Book Review | “Meant To Be” by Jessica James A military romance

Posted Sunday, 14 June, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to review “Meant to Be” by JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. JKS is the first publicity firm I started working with when I launched Jorie Loves A Story in August, 2013. I am honoured to continue to work with them now as a 2nd Year Book Blogger. I received my complimentary ARC copy of Meant to Be direct from JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On reading military fiction:

I have blogged off and on about my appreciation for military fiction, especially when I have picked up a military-based novel; the stories which still stand out to me the most will be included in a link section below this review. If you visit one of those reviews, I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on those pages as much as seeing your reactions to this review in the comment threads. I definitely encourage commentary on my bookish blog, as conversations are the heart of what makes reading such a wicked awesome adventure! Sharing our thoughts and collectively conversing about topics within the stories is part of the happiness I’ve had throughout my reading life.

One thing that has stood the test of time for me, is how harrowing a life the servicemen and women face each day they are deployed and protecting us back home. They have a self-sacrifice approach to service, whereupon they put the lives of the rest of us ahead of their own. In my own family, I have had great-grandfathers serving in the Civil War and throughout the 20th Century I have had either a grand-parent serving overseas or family members who took up civilian service to help those back home. Including an Auntie who was in the USO and I followed her legacy by giving back to deployed soldiers via Soldiers Angels between 2011 and 2013. I would like to pick up where I left off and become active with Wounded Warrior Project as well as local charities helping veterans.

I appreciate reading the stories writers are giving to us to read where honour, trust, and a truism of voice is being given to the servicemen and women in their narratives. Before I found Jessica James, I became familiar with Jocelyn Green‘s collective works on the Civil War, wherein I decided not to read her novels because of following her blog visits during 2013 and 2014, I noticed the medical bits were a bit too much for me to handle. My admiration for her work did not falter, as she’s a lovely woman to speak too at these online events and showcases. Another author I found in the INSPY world of military fiction is Ronie Kendig, of whom I am hoping to start ILL’ing (inter-library loaning) lateron this year.

Through my own personal readings about the Civil War via the blog tours I’ve been participating in or books which I have sought out on my own — I have a newfound respect for my great-grandfather who took up the courage to fight with the Union Army at a time where he was just starting to settle into life in America. Every family in America has a different immigrant story to share, a different lifepath that might have cross-sected with our American History at war and a new connective thread which starts to unite all of us together. Except of course, for those families of our Native Americans of whom were here before we were.

When I have the opportunity to pick up a narrative set within the historical past or the contemporary world during our current timescape, I appreciate seeing how writers knit the heart of the military into their stories. I don’t have to have a story so full-on in truism to be graphic nor vulgar (i.e. language), but it is nice to see people you can relate too in the novels. To have empathy for what they must face everyday they serve and to see a small fraction of how their lives are affected by their duties. This is one of the motivating reasons I wanted to read Meant To Be; however, the greater reason is because when the publicist at JKS pitched me the book, I felt as if she had not only read my Review Policy to such a level of insight and understanding, but that she knew *exactly!* where my readerly heart lies to travel.

I hand-selected to post my review on Flag Day,
to celebrate the Birthday of the Army,
and the sisterly holiday for our 4th of July!

Book Review | “Meant To Be” by Jessica James A military romanceMeant To Be
by Jessica James
Source: Publicist via JKS Communications

A chance encounter on the beach and a magical 24 hours transported Lauren Cantrell from thoughts of her deployment—and her secret life. She didn’t think she would see Michael “Rad” Radcliffe again—until another chance meeting half a world away reveals that she isn’t the only one with a covert career. Now they must decide: What do you do when the person you most want to protect is the one risking everything to make sure you survive?

From the sandy shores of Ocean City to the rugged terrain of Afghanistan, this transformative tale of romance, espionage, and perseverance takes readers on a spellbinding journey into the covert lives of our nation’s quiet heroes.

