Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Josiah “Siah” Kent has always loved learning; now he’s living his dream of teaching children to love it too. After getting his degrees in New Orleans, he accepted a teaching position outside of Washington DC. What a better place to be able to teach and continue learning?
Sergeant Carter May joined the Army right out of high school. He’s always struggled to succeed in school but has found a place in the military but has dreamed of getting a college degree–he’d be the first in his family if he did. Being stationed with the Presidential Firing Battery at Arlington National Cemetery will give him the opportunity to take the chance, but will he risk failing?
A chance meeting years ago in New Orleans, had sparks flying between Siah and Carter. Another chance encounter between the ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, blow those sparks into a full flame. Can Siah and Carter find some common ground to learn more about each other and a possible future together?
The With Me series from Kris Jacen has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary reads. It established itself with it’s insider knowledge of military life, what it takes to be a part of the military family (whether as part of the family unit or military one that becomes family), the emotional, physical, and mental upheavals that are to be faced, and the support one receives along the way. Especially if you are lucky enough to be adopted by the Heptad.
Each story has been a favorite. Until the next story arrives. Then that’s my favorite. And its happened again here. One, I wanted Siah and Carter’s story immediately at the end of Explore with Me (With Me #2). I knew Siah had some growing up to do, which happens before the start of this story. So too Carter who had some tough decisions to make and he did.
Secondly? The location. Jacen based her story in and around the DC Metro area. While I’m in Maryland, Virginia is just as familiar for those of us who live here. MD-DC-VA…its all the same really in one respect and the places she mentions are near and dear to my heart. Especially Arlington National Cemetery where quite a few family members are laid to rest and we visit every Memorial Day.
She’s right about the traditions and ceremonies bringing tears to your eyes during the story. You will need several tissues, deservedly so. Her descriptions are deeply moving as well as informative.
But Learn with Me (With Me #3) is special because of the characters and their romance. Between Siah and Carter, each has had a past to rise above in some way and done it. Perhaps they haven’t left it behind completely but they are dealing with it and moving forward. They are different in size, energy, even background and yet in kindness, loyalty, and an ability to see the best in others, they are so alike. Jacen did a remarkable job in creating these people and all the others here, including the Heptad (that group of soldiers whose stories are the series or whose support flows through the series).
These are layered portraits, and the people aren’t isolated but are surrounded by a family of friends, a community that adds support and a believability to their lives. Whether its a school and afternoon classes (and a circle of support) for Siah (who is a black belt as well) or the base and unit for Carter (where both friends and enemies can be found), it all feels so real and authentic.
Kris Jacen uses the framework of a romance to bring modern military life vividly alive, whether its the fears children must face, the struggles of the family, the time away from home both spouses and family feel…its all here and intimate. There’s also the tight knit community, the sense of belonging to something greater, and, yes, the service to country.
I’m already anticipating the next book in the series. It’s going to deal with some serious issues her stories hasn’t addressed yet. I can’t wait.
In the meantime, if you are new to the series, why not go to the beginning and start with Wait for Me (With Me #1) and work your way here. I highly recommend all the stories, including this one Learn with Me by Kris Jacen.
Cover art by Jared Rackler. I’m sort of over the bare torso thing but considering all Siah wanted to do when he first saw Carter was climb him like a tree this is pretty perfect.
Kindle Edition, 145 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by MLR Press
SeriesWith Me #3