Review: Captured (#2, Wounded) by Jasinda and Jack Wilder

My Thoughts

An intense, irresistibly sexy, deeply heartfelt story about love and loss, about finding the courage to start anew.

5stars

Synopsis

captured cover revisedYou go into combat, you fear death. It’s what keeps you careful, keeps you alive. I’ve faced death more times than I can count. I’ve taken bullets. I’ve taken lives. 

But nothing can prepare me for the soul-crushing terror of being captured. 

***

I married a Marine. I knew the risks. Every time my husband shipped out, I knew there was a chance he wouldn’t come back. But Thomas always did. Always. Then one day two officers in full dress uniform knocked on my door and shattered my world. 

How do you keep going when you lose what made life worth living?

My Review

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of the Wilders and this latest book has become one of my favoritesrife with tumultuous emotion, alive with heart-pounding action and irresistible with an unstoppable chemistry that ignites the pages. Captured, like Wounded, is a thunderous maelstrom of feeling. It’s unabashedly intense as we experience vividly what our hero, Derek, goes through as a Marine in battle, as a POW, and as a broken man who loses his best friend and attempts to return to a life that seems far from normal. Tortured and scarred both emotionally and physically, it’s gut wrenching to go through so many ups and downs with him. In addition, we experience seeing a love interrupted, a future torn apart by a war thousands of miles away. Reagan’s story involves a different kind of torture—a torture of the heart and soul, fraught with guilt and anger and need… with what ifs and shoulds and should nots. This book is all tormented feelings and bleeding hearts and it captured me from the very first page. Absolutely one of the best we’ve seen from the talented Wilder duo.

“Please come home to me… Come home alive. No matter what, you have to come back. I need you.”

The book begins with the juxtaposition of a tear-stained letter, heart poured into words and seared onto paper against the deafening hackhackhackhackhack of an AK47 firing at marines… comrades… friends. When Reagan says goodbye to her husband Tom, again, she wills him to stay, with her words and her heart and a secret, fearing that perhaps this time, Tom may not return. Meanwhile, in the Afghanistan desert, Tom fights the enemy as he’s commanded, trying to dodge bombs and gunfire and have his buddy’s back. The Wilders pen the story in a way that allows the reader to feel these scenes viscerally… the sounds, the location, the feels. I was transported to that hot and hostile place while Tom, Derek and others fought to stay alive. We experience the excruciating, brutal moments in which one Marine takes his last breath and another begins to count them as time passes unrelentlessly, unmercifully at the hands of the enemy. It was intense and heartbreaking to read.

“Tell her… she’s my everything.”

When Derek survived, he thought he shouldn’t have. Thought it shouldn’t have been him that got to see another day, no matter how horrible that day would be. He also made a promise, one that he was determined to keep if he survived as well. And he did. One fateful day, they discovered him, a beaten and broken man, a shell of whom he was. As promised, he marched onto a farm in Texas with fear and resoluteness churning inside, to tell Reagan of Tom’s last words. Derek finds a woman who has been enduring life with the huge weight of responsibility pressing down on her shoulders, alone, without anyone to lean on for help. He, in turn, is without a home and finds himself helping where and when he can. He can’t sit still as his senses and his thoughts are constantly brought back to his time in captivity.

“Hands bring pain. Touch means ache and agony.”

Reagan’s world has been shattered since Tom’s departure, and possibly before that, with every long and hard goodbye. Her sense of self has been defined by responsibility, shaped by loss and loneliness. Years later, when Derek West stumbles onto the property she and Tom had shared, there was a tumult of conflicting feelings… anger and heartbreak and gratitude for this man who survived when her husband hadn’t. Their initial moments together are fraught with so much pent-up emotion, wanting to say things and not saying them… afraid to cross some invisible line as to not hurt the other more than they were already hurting.

Slowly over time, we watch these two people help heal each other as they try to navigate impossible situations. I could feel how confused and uncertain they were about every moment, every word, every touch, no matter if that act was simple or charged with something else. Something that had begun to build between them as weeks flew by. It was a tentative, nerve-racking, guilt-stricken, grasping reach across a chasm they thought they would nevershould never—cross. 

“I’m allowed to move on, right? Or is that a betrayal of my love for Tom, my husband, the father of my sweet, perfect son? I vowed to love and remain faithful to Tom in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Well, death parted us. Now what?”

Through what had happened, they had both lost a sense of who they were. To me, it certainly seemed as if the situation they carefully tread through was one where right and wrong didn’t have a place in the rule book of the unimaginable. Who were they if not a wife, a widow, a Marine, a POW? As old feelings roused to life and shame and confusion engulfed them, they tried desperately to suppress it all. 

“I like the way you make me feel, too. Like I’m a real man again. Like I’m more than just the soldier with scars and PTSD and a sackload of psychological damage. Like I’m more than just the fucked-up ex-P-O-W. Like I’m someone who can do something right. Like I can make you feel good, like I have something to give…. Like I could be someone somebody could – could care about.”

What ensues is a story that is anything but simple. One in which a happily ever after is interminably out of reach. And just when I thought I was soaring in hope and possibility, everything comes crashing down again. I felt as if my heart couldn’t take it anymore as I read this story with so many highs and lows, so full of feeling, so full of things that should never happen to anyone.

“I just keep asking myself, ‘Why can’t I have something for myself, just this once?'”

The writing is superb. The pacing is agonizingly perfect, designed to wrench every feeling from the reader. And of course, because we’re talking about the Wilders, there are moments that are impossibly, searingly sexy, but also so full of feeling. Fans of Wounded will be thrilled to see Hunter and Rania again as part of their story entwines with Derek and Reagan’s, as both sets of people finally find their much deserved happily ever afters.

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Reading Order and Links

Captured can be read as a standalone, but is considered a follow-up to Wounded,
featuring connected characters.

wounded captured cover revised

 

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