Sweeping and timely, it celebrates the dedication of our military, the honor and sacrifice of our soldiers, and a relationship that is tested and sustained by powerful forces of love, courage, and resolve.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Series: For the Love of Country,


Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Military Fiction, Romantic Suspense, War Drama


Published by Patriot Press

on 6th of June, 2015

Pages: 320

Genre(s): Military Romance | Romantic Suspense

Contemporary Rom | Espionage

Published By: Patriots Press

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via Twitter: #Meant2B and #JKSLitPublicity

About Jessica James

JESSICA JAMES is an award-winning author of military fiction and nonfiction, ranging from the Revolutionary War to present day. She is the only two-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and was featured in the book 50 Authors You Should Be Reading (2010). James is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Military Writers Association of America, and Christian Fiction Writers.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Letting go and letting be:

One of the undertones of the story is the simple act of ‘letting go and letting be’, where you can can take a step back from your life and simply enjoy the moment your living inside. For Lauren and Rad, it is almost as if they both had individually forgotten how to simply be themselves outside the world in which they live due to the nature of their careers. Lauren struggled a bit more than Rad, as she nearly felt as if a part of who she was normally was being tested to alter and to step outside the lines of where she felt comfortable to tread. Rad on the other hand was attempting to make something of his time off and do something quite a bit more normal than anything else at all.

It’s a good metaphor for life, to be willing to remain open to the possibilities that might happen within our everyday worlds and how someone can unexpectedly be met whilst we’re not even realising we’re on the fringes of a change encounter. Life has a way of being subtle about the reminders of keeping ourselves grounded and committed to the journey we’re living. There is a time to be on guard and a time to be unguarded but I would think for those who serve (in the military or law enforcement) the lines are blurred and the instincts of their everyday are a bit bent against their jobs and duties therein. In other words, how do you unlearn how to see the world through one pair of eyes and remember how the world looked to you before you began your career!? How do you set the balance!?

My Review of Meant to Be:

A poetic opening scene greets your eyes as Lauren starts to describe the ocean and it’s lulling rhythmic presence in her life. It is such a balm of calm, a keen insight into a presence tucked so close to our shores, and a nod of gratitude to what the sea provides and gives. It’s an introspective opening scene allowing us the grace to meet Lauren in a place where she feels comfortable being herself yet has a bit of a jaded edge to her heart instincts; as she does meet someone quite unexpectedly but pulls back the guarded veil she holds between herself and the world. Understandably so, being she has disclosed she’s not exactly in a career that brokers itself as one where meeting a singleton who she’d be keen on dating would be plausible; but evenso, she’s in her thirties and unwed. Watching Lauren’s internal spirit click into sync with her heart is a strong step towards seeing who Lauren is outside the job which commands her very soul.

The time Lauren spends with Rad on the Maryland shore and boardwalk reminds me of yesteryear a bit, where you could have wicked good fun at hanging out with someone whilst developing a friendship based on laughter and the random bits you get to do whilst at a beach community. I was a pretty intense arcade gamer when I was younger, so watching them go through the arcade brought back some happy memories as much as seeing how they weaved in and out of the boardwalk’s entertainment venues, as who hasn’t gone to see Ripley’s Believe It or Not at least once in their lifetime!? The curiosity alone is enough to warrant the ticket! Laughs.

Rad’s intuitiveness towards Lauren had me think she might catch on to the fact he’s military but she nearly came off as not wanting to yield to her own intuition by not assembling all the pieces together. She definitely wanted to embrace being ‘Lauren’ for once and not have the extra baggage of what ‘Lauren’ does for a living following in her wake. Rad appeared to be ready to find a match but without the freedom to court a woman, therefore he took a chance on Lauren, if only the time they had was short, at least he wouldn’t live with a regret. It’s a waltz of romance, as each of them are struggling to come to terms with their emotions and their thoughts – neither can truly say what is on their mind, but they each are at a crossroads where they have this vacuum of space to ‘simply be’.

