Title: Shell Shocked
Authors: Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks
Publisher: Pink Petal Books
Buy Link: Buy Shell Shocked Here!
Rating: You Want to Read
Sean Dempsey came home from Iraq with artificial knees, scorched retinas and a lot of baggage. He supplements his disability checks with money made writing romance novels under a female pseudonym, ironic as he has grown very nervous around women since a certain suicide bomber. When he meets Gabriel Herne, legless phone psychic, the sparks startle him. It's everything he's written about and never believed.
Swept into a whirlwind romance, Sean has to learn about his newfound bisexuality and his lover's pagan faith at the same time. And when he has a religious experience of his own, he discovers everything changes in its time, just like the Wheel of the Year.
Now heavily dependent on his medication, Sean Dempsey is scarred both emotionally and physically when he returns from the war in Iraq. With extensive surgery to his legs behind him, he struggles to cope in NYC, his PSTD often making it difficult for him to go into public. Even sleep doesn't provide sanctuary, as he is plagued by terrible nightmares. Yet, incongruously, he gets by, writing romance novels under a nom de plume. Then he meets Gabriel Herne, a wheelchair-bound phone psychic, and the feelings of attraction are very much mutual.
Overall, this is a well-written, well-told story. While I felt there could have been more conflict (and I kept waiting for some massive try/fail cycle that never happened) I nevertheless found the authors' exploration of Sean and Gabriel's lives together very touching. I liked the realism. The characters are not super-rich. Hell, they don't even drive cars, and they work hard to get by. The fact that love isn't all wine and roses, is also a plus point here. The characters get pissed off with each other and they admit when they're wrong, they're ordinary folk just trying to get by without the false glitter of hyper-realism. Also, there are no miracle cures for Sean, no great epiphanies that shake his world other than the quiet realization of his love for Gabriel. Shell Shocked is a tale sensitively told by two ladies who deliver consistently good-quality prose.