Both these people avoid relationships with coworkers for a variety of reasons so when sparks fly between Claire and the handsome company commander, she shelves her hard and fast rule…for a moment:
Her mouth opened beneath his, her tongue sliding against his, signaling a salient desire that penetrated his defenses and made him no longer care that she was in his brigade. There were no rules against them doing any of this—whatever this was—but he didn’t date at work. As he lost himself in her taste and touch, he seriously reconsidered that personal rule. He captured her quite gasp against his mouth and felt the locks turning on the chains that held his restraint.
It was a long moment before Claire eased back, nibbling on his bottom lip before she broke the tentative connection between them.
“What was that?” he asked, his voice rough and unfamiliar to his own ears.
She smiled. “A mistake.” She swiped her thumb over his bottom lip. “But one I enjoyed.”
Fast-forward to Late 2008 and Claire is freezing her patuties off in Colorado Springs, Colorado where she had been ordered on a mission by her brigade commander to train a company of combat-inexperienced soldiers to ready them for deployment to Iraq. After three deployments Claire is well aware of what is facing the company commander who happens to be Sarah, her oldest friend.
Complicating matters is that Evan is the officer in charge assigned to the training mission and he and Claire now have a long and muddy history of butting heads when deployed. As he laments Claire is:
A woman who ate napalm and pissed razor wire and inspired Evan to want to throttle her every time they were in the same room together.
Basically there is a ying and yang thing going on with Claire and Evan, particularly with regard to their handling of combat situations , however the simmering sexual attraction ignited on that long ago night remains.
Also in attendance is Claire’s best friend and longtime NCO teammate Sergeant First Class Renza Iaconelli, who she adores like a brother. Iaconelli is a battle-honed respected warrior. Unfortunately he is also a known womanizer and drowns his demons in booze. Claire is fiercely protective of her friend and has covered for his extra curricular activities on more then one occasion. Claire and Evan’s confrontational rapport is amplified by her need to cover for Iaconelli’s escalating alcohol related incidents. I thought author Jessica Scott was very clever in this regard as while Claire and Renza’s relationship is purely platonic there is a triangle established due to her need to protect him at all costs which affects her budding relationship with Evan.
In the background of a time sensitive mission that is thwarted by unrealistic limitations imposed by the brass, as well as numerous other problems, Evan or “Captain America” and Claire finally give in and enjoy an intimate relationship. Until There Was You has love scenes with what I would describe as light sexuality. However, above noted conflicts are coupled with painful personal histories that have made Evan and Claire into people that have self-imposed barriers regarding establishing emotional connections. While they are certainly opposites, in many ways I saw them has having a lot in common and they are both tormented and lonely.
I did get bit mired in the military jargon and found some of the information regarding the mission confusing and slow. I really liked how Scott shaped Claire and Evan’s backgrounds that significantly impacted and shaped their personas outside of their combat experience. Certainly the author realistically depicts what its like to be a soldier deployed in a region marred by war, then decompressing when coming home after such a harrowing experience extremely well, but who better than a career Army officer to lend realism to her characters and share life as a soldier with us? I also loved the dry wit embedded in the story’s intelligent dialogue. I felt for Evan and Claire and wanted to see them overcome their issues and be happy together.
I haven’t read Scott’s first book Because of You and am looking forward to the read very much. While these books are part of a series, I had no difficulty reading Until There Was You as a standalone.