This was both an amazing book and a hard read. It is also especially timely given that the war in Iraq is just now over and troops are coming home. Plus we still have so many men and women fighting in Afghanistan. This is, above all, a story of 4 members of a Marine platoon in Iraq. Half of the men are het and the other 2 are gay. It takes place briefly at the end of their tour and the rest of the book concerns their lives once they get home. These are not men that came home and seamlessly melded back into society, in fact I am not sure anyone who has served can ever do that. Perhaps some just put on better fronts than others. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the Marines as well as including the pov of a young reporter and illegal alien. In other hands that could have become confusing and off putting. But once again, Sarah Black demonstrated her knowledge and love of those in pain, those who served, and those so easily tossed away by society. She had me in tears for than once.
The men return from a hard desert overseas to the heat and unforgiving landscape of the border lands of the Southwest. You can almost feel the heat beating down on you and the dust start to coat your skin as you delve into the story. Those who people this land are equally hard and hard up. From the constant tension of the border patrol looking for drug smugglers as well as “walkers” (illegals) to the desolation and poverty of a Indian reservation, it is all captured here. The people here are memorable and heartbreaking.
One of the issues I hear when reading blogs or reviews is the subject of het sex in a book advertised as m/m. Some won’t read a book if het sex is included, sometimes they aren’t even reviewed, as the feeling is that het sex does not belong in a m/m romance. Perhaps. But while this book does include sex of both the gay and straight variety, it needs to because of the sexual makeup of the Marines featured here. To include one and not the other would do a disservice to those she is depicting. One hetero relationship is the salvation of one of the Marines and is central to his story as much as the relationship of the two gay Marines. Please don’t let this deter you from reading this book.
If you pick up this book looking for your typical m/m romance you will be disappointed. It is the story of four Devil Dogs and the friends and family around them. There is romantic love here but it is not for the fainthearted. It is hard won, stressful, deep love. Love for their country, of each other, their mates…..all that is complex, excruciating, and worthwhile. And that is how I feel about this book. Drained but finally rewarded at the end. I gave this 5 stars.
Border Roads from Loose id published in 2007: Here is the blurb from Loose id:
Genre: LGBT Erotic ContemporaryThe road home from Iraq leads to America’s Borderlands, harsh desert lands ruled over by smugglers and drug runners. Marines cannot help but serve, standing tall in dangerous lands to protect the people and the country they love.Clayton and Luke walk the border roads together, trying to recapture a love that was almost destroyed by pride and anger. Chris finds love and salvation with a lost girl who needs a savior, and Gary comes home to find a world he does not understand, one changed beyond his recognition.The bonds of love and brotherhood, forged on the battlefields of Iraq, will be sorely tested in the Borderlands.Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Male/male sexual practices, violence