's ever met, a fact that makes him a better leader than he realizes. But when the case that brought them together awakens demons from Olivia's past, she will have to choose between following orders--or her heart . . .

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

For this book I do recommend reading the previous one All For You, since the story pretty much starts right after that. The base is cleaning house and fired every commander, which has never been done before. Now new people are put in command and it is up to them to clean up house and get rid of all the bad soldiers. One of those new commanders is Ben Teague, though he actually absolutely does not want the job. His experience with those in charge have always been very rocky and he is afraid to end up like one of those idiots. Ben does not want that kind of responsibility and feels this torn loyalty between his men and the army.

Luckily he does not have to do this on his own. Major Olivia Hale is here to help him and all the other commanders. But when Olivia goes after one of Ben's best friends, tension kind of rises between them. She sees that he does not want this job and is afraid he's just another commander wanting to protect his men, instead of the real victims. Escoberra hit his daughter with the girl needing to go to the hospital, so Olivia is on a mission to get him away from his family. While Ben is convinced his friend would never hurt his daughter.

There are of course other cases, but this one is very near to her heart. In the past she wasn't able to protect someone, but know she will do whatever it takes. Even if this means going over Ben's head. Though seeing the pain in his eyes and the kind heart he has for his men, she might give him the benefit of the doubt.

Slowly Ben gets used to the role of commander. He might not like it, but he will do what must be done. Knowing he can not fix everything, he does what he can to make things better. This mostly means calling on Olivia for advice, since that is her job and well he might like her a bit. When tentatively they give in to each other, their days definitely end better. Ben knows Olivia is holding back some secrets, which he can understand. When she puts up these high walls and pushes him away, that is the straw for Ben. He has been in that same kind of situation and he won't repeat it.

The focus this time was way less on the romance and more on the legal side. Which I found unfortunate. Those legal issues sometimes got a bit too technical to follow really well as a novice and I had trouble understanding them. I could follow it largely, but then it got a bit too boring.

I did like the personal growth Ben and Olivia had to go through before they would be able to work it out. Ben is growing in his role of commander and letting go off his resentment towards the position. While Olivia had to learn that the world isn't black and white, letting go of her past will help her future.

It was once again very well written. A lot of attention to details, though in this case maybe a bit too technical. Ben and Olivia were very interesting characters. I love how real and everyday people they are, making it so much easier to connect with. The romance was a bit lacking for me, but that just made the moments between Ben and Olivia even more sweeter.

3.5 stars

Coming Home - Reading order and purchase links



The Author
USA TODAY Bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and is currently a company commander stationed at Fort Hood.

Most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.

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