There was a fluid transition into the second part of the novel where the wartime angst of Rad’s real reality comes into central focus. So much so, I noticed this is where James has full confidence in telling her stories; she’s very much in-tune and entrenched with what a deployed soldier is going through and what is going through his head at the same time. She’s quite methodical at expressing that bit of time between being in-flight ‘somewhere’ and the start of the next mission. James has a deft hand at shifting a duality of focus between Lauren and Rad in the field; so much so, you get caught up in each of their sections! There is a lot of research fading into the background of what is being used for the backdrop and back-story of what is happening for each of them. For a contemporary war drama, this one feels as though it’s nearly autobiographical.

There are longer expanses of narration where you get to see a closer view into Lauren’s deployed situation inasmuch as Rad’s group of friends who are truly his brothers in comrade. It’s a layering of the story where you are shifting out of a day trapped in time itself at the beach to the realistic reality that each of them is living a role which pits them against the clock of time. It’s a story of hope threaded through love during an arduous time no one thought they’d find someone who understood them. It’s guttingly honest and a powerful testament of how love can truly transcend everything.

Fly in the Ointment:

Although I know most Contemporary Romances have vulgarity inside them, I suppose you could say I am still a bit surprised when I find it. For the most part, I’m quite easy going when it comes to strong language in some regards (although I am sure my regular readers might find that ironic!) but when it comes to finding the super-strong words included in a book — I must admit, it takes me out of the subtext and makes me question why it had to be used. Only a few times (three maybe?) I’ve given a novel a pass on the strength of vulgarity used due to the nature of the story and the intense subject matters contained within the narratives.

In this case, however, it felt more like a regular choice to include the strong bits and that’s a bit sad to me, because the story itself could have stood without them at all. There is a lot of casualness about cursing in today’s literary climate, but it’s just not my cuppa tea. Now in regards to the language the military use on a regular basis, I’ve watched enough military films and known veterans IRL to know the truth of frequency in which these strong words are used. Except to say, even despite knowing that reality of truth, I still appreciate reading a military fiction novel that is not marred by the words themselves.

Some of the dialogue felt a bit weak in certain places too; almost as if the words were a bit lost in the first half of the story. There are some graphic nature sensitivities on the brutality of war in the second half, but after having read Citadel these inclusions did not surprise me.

Jessica James contemporary style for writing military Rom:

James writes from the heart and mindfulness of the human condition, yielding to the in-between place of logic and romance. She grounds her characters in owning their own personality but with a bit of a flawed approach to how to operate inside their lives. They are guarded at first, but James knits in a bit of humanity to how they approach dealing with regular life back on the homefront. Giving them the chances to simply shed who they are ‘elsewhere’ and be themselves for the small fraction of time they have to share together. This is a delicate balance between remaining in control of who they are outside this encounter and attempting to be someone they wish they could own outright all the time.

I felt as if she gave them enough credence of mind to understand how different their lives are whilst on the job and how that life overseas is affecting them when they attempt to come back home. There is a counterbalance to their duties and how they react during their downtime. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A special reminder from the author:

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

MEANT TO BE – June 2015 from Jessica on Vimeo.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

JKS Communications Reviewer Badge

It should be noted I previously have read and reviewed a wide variety of military fiction, including stand-alones and serials. This is only a handful of the military fiction I’ve blogged about and a small fraction of the military fiction I have read overall.

The showcases I hosted include the following:

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Reader Interactive Question:

What kinds of military dramas and stories do you enjoy reading?! Do you wander back into the historical past or do you crave contemporary stories!? Ever try a time slip such as A Fall of Marigolds?

Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

{SOURCES: Book Cover Art for “Meant to Be”, Author Biography, Author Photograph, Book Synopsis for both books, and reviewer badge were provided by JKS Communications and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Comment Box banner made by Jorie in Canva. The book trailer for “Meant to Be” via Jessica James had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel by way of the creature inside it. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 14 June, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, ARC | Galley Copy, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Book Trailer, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Contemporary Romance, Espionage, Fly in the Ointment, Genre-bender, Indie Author, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Military Families of the Deployed, Military Fiction, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Vulgarity in Literature, War Drama, War-time Romance, Warfare & Power Realignment




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